I'm the Hen Ferchetan. This is my take on the world through the eyes of Wales. While mostly about Welsh politics (that most famous of dour topics!) I try to scatter some humour around, but I doubt anyone but me will find it funny! Have a read, and if it bores you then feel free to never come back!

Saturday, 3 May 2008

Who, What and Where

So election day is over for another month and, for once, we actually had quite an interesting local election that has left countless ex-Councillors £15,000 a year worse off. Here's the blow-by-blow of each council.

ANGLESEY
Lot of councillors booted out on the island, but mostly independents losing to independents. Labour will spin their +5 as a great result, but most of those were independent councillors who had been booted out of the party by Labour in 2004 for making deals with Plaid who have now been greeted back into the fold. The most notable result was infamous planning committee member John Arthur Jones being thrashed by Plaid. Both the Tories and Lib Dems also made gains as the Council remains NOC.

BLAENAU GWENT
Labour, very predictably, lose control of Blaenau Gwent to NOC. 8 of their Councillors get the boot, mostly to independents. Labour has now lost all of it's Blaenau Gwent power; the Council, the London seat and the Assembly seat.The independents could stick the knife in and prevent Labour from even being part of the administration here.

BRIDGEND
Along with Neath, the good news area for Labour. They gained 5 seats with the Lib Dems, Tories and independents slipping. Unfortunately for Labour this left them 1 seat short of seizing the Council from NOC. The "Everyone-But-Labour" coalition will struggle without an outright majority.

UPDATE:BBC reports that Labour have struck a deal with two independents, meaning that they will form a cabinet.

CAERPHILLY
Probably the Council that's hardest to guess where it goes from here after Labour loses to NOC. Labour losses to Plaid sees them both with 32 seats. The balance of power is held by the 9 independents - whichever party can reach an agreement with at least 5 of them will rule Caerphilly.

CARDIFF
An absolute disaster for Labour in the capital with the loss of 14 seats. The Tories, Lib Dems and Plaid all benefit in a council that remains NOC. The school re-organisation plans is the key here. Plaid voted against the proposals last time, angering many of their supporters in doing so. Demand for Welsh-language education in the capital far outstrips demand and the failure to agree a re-organisation has left the system in a spin. If the Lib Dems make some token changes to their plan, leaving a few more English-language schools open, then expect Plaid to support it and a Yellow-Green coalition to rule Cardiff.

CARMARTHEN
Probably Plaid's greatest success this time round. A gain of 14 seats from Labour gives them a total of 30. Not enough to seize the Council from NOC, but still significant. Since 1999 Carmarthen is the one place where Plaid has truly managed to turn Green. Adam Price has made the previously safe Dr Alan Labour seat a Plaid stronghold and come next year Plaid will have an outside shot of the Llanelli scalp. Helen Mary has the Assembly seat and yesterday Plaid seized some big Labour seats in the Saucepan Town.

CEREDIGION
Plaid won't be sure whether they should celebrate or curse their luck in Ceredigion. A gain of 3 seats makes them easily the largest party but they were 3 seats short of seizing the Council from NOC. Their candidate for the Lib Dem held parliamentary seat also lost his Council seat making a big dent in their hopes of recapturing Ceredigion next year. In a typical Lib Dem maneuver their MP worked hard in the ward of the Plaid candidate and will be very pleased with the result. Plaid need to convince three of the 12 independents to support them if they are to take control of Ceredigion - but expect the Council to continue to be ruled by an "Everyone-but-Plaid" Alliance.

CONWY
Great result for the Tories, gaining 8 seats in an area where they will hope to win a London seat next year. Plaid saw a small gain while Labour, Lib Dems and the Independents lost ground. The Council remains NOC with the Tories easily the biggest party and Plaid pushing Labour to third place.

DENBIGHSHIRE
Very similar to Conwy, the Tories make big gains in a Council that remains NOC, this time at the expense of independents. Small gains for Plaid and the Lib Dems while Labour sit still.

FLINTSHIRE
Another catastrophe for Labour, 13 councillors lose their seat as the Council slips to NOC. Independents and Tories make the big gains with Plaid sitting still and the Lib Dems gaining 1.

GWYNEDD
The fly in Plaid's ointment in this election, their stronghold slips to NOC. If any of the Council elections has to be looked at separately, this is it. While Plaid lost 8, Labour also lost 4 and the Lib Dems lost 1. The Tories remain nonexistent. The big winners were independents and Llais Gwynedd -the protest party set up to oppose the Council's school reorganisation plan. Plaid lose their Council leader as well as Dafydd Iwan, the Party's President. Don't be surprised however if Plaid actually get a majority here before 2012 -if they humbly back off the school plan then they might well entice 3 of the independents/Llais Gwynedd into their fold before the next election. The national party has to be fuming at their Gwynedd councillors for creating this situation as it puts a bad spin on what was otherwise a good day for the nationalists.

MERTHYR
Another Labour loss to NOC. Independents and Lib Dems benefit. Independents now have the number to control this council without either of the big named parties.

MONMOUTHSIRE
One of the "sure fire bets" of the election as the Tories hold with an increased majority. Lib Dems also make gains while Labour and Plaid slip a little.

NEATH
Easily Labour's best result of the day.The collapse of the Ratepayer's Association saw Labour gain 1 seat and retain control of the Council. Plaid and the Lib Dems also made small gains.

