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Friday, April 06, 2007

Ebbs and tides

It is actually much harder than I envisaged keeping this blog up-to-date on a daily basis in the middle of a keenly fought election. It has been particularly difficult to find the time to do anything resembling a diary or a contemporary commentary on events. Nevertheless I will endeavour to achieve this on a spasmodic basis.

With nominations closing on Wednesday, yesterday was the first proper campaigning period of the election and boy did it feel like it. The sun was beating down on us as we leafletted and canvassed, whilst far away in Cardiff the Welsh Liberal Democrats launched their manifesto. On Radio Wales Rhodri Morgan gave the first hint that things may not be going all his way when he indicated that he would retire if Labour does badly in the assembly election on May 3rd.

Rhodri had obviously been told about today's ITV Wales poll that showed his party slipping back badly from its 2003 position. On the lists they have dropped two points but it is in the constituencies where they hold all their seats that they suffer the most, falling back by four percent. The winners are the Conservatives and the Welsh Liberal Democrats - both are up and projected to gain seats. In contrast Plaid Cymru appears to have flatlined. All the hype about them making major advances has been shown up as so much Welsh mist.

HTV had a go at trying to turn these figures into seat projections but in some cases this did not ring true. For example they are suggesting that the Tories will win two constituencies in North Wales and still hold both their list seats. The Labour tally of 25 seats seems about right, as does the idea that the Tories will overtake Plaid in seats held.

In other news Plaid Cymru's leader declared his support for a new nuclear power station on Ynys Mon. I know things are looking desperately bad for the nationalists but is there really a need to press the nuclear button so early on in the campaign.

I did the ITV Wales election programme last night, where details of their opinion poll were released. At the end the cartoonist Mumph produced a sketch for each of the party leaders. He very kindly gave me the one on Mike German, but I do not intend to publish it here just yet, even though it is really quite amusing.

Update: Arsembly has produced a very funny live blog on this programme. Well worth a read.
Fairplay the Mike German pic was class. Kind of made up for the dodgy poll....
The Poll reflected the experience of myself and others on the doorsteps. It is a snapshot of where we are now, but I see no evidence that it is dodgy.
The poll is about right and reflects the fact that Labour is in trouble.The only problem with the poll in an election such as the assembly which resembles a council election is that results will also reflect constituency issues and personalities. Labour's problem is that many of its sitting AMs have made little impact over the past 8 years and therefore do not have a large personal vote. The danger for Labour is that voters might come behind one opposition candidate just to get rid of the sitting Labour member and give the Labour party a bloody nose because of a wide variety of national and local issues such as the perceived threat of hospital closures .Labour also doesn't have the foot soldiers to do the work on the ground and the failure to release the manifesto in the first week of the campaign could also be a mistake. At this rate they will only have about 3 weeks to sell any eye catching policies to the electorate.
Arsembly was live blogging to ITV programme. Pure genius. That guy is wasted in the blogosphere:

I know things are looking desperately bad for the nationalists but is there really a need to press the nuclear button so early on in the campaign.

Desperately bad? Far from it. And all Ieuan has done is show the public that he's a pragmatist, and that jobs come first.
Admittedly it was a very weak joke Sanddef but the serious point is that this amounts to a major u-turn for Plaid in their opposition to nuclear power.
I think its more of a Ieuan U-turn than a Plaid U-turn.
But in an election where trust is a key issue how can we trust anything in the Plaid Manifesto if their leader is just going to tear it up if he doesn't like the impact it will have on his chances of re-election
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