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In the balance

Betsan Powys | 16:58 UK time, Tuesday, 3 May 2011

Story spotting is gradually turning into swotting.

Who's that candidate on the regional list who just might find they've nabbed that fourth spot and a seat in the Senedd chamber? What if the Tories win Montgomeryshire but lose Carmarthen West - does Nick Bourne hold onto his seat on the list, or not?

It's about maths, it's about a few hundred votes in this community, in that seat and in the end, thankfully, it's about democracy.

If you saw the leaders debating last night you'll know that the Labour leader stood accused once again of "arrogance" and his party of "taking Wales for granted". Carwyn Jones, in turn, asked what on earth was wrong with wanting to win. It's up to the people of Wales whether Labour win or not, he said. "That's democracy".

Until democracy prevails we'll have to stick to opinion polls. The latest, done by YouGov for ITV's Y Byd ar Bedwar has the Labour lead shrinking slightly and a projection that puts them on 30 seats. I'm happy to stick to the line that Labour are not home and dry. That's what Labour themselves are saying, as you know. But that's also what some thoughtful and wise old owls from other parties have been saying for some time and they, as my friend Jayne used to put it, have been round the (campaigning) block more times than Mr Whippy.

Opinion polls, remember, can be wrong and even when they're right, bang on even, they might not be giving you an accurate picture of what's really happening from constituency to constituency. You get a picture of how voters feel and whether there's a swing at work but there's so much that can counter a swing and mess up your maths.

One comment that struck me as a key one came from a Plaid candidate. It's not that our vote is going anyhwere, she said. It's not that we're finding a lot more Labour voters either. But what we are finding is that people are more prepared to tell us they're voting Labour.

Work that one into your projections and good luck with pin-pointing where democracy takes us by Friday lunchtime.


  • Comment number 1.

    Seems this election and the polls has so much emphasis on 'Party' .
    There are individual politicians who are going to stand at particular places.
    The leaflets , both Tory and labour on the regional list hardly name individuals.
    Surely when a constituent has a meeting at a politicians surgery it is not with a political party is with a individual politician.
    I think the Welsh lib dems are doing well because Individual politicians character is coming out in the leaflets.
    It's crass and crude stuff from the media managers, almost a viiew of the electorate that individual politicians do not matter a great's all about parties.
    Let's hope these are seen for exactly what they are on thursday...just polls!

  • Comment number 2.

    Like many voters I feel between a rock and a hard place.

    If I was sure Labour could get a majority and need to have nothing to do with those messy coalitions with Plaid Cymru then Rhodri's missus would have my vote.

    But alas, Carwyn may lack the cojones to settle for 28/30 seats, If so, yet again we will be subjected to the influence of a Welsh language fixated (whatever the cost) and an independence craving Plaid Cymru.

    Be brave Carwyn, can you ever see all the Conservatives, all Plaid Cymru, and all the also rans joining together in an attempt to outvote Labour in the Assembly ?...of course not.

    Well worth having a 100% Labour government at the helm without worrying about a gaggle of self-seeking pirates out for what they can get !

  • Comment number 3.

    1. Rhetoric

    Interesting that you think the Lib Dems are doing well because individual politicians' character is coming out. I don't know where you are but here in Brecon and Radnorshire, Kirsty Williams' campaign has become extremely negative. Her latest leaflet warns voters the constituency's next AM will be either Kirsty or "a Tory with no track record of helping local people". The text goes on to attack the Welsh Conservatives' plan to ring-fence health spending, saying "this foolish pledge would mean massive cuts being made to other budgets vital to Brecon and Radnorshire". The leaflet states "no other result is possible... Labour and Plaid can't win in Brecon and Radnorshire" - and quotes last year's General Election result as proof.

    The leaflet contains no information whatsoever about Kirsty's - or the Liberal Democrats' - plans for the Assembly.

    If this kind of negative campaigning is what you mean by individual politicians' character "coming out in the leaflets", then I hope voters in my constituency realise what Kirsty is doing and decide to have nothing to do with her.

  • Comment number 4.

    Re 3

    I think the FibDems are universally seen as the nasty party when it comes to 'campaigning'. I'm not at all surprised by what you say.

  • Comment number 5.

    It does feel a bit trivial all this election eve bickering.

    A placard here, £10,000 there ... all the ranting.

    There is a lack of vision here, a lack of clear ideology carried by candidates with humility, passion for our livelihoods. Despite what traditional supporters like Mike and I would like to believe Labour here does deserve a firm slap in the polls. And my prospective Tory AM is I am reluctant to admit, one of Wales' most talented and principled candidates.