NEWPORT
Labour's last city is lost to NOC.Even though there are 6 seats still to be determined (elections postponed due to the death of two candidates) Labour cannot regain their majority. The best they can hope for is to get exactly half the seats. Their fate was sealed when two 3-seat wards went to a recount - Labour eventually lost half of them. The loss of 8 seats leaves them only 2 ahead of the Tories. We will probably have to wait until the last 6 seats are determined before we know where the balance of power lies. If Labour gets them all, they could deal with the 1 independent to get a working majority. If any of the other 3 parties get just one of the seats, a Rainbow coalition could rule in Wales' second City.

PEMBROKSHIRE
A Labour slip at the expense of the Tories leave all three big parties with 5 seats. The Lib Dems follow closely with 3 but, as usual in this NOC Council, the power on Pembroke remains with the independents.

POWYS
The Tories take nine seats from the independents, but Powys is, and always will be, a NOC Council ruled by the independents.

RHONDDA
Labour hold on comfortably but take a hit of 12 seats. Chris Bryant's "Plaid are dead in Rhondda" rings a little hollow as the nationalists gain 7 seats. Plaid actually took 10 from Labour, but lost a seat each to the Lib Dems, independents and, surprisingly, the Tories. Rhondda now has a Tory councillor - now those are words I never though I'd be saying!

SWANSEA
Not much change here. Only thing of note is Plaid losing 3 out of their 4 councillors-not a good result for them. Council remains NOC, Labour remains largest party.

TORFAEN
A bad night for Labour would have seen them lose Newport, Blaenau Gwent, Caerphilly and Flint. Losing Torfaen to NOC was not in the script, not even in the script of their disaster movie. 16 Labour Councillors were booted out, mostly to Independents. Both the Tories and Plaid made gains, pushing the Lib Dems from 2nd to 4th place.

VALE OF GLAMORGAN
Again very predictably the Tories seize control of the Vale from NOC, the only Council to be "won" by anyone in this election. They took 5 councillors from labour and Plaid - enough for a 3 seat majority.

WREXHAM
Labour decimated in North Wales' only city. Even with the threat of Forward Wales now dead, Labour continued to slip. The Lib Dems emerge as the largest party while Plaid will be thrilled to get their first four seats on the Council that remains NOC.


So how will the parties feel?


LABOUR will undoubtedly be dismayed. They lost well over a hundred councillors in Wales. They will blame the results on the London party and on economic forces they could not control. The fact that Labour lost big in England, and that Ken lost to Boris, will support this evaluation. What makes this result so bad for Labour is that it was a defeat after a defeat. 2004 was a disaster for Labour, to fall back even further in 2008 leaves them weak across the country. They will be fearing next year's general election, although any defeats there will be seen in the UK wide context of what is likely to be a very bad election. If they do lose in 2009 they may well be able to regroup by 2012 and regain some of these losses. It is incredible that they now have exactly the same number of Councils in Wales as the Tories do!

The TORIES will be very happy. While they didn't romp home in style they made gains nearly everywhere, getting about 50 extra councillors. They consolidated their control of Momouth and took the Vale of Glamorgan. They had hopes of doing much better in the Capital but won't let that dampen their joy. A very solid result, not exceptional but very solid none the less. The party's gains in England and London will probably overshadow their Welsh gains however.

PLAID will, eventually, see this as a good election. They made gains across the board and have four Councils within their grasps come the next election (Need 3 seats in Ceredigion and Gwynedd, 5 in Caerphilly and 7 in Carmarthen). They won seats in Wrexham and could have a big say as a junior partner in the Capital. In the short term however Plaid will be devastated to lose their only Council, Gwynedd. While they will eventually accept that Gwynedd succumbed to local issues (namely the education reform plan) and isn't a reflection of their national position they will suffer in the short term from the bad press. They will also be less confident of regaining the London Ceredigion seat after their candidate lost his place on the Council. An interesting note to cheer up Plaid. Even though in 1999 they ruled 3 councils (Gwynedd, Rhondda, Caerphilly) and now rule none - they have two more Councillor today than they had in 1999, which was supposedly a "one-off freak" result.

The LIB DEMS will probably feel the opposite of Plaid. In the short term they will see this as a very satisfactory result, they consolidated their status as largest party in most of their Cities and overall won about 15 councillors. They showed that the protest vote they got in 2004 was not just about Iraq and showed that the Welsh party has, to some extent, regrouped after their 2007 calamities. In the long term however this result might not be seen as quite so successful. Labour is even more unpopular now than it was in 2004, both the Tories and Plaid made much bigger gains than the Lib Dems. They now find themselves as the fifth party of Welsh local politics, slipping behind the Tories (Independents are first). Their Ceredigion MP will be very happy to have orchestrated the fall of his Plaid opponent-to-be.

And there we go, the 2008 Welsh local elections are done and dusted. Another 12 months now until we go into General Election mode, then another 12 months until it's the European Parliament time and then another 12 months until it's Assembly elections again. There will also (maybe) be a referendum to fit in too!



4 comments:

Normal Mouth said...

A really good round-up - thanks.

Valleyboy said...

Rhondda hasn't got a Tory councillor. The Tory is in Llantwit Fadre, in the Taff Ely (Pontypridd) part of Rhondda Cynon Taff, an area which has seen big housing developments in recent years, as its good commuter territory. Its not such a shock when you know the area.

Hen Ferchetan said...

You are correct of course valleyboy, but as you can see I was referring to the whole Council as Rhondda(I know it should be Rhondda Cynon Taf(Taf not Taff by the way, that's the official name these days)but I was lasy-same reason as I put Neath instead of Neath Port Talbot and Merhyr instead of Merhyr Tudful!

Anonymous said...

an article about this RCT Tory...

http://howstrangeitis.wordpress.com/2008/05/04/the-only-tory-in-the-village/