Plaid peer claims Tories may drop election change plan


At the time, it was billed as a policy "to avoid a disproportionate impact on smaller political parties". But has the UK government got cold feet over plans to allow candidates for the National Assembly for Wales two bites of the electoral cherry?

Seven months ago, the UK government announced: "To avoid a disproportionate impact on smaller political parties, there will be an end to the prohibition on candidates at assembly elections standing in both a constituency and a region at the same time."

The ban was introduced by the last Labour UK government to avoid a repeat of the 2003 assembly election in Clwyd West, where the top four candidates ended up in Cardiff Bay despite three of them losing the first-past-the-post constituency election.

Welsh Secretary David Jones told MPs: "We will end the prohibition on candidates at assembly elections standing in both a constituency and a region at the same time. The Government believes that, in principle, candidates should not be barred from standing in a constituency and a region, and the current prohibition impacts disproportionally on smaller parties."

But for the last couple of weeks rumours have been circulating at Westminster that the Wales Office is rethinking this policy ahead of the publication shortly of the draft Wales Bill on the assembly's electoral arrangements.

Two MPs have approached me in the hope I could shed light on the rumours, which have also reached the House of Lords. Plaid Cymru's former leader Lord Wigley tweeted last night: "Tories to scrap plans for assembly candidates to fight seats/list 2015. Why? Tory fears Labour will reverse it post 2015. Conservatives expect to lose election?" Plaid Cymru are taking a keen interest in the issue, as lifting the ban could allow Lord Wigley's successor-but-two Leanne Wood to fulfil her promise of standing in her home constituency while using the safety net offered by regional lists.

Over to the Wales Office then, where a political source chooses their words carefully: "We have said we would lift the ban. It is still our intention [my itallics] to do so". The reduction in certainty between those two sentences almost suggests what we hacks refer to as "a non-denial denial". We should find out for sure when that draft Wales Bill is published "later in the year".

David Cornock Article written by David Cornock David Cornock Parliamentary correspondent, Wales

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  • rate this

    Comment number 83.

    So PC are going to "insist" on immediate granting of taxation varying powers if they win or share power at the next election.
    So what happens if London ignore them. Will Leanne Scweam and scweam and scweam until she is sick ??

  • rate this

    Comment number 82.

    ... I came across the following at the "syniadau" blog :

    "So, how should Plaid Cymru respond? Firstly, they should be brave enough to break the cosy consensus around this matter, and argue that it is completely illogical to hold a hugely expensive referendum ( £8m)) on such a minor technicality, and insist that Wales should have tax-varying powers immediately if they win/share power in 2016."

  • rate this

    Comment number 81.

    ... I see the greatest danger to democracy in Wales is the level of intolerance created by the separatist agenda who have created, cultivated and used the "anti-Welsh" label as a weapon against any and all opposition to the devolved administration.

    The upshot is that democracy has been diluted because of the failure by politicians to challenge and defend plurality. Nationalism in action.

  • rate this

    Comment number 80.

    I think that it has happened at constituency level at least once John. Ceredigion, when Plaid lost the seat to the Libdems. When you looked at the figures both the Tory vote and the Labour vote fell with the Lid dem vote increasing by much the same amount as the fall. I thought at the time that there was some tactical "anyone but Plaid " voting. Plaid blamed English students!

  • rate this

    Comment number 79.

    ... although Cardiff Bay and Westminster seem to be at odds, is it possible there is a coming together in response to the Scottish separatists.
    Not much is being given away, the largess might be political blue smoke and mirrors, Westminster helping out.
    Should the electorate put historic differences aside and start voting strategically to push Plaid and chums into the very long grass.


Comments 5 of 83


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