Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Interesting few months

Many people have been focussed on the coverage about whether Brown will go for an early poll.

However having been away for the Bank Holiday weekend I have been a bit slow in picking up on more local developments of interest. The Herald has run a story announcing the arrival of a new political party that promises to dislodge Plaid Cymru councillors in the elections of May 2008.

I find it a pity that Labour is not seen as a home for the protests of such people but accept this is unlikely to happen in a Gwynedd context. Perhaps one of Plaid's success since 1996 has been to corale many an "independent" under their banner and subject them to the Plaid whip. As`their influence extended they have become the establishment and show many of the traits associated with those who feel beyond reach.

This is fascinating stuff as my guess is a number of those involved with the new party include many Plaid Cymru stalwarts who know where the bodies lie ! There are a number of voices raised in protest at Plaid's actions in Gwynedd and disillusion at a small cabal who effectively wield power.

So it will still be time to start lining up the wards and the candidiates .... interesting times.


menaiblog said...

A couple of quick points Martin:

(1) Your notion that Labour could be the recipient of protest votes over the restructuring of schools & local government structures is a slightly strange one.

Both re structuring processes are the results of pressure from the Assembly government - which has been led by Labour since 1998. Gwynedd's Labour councillors are probably more in favour of re structuring primary schools than are Plaid Cymru - which is split down the middle on the issue. Indeed they would do it in a way that is less sympathetic to rural communities, which is perhaps understandable given the fact that Labour councillors invariably represent the more urban part of the county.

Having said this, I concede that the administrative re structuring & the planned school re structuring are naive & ill conceived.

(2) Recent Welsh electoral history shows us that alternative nationalist parties are always crushed electorally by Plaid. Think of Cymru Annibynnol or Llais Ceredigion for example. There are a number of easily understood reasons that I don't need delve into here for this.

Now, it's possible that Llais y Bobl aren't nationalist - in which case they can be best described as Independents with a new name. We can both agree, I suspect, that it's a good job that the dishonest independent tradition is dying in Wales. If Llais y Bobl is such a party then it might or might not have a couple of local successes, but it will not succeed in achieving much because it's part of a dying tradition.

Martin Eaglestone said...

Several valid points including the fact that the Council's current stance generally seems to give considerable benefit to rural schools over some more urban schools.

However I suspect that Plaid's split is more problematic than your post identifies as it is an issue that drives at the heart of the rural issue. Plaid, as part of the Assembly Government, may seek to create some wriggle room but we cannot escape the current dynamic of long term demographics and will also expect councils (like Gwynedd) to act.

This is what people in the new party will exploit, and in spite of the problems of trying to create new "partys" it can happen when the local establishment is split amongst itself (yes I'm thinking Blaenau Gwent).

menaiblog said...

The problem with Gwynedd's re structuring proposals is that they don't really address demographic shifts & financial constraints. They're trying to be fair to everybody when circimstances don't really allow this. There has, by the way, recently been a shift in spending towards the larger schools at the expense of medium sized schools.

Some of the constraints are the fault of no one - but they're also partly driven by the last Labour government's decision to shift rescources to areas of severe social disadvantage - Merthyr, Blaenau Gwent etc. I'm not arguing that this is wrong - but it is in the circimstances difficult for Labour to make too much of a big deal of the closure of schools in rural Wales.

Plaid doesn't really have a rural bias - it draws support from rural & urban areas & the bulk of it's membership live in urban areas. It's problem is that it has to think of both rural & urban areas - a problem you guys don't have as you have virtually no rural support.

The Blaenau Gwent parallel only partially works. Labour has been in power for a hundred years there, not ten as Plaid has been here & the Blaenau Gwent independents are really a split in the Labour family. There is a strong independent Labour tradition of the country. There is no such nationalist tradition.

Martin Eaglestone said...

I think Plaid should be brave and tackle the issues where it is most severe, their rural heartlands in Dwyfor and Meirionnydd. Perhaps having proven a formula they can then show others by example how to reorganise.

I suspect however that voices in the new group/party won't allow this and that is the potential threat to Plaid at the ballot box.

It just makes local democracy a little more interesting given, I must frankly admit, Labour's lack of luck in drawing enough non-Plaid support so far.