Monday, May 07, 2007

Goodbye...for now?

It has literally taken three days to recover from Thursday night and Friday morning !

After five weeks of solid campaigning by a great team, we didn't make it, although we did increase our vote by over 1800.

Indeed, our target of 6500 to win was just missed, and we certainly did not expect either the Lib-Dem and the Labour vote to collapse in the way it did.

Congratulations to Gareth Jones for a very good campaign and, for a first-time politician, I have certainly learnt a lot of lessons which will be digested if I decide to ride this rollercoaster again.

Back to the worlds of academia and business for now - future comments will be back on the professor who shoots from the hip blog

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

End of the road?

Well, that's it, apart from our GOTV (Get out the vote campaign) which will be ongoing until late tonight.

I really didn't know what I would be getting myself into when I agreed to be put forward for nomination last February. It is has been a steep learning curve for someone who was a political virgin but a highly enjoyable experience.

Yes, I would have done some things differently but I believe we have done everything we can in the short time we have had to get the Conservative vote out in Aberconwy.

Our campaign has been based on talking to people on the doorstep, many of whom had not spoken to a politician in years. When I finished last night, I realised we had spent 300 hours canvassing nearly 15,000 homes across Aberconwy (and I have nearly worn out a pair of brand new shoes!). We had even delivered 10,000 leaflets by foot in the last 48 hours!

Therefore, if we don't manage to win, it won't be through lack of effort (and I am absolutely knackered!)

Best moments - no doubt it has been given the opportunity to talk to the thousands of potential voters across the constituency, despite having DC visit Llandudno on Tuesday being a close second.

I have also largely enjoyed the increase in blogging during this election, especially when it has involved intelligent discussion on sites such as Ordovicius and BlamerBell. However, the blogosphere has revealed the worst side of an increasing number of political activists who believe they can say what they like under the cover of anonymity. Interesting that they have forgotten that a 90 year old pensioner in Penrhyn Bay will be as influential as they will be on the most important day of the election - May 3rd.

Perhaps, the biggest surprise of this election has been the absence of any other parties when we have been out, with the exception of seeing Denise having lunch in a cafe in Trefriw when Brynle and I were out canvassing!
Apart from that, I haven't seen the others out doing house to house canvassing but that could be due to the size of the constituency, although many people were complaining that no-one had called.

And my prediction... all I can say is that we know exactly how much we need to win this seat and will be working this out as we go through the day.

It is now up to the thousands of voters who have said they will support us (as well as those who are making up their minds at the last minute) to turn out and if they do, it will be an interesting morning tomorrow...

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Last week begins....

Couple of interesting articles first thing this morning.

The first is the claim by Peter Hain that his party's canvassing returns shows that the Conservatives will win six seats from Labour on Thursday. Would be interested to know if the Labour Party is happy to make details of this polling public?

The second is the comment in the Western Mail on good weather where I have been slightly misquoted by Martin Shipton!

I actually said that it is possible that an increased turnout will benefit us as any additional turnout will mean more Conservatives, who were ambivalent and didn't vote at the last Assembly election, will vote this time.

Anyway, there is no truth whatsoever in the rumours that Plaid Cymru supporters have been spotted dancing in the fields around Llanrwst early this morning!

Friday, April 27, 2007

Polls and poles

Great article in the New Statesman on John Marek's bid to keep his Wrexham seat. John seems to have been very relaxed about the camapign to date and perhaps this explains why.

Talking of polls instead of poles, there has been an interesting reaction by various commentators to the 'polls' published this week.

Having knocked on thousands of doors during the last few weeks, we have one of the most accurate surveys of what is going on in this constituency, which I would love to share with you but am under pain of death if I did. All I can say is that it does not reflect the national picture.

Indeed, in a close three way tie and in a diverse constituency, that would expected, especially as the polls conducted would only have asked around 25 people in Aberconwy for those views. Now if those 25 people had been in Penrhyn bay, we would have 60% of the vote, if they has been in Llandudno Junction, Labour would have 60% of the vote and if they had been in Llanrwst, Plaid Cymru would have 60% of the vote. I think you get the picture!

The only poll that matters is on May 3rd and I am really looking forward to it (and some sleep after!)

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

New Labour Spin - what they say

I'm not a GMTV fan - I can never seem to win any of their competitions - but they had Ben Bradshaw the Minister for the environment on the box talking about recycling this morning, which is a big issue on the doorstep in Aberconwy, especially the abolition of weekly refuse collections.

When asked why his government are encouraging local authorities to undertake fortnightly collections of rubbish

"I am really glad the debate is taking place but let's get the terminology right first. It's not about fortnightly collections, it's about alternate weekly collections."

and New Labour hasn't worked out yet why people are leaving them in droves!

Labour's world of lunacy in the NHS #1

NHS Problem - 74,000 former patients in Wales have lost access to NHS dentistry since the recent dentistry reforms were implemented by Labour.

