Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Its a two horse race?

Its no great secret that my Lib dem opponent Mark Young and I get on well together. We had a few laughs in the general election when he stood as an Independent and I cannot say I was surprised when he joined the Lib Dems.

He recently posted about opinion polls and claimed the Lib dems were the second party of Wales. He based this on the result of the general election when the LIb dems won four Westminster seats (including Ceredigion from Plaid).

However he neglected to mention that Plaid have twice as many AM's, vastly more councillors and one MEP more than the Lib dems who have none in Wales.

The Assembly election is a "Welsh" election and Plaid will not be drowned out by the British media.

I am not sure Mark's prediction of a two horse race will come true but it certainly made me laugh when I read it.

If the result goes as I expect in Wales as a whole both the LIb dems and the Tories may have leadership problems. If the LIbs remain static on six seats then the tensions in their group will go public (or perhaps they will unite in blaming Lembit!) and if the Tories just swap list seats for constituency seats expect the "be more Welsh" approach to be abandoned and leader Nick Bourne ditched within minutes.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Now you know why Labour are worried

Have just been doing a bit of number crunching. For those whose head starts to hurt when thinking about numbers I suggest you look away now.

In April 2003 the average of polls for ICM, MORI and YOUGOV gave a reading of :

Labour 44
Con 30.6
Lib 19.6
Other 7.0

These were of course UK wide polls.

The actual result was (adding the Constituency and regional votes together)

Labour 38.3
Plaid 20.5
Lib 13.3
oths 8.0

The current average of the same uk wide polls gives:

Labour 32.6
Con 37.6
Lib 20.0
oth 9.66

Nobody seriously believes that Labour could poll below 30% in an election in Wales. Peter Riddel writing in the Times the other day came to the conclusion there was no "cameron effect" outside of the South of England. The evidence I have seen for myself in terms of canvass returns and the rumours we have of the details of other parties figures suggest that the Tories have not made much headway in Wales for the Assembly elections.

However a Labour vote share of 32.6 would be roughly a six percent swing from labour last time. That feels about right. My guess is that there will be quite significant variation across Wales with huge swings against Labour in some areas(Aberconwy and Clwyd west for example) less in others.

The best the Tories can hope for is swapping list seats for constituencies. This will be "spun" as a big leap forward but in reality they will have made little progress.

1500 Health Jobs go in Leicester.

Why is a Plaid candidate blogging about job losses in Leicester? Bare with me.

Had a chat the other night with a friend who until very recently held a prominent position in the Health Service in Leicester.The local hospitals have just announced there will be 1500 job losses over a period of years(the exact number I forget). Despite the usual protestations this will not impact on services etc its apparent that there will be very real cuts in services.

So why draw attention to it here? Well the next time you see a letter in the Western mail or a blogg entry claiming that things are better in the Health Service in England spare a thought for people in Caerlear/Leicester. The pressures in England will get worse as more trusts have to finance massive PFI debt repayments at least we have a chance to sort out the problems in Wales without that particular millstone round our knecks.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

A change is gonna come?

Out and about yesterday in sunny Dyserth. Whenever I visit one of our main activists who lives in Dyserth I have to stop myself acting like a star struck teenager as one of his near neighbours is Alarm front man Mike Peters. Its a bit sad to admit but I am still trying to bump into him. Guess it will happen sooner or later so I hope not to make to much of an idiot of myself when it does.

Anyway we had a team of nine out delivering our latest leaflet. I have not seen everyone together since we launched "change for the better" and I was waiting for some comments. We have a very good team of activists who give me 100% support and have worked for years for Plaid. However they dont always react well to change.

So I was very surprised by how pleased everyone was with "change for the better". If there was something wrong I would have heard about it believe me. Instead lots of praise and general optimism.

We spoke to a fair few people and it makes a change to be able to point people at the new website not feeling embarrassed. Several residents saying they would take a look at the website.

Got home and spoke to Phil Edwards who had spent the day in Abergele. Again very positve response from people he spoke to.

As a candidate you have to be up beat and you have to say things are going well. This time I am having to reign myself in. Things surely cannot be going quite as well as they seem to be unless we are on the verge of a huge, once in a generation political change. There is a very significant conflict between what I read on on the rest of the web and in the press and what i experience when out campaigning. Particularly the weakness of the Conservative vote which seems to be much softer than i would have thought looking at the UK wide polls.

Clear message from the public is "we want a change". Interesting times ahead.

On Dr Landons comments on Rhyl

In his recent comments about the problems in Rhyl West Dr Richard Landon used language I found unpalatable and made some rather sweeping generalizations that inevitably offended some residents.

However in many respects he is right. A combination of uninterested absentee landlords, badly flawed social polices from out of touch Westminster governments and a lack of political will to confront many of the problems have combined to create the “perfect storm” of problems in the West End.

On a positive note there are of course many individuals, families and organizations committed to making the West End of Rhyl a desirable place to live and work. They need a change in legislation to allow local authorities to challenge the actions of absentee landlords compelling them to take greater responsibility for their tenants. There is also a point at which communities like Rhyl can no longer accommodate people from other areas with significant social problems. Again it should be possible to legislate to ensure local authorities and other social housing providers prioritise local families in need and refuse to house people from other communities with significant, identified, problems in areas such as Rhyl West .

Political leadership is needed to push various agencies to work together more effectively, to fight for more money for the local police force and better use of existing police resources, for more effective sentencing in courts and a whole host of measures to improve child care, create more jobs and bring further investment into Wales generally and the coastal towns in particular. Greater priority has to be given to effective youth work and out of school activities for young people.

All of these things are achievable but we will need fresh political leadership to make them happen.