Friday, 16 March 2012

Leanne Wood, the bell curve, and Wylfa B

There are very little votes to the Left of Labour
Yesterday Leanne Wood was elected as the new Leader of Plaid Cymru. A self professed socialist and avowed republican, she was throughout the leadership campaign the Plaid Activists' choice (the various Plaid supporting blogs have spent the last months collectively swooning over her). The problem for any political party however is that there is generally something of a gulf between what its own activists want, and the views of the average person who may vote for that party. This will be especially true for Plaid Cymru which has anyway relied on cobbling together support from two diverse demographic constituencies: the 'iaith a gwlad' vote in North West Wales and the Left of Labour vote in the South. Ieuan Wyn Jones actually manage to hold these two groups together pretty well, but I think its obvious that Leanne Wood — a first language English speaker from South Wales who wants to attack Labour from the Left — will probably end up alienating a considerable portion of Plaid's traditional support in the North. No doubt she will appeal to some who have never voted Plaid before, but the problem for her is that the majority of votes are to be found in the centre ground of the political bell curve: on the centre-left and centre-right. Putting forward a policy agenda on the friges of the centre-left may excite Plaid's activists, but it will necessarily bring only diminishing demographic returns. 

(Incidentally, in case you are thinking "well, he would say that wouldn't he", I note that John Dixon, Plaid's former National Chair, has just written something similar).

On top of all this, and as fellow Plaid leadership contender Lord Dafydd Elis-Thomas himself repeatedly said, Leanne Wood will also especially alienate Ynys Môn voters because of her hardline stance against Wylfa B. She reiterated her complete opposition to Wylfa B just last month in front of local Plaid members during a campaign visit to Llangefni — a meeting in which she also first revealed her plan to replace the thousands of lost Nuclear jobs by siting a massive Quango called the "Energy Department for Wales" on Ynys Môn instead. According to Leanne this will be paid for by winning "control of Crown Estate revenue and a fair share of nuclear decommissioning funds". Even in the unlikely case that Crown Estate monies could be won, I find it extremely difficult to understand how money which is supposed to be spent on safely decommissioning Wylfa could instead be diverted into funding Leanne's pet Quango? Obviously this policy was not meant to be taken seriously — it is merely a convenient crutch for her and Plaid's Ynys Môn local election candidates to use next year to try to show that, despite all evidence to the contrary, they do not want to further damage Ynys Môn's stumbling economy for the sake of burnishing Leanne's 'socialist', anti-nuclear credentials. 


John Dixon said...


I can't argue with the accuracy of your statement that I've made similar points about the ideological disposition of voters. I haven't exaclty drawn the same conclusion, though...

228FPA said...


Land, Cuckoo, Cloud

Seems what the PC really want is more "Welsh government jobs" - who pays?

God help us if it ever becomes a reality.

Anonymous said...

Didn't she get throw out of the senate yesterday for treating the Queen with disrespect/

mairede thomas said...

I expect Welsh Labour is pleased with the result. If I where them I would be.

Anonymous said...

Many people enjoy saying that Leanne is 'too left', but looking at her ideas, which in particular do you find 'too left'? They all seem centre left to me, but radical in approach. And by heck, we need a radical approach to tackle the dire Welsh economy.

228FPA - no, what Plaid really wants is to improve the Welsh economy so that it is in a much stronger position. Decades of failed Tory and Labour rule have left West Wales and the Valleys with a GDP of 68% of the European average whilst the City of London has a GDP of over 300% of the European average. These recently released figures mean the the UK is one of the most unequal countries in the developed world. That is not the sort of country I wish to live in.

Iwan Rhys

Anonymous said...

Anonymous, next time the Queen visits she could always use the "Villa in Tuscany" manoeuvre, tradition with PC leaders.

Paul Williams said...

John - you are quite right. But I think the point you were making in your post is that Leanne's success may not come from the ballot box, but in changing attitudes in Wales towards her stated goals. To me this would implicitly imply that ballot box gains may be difficult to come by...

228FPA said...

