Thursday, 22 December 2011

A year's a long time

From a pink elephant to Father Christmas, what a political year it’s been. 
In Wales, It started so promisingly for the political class, they had a referendum to occupy themselves with. Should Wales have direct law making powers or not?
You’d think it would raise some real passion, not a bit of it. Those that wanted a real fight were sadly disappointed. 
In the yes corner you had the whole of the Welsh establishment. In the other corner a pink inflatable elephant.  No contest. A win for the “yes” side and for more powers. 
A majority in all areas of Wales apart from, you guessed it, Monmouthshire. The settled view of the minority that bothered to vote and a big yawn for over 60% of the population outside the Cardiff Bay bubble, who couldn’t care less.
And, just like buses, you wait for ages for a referendum and then two come along together. No sooner had the one on more powers for Wales been concluded, the country was being asked what voting system it wanted for Westminster elections. The answer? “Don’t care a toss”, with only 41% bothering to vote. 
The real losers were the Liberal Democrats who had  been pushing for “a fair voting system” for years. By “fair” they meant the Single Transferrable Vote (STV) but the coalition negotiations foisted the Alternative Vote (AV) system on them. And even this would not happen without a win in a referendum.
The vote was lost. The “yes” for change vote was 32.1%, the “no” got over twice as much with 67.9%.
Not a good year for the Liberal Democrats. Their u-turn on students fees made them the target of student protests, a lost  vote on AV and by the year end their coalition partners pull the rug from under them, on Europe. It’s difficult to see what the Liberal Democrats are getting out of the coalition, except for some, their butts on the back seat of government chauffeured cars.
But PR came to the party's aid in May's Welsh elections. The  system prevented the Liberal Democrats from a wipe out in the Welsh Assembly elections.  

Despite dropping down to their lowest share of the vote, a little over ten per cent, they still returned five Assembly Members. Only down one from when they had about 15% of the vote. 
Mind you, it took a while before two of those list places could be filled. Two of the candidates concerned had cocked up their declaration forms.  They were members of prescribed public bodies and were ineligible to take up seats in the Assembly. 
After a suspension, one came back, namely Aled Roberts, but John Dixon failed to win support and had to step down in favour of Eluned Parrot, the next Liberal Democrat on the South Wales Central list.
But the real losers in the May elections were Plaid Cymru. They lost their grip on power.
Oh how, they must have though after such a success in the referendum a grateful electorate would reward them. Not a bit of it. They polled abominably.  They took third place, 3 seats behind the Conservatives who reached 14 seats.  Plaid’s worse results since the National Assembly was established and the Conservatives best.
But for the Conservative’s success was bittersweet, in the form of a lost leader. Nick Bourne their leader lost his seat on the top of the Conservative list in Mid Wales because of the success of the party in winning constituency seats. Result Bourne out, and after the steady hand of interim leader Paul Davies, Andrew RT Davies in. He just nosed in front of Nick Ramsey to become the first Conservative Leader of the Opposition in the Welsh Assembly.
And the winner, Carwyn Jones’s Labour. Half the seats in the Assembly, the Liberal Democrats back his budget so it’s all plain sailing for him. 
But in politics it’s seldom without hitches. Christmas bought an unexpected gaff when he questioned on S4C the existence of Father Christmas.  Result,  Paddy Power, make him 10/1 to resign next year.
And that was the year that was in Welsh politics. This blog will go into winter hibernation for a few days now. Back with you in the new year.
So have a good Christmas one and all.


  1. And may I wish you a very Happy Christmas.

    Have fun.

  2. I was talking to Santa Clause in Debenhams yesterday, and he was questioning the existence of the First Minister. Really- when you think about it - there is very little evidence of his existence, apart from some watery Western Mail articles!