Labour solution - Newly-qualified dentists unable to find Wales job

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

The London Press finally finds Wales!

Leading comment by The Times on the Assembly elections, which is a fascinating insight on how the media on the other side of the border view us and our political parties!

Plaid's Economic Red Herring

Has my final business hustings last night, this time organised by the professions group of organisations such as the ACCA, ICAEW and CIM.

Also probably the last time I will see Dafydd Wigley before the Aberconwy results on May 4th, which will have a bearing on both our lives I am sure.

Interesting that no-one decided to discuss the corporation tax issue, which has been at the centre of Plaid's business policies. Indeed, there has been almost no scrutiny of this by political commentators and yet it forms the core of the opposition party's economic policies.

This entire policy is a red herring which is excellent in principle and completely unworkable, for now, in practice.

This is not to say I don't agree with the concept of specific tax cuts in Wales - I am a Conservative after all. Indeed, I raised this issue over two years ago and have already blogged on this subject in February. As I said in a speech to the Cardiff Chamber of Commerce last year

"I believe the time has now come to have an honest debate to thoroughly re-examine the whole issue of the additional powers that can create competitive advantage for Welsh businesses, as opposed to grants that do little to support long term investment. Many would argue that Wales is not mature enough at this stage in the devolution process to consider a radical move in terms of tax-varying powers and their ability to transform our economy. This is no excuse for not having a wider and deeper debate on the effect of further powers on the competitiveness of the Welsh economy".

However, what is disingenuous about this specific policy from Plaid is that it is largely acknowledged that such a policy will be completely unachievable under the next term of the Assembly Government, thanks to the half-baked devolutional arrangements developed by Labour.

The European Commission has made it absolutely clear that only those regions with existing tax varying powers could cut corporation tax. This means that if Wales wants such powers, then we will have to have a full parliament like Scotland after 2011. Indeed, an interesting article from Northern Ireland has made the same case and has shown that within a short period of time, this policy would have a positive fiscal benefit on the region and certainly help to address some of the wider economic disparities within the UK.

Therefore, Plaid's main economic policy is completely unworkable under current devolution arrangements and would not be implemented within the third term of an Assembly.

This is not to say that all parties should not sit down during the next four years and work towards a specific tax reducing policy for the fourth Assembly in 2011 and, more importantly, get the business sector on board for such a policy. I would certainly strongly support such a move if elected as, I am sure, would Dafydd Wigley.

Unholy Alliance?

This story looks set to run and run.

See Vaughan Roderick's excellent blog for the best details.

However, members of both Plaid Cymru and Labour should not be too shocked as there have been whispers of an electroal arrangement between the two parties for the last few months.

Indeed, Dafydd Wigley himself "floated the idea of a Plaid-Labour coalition ruling Wales after next year's National Assembly election" in the Western Mail last year.

As a Conservative, I wish I had thought of this strategy but clearly Labour managed to do it for us!

Could this be the defining moment of the campaign - let's wait and see....

Monday, April 23, 2007

A marriage of convenience?

Following Ieuan Wyn Jones' comments yesterday that his party are happy to work with Labour, it seems that now Labour are so desperate to cling to power that they are considering working with Plaid Cymru, possibly in coalition.

It doesn't matter how you dress this up - coalition, political arrangement - I cannot understand for the life of me how Plaid Cymru can even consider doing any deals with this discredited labour Government, regardless of their potential new members' distaste for the Conservatives.

This is not like the budget deal last December -that was about adjustments to a programme already agreed by the current Government. This about having a historic non-Labour Government in Wales for the first time and having the opportunity to make a real difference.

Does Plaid really want to see Rhodri at the helm again; does Plaid really want to support Andrew Davies - a man who won't even have any Welsh on his election addresses; does Plaid want to support Brian Gibbons, the architect of hospital cuts across Wales?

They say that a week is a long time in politics - given the complete distaste that the electorate on the doorstep have for Tony Blair and his cronies, this could be the defining moment in this particular campaign.

The unacceptable face of blogging

For the first time ever, I have had to delete a comment from an anonymous blogger who decided it would be clever to have a go at my wife and kids. As you are obviously a parent at my children's local school, let's just hope you have the guts to come and repeat these comments to me when you next see me take my kids to school.

I am happy to take any crap from anyone - that is why I have a political blog. Also, after four years of writing a column for the Western mail and the Daily Post, I accept that my comments are there to be shot down.

I have enjoyed the blog banter I have had with people from different political backgrounds over the last few days but it is clearly unacceptable for individuals to think they can comment on my family just because I am standing for public office.

I will therefore be restricting this blog from now on to those genuine bloggers who are happy to sign in to discuss anything posted rather than the cowardly little shits who hide behind anonymous mails.

I wonder what other genuine bloggers think of this?