"...228FPA - no, what Plaid really wants is to improve the Welsh economy so that it is in a much stronger position.....,"

Well all I can say is that to date their efforts have been an abysmal failure - IJW at MP/AM and Deputy First Minister - I can't see this COUNTY let alone this COUNTRY being any better off after him.

PC are so good at blaming everybody else for everything.

They all talk a good job - period.

John Dixon said...

Paul - again, I cannot exactly disagree, but wouldn't have used the same words! I see it more as a 'chicken and egg' question, in that, as a general rule, electoral success for a nationalist party, can be expected to increase in parallel with, rather than precede, the work of convincing people about the direction to take. Part of the point that I was making - and have been making for some time - is that seeking electoral success instead of seeking to win the arguments has inevitably led to the apparent abandonment of goals, and the subsequent confusion about what Plaid stands for.

The Red Flag said...

Plaid's position on Wylfa B is neither here nor there. As you very well know, nuclear power is 'UK Strategic'. Not only has it got absolutely nothibg to do with the citizens of Anglesey, it has nothing to do with the council, nothing to do with the Assembly and nothing even to do with Parliament. It is controlled, decided and implemented by Cabinet. Consultations are carried out merely out of good manners.

Leanne Wood knows and publicly states the realities - if you want power in Wales you have to fight Labour in the valleys and the southern strip. Anywhere else is merely a sideshow of little relevance.

The fact that she holds a valley seat and is first language English will blow holes in the argument that Plaid is a rural culturalist party confined to Anglesey and Gwynedd.

You Druid will probably profit because the Plaid rural vote will drift your way provided the tory mantra moves more pro-EU. That said however, Leanne Wood is very vociferous 'pro' on Wales and farming Agricultural subsidies sway a lot of votes in a rural area. However I should imagine that in turn Plaid will make inroads into the LibDem vote purely because they will have a single position on nuclear again.

But most of all if I were Labour I would be worried. Very very worried. A huge chunk of Labour's core vote in Wales - pariculalrly in the north-east and down in the south only remained faithful because there was no other more left wing alternative.

There is now.

JohnJ said...

Its good to hear that Leanne Wood has made her case clear on Wylfa B, but as has been mentioned the policy comes from London.
Nuclear Power had little to do with electricity as it was a source of by-products(Plutonium) for nuclear weapons in the first place (please correct me if I am wrong), it was sold to a gullible population as "TO CHEAP TO METER FUEL".
It now costs DECC over 3/4 of their budget for decommissioning alone.

Nuclear power is rather a MORAL issue, when things go wrong as they will and do the results are catastrophic.
The issue of waste has not been dealt with (in my opinion never will) and yet the current government want to add yet more burden's to its citizens and future generations, so on this issue Leanne Wood speaks from the HEART of a tender Mother.

JohnJ said...

Cancer cluster downwind of Wylfa

Welsh-language TV channel S4C has reported new evidence of a cancer cluster near the nuclear power stations at Wylfa in Wales.
Commissioned by S4C, Professor Chris Busby analysed official data for cancer deaths, showing a statistically significant 58% increase in female breast cancer and 50% increased lung cancer in men downwind of the two Magnox reactors, which began production in 1971

Anonymous said...

I agree. If the party reflects here ideologies she will polarise many, many people. However I quite like that: I hate the fact that in the UK and in particular Wales parties are so similar: you compare manifestos of parties and there is very little difference. So I would also welcome a more conservative Conservative party, more socialist Labour party etc so we can all have a genuine choice.

Her election will in my view be bad for Labour in the South, I think it is the main reason why Plaid chose her. But this could very well be at the cost of Dwyfor-Meirionydd and dare I say it; Ynys Mon?

Anonymous said...

Just imagine if Wales was a republic and Leanne Wood had her way, we would have a president unstead of the monarchy. The president would be another "Sadam" liviing luxury with exclusive palaces with trappings of his or her office. How much better would the ordinary welsh person be, having to subsidise another "sponger" on illafforded welsh taxes. God help us !
We are far better off united with the United Kingdom and the present monarchy. Our present queen has ruled with true passion and care for her subjects, and given wonderful service to our country.
I end with the fact that Prince William and Kate have done more for Anglesey than any politician has done in the short time they have been here. Now Ynys Mon is known through out the world.

