I haven’t written much on this blog recently. I have been busy with the Welsh elections. I was so upset with the Conservatives winning the last UK general election, that the UK would face another 5 years of things getting worse and worse, so I felt I should be doing more about it.
Part of this was returning to trying to comprehend the mentality of what causes people to support the Tories. I have made some progress but I still don’t quite get it! I do listen to the arguments of conservatives, but I just find the arguments so flawed, I have profound issues with the assumptions they make.
Elections are not decided by the politically decided, by those who have thought long and hard and done research. Elections are decided by the voting of the majority, by people who have other priorities in life beyond politics. Indeed it is important for everyone to have a life outside politics, especially politicians!
So I have spent time going out and about, knocking on doors and speaking to people about the election and delivering leaflets in the sunshine and the rain. It has been a fascinating experience, to be exposed to so many views on politics and perceptions of the elections. have been surprised by how friendly people have been. Yes, I have had the odd door slammed in my face when they saw my rosette, but for the most part people have been very friendly and understanding of what I was doing. What has surprised me was the number of people who really are floating voters, people who change the party they support from election to election. Although maybe the politically decided are more quick to state who they support, which tends to bring the conversation to a rapid close. Door to door canvassing is important, it shows people that party supporters do care about our communities and I feel it is very effective. It is rare for people to be exposed to people who think differently to their social group.
This election there has been a deluge of political leaflets through my door, because my local constituency was deemed to be marginal, in that the local result could go more than one way. However such leaflets are not terribly effective, almost every party says the same things : We want to improve the Welsh economy, the education system and the health service. Well d’uh! who wouldn’t want these things! Speaking to people face to face allows communication of what the party stands for, the basis for the policies of improving things, on this there is a lot of confusion.
It should be obvious from my earlier posts that I am a Plaid Cymru supporter. however there does seem to be a lack of understanding of what this party stands for and why I support this party. The challenge for Plaid remains moving beyond the perception that all the party care about is independence for Wales and the Welsh language. whilst these things are important to the party, they are not the reason for it’s existence, they are consequences of what the party stands for. Basically the party stands for devolution, the idea that decisions affecting a community should be made with the consent of the local community for the betterment of that community. It just so happens that Wales is a ready made wider community and the perfect size for economic decisions to be taken. Really, Plaid Cymru are not a party driven by an ideological basis in the traditional sense of left, right or centre. It is a pragmatic party that will do the best for the community, for every community in Wales, surprisingly this is sometimes perceived as a radical position.
This is why I have problems with the other parties, Labour, Conservative or Liberal. Often these parties make policy based on ideology rather than what works best for the community as a whole. Political ideology is important, it can guide thought towards greater understanding and solutions. However, practical solutions to the different problems in society can stem from all kinds of ideology, it is better to analyse what would work better than be constrained by ideology, to look at effects on communities rather than any other consideration. Yes, Plaid is perceived as a left -wing party, but that is only because over the last thirty years, things have been skewed by right wing ideology, a re-balance from capital to labour and the state is needed. In a world where the Chinese government subsidise Chinese steel production, the state needs to intervene to protect a vital industry.
What has been interesting is meeting some dyed-in-the-wool Labour supporters. Many have said to me that they like Jeremy Corbyn (The UK Labour party leader), but are uncomfortable with the direction taken by the Labour party in Cardiff. It is has been interesting to note after the election results that in many traditional Labour voting areas in Wales, the Plaid Cymru vote share has increased.
The other interesting thing was attending the vote count last week. In Wales we have a semi d’Hondt electoral system, where you vote for a local constituency candidate and a regional list candidate, to add some proportionality to the system. So viewing the how people voted on the two papers was fascinating. It was also interesting to observe how civilised members of differing political parties were towards each other. Whilst we all had profound ideological hated of what other parties stood for, we were able to be polite and civilised to each other, to share a cup of tea to keep us going at 4am in the morning!