(Title Image: Daily Post)
Dyfed Powys was always the most likely place for a Plaid Cymru assault and Dafydd Llywelyn managed it comfortably ahead of the Conservatives’ outspoken Chris Salmon. Perhaps the Conservatives created these positions so they would be filled with populist “hang ’em, flog ’em”/“tough on crime and criminals” sorts, but it doesn’t seem to have worked out like that in Wales and Chris perhaps paid the price for his brashness.
That’s an abject result for Labour, albeit with them facing a larger field than in 2012 – not that they had a high-quality candidate. Another legacy of running the “Best Local Authority in Wales”? All things considered it’s not a terrible result for the Lib Dems as they kept within touching distance of UKIP – you would’ve expected the Lib Dems to have done better though.
I said this was the easiest one to predict and, as expected, former Caerphilly AM Jeff Cuthbert won quite comfortably and wasn’t far off winning it without the need for second preferences. In the absence of an Independent candidate it wasn’t shocking that all of the parties did well with sizable swings in each candidate’s favour.
Despite finishing third, that’s a pretty strong performance by Plaid Cymru and exceeds what they achieved on the South Wales East regional list (the Gwent police force area plus Merthyr) on Thursday by about 7% – nothing to be sniffed at. Clearly most of the Independent vote went Plaid’s way.
North Wales Police
Another excellent result for Plaid Cymru against stiff opposition from Labour. Attempts at dirty tricks earlier in the campaign clearly didn’t work with Arfon Jones trouncing David Taylor on second preferences – probably because it’s well known he’s a former police officer. The Conservatives managed to increase their vote share reasonably but were well off second place. Following trends around EnglandandWales there was a massive shift away from Independent candidates.
South Wales Police
A much easier victory for Labour’s Alun Michael than in 2012. There was another big swing away from Independents, with Mike Baker losing out. The Conservatives would’ve been pleased to have made the second round, but Linet Purcell and Plaid Cymru will be kicking themselves that they didn’t knock on a few dozen extra doors. Apparently there was no recount allowed despite the slimmest of slim differences between Plaid and the Conservatives.
The National Picture
The party which can be most pleased with these results is, ironically, the anti-PCC Plaid Cymru.
Considering they don’t have a party machine like Labour or have done any real campaigning on the ground, this is arguably a better performance by Plaid than in the Assembly elections, with consistently strong performances across the whole of Wales and bagging two PCCs. They picked strong candidates for each area and there are no bad points at all aside from narrowly missing out on the run-off in South Wales.
Labour can celebrate gaining a PCC in Gwent, but their results across Wales were mixed, perhaps even disappointing. They perhaps would’ve expected to gain North Wales but clearly votes from other parties don’t transfer to Labour as well as they do to Plaid.
As said, the Conservatives will have been pleased to have gone into the second round in South Wales – albeit by the slimmest of margins. On the other hand, the loss of Dyfed Powys quite convincingly to Plaid Cymru is a major blow. Considering law and order is seen as natural Tory territory, their results were poor even if their vote generally held up.
UKIP and the Lib Dems didn’t achieve anything of real note and after the former’s good results in the Assembly, UKIP come crashing back down to earth. Perhaps people are less willing to back UKIP when a genuine position of responsibility is at stake – but I doubt they’ll care.
The other remarkable political story is the swing away from Independent candidates. Some weren’t standing of course and the larger number of candidates will have had a big impact on the results overall. Nevertheless, maybe people are becoming more comfortable with the idea of political control of policing.
EnglandandWales totals :
- Conservatives : 20 (+4)
- Labour : 15 (+2)
- Independents : 3 (-9)
- Plaid Cymru : 2 (+2)
The average turnout of the four Welsh forces in 2012 was 15.4%. As expected that’s risen due to the election being held at the same time as the Assembly to around 45% – a 150% increase. However, in those English force areas where there weren’t local elections at the same time, turnout remained very poor at ~23%.
Then there’s the abnormally high number of rejected/spoilt ballot papers, with seemingly at least 1,000 in every constituency and just under 21,000 across the South Wales force area alone.
Whether that’s down to voter confusion over the electoral system (supplementary vote) or protest is for others to determine, but I suspect it’s the former – though any literate person with an IQ above 50 should’ve been able to figure out the ballot paper. Expect this to be used as an argument against a switch to a system like single transferable vote.
In terms of the wider political implications, with all four police force areas headed by parties who opposed the creation of PCCs, there’s now a mandate for the Welsh Government and National Assembly to press for the devolution of policing (What’s all this then?) and end this charade once and for all.