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A BOGOF bargain

Betsan Powys | 13:00 UK time, Wednesday, 5 May 2010

If they can do it, so can I. I mean throw in a visit to Tesco whle on the campaign trail. It's become such a feature of this election campaign you imagine might soon have a rival called visittesco.

Not that I imagine my experience in Tesco in Canton can be compared with David Cameron's welcome to Tesco in Holywell or Gordon Brown's visit to their store in Hammersmith. Neither Sir Terry Leahy or Prunella Scales turned up. And before you point it out I know Nick Clegg has been working the Tesco seam too, Ieuan Wyn Jones has probably managed to fit in conversations with one or two Tesco shoppers and workers and yes, I could name other supermarkets that have become part of the backdrop to this campaign too. It's just that Tesco have featured so heavily in news footage my 6 year old daughter asked whether they were standing in Cardiff.

But I did pick up something on my own visit to the supermarket last night.

In the queue, standing behind me were a fifty-something man and woman who seemed to be work colleagues. Neither had, or so they told each other anyway, decided how to vote.

The gist of their chat was this: the woman's mother, a pensioner, didn't want to lose her bus pass so she was afraid to vote Tory. She had heard, though, that maybe Labour were just trying to scare her and she didn't like that thought either. Nick Clegg? Nah, not for them. Plaid didn't seem to be on the radar, though they're 'doing all right' in the Assembly.

The upshot was something that said 'I hope none of them get it' - it being a majority. In other words the Tesco couple were in fact willing a hung parliament, willing a sort of political BOGOF bargain where you got two sharing power for the price of one vote.


Not because they hoped it might lead to early electoral reform.

Not, I suspect, because they were looking forward to a re-run of the coalition talks held in Cardiff Bay back in 2007. That deal in the National Assembly, incidentally, took 55 days to broker which if you look at Institute of Government-quoted calculations has Wales at number 4 in the European league of "Length of government formation process", tucked in between Italy and Finland.

Not because they've read the comments of people like Ken Clarke - no fan of hung parliaments to put it mildly:

"What we're plainly headed for would be a great deal of squabbling, with small parties given disproportionate influence, trying to manoeuvre advantages for themselves before they allow a Conservative government to get on with the job ... To sit and listen to a Conservative would-be government trying to negotiate with the Scots about how much less the public spending cuts are going to be north of the border ... would, I think, be very tedious."

It wasn't those sorts of concerns.

Standing in the queue last night they just wanted to see power shared because that, for them, seemed to offer easy to assess, tangible, grabbable change. They knew the Conservatives and the Lib Dems were offering change. So have Plaid. They've all based their campaigns on it one way or another.

But when all was said and done, here were two people who'd decided they probably wanted it but that they were going to rely on ordinary voters to deliver it.


I'm told by a tired but reliable source that a woman recently serving Ieuan Wyn Jones in Tesco in Culverhouse Cross asked him for a Plaid Cymru badge. There. Full house.


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