Tweet I would, of course, have liked to have done better than this in the constituency in last night's count; but it wasn't a bad result for us. Could have been better, though!
If I were a Lib Dem, I'd have added a banner headline saying "Can't Win Here!", with arrows pointing to the third, fourth, fifth parties... But I'm not, so I haven't.
There are lots of reasons for being careful about extrapolating results in one set of elections forward into a different election, not the least of which is the fact that the turnout was less than half of what I'd expect in a parliamentary contest. It's also the case that in any election where there is an element of 'proportionality' in the voting system, people can feel freer to vote for their real first choice, and there also tends to be a wider range of choice than in a Westminster election.
But even with all those caveats, would I prefer to be going into the next election with Plaid having come a very clear second rather than third in the immediately preceding contest? Of course – which candidate wouldn’t? I'd have preferred first place, mind…
There are problems also with interpreting the results across Wales as a whole, for the same reasons. Not so long ago, the idea that the Tories could finish in first place in terms of the popular vote in Wales would be unthinkable. It hasn't happened since the introduction of universal suffrage in the nineteenth century. And no party other than Labour has finished in first place in Wales since the khaki election of 1918, when Wales supported Lloyd George's Liberal Party.
The margin was very small, of course - indeed, less than 3% of the vote separated the first three parties. Nevertheless, there is a psychological impact from Labour having been beaten into second place, and from Plaid having come so close to Labour as well. Knowing that Labour can be beaten, in the right election and at the right time, will spur both the other major parties in Wales to greater efforts over the remaining time of the current parliament - and both have a more credible narrative about their potential for success.
Will the result be repeated in that coming election? I find that hard to judge. Neither Plaid nor the Tories made any great advance in terms of share of the vote – Tories up 1%, Plaid up 2%. The big story was how far the Labour vote fell (down 12%) – and where it went. Clearly, some Labour voters switched to other parties. (Including, sadly, both UKIP and the BNP. All parties need to be careful about taking it for granted that their supporters all share all of their core values.) However, I suspect that a lot also simply stayed at home – too disillusioned and fed up with their usual party to make any effort to go out and vote for them, but not yet ready to switch to an alternative.
The big question is what that group will do in the Westminster election – and I don't think any of us know the answer to that as yet. From our own door-knocking activities, I don't see any signs that the level of disillusion with Labour is limited to just the one set of elections; but that could change as a General Election approaches.
My own suspicion is that Wales is moving from an era of Labour hegemony into a short period of three-party politics, from which will emerge a different long term pattern. Personally, I don't believe that Wales' flirtation with the Tories would last very long if there was actually a Tory government in London. No surprise then that I think Plaid will turn out to be the real long-term beneficiary from yesterday's defeat of Labour in Wales.
Trip i Newbury a Newmarket - Gornest fawr heddiw, y ferch o Abertawe Bonnie Tyler yn gystadleuaeth Eurovision. Ydi’r bwci dim yn rhoi llawer o siawns iddi 66/1 gyda Denmarc yn ffefry...
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