PCCs: Independents 2 Turnout 0

  • 16 November 2012
  • From the section Wales
  • comments

"Interesting results," said a senior Labour figures as the numbers came in. "But I'm not sure what they tell us."

The rest of us have been puzzling it out over the last few hours. So what do we know?

We know that the line advanced by some that the Police Commissioners should be independent figures rather than politicians has struck a chord with many voters. Enough of a chord for two independents to win, Winston Roddick in north Wales and Ian Johnston in Gwent.

We know too that the much-vaunted Tory machine in Pembrokeshire and Carmarthenshire is purring nicely. It delivered the Assembly seat of Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire for Angela Burns in 2011 when many pundits were looking the other way - and today it helped deliver Dyfed-Powys for Christopher Salmon.

Carwyn Jones' appeal for Plaid Cymru supporters to lend their votes to Labour in Dyfed-Powys didn't work, or didn't work well enough, at least.

Some comfort for Labour in South Wales, where Alun Michael carried the day - although it was another independent that came closest to upsetting things there. And let's not forget that Mr Michael's old Westminster seat, Cardiff South and Penarth, stayed Labour comfortably enough in a by-election. Stephen Doughty, Wales' newest MP.

Mrs Michael - wife of victorious Alun, mother of defeated Tal in North Wales - spent the day knitting as others crunched the numbers. A jacket, apparently - something to keep the chill out on a gloomy November day.

Ah, the weather. Was that why the turnout dropped below 15% - as predicted by David Blunkett a few days ago when I bumped into him on the High Street in Bangor - and why no-one at all voted at one polling station in Newport? I was told of another ballot box in Cardiff last night that contained just two papers - one vote for Labour, one for the Communists. The man who counted them wondered out loud whether that meant one little part of Cardiff is now officially half Communist for the next few years?

Or does the answer lie elsewhere - the lack of a mailshot for the candidates, maybe, or even a lack of attention from the media. The shoppers who stopped to talk to me in Port Talbot today said they hadn't been voters yesterday not because they couldn't be bothered but because they hadn't felt able to make an informed choice - or thought the whole exercise daft.

Whatever the answer, David Cameron says things'll be better next time, when the public's had a chance to get used to the idea of Police and Crime Commissioners.

Next time? That'll be May 2016 - yes, the same day as the Assembly elections.

A final, pithy thought from the Welsh Local Government Association:

"The WLGA would like to congratulate local Returning Officers and their officials across Wales for their efficient running of these elections despite the poor public turn out. We hope that their day was not too dull."