Friday, 9 June 2017

Election reflections

A presidential election focussed on UK issues was never going to be easy for Plaid Cymru. We were squeezed as many of our supporters lent their vote to Labour to "keep the Tories out".
 Despite that, in Wrexham - a constituency bombarded by Tories and Labour as a key marginal - our vote held up well and Carrie Harper stood out as a candidate in the few hustings that were held.
 It was heartening to see the increased turnout - especially among young people who it's clear were inspired to vote by a manifesto of radical change. That was Corbyn's manifesto, not Welsh Labour's.
 Of course, Welsh Labour will claim the credit for those successes but this was very much a British election where concerns over what the Tories would do to the NHS were prevalent.
 And, for all the talk of Labour success in north Wales, it should be remembered that they only succeeded in keeping their seats and regaining one of the most marginal Tory victories in 2015. Ian Lucas's majority remains a slender 1800. The Tories, with their new-found extreme right Unionist chums in the DUP, continue to rule. This was not a victory for Labour, it was making up some of the lost ground against a Government run by some of the least talented people to have graced public office.
 The youth vote was inspired into action largely via social media. It seems this may be the election where social media did play a role, despite many pundits claiming that for the past few years.
 The next Assembly elections, where the spotlight turns on Welsh Labour's performance in charge of health, education, transport and other key policy areas, will be fascinating. Labour's failure to seize opportunities to defend Wales against Tory attacks - e.g. in legislating against zero-hour contracts or devolving policing and greater tax-varying powers - will be in focus.
 Two visits by Theresa May to Wrexham didn't do the local candidate much good. It'll be interesting to see where he goes next.

 What of the other parties? It was good to see the back of the Kippers, who combine terrible politics with laughable incompetence. The Lib Dems have finally disappeared as an elected body in Wales - despite their proud history and some decent individuals, they have proved themselves to be as nasty and underhanded as ever. Neither party will be missed.
  What's clear is that politics in Wrexham as in Wales is in complete flux. People are abandoning previous tribal loyalties and that can only be a good thing.
 Plaid Cymru has had a difficult election, despite the wonderful win in Ceredigion to the hugely able Ben Lake. We have to consider how we work for Wales against huge odds in terms of the UK party machines with their millionaire backers and a media (including a BBC that seems allergic to mentioning Plaid Cymru) that regularly airbrushes Wales out of any debate.
 A night without sleep doesn't lend itself to any profound revelations but the weeks and months to come will see Plaid activists continue to build and campaign in our communities, as we look to transform our nation.
 Finally, a word of thanks to the Plaid Wrecsam team - many are new to politics and have thrown themselves into campaigning on the streets in recent months. We had a tenth of the spending power of Labour and the Tories but 100% of the commitment. We'll continue to build Team Plaid Wrecsam as the best way to achieve the change Wrexham needs.

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