Thursday 28 May 2015

Calum's EdStone

When historians look back at the 2015 general election in years to come, we can be sure that they will recall the infamous "EdStone", a list of vague statements and meaningless "promises" which Ed Miliband hoped to erect in the garden of 10 Downing Street.

The list was headed by Promise No. One: "a strong economic foundation".

The six "commitments" on the EdStone were closely paralleled by the words on pledge cards handed out at the launch of Labour's Welsh campaign in Ammanford. There were five pledges, headed by "a strong economic foundation", with "invest in our Welsh NHS" in third place.

The Welsh NHS is, of course, devolved and run by the Labour administration in Cardiff, so its inclusion on the list was particularly cynical and empty.

As we saw, so vague and meaningless were the pledges that quite a few of Labour's top brass who turned up in Ammanford struggled to remember any of them.

In the run-up to this non-event, Labour's candidate for Carmarthen East and Dinefwr, Calum Higgins, launched a petition calling for an expansion of services at Amman Valley Hospital. The petition was launched on 17 March and it closes tomorrow on 29 May.

The importance of this issue to Calum and the Labour Party, and the extent to which they campaigned on it can be seen from the results here.

In 73 days they managed to collect just one signature, and that came from a young woman living in Gloucester.

But that did not matter because this exercise was all about PR rather than actually achieving a result, and the South Wales Guardian duly rewarded Calum with a headline on 18 March.

The election is over, the dogs have barked and the caravan has moved on, leaving a bit of crumpled virtual paper on the verge. Amman Valley Hospital is nowhere nearer to getting additional resources, and this one-day campaign is just another footnote in electoral history.


Anonymous said...

How ver embarrassing. Well thanks to your efforts Cneifiwr, the signatures have increased by 100% - I've just signed it myself! Although I've pussied out by not including my signature. Wouldn't want anyone to think I was trying to ingratiate myself with Higgins. :-(

Anonymous said...

Another personal attack on Calum? Sad, so sad. Your blog used to actually have some interesting topics. Now it's just personal attacks. Just because he stood for the Labour Party. It's sad that his sincerity is questioned just because of the party he stood for. There are good and bad in all parties!

Cneifiwr said...

Obviously I disagree Anon@13.21. Labour's campaign was lazy - by which I don't mean that they didn't go out knocking doors - but they clearly thought that parroting "NHS", meaningless promises and empty press releases would bring in the votes. It didn't. Calum was just after a headline with no intention of actually doing anything. The people of the Amman Valley deserve a lot better.

It will be interesting to see if this particular number resurfaces next year.

Anonymous said...

I don't tend to take sides in political debates, but I'm always against kicking someone when their down. I read the article in the paper and thought that it was a good idea. calum would have had a mandate if elected, but he has not got one now. The real tragedy of this election is that despite having a Plaid Cymru MP who has started a campaign for a helicopter, it will make no difference as the Conservatives have a majority. A labour government may have listened to one of their own at a local level but that was not to be. Also, Mr Edwards hires a press officer on considerable public expense to do this work. candidates (certainly those that have lost) definitely don't have those resources. In short, it was a manifesto commitment from a candidate. Let's get over it and concentrate on the real enemy. Or are plaid going to spend the next 5 years bashing Calum Higgins while a Tory Gov gets on with slashing what's left of the Welsh Block Grant?

Cneifiwr said...

Anon@19.37 I agree with your point about not kicking someone when they are down. The point here is that Labour's campaign was so shallow that it is no wonder they lost, exposing Wales to 5 years of doctrinaire right wing government. We will all pay a very heavy price.

Unlike Labour, Jonathan Edwards and the other Plaid MPs are there to promote and protect Welsh interests first - and he has done a lot more than campaign about a helicopter, by the way, including securing several important concessions from the previous coalition government. Despite there being just three of them, Plaid's MPs are a far more effective opposition than Labour's cohort ever will be, and one of the reasons for that is that there is no such thing as an independent Welsh Labour Party.

Yes, Jonathan Edwards has a press officer, but when it comes to resources Labour far outguns Plaid, and Labour threw the kitchen sink into winning Carmarthen East and Dinefwr. Calum cannot complain about a lack of resources. In the end, David beat Goliath convincingly and deservedly, and Carmarthenshire will be far better served by Jonathan Edwards than just another Labour lobby robot.

I wonder if we are beginning to see a parallel with the demise of the Liberal Party after World War One. Old loyalties withered as people began to wonder precisely what the Liberals were for.

If Labour's response is the recipe as before with a change of personnel, we are doomed to a very long period of rule from the right.

Anonymous said...

Again you've missed my point, probably consciously!. It's not Labour who removed our helicopter, it's not labour cutting the Welsh block grant, and it's not Labour attacking public services. It's completely disingenuous to say that it's Labour's fault there's a Tory Government when Plaid sent their entire campaign focussed on Labour. Plaid went defensive by focussing on their local threat in Arfon and Carmarthen East, at the expense of the overall picture. I agree that in the last Parliament Plaid got some concessions, all be it very small... But it was a hung Parliament!!!!!! Now we have a Tory majority with no need to any lobby help, least of all from the nationalist. Plaid are going to win all the arguments and win all the debates and then lose every vote in the lobby.
As for the demise of Labour, and the comparison with the liberals in WW1, there was something to replace the liberals. Plaid are a joke party and have shown that despite having a popular leader and an unpopular target (Labour), the Labour majorities in the second phase target seats actually increased (Llanelli). After 50 years of Plaid they have not broken the barrier of 4 constituencies and spent this election fighting in the same trenches as they have done for years. Maybe a more appropriate WW1 analogy. My point is if they want to win big, they need to stop the obsession with Labour.

