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Saturday, April 26, 2008

Meeting the people?

The Western Mail draws the contrast between the respective visits of David Cameron and Gordon Brown to Wales yesterday. Whereas David Cameron, and Nick Clegg before him, went out to meet ordinary voters and to discuss their concerns, the Prime Minister was closeted away in Swansea University's Life Science Centre and avoided any such contact.

I suppose it is just as well. There is palpable anger and genuine disappointment on the doorsteps at the performance of this government and in particular their targeting of some of the poorest people in our society through the doubling of the 10p tax rate. About 195,000 people in Wales only pay the 10p tax rate. Their income tax rate has doubled overnight.

How this plays out in the local elections on Thursday has yet to be seen. Recent Labour literature is starting to stress local issues and asking people to ignore the national picture. I get the impression though that many Labour voters will either stay at home or vote for another candidate, if they believe that person can win.

As this happened in 2004 as well for different reasons, it is possible that the outcome will not be much different for Labour. On the other hand, with opposition parties better entrenched in those seats they won four years ago, it is possible that they will have the resources to go after others. Under that scenario Labour could well perform badly again and lose more ground.
I think Labour members do have a right to say its the local issues that are important. Many even most labour members are at despare with their government. David Cameron encouraging voters 'to punish the government' I think is the wrong tactics.
The locals in Pontypridd are discussing local issues like the "slotting in" of cabinet members sons on a salary of £51959 without an interview and the fact that Russell Roberts is the highest paid councillor in Wales on £82k.
I am not allowed to post the words uttered by the public whe I mention Labour on the doorstep!
Oh I'll try " I'm not voting for ******* Labour" is the general theme.
Traditionally, voters use local elections to give the govenment of the day a kicking. Poll Tax saw the tories routed from cities and shires. The same meltdown happened to Labour following the WMD fiasco. Whether the Labour vote has bottomed out remains to be seen. The big question in whether Liberal Democrats can retain control or controlling influence in Cardiff, Swansea Wrexham and Bridgend.
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