Monday, 9 May 2011

Last post of this blog

This was just an election blog, so this is the closing post and a short one at that.

My personal view is that Ieuan Wyn Jones has done the right thing in this statement. It is clearly a time for a slow and methodical response and with a five year term we have the time to rebuild. Rash decisions while the rawness of the election still remains won't not be helpful.

Lastly, it is my personal view that fightback for Plaid as a party would be better served without also being in coalition Government. As an ordinary member I would consider any potential coalition on merit, but it is my view that we need the space and time to come back fighting in opposition.

(Fat) Elvis has left the building, this post will remain online until Friday.

Friday, 6 May 2011

A blog post about not doing what bloggers do

"Work as if you live in the early days of a better nation..."
Alasdair Gray

Rather than write a blog post about it, you know what I am going to do. I am going to speak to my fellow Plaid colleagues, my friends, voters, people who profess hate/love/interest/ambivalence to our party and both say what I think and listen what others do.

Anyone who mentions the bloody words 'navel' and 'gazing' are doing exactly now.

If, as any organisation have to do, we are to review how we can improve our lot, we have to front up to external criticism and embrace it. An organisation willing to embrace to transformational change is never insular, it leaves no stone unturned in hearing out those who do not sit within it.

But ultimately, my invite to Plaid colleagues, readers of this blog, friends, haters and don't carers is this. Face to face, not online - speak to me, argue with me, tell me I am wrong, challenge my assumptions, encourage worthy ideas but do so in a brutally honest manner.

Let's be more passionate in our arguments and not afraid to have them challenged and seek to convince
people, not just reflect to them what they say to us.

Tuesday, 3 May 2011

Signing Off for this campaign

Phew. I am ready to drop, but have two more hard days slog in me.

This has been the first national campaign I have been heavily involved in. It has been a lovely experience and has taught me alot about so many different aspect of things. I am going to stop blogging from here on in, primarily because I won't be around to blog, but also I am not offering my opinion post-results, good or bad and my words be used by others for twisted means. I will leave you with some observations;

The Welsh Electorate are still not receiving a Welsh signal

Tonight the Scottish leaders debate is being shown at peak viewing time - 830-10p. In Wales we have had debates all after 1030. Is it any wonder that so little is known about devolved politics?

The time has come to actively campaign against the BBC's current malaise. Far more has to be done to federalise the BBC. We have hours and hours of AV referendum, while the Welsh General election has not featured.

This has led to a campaign about other things and places

Any one of the parties could get 100% of the vote in this election and it won't make a blind bit of difference to the ConDems in London. Labour's unwillingness to give us Scottish style powers during their 13 years in power has left the Welsh Government unable to 'be the alternative' that Labour are now arguing they can be. Most of the worst cuts will be felt in the non-devolved areas - cuts promised by Labour if they won in Westminster anyway.

Labour have been allowed to get away with this because they know the Welsh media simply does not have the power to sway opinion.

2011 will be Labour's easiest 'opposition' year

The fact is that this so soon after a General Election and with the inherent lack of reach of the Welsh media, people are rewarding Labour for little more than not being the party bringing in the cuts they all promised. This will be temporary. If the polls are correct they will remain in power in Cardiff Bay and eventually they will have to appear like a potential Government in Westminster.

If Ron Davies wins in Caerphilly we could see a Valley's revolution

I don't like to comment on a campaign I am so involved in, despite what others may say, it is very difficult to gauge the result of close seats. However, I am confident Caerphilly is going right down to the wire and we are in it to win it.

If we can win Caerphilly, it could act as a lightning rod for a Plaid revolution in the South East.

Plaid need to be measured post-election

Hand on heart, it's been a pretty static campaign in general. We have hardly seen any deviation in the polls, it's been stop start with the holidays, the Royal Wedding etc. It's been very difficult for Plaid to change the political tide. Many will offer reasons as to where we went right and where we went wrong, but I believe we have been unlucky in that the focus is still on London. While we can work the ground war in seats, the air war in the media (that swings people we cannot reach) is being fought in a different place.

I also think it would be unrealistic to measure the 'being in Government' factor at this election. Labour's poll rating is not because of One Wales, it is because they are given equal UK media time to oppose the Tory Cuts.

Given this, I hope that we don't get carried away either way. From what I understanding the margin between 12 or 15 seats was quite small and even holiding our vote might not bring us the same seats.

I believe we have alot to be positive about

We probably all wish there was more movement's in polls during this campaign, but ultimately I believe Plaid are winning the war. I believe this election will feature famous victories, down to the wire races and new areas of Growth.

All that's left is the results.

Sunday, 1 May 2011

Victims of our own success

It’s beginning to feel like Groundhog Day: every morning the meeja are summoned to some inane photo opportunity in some poor unsuspecting town; the respective machines reel off constant announcements and statements (go visit the Steamie to see how relentless they are); news programmes dutifully report the day’s headlines and if they’re really lucky, a gaffe. And then everyone goes leafleting, canvassing, to hustings and meetings and then they do it all again the next day. Yep, so far, so dull.

From Better Nation.

It isn't just Wales then who is having a flat campaign. To a Welsh politico this is unbelievable; imagine the excitement in Wales if we had a media focusing relentlessly on Welsh issues, a nationalist party on the cusp of a majority for an independence referendum, the polls altering dramatically over the last few months and Labour looking for a game changer to pull victory out of the jaws of defeat?

But I actually think all campaigns have become flat. Perhaps this is because campaigns have almost become too professional, too '100% success' too Starbucks in their goals. Parties I believe embrace the Cannibalization strategy.

This leads to often similar policy platforms (if you cannot beat them join them) to voters but also when a genuinely different idea breaks through it is browbeaten by crass attacks from others. I will put my money on the fact that the new Welsh Government will adopt a version of Plaid's Build for Wales idea, with or without Plaid in Government. Yet this was attacked by the other parties.

It also leads to very professional campaigns, despite the rise in social media, that cannot tolerate anything but perfect coverage. Anything as normal as meeting the odd shouty, sweary bloke who hates all politicians for reasons only known to himself is seen in politics land as a 'gaffe' or a 'crisis'.

Anything as normal as bumping into non-plussed voters, or voters hostile to your party is seen as a mistake and an image problem. You might think me naive, but in the long run the best way to promote your party is to present things sometimes as they are. That is not some naive kamakazi call for things to go to pot, but I do think that we will never get game changing campaigns if all parties seek to stick ten men behind the ball, rather than try and score some goals.

And given it was Plaid who needed to make this a far more explosive campaign, perhaps there is a lesson in there. I do accept and understand however that a good deal of people are now somehow accustomed to the 'professionalisation' of political presentation - the actor politician/party.

While I would not expect sympathy, the more the public understand what political campaign and elections are about (and let's be honest - someone has to win the election and run the Government - which I do wonder whether those refusenik seem unwilling to care about), the more we might be able to score hits and roll with the punches.