Friday, 6 May 2016

First electoral post-mortem

I thought that after seeing all the election results (apart from those for police and crime commissioners) and catching up on sleep, I might have a chance of putting together a more objective consideration of the situation. A few more things have come into focus, but this is still going to be incoherent.

My first response in the counting-hall last night, after the realisation that I had lost my deposit and thus would not be able to replace the busted tuner in my sound system, was that UKIP would make the gain on the regional list that the pollsters had predicted. The message to Labour voters not to waste their list vote but use it to block Conservative and UKIP regional representatives did not get through to most. Useless votes piled up when they could have been used to keep Peter Black and perhaps even elect a Green. Some votes went to Plaid Cymru who have a second regional representative. The effect of this remains to be seen.

Steve Hunt did himself proud in his first run at a parliamentary election, especially as he confessed that he had done no canvassing or leafleting, relying on his reputation and his Facebook presence. As an independent, he no doubt capitalised on the feeling against party which has grown up. This anti-party feeling may also have some impact on the police and crime commissioner election, to be counted later this weekend. In Neath at least there were signs that Alun Michael, the Labour incumbent in South Wales, is going to be hard-pressed by independent Mike Baker.

Congratulations to Jeremy Miles who from his non-triumphalist accession speech, and from his demeanour at the Neath hustings, is clearly determined to represent all his constituents, across party boundaries as his predecessor Gwenda Thomas did.

UKIP made themselves a nuisance out of all proportion to their number in the 751-seat European Parliament. In the 60-seat Senedd, their capacity for disruption is even greater and there is a danger of the Assembly for Wales becoming dysfunctional. What is just as likely is that they will take the Welsh taxpayers' money and run, leaving no effective opposition to a complacent Labour government.

The people of Neath, Port Talbot, Bridgend and Swansea have lost the services of not only a hard-working and progressive AM in Peter Black, but also of an equally hard-working office which has taken up the cases of people let down by government and who other representatives have been unable to help.

In the past, Liberals and Liberal Democrats nationally have been saved by party representatives hanging on in Wales and the West Country. Now it looks as if it is England which is going to come to our rescue. Liberal Democrats made more gains in the local government elections than any other party. They even regained a toe-hold in Liverpool. Scottish Liberal Democrats have hung on.

Finally, my thanks to the few hundred people who did vote for me and the Liberal Democrats in Neath. I am not going to give up and the Liberal Democrats in Neath and Port Talbot are not going to go away.

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