At every Assembly election there’s usually a few AMs who leave it to the last minute to stand down. But usually about a year out there’s clarity mostly over which ones are going. If that’s true, the only real clarity we have now is that most of the changes in 2021 will be involuntary rather than voluntary.
So far only a tiny number of incumbent AMs have said they are standing down. The news today that David Melding will not contest South Wales Central in 2021 will surprise and sadden many, but he is one of very few seemingly making this decision. Just Carwyn Jones in Labour and Angela Burns in the Conservatives have also made their decisions to leave clear to their local parties, while Dai Lloyd has said he will fight to win Swansea West but not stand again on the South Wales West regional list.
Without a churn in a group, and new members, it becomes much more difficult to refresh and display momentum. Obviously, parties would prefer that to come from making gains, but if that doesn’t happen then it has to happen in other ways or groups feel stake. The Conservatives know this well from their 2016 performance, as do Labour to a lesser extent in 2007.
Somehow just a tiny number of AMs leaving voluntarily just doesn’t seem right, especially as the ones who have announced so far are amongst the highest impact and highest profile members. Expect the coming months to see some other, and unexpected names, making their own decisions about the futures – and perhaps doing so in some cases before the electorate are unable to.