Un o Fon

JohnJ said...

Anonymous 17:51 you said all parties seem much the same. It is so sad that even the Conservatives have abandoned the man woman marriage for a two man or two woman marriage (it may not stop there). It seems by the proposals that we could get a two husband marriage or a two wife marriage instead of a husband and wife marriage.
I find that there is not a party that I can vote for any more, so very sad.

I have heard it said that just by the natural population increase here in the U.K by the year 2050 we will have become a Muslim nation,(as they have more children than the native population) maybe they can sort out the marriage issue as they have very strong views on marriage!

Anonymous said...

. The president would be another "Sadam" liviing luxury with exclusive palaces with trappings of his or her office.

Do you know this is true and can prove it?

Or are you a liar?

As for . end with the fact that Prince William and Kate have done more for Anglesey than any politician has done in the short time they have been here. Again can you prove it? Are we suddenly overrun with tourists? Or are things just the same as they were the day before? Or have they got worse? These politicians you mention, by any chance do you include that ignorant man Cameron who - on live TV during the roayla wedding, when asked by an American journalist where Anglesey was refered to it as "A small island of the coast of England." With tories like that Plaid should cruise it.

Anonymous said...

"Or are things just the same as they were the day before?"

This is a good question to ask of the Euromillions spent regenerating Anglesey over the last 10 years.

Why do these things fail? Is it the people running it, or is it a hopeless cause. It must be one or the other.

The Red Flag said...

I remember Cameron making that comment about Anglesey during the Royal Wedding. An Eton education and all he thinks of Wales is it's part of England. One of the more memorable things about the day. That and that hideous hat one of Sarah Ferguson's brood was wearing.

Anonymous said...

One thing the council did to 'honour' the prince was to replace the newly installed road signs for Bethel and Hermon, with solid stone plinths. The Bethel one was done twice. They'll put flowers in this year. Everywhere else on Anglesey has the standard metal signs.

Anonymous said...

"the majority of votes are to be found in the centre ground of the political bell curve:"

That may have been the case in the last decade or three, but in the last decade or three, we haven't demonstrably had the likes of Goldman Sachs (and their puppets in the Millionaire's Cabinet and elsewhere) in charge of the Western economy.

There is currently no "clear blue water" between the two main parties. There is more "clear blue water" between Clegg and what remains of his party membership than there is between Clegg and the other parties.

Interesting times ahead for the Big Two (plus Clegg). There *might* be an opportunity here for Plaid.

Anonymous said...

And how might an aspiring local politician represent those - and they do actually exist, Mr. Druid - who do not agree with Wylfa B?

It's easy to go after the populism of Wylfa B now. Rather less easy to deal with the legacy left to future generations.

Politically, Wylfa B is great for those who want to lead us. Logically, it is an idiotic proposition.

mairede thomas said...

There are good reasons for not wanting Wylfa B, however without Wylfa or coal (or more recently gas) we would have to go back around 55 years to a time when hardly anyone had cars and lots of rural communities on the island didn't have electricity. The way we managed then was by walking to most local places and doing lots of other stuff around the house and farm by hand. Some people hardly ever went off the island and a trip to Bangor was an annual event. Think about it.

Anonymous said...

Can you please explain what Wylfa B,Gas and Coal have to do with transport?

mairede thomas said...

Anon @ 14.39

If the price of oil continues its upward trend we may be looking at electric cars and more trains in the not too distant future. Nuclear power, coal and gas are, and probably will continue to be, the main source of power used to produce electricity. But that was not the underlying point of what I was saying. I just want readers to imagine what it would be like without a ready supply of energy in all its forms. It may not be all that bad but I guess most people would not want to go back to how it was.

Insider said...

Today from the Kremlin.

IOACC to face its endemic behavior head on tomorrow.(21st April) following exposure of Ombudsman's documents from 2011.

Watch this space tomorrow morning.

Insider said...

Holyhead and Anglesey Mail today."

"Highly prejudicial" Material should not be put on internet says councillor Durkin as Code of conduct complaint referred to hearing.

With the revelations of Ombudsman's warning to the council last year.Is this the end of the council's tyranny and those at the top? And are suspensions around the corner? You can bet on it.

