Saturday, March 10, 2007

What is Victory?

Peter Hain and Rhodri Morgan are 'The Absolute Pits'. Both men will have legacies polluted by the deeply partisan changes they have introduced into May's Assembly election rules. Their reputations deserve nothing less. Both men may be genial by temperament - but both are willing to corrupt the political process for their own advantage. It makes my blood boil. I really hope that Rhodri is forced to resign on May 4th - and I really hope that Peter comes last in the Labour Deputy Leadership election. They deserve nothing less. I will never forgive them for the ban on dual candidacy for the Assembly election that they forced through as part of the Government of Wales Act. And the electors of Wales would be totally disgusted if they understood what these two men have done. A future Conservative Government must surely reverse this vile rule.

Labour's fiddled rules mean that I will be campaigning for the next six weeks to bring about my own removal from the National Assembly. As will fellow Conservative AMs, Mark Isherwood, Brynle Williams, Nick Bourne, Lisa Francis, Alun Cairns, David Melding, William Graham and Laura Jones. And we will all campaign flat-out, because we are committed to the party. No doubt, all this will cause much mirth when Rhodri and Peter sit down for a chat together. Well, I just hope the coffee goes down the wrong way.

The fact that hardly anyone knows what these two election fiddlers have done really came home to me today. I went to a fundraiser at the new home of Simon and Maggie Baynes in Montgomeryshire for our local association. It was the best function we have ever put on. So good in fact that I really believe we can win Montgomeryshire first-past-the-post. Dan Munford is a top class candidate, there is terrific back-up and a sense of momentum that I have never seen before.

Now, I get carried away by these things. But my wife thinks more clearly than I do. As I'm enthusing about our prospects as driving home , she said "You do realise that if Dan wins, you lose". I replied "Yes, but I don't think anyone else does - and it would be rather novel if my political career was ended by victory". And much as I enjoy my job, I will do all I can to ensure that it does. But it simply cannot be right.


Normal Mouth said...

"it would be rather novel if my political career was ended by victory"

What nonsense. Under the circumstances described you will not have won, your party will have.

What, therefore, you object to the notion of "top up" seats per se. It's no good ranting at Rhodri Morgan or Peter Hain for that; this is the system that gave you a political career in the first place.

Yours is only the same dilemma faced by Alun Michael and Anne Garrard for Labour in 1999. They accepted that they were contesting the election under a system which sought to compensate parties whose vote is too spread out to win many or any first-past-the-post seats, but who retain a level or popular support (regionally) that "entitles" them to representation. I suggest that defines the pattern or support for the Welsh Conservative Party in recent times.

The Additional Member System, introduced by the same opponents you denounce, has given the Welsh Conservatives a level of representation they would not have had under first-past-the-post. The amendment to the system to end dual candidacy does not have eny effect on the number of seats your party, or any other, will win and does not have the effect of increasing the number of seats the Labour Party will win, so to describe it as partisan is simply wrong.

The only reason to object is if you believe your party does not have enough candidates of sufficient calibre to populate both the regional lists and to contest constituencies. Clearly, you do not think this about Dan Munford.

Anonymous said...

Glyn.Methinks you doth protest too much. The simple fact is that both you and David Melding could have put your names forward for a first past the post constituency. At the time you both thought that it would be easier to return to the assembly via the list system. The system for electing AMs is a mess thought up by Ron Davies because he knew that the Labour party would not accept STV. He also thought tha Labour would always win over 30 of the 40 first past the post seats so the top up seats did not matter. No democracy can accept a situation where on closed lists individuals are elected to a political institution not by ordinary voters but by a dwindling band of party activists. Peter Black has already informed us that he will be come an AM because he was supported by just 134 Lib Dem members. Bethan Jenkins had the support of just 14 members. Perhaps you could give us a breakdown of the number of Tory mebers who took part in the selection of your list candidates in Wales. The system is absurd with Alun Davies becoming an assembly member because Labour loses Llanelli, Prescelli and possibly Carmarthem West. In four years time if Labour regain any of these seats he will cease to be an assembly member!

Anonymous said...

'Normal mouth' you miss the point completly (deliberatly?) GD can't stand as a local candidate and remain on the list, as he did in the last election thanks to the Labour rule change.
Glyn do you realy expect Peter Hain and Rhodri Morgan to do something for the 'greater good' of Wales. They are just self serving ba****ds

Anonymous said...

