Sunday, 4 August 2013

Leading from the front

The Ynys Môn by-election landslide continues to cause ripples - of delight in Plaid ranks, of dismay and disillusion in all the other parties.

The focus has rightly been on the victorious candidate, Rhun ap Iorwerth, but the professional nature of the campaign was vital to that landslide. The data collected will stand Plaid in good stead for the coming European and Westminster elections.

Political analyst Richard Wyn Jones makes some perceptive comments about the campaign, highlighting Plaid rediscovering its ability to campaign and win. He also explains that that the Ynys Môn result - together with Plaid's success in a Caerffili council by-election on the same night - was at odds with a recent opinion poll. This showed Labour's vote up significantly in Wales but, as Jones says, it's a remarkably soft vote.

Voting Labour is now a reactive position if you don't like what the Tories are doing. There are few positive reasons to vote for a lacklustre Miliband, veering wildly Blairite attacks on the unions and a desire to keep those union paymasters on board. Labour's focus is on winning back Tory voters in the south-east of England and that means tacking further to the right - not an attractive proposition for Welsh voters.

 There are even fewer reasons to vote for the lazy Labour Government in Cardiff, where Carwyn Jones presides over a failing NHS and a failing education system with no vision for improving the Welsh economy. In many parts of Wales, Labour is being blamed for the current health crises by focusing on re-adjusting the bureaucracy rather than improving frontline healthcare.

 To top it all, Labour-run councils across Wales are planning millions of pounds worth of cuts to services and jobs. This could include outsourcing and privatising entire council departments, bringing Labour into conflict with council workers and unions.

People in Caerffili and Ynys Môn didn't vote Labour because they could see a more dynamic vision and ambition for Wales in Plaid Cymru.

The credit for that must go to everyone who took part but in particular two people who have led from the front and inspired the grassroots from the minute these by-elections were called.

 Leanne Wood is a hands-on leader who was out delivering "Good Morning" leaflets at 5.45am in Bro Aberffraw and then knocking on supporters' doors until 9pm at night. This was her first Assembly election test and she led by example, inspiring hundreds of other Plaid members to join her on the island.

The other person leading from the front was Plaid chief executive Rhuanedd Richards, who ensured the campaign was focussed and targetted as all future Plaid campaigns will be. They must be if we are to become the largest party in the Assembly in 2016.


Anonymous said...

We need to calm down a bit about the results- we kept seats we didn't gain any new ground. Put it this way- I didnr see Thu as the first step of a Plaid gov

The main positive we need to take out is that the campaign on YM was fantastically well organised. This should replicated elsewhere.

In fact I'd like to see another Plaid by election from one of the AMs that will retire. Weve shown we can win them and keeping a seat in 2016 is easier than trying to gain one.

Anonymous said...

I'm very impressed with Leanne Wood. You're right - she has lead from the front and shown the workers on the ground real leadership - and love - for every part of Wales.

And it's not just in Mon. She's been on the bara brith circuit for over a year now, visiting and talking to branches right across Wales. I had to find a map where some of these villages were!

If Plaid can start challenging Labour and explain how an independent Wales will deliver a better Wales then Labour will have to defend the useless set-up which we have in Wales. It will also get more coverage in the press and media. It's time for us to stop apologising. We've got a great message and an exciting one. The time for fumbled, afraid answers on independence is over, it's time to convert a soft Plaid vote into votes for nationalism.

Plaid Whitegate said...

@Anon 09.57 - the scale of the victory against the main challenger Labour (who could, remember, have won an overall majority had they gained this seat) is significant. Ieuan held this with a 2,000 majority - it's now 9,000. Plaid learned valuable lessons for future campaigns and I'm not sure Labour did.

@Anon 10.24 - I like "Bara brith circuit" and agree she's done a lot of work making the leadership more accessible to ordinary members.

With victories comes confidence and that will show itself in counterposing Wales's relative poverty within the UK and our potential prosperity outside the UK.

Anonymous said...

I think it was a seriously good result, increasing IWJ's majority to a ridiculous margin.

What this doesn't mean though is that we can "convert soft Plaid votes into nationalism". We don't have a great message on independence. Nobody can yet explain how the finances would stack up, and that's the thing that most concerns people.

We need to walk before we can run and compete electorally with Labour in more parts of Wales, using good local candidates and a more ambitious message. As happened in Ynys Mon and presumably Caerphilly.

We're doing well and there's no need to start setting unachievable aims. We are a long way from our eventual goals and there are more immediate issues we need to get right first.

Plaid Whitegate said...

As Osborne keeps reminding us, the UK's finances don't stack up at the moment yet nobody is questioning its ability to retain its independence. Wales has been cursed by self-doubt - a state of affairs encouraged by a Labour Party that doesn't want people thinking and acting for themselves. A bit of boldness, ambition and confidence a la Salmond could transform the political climate and Ynys Môn will contribute towards that.

Anonymous said...

Nobody is questioning the UK's independence because the deficit isn't that bad as a proportion of GDP. It could become much worse before the UK would need a bailout or IMF assistance.

The point is, UK finances stack up better than Welsh finances. You simply can't have a country where the deficit is worth 40% of GDP. It isn't possible to be independent on that basis and still pay everyone's salary.

You have to look at how the Welsh self-doubt can be overcome gradually. The results are a good sign but we shouldn't get carried away and think they mean people suddenly want an independent Wales! That's wishful thinking.