Even were the Tories wiped out in Wales – a not impossible scenario, although unlikely – I’m not sure what sort of message that would be. I don’t think that Cameron needs any further ‘messages’ to know that people in Wales are not over-fond of his party – nor that people in Wales would, by and large, prefer to have Labour politicians cutting their services rather than Tory ones.
There’s plenty of existing electoral and opinion polling data from which he can already draw both of those conclusions, just as easily as I have. The only clear ‘message’ to emerge from this semaphoric activity is that Hain sees local elections as essentially a side-show to the main event, which is to
restore him to his rightful place at the cabinet table prepare for
the next parliamentary election in 2015.
The mantra that we should vote for Labour Party politicians to cut our services, simply ‘because they’re not Tories’, is a pretty negative and depressing one, not least because it looks like an attempt to avoid any real discussion of the essentially local issues for which councillors are responsible.
It might work for them electorally, of course; and perhaps nothing else matters. Increasingly, it seems that ‘getting elected’ is more important to most politicians than actually changing anything afterwards. I don’t know how they’ll know whether or not it worked though. The Tories seem on course for significant losses almost whatever tactics the Labour Party use.
It’s not particularly good for local democracy. But given the increasingly centralist tendencies of successive Welsh Governments, perhaps local democracy is doomed anyway. Without a radical re-empowerment of local authorities, and significant devolution within Wales rather than merely to Wales, there seems to be little chance of recovering the situation.