Anonymous said...

Why haven't you signed this petition Cneifwr? Why haven't our sitting MP and AM signed it? Why aren't you promoting this petition for the good of Carmarthenshire's people?

Cneifiwr said...

Anon@09.42 Why didn't I sign it? Why did nobody from 'Welsh Labour' sign it?

In my case I have a pretty good excuse: I did not know anything about it until a sharp-eyed reader brought it to my attention just as it was about to close.

Nobody from Labour came knocking on my door during the election, but if Calum had and had told me about it, I would certainly have obliged, while still not voting for him.

Anonymous said...

It wasn't until seeing it on your blog that I knew about it . Important issues such as this need to be brought to the public's attention. Diolch Cneifwr.

Anonymous said...

Exactly what concessions did Jonathan Edwards manage to get? Anything he did achieve during the last ConDem government will sadly be irrelevant now considering that the Tories are in the majority and will very swiftly will wipe away any gains made if any during the last parliament.

Anonymous said...

Oh dear, we appear to have swung from personal attacks such as appearances into 'politics'. I do know that politics may play a part in the mish/mash, but how I would love us to get back down to the real issues of personal honesty in those who are in power in the C.C.C.
Should we now start to question everyone's different religious beliefs or lack of them? Is that next on the agenda?

Different political views and whether someone has a funny nose, enhanced waistline, or lousy dress sense is becoming pathetic and childish. Ridicule aimed at those contributing to this blog is looming closer.
No matter what political issues there might be, I believe we should concentrate on those guilty of being ,'less than honest', and those guilty of active breaches of codes of conduct. These newly introduced personal attacks can only distract from achieving very much success.
There are enough serious issues as to dishonesty and questionable decisions and the real goal of finding reasons at to why some officers choose not to do their civic duty. The multiple breaches of their code of conduct is a pretty good subject to be investigated.
Please please, don't allow what appears to be some progress at last, to be lost or overshadowed by sliding down into a position where we might then justifiably lose credibility.
I use the word WE advisedly. United, we may yet stand!

Cneifiwr said...

Let's try to kill two birds with one stone.

Starting with Anon@09.09 - If you want really damning criticism of Labour's campaign, ask some Labour councillors for their views, such as Cllr Peter Cooper. The response would not be printable in some cases, and at least two Labour councillors told canvassers that they would be voting Plaid.

You also seem to have forgotten that Miliballs were planning a large net cut in funding for Wales, and consistently refused to commit to tackling the Barnett Formula which puts Wales at a huge disadvantage.

As for the concessions that Jonathan Edwards squeezed, two of the most important were the ending of the Housing Revenue Account and compensation for HS2. He was even congratulated by Labour for his handling of the housing revenue account issue.

I'm not so convinced by the argument that all is hopeless now that the Tories have a majority. Compared with the coalition government, Cameron now has a much smaller numerical advantage, and by-elections will surely see that majority shrink. It won't take many Tory rebels to upset the apple cart.

Anonymous said...

I say this as a Labour Member, so my bias is declared (unlike some contributors). I don't believe any Labour Councillors will have voted Plaid! I'm afraid you cant verify those sources and your not an impartial journalist so lets not get too carried away. Cllr Peter Cooper is a friend of Higgins and the Carms East Councillors have all known Calum for years. Anybody can say that certain Councillors told canvassers they would vote a certain way... I could say that two plaid Councillors told me they will be voting for Labour, two who are often seen talking to Calum in and out of County Hall. I could also say that what Plaid Cymru Councillors think about Jonathan Edwards... But I would be making things up/ blogging.
I also know that Calum wasn't happy with the national campaign as he felt it was too UK centric and he is also well known to be federalist. Sometimes Calum's Plaidish politics don't sit comfortably with the party's old guard- pro Welsh Language, more devolution etc one of the few willing to campaign on the same platform was Madge. I agree with some of the comments above- stop targeting Labour, this election was a disaster for all the parties to the left of centre, and it should be nothing for Plaid to crow about.
p.s Jonathan has not won on HS2, the Tory Government did not concede on funding to Wales.

Cneifiwr said...

Thank you Anon@16.16. We agree on some things at least.

Anonymous said...

Tories have cut £1.5bn from Welsh budget since 2010. Labour according to the IFS would have cut £1.2bn had they been elected on May 7th. Both London parties are committed to underfunding Wales.

Anonymous said...

I'm glad Jonathan won as he was the best candidate and showed that evidently in the hustings.

However it's important we as his supporters are magnanimous in victory. I met Calum Higgins and he seemed ok - I think he would have done better in another seat perhaps.

Jonathan's majority is now creeping up towards Adam's high point of 17k votes (42%) in 2005; I guess this shows how his incumbency has succeeded and how he now garnering a personal vote.
I do think nationally that Plaid bombed though - catastrophic collapse of the vote in Llanelli down from approx 11k to 8k.
Personally I think they've got to campaign on the grounds of their raison d'ĂȘtre as a nationalist party. Listening to Leanne moan about austerity and trying to out-socialist Labour didn't work at all for me. Plaid is a broad church of people, including left-leaning folk, rural tory farmers, old liberals etc. What unites us is our belief in self-determination, maximised devolution, and a national future for Wales.
Leanne going commie and dragging is off in talk of 'left' and 'right' is totally unhelpful.