Friday 17 April 2015

Don't know

Less than three weeks ago, but it already feels like the distant past, Labour launched its Welsh election campaign in Ammanford. Why Ammanford? Well, Labour is desperate to regain a seat it lost to Plaid back in 2001.

The press gathered, and there was a small forest of red and yellow placards held up by people, most of whom appear to have been shipped in specially from further afield, including Huw Tippex Thomas, Labour's accident prone candidate for Ceredigion. Lurking at the back somewhere was the leader of Carmarthenshire County Council, Kevin Madge. Kev had probably been ordered to keep a low profile and just make up the numbers, what with Labour's record in Carmarthenshire not really being the stuff which votes are made of.

Padding around the flock was a wolf in wolf's clothing: Rod Richards, former Tory, former Ukip convert and now lost in political no-man's land.

Rod had agreed to take a look at Labour's campaign for a programme on S4C called Y Ras i 10 Downing Street (available here for a couple more weeks), with other reasonably well-known figures packed off to tail the other parties. Poor old Siân Lloyd got the LibDems.

Rod probably gargles with gravel, and his first victim was First Minister Carwyn Jones. Rod growled, and Carwyn looked like a rabbit caught in the headlights. It turned out that his minders had told him not to speak to strangers, and he mumbled something about having to do as he was told before sloping off.

Next up was Owen Smith, the oily Shadow Secretary of State for Wales. Notwithstanding Trident, how many nuclear submarines were there in the Royal Navy, Rod wanted to know.

Smith didn't know. Three or four? It was not his bag, but he was very sure that Labour's policy is to renew the Trident fleet (correct). "There's no difference between us the Tories on this", he added proudly and correctly.

The question about how many was "recondite", and he was not going to be drawn into point scoring.

Quite a lot of ordinary voters in Ammanford not planning to sit around the Cabinet table could tell you that the renewal of Trident will cost around £100 billion over the lifetime of this useless weapon of mass destruction. The initial down payment is expected to come in at somewhere in the region of £20-£25 billion. By comparison, the Welsh government's budget for 2015-16 was £15 billion.

If we are unfortunate enough to end up with Owen Smith as Secretary of State in a few weeks from now, we will have someone who will have no qualms about voting to support Trident renewal, even though he doesn't really seem to know what he will be voting for.

Having dispatched Smith, it was time for a plump lamb, and so Rod was off canvassing with Calum Higgins who had dressed as an undertaker's assistant. Rather strangely Calum was out canvassing in Llanelli, rather than in the constituency he hopes to represent, and we got a rear-view of Nia Griffith.

The reception as he trailed around the housing estates was not exactly encouraging.

"Have you made your mind up?" Calum asked one householder.

"No", came the reply. "Not yet", said another one.

Snatching one of the leaflets Calum was handing out, Rod wanted to know if there were any pictures of Ed Milliband in it.

"I don't know", said Calum

It turned out there weren't any, but Calum thought that Milliband would make a good Prime Minister, even if the local party seemed less than keen to talk about their leader.

Asked about education, Calum said this was a devolved matter. Nothing to do with him, therefore, although he acknowledged that there was room for improvement.

But let's head back to Ammanford for the launch.

On hand was a BBC reporter who decided to sound out some of Labour's hopefuls and its bigshots to find out what the party's five key election pledges were. One would-be MP could not name any, a few others had a go at guessing, and Carwyn Jones scored two out of five.

Carwyn also showed that he had no idea what the pledge card was all about:

"Well if you look at the pledges, they are UK pledges. They are pledges around UK issues as you know. What we've got to be careful about is to make sure the pledges affect the UK and not just of course Wales."

One of the pledges is a vague promise to invest in the Welsh NHS, something which should go down a storm in Norfolk and Sunderland

Memorising the five short and meaningless pledges would not be difficult, but even Labour's top brass seemed to have come to the sensible conclusion that it was not worth the effort.


passerby said...

the hustings organised by abc church in ammanford, announced this morning they are sorry that the podcast recording is not available for broadcast. which sounds well weird because they done the lighting checks, they did the sounds system checks prior to the event taking place.

a reasonable turn out, libdem and ukip weren't there, so it was down to green, plaid, labour and tory.

the tory got on well with the audience after he more or less labelled the welsh as drunken sailors and arsonists, threw a wobbly by mentioning greek communists at plaid. oh and had a seizure when plaid mentioned the child abuse scandals in parliament.

could have been an act of god mind, but that's an educated guess. nothing at all with the tory candidate being a solictor or anything then

Anonymous said...

maybe the church got bothered under the collar when one question posed was what would the panel do to safeguard christians? and the panel evolved into a debate of same sex marriage,

bit of a mystery that

Anonymous said...

Not voting labour then?

passerby said...

because of the podcast failure, it's hard to say who said what regarding freedoms, but the impression i got they were all in favour. maybe the tory said he's in favour cos cameron is in favour.

fair play to labour, he said that he's fed up with the squabling. then again, his best intentions maybe hindered by milliband as was discovered by the time we all got home

Cneifiwr said...

Passerby - Sounds very intriguing. Is there a podcast available, and if so how can people find it?