Those members of the European, scotish and welsh legislatures who are elected from a list aree netirely at the mercy of theie party. The system enables leaders to guarantee that their favourite apparatachiks will be elected since those who head the list are a shoo in. It is appointment by another name. Couldn't agree more. The author of the above is Michael Portillo in today's Sunday Times. Look what happened to Peter Rogers when he upset the Tory grandees.

Normal Mouth said...

Dear anon

I fully accept that the new arrangements may not be as favourable to Glyn Davies esq. My point was that the change to the rules for candidacy do not harm (or help) any party. If the the share and distribution of votes was identical in 2007 to 2003 then the share and distribution of seats would also be the same. Clearly, therefore, it cannot be said to be a move designed to help Labour and penalise the others. So it's not partisan.

Anonymous said...

Dear 'normal mouth'(ostrich head),I agree its party neutral if your just counting bodies (hopefully body bags for the labour party after May) but it does benefit the party which is more likely to win the majority of 'first past the post'seats ie the ruling party , the party which changed the rules----the labour party. They are the ones with large numbers of safe seats,they can make sure that their prominent members are present in the next assembly.

Normal Mouth said...

Well, Glyn appears to be happy enough with the candidate who has replaced him in Montgomeryshire.

By 'prominent' you mean those list members who have used their position to concentrate on one seat (at the expense of other parts of their region) with a view to winning it. That is what irked Labour. What now irks certain opposition politicians is that this little wheeze is no longer open to them. Their irritation is understandable, but please don't confuse it with political principle.

Anonymous said...

Dear Ostrich Head,
Is your head buried in sand or somewhere up Rhodri Morgan's anatomy? It must be great to be English with no commitment to the Welsh assembly.

Normal Mouth said...

Oh dear, pathetic ad hominem time (from an anonymous contributor at that).

If you've nothing of substance to say, don't bother to say anything at all.

Glyn Davies AM said...

Just logged on. Good to see some discussion of this issue. normal mouth sees it like the vast majority - but I think he or she is completely wrong.

The system is not the same as in 1999 or 2003. Labour has forced through change against the opposition of virtually everyone else, including the Electoral Commission. Even the Labour Party has refused to contemplate the same change in Scotland, where the previous system happens to suit Labour.

In 1999, there was absolutely no reason why Alun Michael could not have fought a constituency seat, as well as the list, except that he did not want to. He did not want voters to have the opportunity to express a view about the way he had been parachuted into Wales.

Anon is right about my being able to have put my name forward in Montgomeryshire, where I live and as I did in 99 and 03. I discussed this with the local association and we decided that my best chance was as a list candidate. I just don't see this as relevent to the odious principle of legislating to stop a third of future AMs from asking voters to vote for them personally.

And 2 final points - the change is clearly aimed at the Conservative Party, because 10 of our 11 sitting AMs are elected by the list system.
And our list was drawn up by a ballot of all our members. In Mid and West Wales, around 3000 voting papers would have been sent out - as democratic a system as its possible to have.

Anonymous said...

Alun Michael would never have won a costituence seat if he had stood. he would never have been picked by any association and the public would have taken any chance to show how much they despised him

Anonymous said...

Alun Michael didn't go for a constituency seat because all the safe Labour seats had selected a candidate including his own Cardiff South and Penarth.

Normal Mouth said...

"the change is clearly aimed at the Conservative Party, because 10 of our 11 sitting AMs are elected by the list system".

Sorry Glyn, but the logic of this is simply baffling. You are not being stopped from standing, nor is it being made harder for you to get elected. All the change does is make you choose either list or constituency. In so doing it opens the way for your colleague Dan Munford to stand. If he wins, you may lose your list seat, but that seems more a consequence of your placing on your party list. Nothing anyone but the Welsh Tories can do about that, I'm afraid.

As you acknowledge, after discussion with your Association, you decided this was still the route that gave you the best chance of election. That's fine, and perfectly proper. But it kind of undoes your claim that wicked old Rhodri or Peter Hain are getting at you, don't you think?

As for the Electoral Commission, by recollection they cited Italy as an example of a system where dual candidacy works well. But the "decoy list" used by candidates to avoid the top-up compensation element is now so widely discredited that many politicians - including the Prime Minister - insist it must be changed.

Glyn Davies AM said...

I'm sorry normal mouth but the Electoral Commission condemned this change - and said that it was so partisan that it would produce a degree of cynicism in politics, which would put young people off voting. It is only the Labour Party which supports this change. You have to be a spokesman for Labour. No-one else would take the stance you do.

