Monday, 27 September 2010

Pick and mix?

Assembly elections will soon be with us. The parties will be led to the fray by the existing party leaders. Some of them may be secretly hoping that their parties do less well than they would ever publicly admit to.
For in the strange world of Assembly elections political advantage can as often rest on your party doing badly as your party having winning ways. 
Would Alun Michael have been Wales’s First Secretary if Labour had won a few more seats in the West of Wales in that first Assembly election. Some in his own party might have wished for better results  in that part of the world so that Rhodri Morgan could have claimed the crown that many thought should have been rightfully his a bit earlier.
And so with Nick Bourne, the Conservative party leader in Wales. He holds his seat by virtue of having top place for his party on the Mid and West Wales regional list. Now for him to keep his place and be re-elected, the Conservatives must not win anymore gains the constituencies in that region. 
Up until 2006, it was possible for candidates to put their names on both their parties regional list as well as fight a constituency, indeed Nick Bourne was in such a position fighting the Brecon and Radnor constituency as well as topping the Mid and West Wales list. 
But Labour put a stop to the practice. They claimed it wasn’t right for a candidate to be rejected by the electors in a constituency and then arrive at the Assembly by virtue of the regional list. The poor electors were confused and did not like it, argued Labour. Although it was hard to find an elector that cared a fig. 
However, Peter Hain  as always, ever wishing to accommodate, put a clause in the last Government of Wales Act 2006 to stop candidates hedging their bets by fighting in both constituencies and on lists. 
However, back to the matter in hand, it is surely very much in Nick Bourne’s personal interest that Kirsty Williams the Liberal Democrat leader retains her Brecon and Radnorshire seat and that the neighbouring Montgomeryshire seat does not follow the Westminster result and become a Tory gain.
Of course, Kirsty Williams must also be hoping that Nick Bourne gets his wishes for if the Tories were to gain new seats in the region these would more than likely be at the expense of the Liberal Democrats. 
It is not too far fetched to envisage both parties having to look for new leaders after the Assembly elections. 
Of course, there is a solution - an understanding between the two parties. 
Could the love-in between the two parties that form the coalition in Westminster be replicated in Wales? It could be in both parties interest. 
If the ITVWales YouGov polls are to be believed the Liberal Democrat vote in Wales has collapsed. So it certainly would be helpful to them if the Conservatives could give them a clear run in some seats - Cardiff Central comes to mind. So a pact between the parties on the ground might help both parties. 
And such an understanding could ward off a potential embarrassment for both parties - losing their leaders. Who in their parties could ConDem such a marriage?

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