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Go West

Betsan Powys | 10:03 UK time, Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Heading West to try and catch up with Ed Miliband. The Labour leader's the first of two UK party leaders to visit Wales today - Nick Clegg makes his second campaign visit this afternoon ... not that anyone's tempted to believe this election is a referendum on the UK government of course.

Mr Miliband might not be prepared to share a platform with Nick Clegg to campaign for a Yes vote in the AV referendum but would he be happier - if not more than happy - to see his party in Wales strike some sort of deal with Mr Clegg's party should Labour fail to reach the 31 seat mark?

These were my thoughts a few weeks ago:

And what about that other partnership, Lab-Lib? Labour sources in Westminster reckon it would make sense. If the maths works out, Labour would have to give very little in return for kicking Plaid into touch. Bear in mind too, said a well-placed Liberal Democrat, that it would suit Ed Miliband down to the ground to forge an alliance of some kind with the Lib Dems in Wales. If it doesn't work out in Scotland, then he needs somehow to persuade the Lib Dems that there is an alternative, before the Tory/Lib Dem coalition at UK level "ossifies".

I'll let you know if we get more than a "that's entirely up to Carwyn" line.

On the Labour leader's itinerary today? Visits to seats held by Plaid and the Conservatives that some are calling for Labour. There's a wind-turbine-related visit too that reminds me that in Machynlleth on Monday night, just about everyone in the room was calling Montgomeryshire for the Conservatives. A "Tory landslide" is what more than one was predicting thanks, in part, to the way the party has harnessed strong feelings locally about the impact of wind farms.

Bad news for Nick Bourne, unless it's a real landslide and unless the bookies are right and Angela Burns struggles to hold on to Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire. Swings and roundabouts would be enough to carry the Tory leader safely home.

Jake Griffiths, the Green party leader, was in Machynlleth too. His message is loud and clear in this campaign: we're not bothering with first-past-the-post seats. We're putting all our (free-range) eggs in one basket: give us your second vote in South Wales Central, don't "waste it" on Labour and give Wales its first Green Assembly Member. When he said precisely that on the Politics Show on Sunday the producer was half-expecting a complaint from Labour ... one that never came. Who'd lose a seat if the Greens gain their first? Not Labour, certainly. If you start spotting a rash of "Second vote Green" posters appearing just round the corner from Transport House, you'll know why.

Heading off West just as more rumbles from the jungle that is the timing of the North Wales count reach us.


  • Comment number 1.

    Indeed. I would say that a Labour/ libdem coalition is very likely if Carwyn falls one or two seats short. It's one thing for Labour voters to want to punish the Libdems for forming an alliance with the Tories in Westminster but in the long run Labour has to persuade Libdem voters that a coalition with Labour is always possible. Where better to begin than in Wales. Even better if the fragrant Kirsty turns out to have some influence in Westminster which might help out with the block grant issue.

    Plaid have shot themselves in the foot with the vitriolic and contemptuous tone of their attacks on their erstwhile Labour partners. Nobody does "Vitriolic" and "Contemptuous" like Plaid!

    I intend to vote Labour/Green in Ynys Mon. Green won't get in anywhere unless they get up to 7% but if Plaid carry on alienating Labour voters in the South and with the Greens pledging support for Labour should they be needed, they may get there. I would like to see one Green AM from the regionals and look forward to a break with the Plaideological direction of the Assembly in the next term.

  • Comment number 2.

    Now here's an interesting question: do visiting national party leaders help or hinder at local level? Do they provide inspirational support, or are they an unwelcome contaminant? All right, that's two questions but you can see my drift. There may be strong local issues which will flummox the visiting bigwigs. The mid Wales wind farms being a case in point. All five (counting Greens) like to strut green stuff on occasions, but there's green and green as gabbage looking. Now the mid Wales wind farms, no matter how tall the turbine towers get, will only produce viable amounts of electricity less than 20% of the time, if you're lucky - the blades I can see from my house haven't moved for three days. Not only that but these instalations come with pretty large convertor sub stations plus pylons to connect up to the national grid. This expesive and unproductive eyesore funded by massive bill payer subsidy is inclined to produce local ire so 'greenery' from politicians may discreetly, and temporarily vanish. As for any future Assembly coalitions the omens seem to favour a minority government if Labour falls short, which considering their record (which they won't) may well come to pass.

  • Comment number 3.

    I really hope that the Welsh Election does not prove to be a test of the parties in Westminster - that would be very depressing for democracy under our devolved arrangements. Unfortunately, some sections of the London-based media seem determined to define the arguments in terms addressed to the person on the Clapham omnibus...and even this excellent blog has suffered from the ranting of those who would prefer that. Choosing the new Welsh Government is too important for those of us who will live under it to be bothered with what it means for Miliband, Clegg and Cameron. I wish they would keep away - they are not relevant and the more voters in Wales show that, the heathier will we be able to count our politics in Wales.

  • Comment number 4.

    I tend to think that it isn't particularly productive for UK party leaders to come here. I've been campaigning on local issues - people on the doorstep know that a lot of their problems come from Westminster, but they also know that this election isn't likely to put an end to those problems. What it might do instead is ease or worsen those problems, and that's what I've been discussing with the electors. The only party leader of any description who's come into those discussions has been Kirsty Williams, and that's because she's the incumbent AM for this constituency so it is entirely suitable for us to talk about whether she has been effective and what our candidate would do differently. And while the bookies are suggesting a comfortable win for her, the doorstep is telling a different story!

  • Comment number 5.

    Don't underestimate the bookies.

  • Comment number 6.

    It would certianly be a positive thing to see a Green Assembly member as I feel Environmental concerns will take a higher status overall. The othe rparties dabbling in eco matters may be kept honest by Mr. Griffiths. Lets hope he gets in.

  • Comment number 7.

    5. Arihfach

    "Don't underestimate the bookies."

    I try not to! But, as I say, the doorstep is telling a different story.

    I'd actually like to modify my comment a little because it occurred to me after I posted it that one way the situation in Westminster has hugely affected the Assembly campaign is that people are very angry at the Liberal Democrats for teaming up with the Tories and fear that they will similarly betray their principles here. I've been meeting a lot of former Lib Dems whose current answer, when I ask them which way they're likely to vote, is "I don't know".

    I certainly hope the Liberal Democrat attitude is to do nothing other than say, "Don't underestimate the bookies" - and I'm not suggesting that you personally are a Lib Dem when I suggest this, Arihfach.



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