The Red Flag said...

"M.T - Can you please explain what Wylfa B,Gas and Coal have to do with transport?"

Electricity. All forms of transport in the UK - even horses, spacehoppers and skateboards, require electricity either directly or indirectly. You try making a car without electricity - see how far you get.

Anonymous said...

Shewed, clever call him what you will but Council Durkin has raised the anti and in the process will surely do the people of Anglesey a great favor by getting rid of those who have been treating us all with contempt and abuse for many years.

I think the end is nigh for quite a few and not before time, that's if there's anyone left after the Ombudsman has finished with them.

Anonymous said...

"If the price of oil continues its upward trend we may be looking at electric cars"

Battery cars a brilliant idea the excess and unpredictable power from Wind Turbines can be fully utilized stored in the cars batteries.The cars can be linked to the national grid thereby utilizing our best natural resource!!!
But what about shadow flicker, low resonance sound, Bat and bird killing monsters, destroying landscapes,and making some very rich....problem??

Never mind we better carry on as we are polluting ever more of our planet. Best not welcome change.

Insider again said...

News from the Kremlin today.
"Highly prejudicial material should not be put on internet"

"A council spokesman said "As with all council meetings open to the public, the Standards Committee agenda and relevant papers were published on our website and distributed to our mailing list ahead of the meeting on March 14."

What a load of crap.

Firstly, 90% of the papers are not relevant. Secondly the Ombudsman has already warned the Council's Legal Dept, back in August 2011.

"The contents of the the report are considered to be confidential until such time as the matter has been considered and CONCLUDED by the Committee. Please be aware that the disclosure of details of this report to the local press or media is a breach. You are therefore advised not to discuss this matter with anyone."

So who do you think for the chop?

mairede thomas said...

"you're never going to get enough energy from wind to run a society such as ours", "Windmills! You can cover the whole country with the blasted things, millions of them. Waste of time" - this quote is taken from an interview on 1 March 2008 in The Guardian with James Lovelock, the scientist whose work in atmospheric science alerted the world to climate change.

He says only nuclear power can deliver enough carbon free energy to stop ever faster climate change.

He considers that the greatest challenge now is to produce enough food in a world damaged by climate change.

So build nuclear power stations; protect the rain forest; and protect land on which you can produce food, that's what his research, conducted over the last 40 years, has proven to him needs to be done.

I agree.

Disgusted said...

Following such a flagrant breach of Councillor Durkin's legal and convention of Human Rights, how can the Ombudsman and the council's standards committee now expect to give him a fair hearing to defend himself against the allegations of breaching the Councillors code of conduct, It seems to me the other way round, and those responsible should be sacked.

Anonymous said...

Whats the matter with this council,
does it have a self destruction syndrome?

If they don't know, that making evidence public before a hearing has been convened and concluded, is prejudicial, particularly if it's not relevant to the case and could be seen to undermine credibility, then their in the wrong job.

This case can no longer be arbitrated on and we will never know the truth. Perhaps this is why the council have done such a daft thing, so the truth about them won't be exposed?

Anonymous said...

Legal Services? More like Illegal Services.

The Red Flag said...

Have you considered that sometimes people release things they shouldn't specifically to torpedo an on-going investigation/hearing?

By doing so you can engineer a situation where the thing is dropped and neither side is at fault so to speak.

Richard Sletzer said...

Never mind nuclear power .

The real issue is Anglesey County Council's decision to save £200,000 by contracting an English company to cut the grass at the island's schools rather than hiring-in local gardening companies.

Will the council take action against those headmasters who are threatening to bar mainland mowers from Ynys Mon? I do hope so.

As for what Leanne Wood thinks about all this - well, frankly, who knows...or indeed cares?

In fact does Ms Wood even know where Anglesey is? Has she ever been here? I think we should be told.

The Red Flag said...

Richard, should not somebody be looking into why a company from the English midlands can out-bid local companies (and even companies from right across North Wales amd North West England) when they have to factor in that they will be paying their workforce higher wages than local employees would work for along with the expense of coming here? And how come it's £200K cheaper than using in-house workers who were on near minimum wage anyway.

