Tuesday, May 01, 2007


The Welsh Assembly elections are a couple of days away and at present I’m still one of those elusive creatures every vote-hungry politician is looking for: a floating voter; an undecided; a possible convert. A few years ago I voted basing my decision on whoever knocked on my door. I ended up being one of the 167* people who voted for the Socialist Party. I haven’t decided to do the same thing this year, otherwise it would be a toss up between voting for the Jehovah’s Witnesses or SWALEC.
*I’m making this figure up but it was stupidly low

Instead I’ve decided to conduct an experiment to see who is worthy of my vote. I’m awarding points based on the following categories up to tonight:
Number of items posted through my door (1 point each)
Likeability of candidate (based on photo), rated out of 5
Positive statements about what they’re planning to do (1 point each)
Contactability of candidate (1 point each for phone no, email and website)
And, in the interest of positive politics I’m going to deduct a point for every negative thing said about another political party (slanging match points)

I’m going to list them in order of desperation, ie based on how many pieces of post we’ve had. So, first up are:

The Conservative Party
Tagline: Making a Difference in Your Community
Number of Items: 5 (2 tri-fold brochures posted, 1 tri-fold delivered, 1 long postcard delivered, 1 A5 bilingual leaflet delivered)
Likeability: Nice smiling picture of reasonably attractive female candidate, Karen Roberts: 4/5
+ve statements – The long postcard has 5 on the NHS, 5 on building stronger communities, 5 on protecting our environment, that’s 15 on just one piece of free lit + 3 about council tax and another 3 on the NHS on the tri-folds. Also claim "Welsh Conservatives are committed to tackling climate change" and "have pledged to make significant improvements to the public transport network". Karen’s introductory letter cites "social justice" and the NHS as their top priorities. The A5 leaflet lists 15 pledges in English and Welsh, although there’s some overlap. Total +ve statements = 40 (!)
Contactability: 3 points, although when I phoned her I got an impersonal messaging service
SMP: Can’t resist slagging off Labour re council tax bills (twice), post office closures, NHS bureaucracy, and public transport. (Total = -5)

Grand total = 47 points.

The Liberal Democrats
Tagline: none
Number of items: 3 (black and white trifold, pseudo-newspaper, hand-addressed envelope with ‘personal’ letter from candidate, earning them a bonus point for originality, so 4 points awarded)
Likeability: Very wet-behind-the-ears-looking male candidate, Dominic Hannigan. But he does have a nice smile and will probably win lots of votes off grannies: 3/5
+ve statements: mainly based on Lib Dem council achievements, rather than any new promises. Positive statements include more police on the beat, free school milk, new libraries, green energy/climate change, new cycle/footbridge across the Ely river (worth 2 points as a genuine local issue), smaller class sizes, oh, and apparently Charles Kennedy visited Cardiff just to lend Dominic some support… Total +ves = 8
Contactability: mobile phone number (1)
SMP: a huge amount. Spends most of the pseudo-newspaper attacking Labour, with no positive statements on the front page at all ("Brown’s Budget Tax Con" is the Sun style headline). Also handily includes a ‘form guide’ on the back, where Labour and the Lib Dems are ‘joint favourites’, while the Conservatives are given ‘outside odds’ and Plaid Cymru are dismissed as "non-starters". In an ‘interview with the candidate, Dominic says: "Tony Blair has been such a disappointment". In the tri-fold, the negative campaigning gets worse, with "Many Tory and Plaid voters are now switching to the Lib Dems to help beat Labour." It also doesn’t help to have to include a grovelling apology for slandering a Labour councillor in your election communication!
Total = -16
(Ironically, at the end of the ‘personal letter’, after 3 goes at Labour and then pointing out that Plaid and the Tories have no chance against Labour, Dominic says: "Please remember my fight is not against the other parties but it is for your family and our area.")

Grand Total = 0 points

Plaid Cymru
Tagline: It’s time to make a difference
Number of items: 3 (glossy tri-fold, 2 black and white tri-folds)
Likeability: Jason Scott Toby is another young chap, who’s photo isn’t helped by the Plaid daffodil logo sticking out on either side of his head making him look like a moomin: 3/5
+ve statements: "7 for ‘07" pledges on the glossy Green tri-fold, including ending student debt, the environment, first home grants, community NHS, plus 6 very specific pledges on the reverse and 3 pacifist statements. States it’s politics very clearly: "We are a centre left party that wants Wales to take its place with other independent nations in the European Union." The two black and white pieces lead off with "Save the NHS" and "Time to crack crime". Pledges an alternative to Labour on the NHS with 2 promises. Total: 18
Contactability: 0
SMP: none on the glossy Green leaflet, the two black and white ones have a few. Attacks Labour on the NHS and the Lib Dems "3 year record of shame in Cardiff" and calls them FibDems, which is funny but not very mature. Total -ves = 8

Grand total: 16 points

Building a Better Wales
Number of items: 2 (2 glossy tri-folds, posted – unfold into a window poster)
Likeability: Frumpy incumbent AM Lorraine Barrett, poses at her desk: 3/5
+ve statements: transport, ending child poverty, 3 pledges on the elderly, animal welfare, the environment (8 pledges ranging from the general through to the oddly specific "A tree will be planted for every newborn & adopted child in Wales."), more powers to police and councils to tackle anti-social behaviour. Total: 13
Contactability: 3 points
SMP: none!

Grand Total: 21 points

UK Independence Party
Tagline: The real opposition
Number of items: 2 (2 different A5 colour flyers, one delivered in an envelope with a response form)
Likeability: no photos, no points
+ve statements: 8 (although one of the ‘positive’ pledges is to scrap the smoking ban)
Contactability: freephone and general website, so 2 points
SMP: doesn’t mention any other party by name, or inference, so no minus points

Grand Total: 12 points

British National Party
Tagline: none
Number of items: 1 (A5 colour flyer)
Likeability: well, their candidate, John Walker, isn’t a skinhead. Looks an OK chap from his photo: 3/5
+ve statements: (bearing in mind these are pledges of what they’d do if elected, not statements that are actually positive) opposes cheap migrant labour, political correctness, and corruption in government spending. 3 points.
Contactability: freephone (1)
SMP: Lists a five point pledge card that the "other parties" have signed up to. A quick calculation means that attacking four parties on five points equals twenty slanging match points. But they save their main vitriol for UKIP in a paragraph that’s worth reproducing in full: "PS Don’t be conned by UKIP either. Their leaders have used cheap Polish labour to do up their mansions. Their MEPs all broke their promise to hand over their huge Brussels expenses claims to help fund the fight against a federal EU. They’re just greedy English Tories in green wellies." Total SMP = -21

Grand Total: -13

So, according to the highly unscientific research I’ve just carried out, who should I vote for? Let’s look at the leader board…
Conservatives 47
Labour 21
Plaid Cymru 16
Liberal Democrats 0
BNP –13

I can't believe that after all that I may have convinced myself to vote Tory. I think I’m going to have to sleep on this one.

1 comment:

  1. Well what about some bonus points for being the first to respond in your comments.

    It is a pity you did not have more time to meet the people of the BNP. You would have found them to be hard working, decent people concerned about the future for their children.

    If you visit some of the BNP support sites you will understand that it is fear for our country that motivates us.

    Electioneering over. I like the way you awarded your points system. Other than UKIP - They really did break their promises and deserve a ticking off.