Thursday, 7 November 2019

Gambling with political integrity




The Four Forsaken – the constituencies who Plaid sold out.

 Plaid's European Parliament Group
Plaid's Cymru's policy is to stay in the European Union. Plaid Cymru has one member of the European Parliament and is in a group which includes a number of parties seeking autonomy or Independence including the Scottish Nationalist Party. The Greens  also in this group .The Liberal Democrats are in the Renew Europe Group, a centrist group for Liberals and Conservative Liberals.

The plan to remain  - the Constituencies where Plaid stands down for Liberal Democrats and Greens

Plaid have decided to stand down as part of the Unite to Remain Alliance in 4 Welsh seats. The idea came from the Brecon and Radnorshire By-Election which Plaid also dropped out of, However, it was the Brexit Party standing which split the Tory vote and probably let the Liberal Democrats win

Vale of Glamorgan

2016 voted Remain
2017 General Election
Candidate

Party
Votes
Vote (%)
Change (%)
Alun Cairns
Con
25,501
47.5
1.4
Camilla Beaven
Lab
23,311
43.4
10.8
Ian Johnson *
PC
2,295
4.3
-1.3
Jennifer Geroni *
LD
1,020
1.9
-0.7
Melanie Hunter-Clarke *
UKIP
868
1.6
-9.1
Stephen Davis-Barker *
Green
419
0.8
-1.3
Sharon Lovell *
WEP
177
0.3
0.3
David Elston *
Pirate
127
0.2
0.2
* Candidate lost their deposit

This is a narrow Conservative/Labour marginal where in 2017 Plaid came 3rd with only 4.3% of the vote. Adding together the Green LD and Plaid votes they total only 7% of that vote on the day, all 3 candidates lost their deposit.Little chance of Greens winning, you might think. Are they just there to give them credibility in the Welsh Remain Alliance??

Cardiff Central

2016 voted Remain.
2017 general election results

Candidate
Party
Votes
Vote (%)
Change (%)
Jo Stevens
Lab
25,193
62.4
22.4
Gregory Stafford
Con
7,997
19.8
5.1
Eluned Parrott
LD
5,415
13.4
-13.7
Mark Hooper *
PC
999
2.5
-2.5
Benjamin Smith *
Green
420
1.0
-5.3
Mohammed Sarul-Islam *
UKIP
343
0.8
-5.6
* Candidate lost their deposit

In my day, when I stood there for Plaid in 1987, this was a 3 way marginal but now looks a “safe” Labour seat. Again, Pro leave alliance  total take between them  21.5 % ,  hardly a shoo-in. But these are weird times and anything can happen;.

Brecon and Radnorshire

2016 Voted Leave
General election Results 2017

Candidate
Party
Votes
Vote (%)
Change (%)
Chris Davies
Con
20,081
48.6
7.5
James Gibson-Watt
LD
12,043
29.1
0.8
Dan Lodge
Lab
7,335
17.7
3.0
Kate Heneghan *
PC
1,299
3.1
-1.3
Peter Gilbert *
UKIP
576
1.4
-6.9
* Candidate lost their deposit


This was the last general election.The 2019 by-election, below, is more interesting ,as it clearly the Brexit Party, not the withdrawal of Plaid who gifted the seat to the LD’s. As the Brexit Party is polling around the same level as in the by-election at the moment (11%) the LD's may not need any other help if they stand. 
 2019 By Election Results Brecon and Radnorshire
Chris Davies (Conservative): 12,401 (39%)
Tom Davies  (Labour): 1,680 (5.3%)
Jane Dodds (Liberal Democrat): 13,826 (43.5%)
Des Parkinson (Brexit Party): 3,331 (10.5%)
Liz Phillips (Ukip): 242 (0.8%) 
Lily the Pink (Monster Raving Loony Party): 334 (1%) 
Turnout: 59%.
Montgomeryshire 
 2016 voted Leave
2017 General Election Results

Glyn Davies (con)     18,075              51.8%

Jane Dodds  (LibDem) 8,790              25.2%

Iwan Jones (Labour)   5,542               15,9%

Aled Hughes, (Plaid} 1,960                5,6%

Richard Chaloner (Green)   524          1,5%


This is the only one of the seats where Plaid saved their deposit. Even with Plaid and Green votes going to LD’s, again they have not got enough to make a difference to the end result. However, Glyn Davies is retiring and standing down and Jane Dodds, having won Brecon and Radnorshire, is not available as she is defending that seat. Again, the Brexit Party might save the day for the Alliance. 
Why did Plaid join the Alliance?
Presumably Plan A was to send a larger group of Plaid MP's to Westminster and to help reverse Brexit by one means or another. Although 63% of Plaid members and supporters voted remain, the result in Wales was the highest Leave percentage in the UK per head . Plaid has clearly decided to go with what its supporters believe rather than the population as a whole. Its a strategy but it could backfire.
 But what if it the Remain Alliance after the election is not influential enough and even frozen out? There could be another hung parliament or a pro Brexit majority. In any case the number of Alliance MPs is unlikely to make Jo Swinson Prime Minister, and the Remain Alliance could end up as the junior partner of a Corbin led coalition, or the 3rd or 4th largest political group in Parliament with Boris Johnsom still in number 10. Worse still, could the LD's back Boris if the price is right? They have form.
Can Plaid increase their number of MP's and also boost Welsh Liberal democrat numbers?
The whole Welsh Unite to Remain project success relies on many variables. Plaid may have decided that their vote in the sacrificed seats is so low that their voters are temporarily expendable, Even if Plaid voters vote for non remain alliance parties they may well make little difference and Lord Ashcroft's polls show well over a third of Plaid voters voted Leave, so some may vote for Leave parties, and others may abstain The whole success of the scheme may rely on the Conservative vote split by the Brexit Party and the Labour Party not collecting pro Remain/Revoke votes in preference to the Liberal Democrats, despite their policy changes.
Success for Plaid will be a couple more seats in the UK parliament, no power except in a hung parliament and even then bit part players. Failure can be blamed on many outside factors such as those above. The extra Plaid professional politicians, office staff etc are useful for publicity and patronage, but is Westminster actually worth it?

What could change the outlook?
The ultimate success may rely on whether or not a Conservative/Brexit Party informal or formal non-aggression pact emerges. The seats where the Liberal Democrats and Greens are standing aside for Plaid  are not those where the LD's were likely to be successful, and where will their votes go?
These are interesting times and no-one can predict the election result. Whether or not you can "sell" the votes of your supporters to another party in Wales, and the favour be reciprocated is another matter. This a Brexit Election, a one off gamble for the Liberal Democrats. and I doubt their sincerity. The actual results, both  in votes and  party credibility, have yet to be seen.

Long term projections?

If all goes well will Plaid consider a longer friendship and electoral arrangements? Who knows?

Will they focus entirely on Wales or continue longing for the big time with influential mates in the UK and EU?

Will the Liberal Democrats be the king makers in the next Parliament or crash and burn? 
The Brexit issue may seem all consuming now, but it is essentially. a temporary issue, probably settled one way or another within a few years and the simmering anger within UK society may chose a different target.or a different path.  Wales is suffering neglect and exploitation .and will continue to do so under any regime which is not independence
The world's social, economic,and political unrest topped off with a climate emergency is going nowhere. I expect a rocky road and lots more surprises. Plaid need to do more than grab the coat tails of Unionists .


All to play for on December 12th 2019


Siân Caiach

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thank you for your comment which will be display once it has been moderated.