It doesn't make sense and it stinks.

The Real Insider. said...

I never continues to amaze me what utter crap some people go on about with little or no knowledge of the subject.

The contract for grass cutting only came to £200,000 in total and out of all the companies that tendered, the one with the best price was from the North West of England and the law say's that the lowest price must be taken.

If local companies can't compete, that's tough, they should not be so greedy.

The Red Flag said...

Well the saving of 200K is mentioned by Richard Selzer above me - which is where I got it from as he's usually pretty reliable about these sort of things.

However you say a firm from North West England got it but all information available is that it's Glendale Managed Services from Leicester that got it (though they do have a depot in Chorley) But that doesn't detract from the fact that given the higher wages and the distance they will come from they still shouldn't have been able to do it cheaper than 'in-house' or cheaper than a local firm.

But if it's law that the cheapest tender gets the contract (which I doubt - I believe that there is also a duty of care that whoever is awarding the contract doesn't award it to a bidder that is obviously to low) then perhaps we should put the whole council out to tender.

Richard Sletzer said...

APOLOGY AND CORRECTION : I am afraid I have to apologise to The Druid and to Red Flag for making a mistake. The award does not, as I incorrectly said, involve a saving of £200,000.

The £200,000 (as Real Insider correctly states) was the amount bid by the winning English company Glendale Managed Services based in Leicester. Their bid was evidently less than all those bids from Anglesey firms.

The thought occurs to me that if ACC only had powers to require those in receipt of unemployment benefit to do some actual work for their dole money, the County Council could have got the job done for nothing more than the cost of petrol and plant.

The contract involves cutting the grass at 49 primary schools, five secondary schools and 12 other sites on the island.

...Sorry about the mistake though.

The Real Insider. said...

Richard Sletzer, Thanks for the Apology, an easy mistake to make.

Your thoughts about the unemployed is an interesting concept but would need to be worked out legal, never the less really worth exploring further.
I'm sure there would be plenty who would wish the opportunity.

Anonymous said...

Glendale Managed Services may or may not offer higher wages than Anglesey-based employers; they probably will come from further away than Anglesey, but they have a benefit which the Anglesey companies probably didn't have: "economies of scale" (though often bigger isn't actually better and sometimes it isn't more economical either).

Anonymous said...

But can the grass cutters communicate effectively in English and Welsh - this is the important thing, not how cheap they are, or how well they do the job.

The Red Flag said...

If you use unemployed people that means there is a job, therefore employ someone.

Using the unemployed as cheap labour removes jobs.

JohnJ said...

All those who believe that Wylfa B is the answer to the future must be deluded or seriously misinformed.

German TV: Armageddon if Spent Fuel Pool No. 4 collapses and melts down — Could change the world — Most likely consequence is that reactors 1, 2, 3, 5 and 6 get out of control — Interview with nuclear engineer (VIDEO)

Narrator: Yukitero Naka and his people know what is really happening in the nuclear ruins. [...] Even if they were able to create enough qualified engineers and staff for the next 40 years, one problem remains that could change Japan and the world.

Question: Is the nuclear power plant safe now?

Yukitero Naka, Nuclear Engineer: Well, that’s what TEPCO and the government says, but the people in there don’t believe it.

There is still a great danger.

My personal concern is the fourth reactor block.

The building has been strongly damaged by the earthquake.

There are approximately 1300 spent fuel rods in the cooling pond on level four. In the level above newer rods are stored as well as a lot of heavy machinery. This is all very, very heavy.

If another earthquake occurs then the building could collapse and another chain reaction could very likely occur.

Narrator: So, a meltdown under the free sky which would be the end of Japan as we know it today.

The radiation would be direct deadly.

The work on the ground would be totally impossible.

The most likely consequence is that reactors 1, 2, 3, 5 and 6 get out of control.


Published: March 26th, 2012 at 5:11 am ET

Insider said...

Today from the Kremlin.

Big fall out between Council and Ombudsman. Putting blame on each other

Heads could roll as early as this week. Oh how the mighty fall.

Anonymous said...

IOACC Capitulates over breaching the FOIA.
See tomorrows newspaper.