reflections on the election (the Welsh one)

so it was a really interesting Welsh General Election for me this week, both in a personal and professional capacity. i won’t bore you with the professional details, but sufficed to say that by the time i left the office at the end of Friday i was shattered, both physically and mentally. personally it was also very interesting because for the first time in a long time i went into the voting booth not 100% sure how i was going to vote on any of my ballot papers. i was also able to bring a level of information to bear on my decisions (courtesy of professional life) that i had not previously had access too.

living in a safe Welsh Labour seat i had my expectations of what the campaign might look like round my area and in particular on my street and i think largely the campaign lived up to that.  where i live is not a marginal seat by any stretch of the imagination (the new AM was elected with over 6000 votes above his nearest rival and the long standing MP was re-elected last year with over 4000 votes) and in either of the last two campaigns i was hardly bombarded with leaflets, door knocking experiences, postings, posters, placards etc. in fact this time around i can count on one hand the numbers of leaflets i received through the door from the now new Welsh Labour AM. in fact i actually received more leaflets through the door from the Wales Green Party and sadly they did not achieve a regional list member.

i have already blogged on lazy politics and raised the question whether it is apathy that results in lazy politicians or vice versa (likely a bit of everything), and in fact that new Welsh Labour AM was widely received as an active candidate and competent, but i really do feel as if the effort was not made – across the board.

i received one Plaid Cymru leaflet over the course of the election (received in the final week of the campaign), 2 from the Lib Dems and one from the Tories. i was not “doorstepped” by any parties and only saw one candidate out and about around my immediate area. now i know that constituencies are big places and they have to be out and about all over the place, and whilst yes this is a plea for a more active AM for the next five years, it is also a question about how we can really stir up political activity in Wales and in my constituency.

would a different electoral system help matters? yes in short i think they would. i think i am leaning more towards a purer form of PR that was on offer this time round but taking into account the result of the AV referendum i would agree with those commentators who are saying that the cause of electoral reform is likely dead for the next few generations at least.

thinking about the election more widely i think we in Wales do need to radically think about the media market. in Wales the majority of people get their information from news outlets that are based in London and do not cover Wales to the extent that it should be covered. even excellent programmes such as the Today programme have focussed first on Scotland rather than Wales. the Western Mail i believe has done an excellent job in covering the election, profiling candidates and covering the issues, however it is not widely read and i understand its readership is going down and down.

i’m not going to talk about the outcomes, mainly because i was doing that with my professional hat on for all day yesterday, except to say that the loss of Helen Mary Jones, Nerys Evans and Nick Bourne are losses not only to their respective parties, but also to Welsh politics. i hope that Nerys will return in a job for her party that has become vacant in recent months and i certainly feel sure that this is not the last we have seen of Helen Mary Jones.

so … a reflection on the campaign from a very hyperlocal point of view … feedback – don’t take this constituency for granted mr new AM!