    Burns is willing to forge cross party alliances outside formal coalition when she thinks you're doing right by the electorate but petty politics edges people like her off the map. Because she's a Tory we've got a political theatre that can't harness her considerable skills. We should perhaps focus more on the individuals and forget the party political barracking. You'd be surprised what could be achieved by a Senedd full of principled members, fired by conviction and the nation's not their party's interests closest to their hearts.

  • Comment number 6.

    5. Ben Andone

    "Despite what traditional supporters like Mike and I would like to believe Labour here does deserve a firm slap in the polls."

    Unfortunately for this point of view, if Labour gets that slap, there will be nobody to protect Wales from the idiocy on the other side of the Severn. And while your prospective Tory AM may be "one of Wales' most talented and principled candidates", I don't think I'm in as fortunate a position.

    I am indeed a traditional Labour supporter, Ben. I joined the party after the last general election because I thought it needed an injection of new blood, and I have been glad to see that I'm just one among thousands who thought the same. However, as with any injection, it takes a little time for the new blood to filter down to the extremities and up to the brain, and I do think it would be shameful to allow Labour to lose ground before all those good people had a chance to show what they can do.

  • Comment number 7.

    In relation to Carmarthen West, the Tories gave up weeks ago and it will indeed be a tight one between Labour and Plaid. To me, it encapsulates many constituencies across Wales, where local campaigning will give a different twist to what the polls are saying.
    The real fun starts when stats nerds like to try to predict how the regional seats will fall. The truth is that none of the parties have a clue how these will work out. It's such a shame that we will not know this until Friday.

  • Comment number 8.

    Further to my last post I should add that I'm very familiar with some of the young people currently on the way up in the Brecon and Radnorshire Labour Party - one of them is our constituency candidate and another is a regional list candidate. They'll be exactly the kind of new blood the Assembly needs.

  • Comment number 9.

    One great worry with Labour having a majority is that - because it will be the only legislature where Labour is in power - the orders will be coming from Milliband & Co and the Senedd will be used as a guerrilla base to fight UK battles instead of focusing on Wales. Carwyn Jones will be too loyal and too 'relaxed' to do anything other than what he's told.

  • Comment number 10.

    Why do the Welsh Language haters like Crossroads always repeat the lie that it is only Plaid that cares for the language? This year it is the Tories that have the most ambitious plans for the language in their manifesto. Every party (apart possibly for the BNP and UKIP) is committed to protecting it. The idea that the language is plaid, and plaid is the language is about 50 years out of date. Time for some people to update their ideas, I think.

  • Comment number 11.

    @ #10

    The difference is that other parties would promote the Welsh language in a proportionate and reasonable manner where it does not infringe on the provision of other services

    .... Plaid on the other hand were wanting to bring down the entire Welsh Assembly coalition government because of a decision relating to ONE single Welsh medium school in West Cardiff that didnt go the way they wanted! Never mind the fact that it had been proven by an independent report that, had Plaid got what they wanted it would have impacted the education of the MAJORITY of children in the area !!

  • Comment number 12.

    9. At 12:31pm 4th May 2011, Gwyrangon wrote:

    One great worry with Labour ........- the orders will be coming from Milliband & Co.”

    True, but only part of the picture, the same is also true to greater or lesser extent, for the Tories and Lib-Dems. Only when these three Parties are completely divorced from London will they be able to call themselves “Welsh Labour” etc with any sense of honesty.

  • Comment number 13.

    Whatever we get it's for 5 years this time. Despite Cameron's last desperate PMQ ploy about Labour's NHS spending plans it does look as if it will some sort of Labour administration. If they only need one for an overall majority, how about a Green one? Sorry about the pun, but still something worth considering. Don't forget the AV vote, we will not get another chance to change the voting system. A question to ask is: why are the Tories so desperate for a 'No' result? I know some of the Labour 'ugly' squad also want 'No', but does anybody pay much attention to 'flunkery' Prescott?

  • Comment number 14.

    11. At 13:42pm 4th May 2011, comeoffit wrote:

    “.... Plaid on the other hand were wanting to bring down the entire Welsh Assembly coalition government because of a decision relating to ONE single Welsh medium school in West Cardiff”

    And yet they didn’t, which sort of hints that they didn’t want to. If it was in their power and they didn’t act, then your statement is obviously incorrect. What evidence do you have for making it? You can’t say “Plaid wanted” based on the odd statement by individual members, can you?

  • Comment number 15.

