BBC BLOGS - Betsan's Blog
« Previous | Main | Next »

Countdown

Betsan Powys | 22:49 UK time, Monday, 1 June 2009

An Email pops into my inbox offering a course on "Dealing with Trauma". That it just so happens to be election week is, I know, a coincidence but the timing seems pretty apt.

By this time next week 736 European Parliament seats will have been won and lost, the Conservatives will know how much of an inroad they've made into local council chambers in England and Gordon Brown will have an idea to what extent you've believed him that he's the man to shore up the economy and sort out Westminster.

But before looking ahead, I can't help thinking back to this event a month or so ago - just a few days before the revelations about MPs' expenses started appearing in the Telegraph.

A woman in the audience, one who was there out of genuine curiosity not duty, asked Rhodri Morgan how he and his fellow AMs planned to fire the interest of young people in Assemby politics. It was tough, he said. Young people were interested in political issues but not inspired, perhaps, by political institutions and daily politics. The Assembly wasn't alone, he added. Look at Westminster - how many young people are interested in what goes on there?

What caught my attention was her response, a comment along the lines of 'Oh forget about Westminster. Nobody's impressed with that institution any more.' It was almost a brush-off, an off-hand dismissal of 'that other institution' that caught me off guard.

Fast forward a week or so and to another event, a public meeting held by the All Wales Convention in Monmouth. The expenses saga has already turned into a crisis of confidence in politics and in politicians. Public anger is palpable and shows absolutely no sign of subsiding. People can parrot which MP claimed for what. A new word has been coined - flipping - and has made the move from the headlines to pub conversations where it does real damage to reputations.

Three, four times, in different guises, the audience in Monmouth asked the same question. It went something like this: the current system of devolving power to the National Assembly relies on the guiding hand of Westminster. That's how it is and that's how - for some, though not all who posed the question - it ought to be. But how can we now have faith in the guidance offered by that hand? If has, after all, been caught in the cookie jar.

The logic is questionable. The genuine fury and loss of faith is not. Ieuan Wyn Jones showed last week that he'd already recognised that.

But given it's election week let's keep a cool head and think ahead no more than a few days.

The polls suggest that though MPs from all the major parties have been named in headlines, the fury and loss of faith is being directed, mostly, at Labour. The Conservatives don't emerge unscathed either.

What would that sort of pattern mean in Wales?

It would mean that Labour's second seat is vulnerable.

If all four major parties are pretty close, it could be one seat each.

Logic - not always useful during weeks like this one - would point to a result that has Labour, the Conservatives and Plaid Cymru neck and neck come Sunday night.

If enough Tory voters sense blood and if waverers are persuaded to stay away from UKIP, or if Plaid get the faithful out and score well enough on protest votes, then the table of MEPs will have changed by Monday morning and a whole lot more with it.

If Labour edge it, the canvassers will tell a story of anger and disdain, the percentages a story of huge losses but the table of MEPs will tell a story of no change. Two Labour MEPs, one Conservative, one Plaid.

We could well hang on to that second seat, one senior Labour voice suggested today but if that happens - and was it me or did they seem rather too willing to imagine losing one scalp - then the battle will be on come Monday to make sure the party doesn't pretend that two seats = no problem.

Perhaps I should press a button and forward that Email.

Comments

or register to comment.

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.