After many years my local MP Alun Michael is waving bye bye to his constituency as he bids to become the new Police and Crime Commissioner for South Wales. So, it's a rare event - a by-election in Cardiff this week. And that means the Pantperthog to Knockando tradition of rating the candidates based on the stuff they've stuck through my letter box.
This time I'm going to rate them according to the number of pieces of post through the door and the number of definite promises they make, and the candidates contactability (all the ways they offer you to get in touch, not including generic websites) minus the number of other people they blame for the mess we're in, and the number of negative comments about other parties. I'm also going to award some arbitrary bonus points for things I think are noteworthy. I'm going to list them alphabetically by surname
Hey, ho, let's go...
Candidate: Stephen Doughty
Promises: 5 vague promises, but only 1 definite one - a new watchdog on energy prices, so 1 point
Contactability: Phone, email, Twitter = 3 points
Blames: "Tory/Lib Dem cuts" = -2 points
Negative comments: 5 references to "Tory/Lib Dem cuts", although two of these are in 'quotes' from concerned members of the public. Still, -5 points.
Grand total: 5 positive and 7 negative = overall score of -2
Candidate: Rob Griffiths
Party: Welsh Communist Party
Promises: 9 (including cutting VAT, closing tax havens, nationalising utilities, withdrawing from Afghanistan)
Contactability: Post, email, phone, FB and Twitter = 5 points
Blames: Bankers, career politicians ("Please don't vote for me if you want a Blues, Yellow, or Pink Tory who's looking for a cushy career"), and "an arrogant, rich and corrupt elite" = -3
Comments: 4 jibes at politicians of any kind = -4
Total: 16-7 = 9
Candidate: Andrew Jordan
Party: Socialist Labour
Promises: Lots of vague references to opposing things and wanting more jobs, but only two definite ones - to get the same funding for Welsh schools as in England, and also to bring vacant council housing stock up to Welsh Quality Standards. Mentions closing tax loopholes, so a generous 3 points.
Contactability: Public meeting, phone, YouTube, email, Twitter = 5 (it also included a general UK address for the party, but I'm not giving them a point for that)
Comments: Describes all candidates from the other four parties as "another nodding head in Westminster" if you vote for them, so -4
Bonus Point: Endorsement by Ricky Tomlinson = 1 point
Candidate: Bablin Molik
Party: Liberal Democrat
Info: 2 (although one of them was a 'survey')
Promises: No congestion charge in Cardiff, raising the income tax threshold to £10,000 = 2
Contactability: Post, phone, personal candidate's website = 3
Blames: Labour for all that is wrong locally = -1
Comments: - 6 digs at Labour, including calling their candidate a "career politician" and a "spin doctor", plus dismissing the Conservative and Plaid candidates as non-local careerists as well = -8
Candidate: Luke Nicholas
Info: 7 (the most of any party)
Promises: Semi-nationalisation of Welsh railways, a Welsh Procurement Bill, green energy = 3 definite promises among vague stuff about apprenticeships and jobs. 3 points.
Contactability: twitter, facebook, email = 3 points
Blames: "the establishment parties" for ignoring Wales and "the Government in Westminster", so -4
Comments: Digs at Westminster, but no direct comments on other parties, so 0 points.
Bonus point: Luke mentions that he follows the Welsh football team home and away, so 1 point for that! (I told you the bonus points were arbitrary!)
Candidate: Craig Williams
Party: Conservative Party
Promises: Electrification of the railways, £546 in tax cuts in 2014 = 2 points, also mentions the Police Commissioners as a Government way of reducing bureaucracy. (But that's not a promise)
Contactability: Phone, email, freepost address = 3 points.
Blames: Labour for local problems = -1
Comments: Attacks Labour for 'cutting' the NHS in Wales, and says they "have failed the next generation" on education. Claims Labour caused the rise in police bureaucracy. "Cardiff has been let down badly by a complacent Labour party" and Gordon Brown. 4 negative comments = -4.
Candidate: Simon Zeigler
Promises: "Investing in UK public services instead of wasting money in the EU" is the kind of vague statement that earns you nil points. No definite promises = 0.
Contactability: Phone, web-page = 2
Blames: "The tired old parties" / "The career politicians in Westminster" = -2
Comments: Has unflattering photos of the three main party leaders, and blames career politicians, so -3.
Bonus point: The phrase 'Kick them in the ballot box' was quite amusing. +1.
So, in conclusion after this unscientific review, how did they do?
Plaid Cymru - 13 points
Welsh Communist Party - 9 points
Socialist Labour Party - 7 points
Conservative Party - 1 point
UKIP - 0 points
Labour - -2 points
Liberal Democrats - -2 points
I'm not sure any of this will make a difference to who I vote for, but it's interesting to compare it to last time around. The Liberal Democrats are a lot less negative, possibly because they have a new candidate for the first time in ages. The Communists and other redder then red parties do well because they make lots of specific promises. Overall, though, the vagueness of what people promise, or even just raise the issue without making any comment on how to solve it, is frustrating. There's still time this week for more leaflets to influence my decision. I'll update as we go.
I've done this before, if you'd like to look back.
The 2010 election
2009 Euro Elections
Welsh Assembly 2007 elections plus update 1 and update 2