I think it was New Zealand who, at one time, were looking at the same change - but dismissed it. First I've heard that Italy have ever considered it. I think you've invented this - but I make enquiries. I like to keep my argument sound. Every other country in the world using the additional member system does not ban dual candidacy. And Labour supports dual candidacy in Scotland, for God's sake. How on earth can you defend it, except by resorting to the impact on indivuals and ignoring the principle. The only country to have introduced it is the Ukraine where the leader of the opposition, Yushchenko was poisoned with dioxin during the election campaign, which he won when it was re-run.

Anonymous said...

waste of time going on about this one glyn. they did it because they had the votes and to hell with what is right. there will always be articulate apologists like normal mouth who will do labours bidding. keep at it. the voters will take revenge on labour in may

Anonymous said...

Glyn if you were unlucky you could run for Westminster against Lembit...

Normal Mouth said...

I have read the submission of the Eelectoral Commission and they do not say what you ascribe to them. They say that such a move could be perceived as partisan - though they do not provide any evidence to support this and also stated that the change "Would have no impact on the proportionality of the result", which is the point I have been making all along and which you have not even attempted to address.

As for Italy, I suggest you look out for the practice of candidates standing on what are known as "liste civetta", a decoy list that provides no votes for the candidate's actual party and thus does not deny it constituency seats. An utter abuse of the system, yet the Electoral Commission held Italy up as a model of good practice.

It is also worth bearing in mind that in most other countries that use AMS, the list members are allocated specific roles that reflect their distinct status. That is not the case in Wales, so overseas comparisons only take you so far.

And I say again, the reason you are vulnerable is not because Labour have denied you dual candidacy, but because you are second on your list. I don't suppose Nick Bourne is quite as concerned about his future.

Good luck, anyway. I hope you don't lose your seat. You (sometimes) talk a lot of sense, which is why I read your blog.

Glyn Davies AM said...

I'm exhausted. Clearly up against an academic mind who has put a lot of research into defending the indefensible. Its a bit like making a point against Rhodri in First Ministers Questions. You think you've nailed him - and back he comes time after time ignoring the principle of your argument and shifting the debate. Being nice is absolutely the last straw.

The very final point that I can raise enough stregth to make is that my personal position is irrelevent. I used it in my post because I always think personal references make theoretical points real and debateable - as in this case. It would not make an iota of difference to me if I was 99% certain to be returned.

Oh, and the 'proportionality' point that you make normal mouth assumes that the identity of the constituency candidate makes no difference whatsoever to the vote.

And you can now have the last word if you want to.

Interested Observor said...

Slighly off topic but related - why are the Conservatives fielding different numbers of list candidates in different regions - four in Mid Wales, three in North Wales, six in South Wales Central, three in South Wales East, and five in South Wales West (all take from the Welsh Conservatives site)?

South Wales Central is partularly puzzling - given that there are only four list seats available in each region are they expecting lots of death or resignations there?

Glyn Davies AM said...

Its a bit complicated, interested observer. The reason that the initial regional list varies is that the internal party ballot of all party members for each 'region' was between the sitting regional AMs + 1 - so in Mid and West there are 4 - in North Wales, 3 - in South Wales Central, 3 - in South Wales West, 2 - and in South Wales East, 3.
The Party at a regional level will then choose more individuals, often young people who want experience to make the list up to a higher figure, the maximum possible being 7, 8 or 9 depending how many constituency seats there are in the region. Clearly, these additional candidates are unlikely to be elected. The Party is in the process of doing this at the moment. Without knowing for sure, it looks as if this has already been done in South Wales Central and South Wales East. I think extra names were chosen for Mid and West Wales today. I hope I've got this right.

Normal Mouth said...

Good. I will.

You are miffed because you'd wanted to stand in Montgomeryshire and on the list, knowing that if you lost in the the former you'd still be an AM and would live to carry on trying to whittle down Mick Bates's majority. Now you can't, and (for some strange reason) are getting nervious that you may have chosen the wrong berth. Please don't be so disingenuous as to suggest that your iniital post was not motivated by this - it clearly was.

Oh, and thanks for accusing me of fabricating evidence. It's always nice to be called a liar.

Glyn Davies AM said...

And your last word is your poorest. I will check up on Italy though.

interested observor said...

Thanks Glyn I'm pleased you replied as the inconsistency had been puzzling me.

I take it that the difference in numbers between the regions who have done the second stage of selection is dependent on Conservative support in each individual 'region'. So South Wales Central has six as it elected two Conservative AM's last time and South Wales West five as it only had one.

It does seem unlikely that so many names would be needed but I suppose it's a sensible precaution - and better than running out of names.