Commentary: The Big Ideas

Plaid Cymru often faces a challenge in cutting through the news agenda, despite the apparent willingness of outlets like BBC Wales and the Western Mail to listen to them. During UK General Election periods, this can at least be partly explained (or excused) by the lack of chance to make an impact on what is becoming a contest which is ever more dominated by just two parties. On a Wales only level, the opportunities are much greater. The Assembly elections are therefore always their better option of making an impact, even if they have only properly done it in two of the five Assembly elections so far held. What explains… Read More

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Commentary: Picking a Winner

With the new year brings a new leadership contest in Labour to succeed Jeremy Corbyn, though very little analysis of the way in which Welsh politicians are feeding into this. A few Welsh Labour AMs are already pinning their colours, with Jack Sargeant AM, Vikki Howells AM and Ann Jones AM choosing Keir Starmer. All of which is very nice for the candidates, of course, but doesn’t materially affect the process of nominations. That is in the hands of the Members of Parliament from Wales. Their depleted numbers seem to be most firmly in the Starmer camp too: Keir Starmer: Carolyn Harris MP, Nick Smith MP, Stephen Doughty MP, Anna… Read More

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Commentary: 2021 Starts Today

As the 2019 General Election draws to a close, and people cast and count the votes, the speculation will shortly begin about what this result will mean for an Assembly election that is less than eighteen months away. People will take away the results in seats like Brecon & Radnorshire, Bridgend and Wrexham and map them on to the coterminous Assembly seats. The boldest and most inventive will go a step further and try and work out who future regional list Assembly Members are.   All of which is an utter waste of time. If the last five Assembly Elections have shown anything, it’s that they are conducted on a… Read More

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Positif Christmas Newsletter 2019

Twas the Election Before Christmas… “What? Another one?” This was the Brenda-like response by Naomi Williams in the Positif office as we braced ourselves for yet another snap General Election campaign when Boris Johnson finally succeeded in getting motion through to dissolve Parliament. “I’ve been here less than four years and we’ve had as many public votes as Christmas parties,” was the view of the newest old member of Positif staff, Dafydd Huw. “I think it’ll be more like 1892 than 1885,” was the considered opinion of seasoned pundit Rhodri ab Owen. “You’re obsessed with nineteenth century Ceredigion,” grumbled Daran Hill miserably. “The only thing that’s similar about elections is… Read More

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Commentary: Making Fudge

This UK General Election has one big similarity to the five that preceded it: hardly anyone seems to care about what is devolved and what is not. Thus while BBC Wales often seems to be at pains to mark territory, BBC network news reporting on manifesto pledges has all too often missed two magic words – “in England.”  But it is simply far too easy to blame the broadcasters when they are actively fed policy confusion from the political parties themselves. Thus the Welsh Labour campaign has mainstreamed the NHS – in England – and Plaid leapt on this to bring forward a tilting at windmills motion all about defending… Read More

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Commentary: The Crucial Factor

In many ways the 2019 General Election resembles its predecessor two years ago. The shape of the campaigns has been remarkably similar in pace and substance, especially from the Labour side, with its emphasis on public spending, a cult of Corbyn, and an avoidance of mainstream media. What remains unclear, however, is the extent to which Labour will be able to close the gap on the Conservatives in the second half of the campaign, something which they did to stunning effect in 2017. This time round it is the same sort of seats that are in play. The Vale of Clwyd, Gower and Cardiff North all switched last time and… Read More

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Commentary: Their own worst enemy?

There is a chasm between a tragedy of calculated wrongdoing and a comedy of errors, but the Conservative campaign in Wales has had its share of both. Taking the tragedy first, the lack of remorse and the slowness of the party’s reaction to the involvement of former candidate Ross England in the collapse of a rape trial, has been morally contemptible and politically inept. The errors around Chris Davies and other candidate selections have often provided the comedy. The biggest strength the Conservatives have is that these misjudgements do not seem to matter. Both the last Welsh Barometer polls show the Conservatives either ahead or in a very healthy position,… Read More

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Commentary: Goodies and Baddies

The resignation of Sir Roderick Evans as Standards Commissioner of the Assembly has spotlighted a serious situation within the Assembly around the confidence of Assembly Members and others in the way that the standards process is operating. Ever since Sir Roderick dismissed a case some years ago involving a video Gareth Bennett AM made depicting Joyce Watson AM as not having been sexist when 99% of people who saw it believed it clearly was, questions have quite rightly been asked about the way his office is operating. Indeed, a range of organisations including those involved in equality issues such as the Electoral Reform Society, Women’s Equality Network and Welsh Women’s… Read More

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Commentary: A False Start

The General Election has so far seen a way higher profile for Wales than anyone expected – and for all the wrong reasons. For over a week the main political stories have revolved around what some Conservative candidates have said either on social media, or more seriously, in the courtroom; or, from an explicitly political angle, to each other. It has become a matter of who knew what and when, and the extent to which cover ups have been fashioned and blind eyes turned. The upshots so far have been that Ross England has been suspended as the Conservative Assembly candidate for the Vale of Glamorgan, and Alun Cairns has… Read More

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Commentary: Time and Chance

The twists and turns of Brexit once more dominated the politics of Wales at every level. On Tuesday, the full publication of the Withdrawal Agreement Bill led to not just discussion in Westminster but an emergency debate in the Senedd too. Since it was a relatively focused debate and actually was conducted on the basis of something substantial, it offered insight and passion rather than simple grandstanding or gesture politics. Nevertheless, it did seem, even just a few hours later, that the whole exercise had been really irrelevant since the Commons had rejected the programme motion and thereby stalled the Bill. As the week rolled on, the gambits by an… Read More

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