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  • Lawrence Bailey

Messages from the ballot box

I'd thought my days as an election number-cruncher were long gone. That was before I agreed to do a ‘favour’ for a colleague who owns a pollster outfit.

A big mistake on my part; come 5am I could barely see the computer let alone the spread sheet. Accordingly, my take on events is a bit patchy and mostly parochial.

Obviously, things turned out pretty well nationally for the Conservative camp. Although the UK surge in England wasn’t quite repeated elsewhere, the results are nevertheless very encouraging for tory strategists.

No matter how you feel about local elections taking a lead from national standings, the advent of June’s general election clearly had an impact. Even so, it’s extraordinary to see how Labour continues to lose ground after seven years in opposition.

Then again, as someone mentioned on social media, it seemed that very few of the leaflets in circulation which bore photos of Jeremy Corbyn were actually from Labour.

Anorak interest inevitably homed in on the massive extent to which the Conservatives stole UKIP’s lunch. The independence party imploded, losing all but one of the 145 seats they were contesting. Another portent for next month.

Here in Wales Plaid Cymru did well and those critics who say Leanne Wood should have made a better job of exploiting matters are talking simplistic nonsense.

The calamitous results predicted for Welsh Labour in Cardiff, Newport and Swansea by authority figures in the pollster world turned out to be fake news. They weren’t the only ones to get it wrong. Just after the polls closed, an unnamed senior Liberal Democrat source in Swansea told a local reporter he felt the local Labour vote had "collapsed".

As it happens, Lib Dems lost a chunk of seats and have been replaced by the Conservatives as the second largest council group, thus restoring what one observer described to me as "the natural order".

​Boosting his party’s majority in the city was an impressive outcome for Labour leader Rob Stewart. Of course, nothing less than a win was acceptable given the massive effort and resources put into the campaign.

Labour also retains control of Neath Port Talbot despite losing nine seats. Seven of those went to Plaid Cymru who almost doubled their total and will be looking to build further from that base.

Things are already getting back to normal in Carmarthenshire where Plaid Cymru took seven seats from Independents yet stayed in coalition with them, having fallen a few seats short of a majority.

The national impetus was no less apparent for bodies such as Mumbles Community council who have found themselves not just politicised but somewhat polarised into the bargain.

There is no sentiment in politics and precious little loyalty. One day you’re in office and the next you’re on the street. So, I for one would like to thank those candidates who stood but lost whilst also recognising past contributions by stalwarts who decided to call it a day.

It suits some people to confuse the priorities of local government and local democracy. As such, we must always look to our representatives to ensure that the vital distinction survives.

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