    Betsan - your blogs are about Welsh politicians, or Welsh politics - or are they about what Welsh citizens want?

    It is a pity that Welsh citizens are not contributing to this blog? Perhaps, they will wake up sooner or simply don't care that their over-paid Welsh and unaccountable politicians who live high and well on their salaries and expenses

  • Comment number 16.

    Re 13. RW unusually is blurring reality with "some of the Labour 'ugly' squad also want 'No' " - as I have seen it reported, most Labour Parliamentarians and Trades Unions are of that mind...And how harsh is that reference to John Prescott that proud Welshman and guest star of 'Gavin and Stacey'....!

  • Comment number 17.

    @ Post 16 'caradog_minchin' on 04 May 2011. John Prescott - don't get me started on that so-called 'politician' who, through his tiny mind, obliterated legal traders from disposing of their waste legally, and created more fly-tipping in the UK than ever seen at any time.

    Now Prescott is in the Lords. Furthermore, I can't remember a single political issue that John Prescott has ever been so passionate about more than his personal discomfort about 'phone hacking? Prescott - what a hypocrite!

  • Comment number 18.

    Message 10 sionnyn.

    Oh ! So I'm a Welsh language hater am I sionnyn? I suppose you are also convinced that I beat my wife and steal small change from Salvation Army collection boxes.

    Please take the trouble to (slowly) read my message 2 post. Show us all these wicked words of hatred towards the Welsh language...You are wrong yet again aren't you sionnyn, getting to be quite a habit nowadays.

    No, my reference is toward the Plaid Cymru chancers who slyly use the language to finance and promote their aim of complete independence. They know that apart from the colour of someone's skin, language is the next most popular divisive tool in the Screwfix Direct manual with which to further nationalist power.

    Your somewhat pathetic example of the Conservative (and others) manifestos on the subject of Welsh language promotion shows a naivety of immense proportions.

    You know full well that there is no chance of the Tories gaining power in the Assembly, so their manifestos are as feathers on the wind. Have you forgotten the saintly Lib-Dems and student's fees?

    No, my target is Plaid Cymru, for even if the forecasts are correct and they do lose several seats, such is the 'fragility' of Carwyn Jones and Labour, Plaid would still be in with a chance of coalition coat-tail pulling. That would mean the ridiculously expensive continuation of Plaid's independence empire building which will bring Wales to poverty levels that would have even Ireland, Portugal and Greece tossing Euros into our begging bowls.

    By the way, you might be pleased to hear that I have now stopped hating the Welsh language, beating my wife, and am slowly easing up on the collection boxes...And after Cardiff City's horror on Monday am now in sackcloth and ashes, and on my way to Caldy Island where I believe they might speak Welsh !

    Now Welsh mutations and "fy" that's surely enough punishment for anyone !

  • Comment number 19.

    So much on the Welsh languge issue and so little on that which really matters - educaton, the future of Wales. About ten years ago Wales was top of the list for schools' performances in the UK. Now it's the worst. Why? Possibly because the Assembly opted out of publishing details of individual schools' records so no one knows who is doing well or otherwise. No one knows where more help and or effort is needed.

    Education in Wales is suffering because we have been kept in the dark about how schools are doing. Demand the facts. Then we can do something.

  • Comment number 20.

    Re 19

    Just to say, Manzarali, it's always the haters going on about the language (and they always deny it later, don't they?!), even when the thread has nothing to do with the language 'issue',as I'm sure you'd concede.

    As for education, well Labour have been in charge of that since the inception of the National Assembly, the Tories would privatise it and could you trust the FibDems on anything any longer....there's only one - and very obvious - choice.

  • Comment number 21.

    Story time I think.
    Two politicians meet.
    'Hello Mr. Fair, great result.'
    'For you Dark, maybe, oh, you mean the 'No' vote, yeah great stuff.'
    'Makes you think doesn't it, about the rest of it.'
    'Good thought, who wants to cut the number of MPs? Nobody!'
    'Or reform, if that's the word, the Lords.'
    'You know that will cost a lot of money we don't have. And they might even want paying.'
    'You're right, there's nothing wrong with the expenses system, or rather wasn't.'
    'Yeah, FoI is a pain isn't it.'
    'Well, maybe it should just disappear.'
    'It may be arranged.'
    'If it is, then we can go back to business as usual.'
    'Those people out there don't want change, so why should we?'
    'You know, I feel better already.'

  • Comment number 22.

    Read Animal Farm - "unaccountable politicians" - so let me get this straight are these the same "unaccountable politicians" that are fighting democratic elections to keep their jobs today?



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