Tuesday, 2 May 2017

Which Party in Wales will be smiling on Friday?

Maybe it will be the Party of Wales?
Over at Elections in Wales Dr Roger  Scully has been musing over  Thursday local authority elections which have been possibly scuppered by the Tories calling a General Election.  Professor Scully
"The national mood at present is defined by Conservative dominance. Though many still view them as “the nasty party” (a term coined fifteen years ago by the current Prime Minister), the reality is that the Tories currently face no serious or credible opposition outside of Scotland and Nicola Sturgeon’s SNP. Jeremy Corbyn has not persuaded most people that he offers effective leadership, while the Liberal Democrats are only at the start of a long road back after their crushing defeat in the 2015 general election.
The strong position of the Conservatives, and the weakness of the other parties, was reflected in the recent Welsh Political Barometer poll. This pointed to significant Tory gains, and substantial Labour losses, in the general election. Something similar is also likely this Thursday. Colin Rallings and Michael Thrasher from the University of Plymouth have estimated council seat gains and losses based on the Barometer poll’s question on local election voting intentions. This, they suggest, points to the following overall changes":
Labour: -130 seatsConservatives: +90 seatsPlaid Cymru: +20 seatsLiberal Democrats: No changeIndependents/Others: +20 seats
There should be a note of caution here, other factors can come in to play here and people do not always vote locally as they do  in the UK elections .
Plaid for instance could make the 20 seat gains in Rhondda Cynon Taf and Caerphilly alone.
They will also be eyeing Carmarthen, Neath Port Talbot and something in my water suggests some surprising gains in Wrexham
Whilst the Liberal Democrats will be expected to regain some of their Old Cardiff wards though  they and Plaid may regret not having some form of pact and cancel themselves out.
They will be looking to revive in Swansea , though may be blocked by a Tory  upswing
The Tories will make gains and I suspect some Token candidates  may find themselves elected.
Professor Scully  points out that...
"Roughly eight percent of all the seats up for election in Wales have only one candidate. This is very similar to the proportion that were uncontested in 2012 – something which stood in stark contrast to Scotland, where there were no uncontested seats. The full list of uncontested seats that have thus already been won by each party is as follows":

Plaid Cymru: 28 (+6 on 2012)
Independents: 26 (-7)
Labour: 18 (+1)
Conservatives: 5 (+3)
Liberal Democrats: 1 (-1)
He continues //

"Why are there uncontested seats? The parties often have difficulty finding people who want to be candidates – a problem likely to be greater in more sparsely-populated parts of the country. To many people being a councillor looks like a thankless task, with little reward, that they are not willing to commit to".
 Indeed some councillors once they get over being  defeated seem content to retire from the fray and not stand again .

Being a councillor can be a thankless  task at times taking the role of a Social worker and facing the wrath of the electorate  for every decision.

Gone are the Days when your local Labour Councillor held God like powers in his (it was largely men) ward.

Labour hegemony  may still exist but they have temporarily lost power in many of their strongholds and will do again.

Whether this will happen on Thursday  we will see.

I will however leave the last word to Professor  Scully who  sums up the position  better than I can

"More obvious is that we just have too many elected councillors in Wales. Wales has a population of a little more than three million compared to Scotland’s of just over five and a quarter million. Yet Wales has more elected councillors: 1,271 here to Scotland’s 1,219. That gives us roughly one elected council representative for every 2,360 of us, compared to around one for every 4,343 people in Scotland. Scotland also has a strong advantage over Wales in that it uses the proportional STV system for its local elections. That means that every (multi-member) ward is competitive: everyone has something to fight for. In Wales, under a non-proportional system, we have lots of safe wards where parties are reluctant to fight if they are certain they will lose. There is a strong, and in my view compelling, argument for moving to STV for local elections in Wales".

1 comment:

Leigh Richards said...

A form of PR for local elections could transform local elections in wales. While people are speculating on how many seats will change hands on thursday the big story is actually that turnout in wales on thursday will likely be risible in most places.

Course it wasnt always like this. Time was turnouts for local elections in wales would be 50 percent and higher in the great era of 'municipal socialism' in the 50s and 60s. But then thatcher came along and emasculated local councils and people cocluded what is the point in voting in local elections when councillors have so few powers? And disappointing to report that despite nearly 20 years of welsh devolution successive welsh governments have done little to restore the powers taken away from welsh local authorities by thatcher.

So the answer is a simple one if we want to engage people in wales at a local level. Introduce a voting system that encourages a higher turnout for local elections and give powers back to local councils tory governments stripped them of in the 80s. The Senedd now has the powers to do both of these things and there is no good reason for it not to do so.