Wales politics

Vote 2011: Welsh assembly election round-up - week two

It's week two of the Welsh assembly election campaign, when the parties fleshed out their policy proposals.

All four of the main parties in the assembly election campaign have now published their manifestos.

BBC Wales has spent the week weighing them up. Literally. Radio Wales' Manifesto Corner got out the scales and found Labour's was the heaviest at 820g.

Obviously that is no reflection of the contents. You'll have to read the documents yourself to work out who has the weightiest programme for government. And for that, you'll need a dictionary.


Is the nation gripped by election fever? One entirely unscientific indicator is the number of political posters around Wales. While driving from BBC Wales HQ in Llandaff to Penrhyncoch, Ceredigion, our correspondent Tomos Livingstone counted 128 posters - an average of one poster every 1.25 miles, or 2km if you prefer.

The week began with a brief lull in hostilities as a mark of respect for Brynle Williams. The parties paused national campaigning while the Conservative AM's funeral took place in Cilcain, near Mold. Mr Williams's passion for being an AM was outdone only by his commitment to the countryside and farming.

Meanwhile, there was no let-up in the politicians' hostility for returning officers in north Wales. Despite pressure to fall into line with the rest of Wales, officials in the north confirmed they are going to start counting votes the day after election day. It means a long day and night for journalists waiting to cover the election result. Not that I expect any sympathy there.


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Media captionPlaid's leader, Ieuan Wyn Jones, told a news conference his party would transform the economy and public services

We got the first manifesto (279g) of the campaign on Tuesday, courtesy of Plaid Cymru. There's been a fair bit of publicity surrounding the title of the document - Ambition is Critical, a quote Plaid wrongly attributed to the poet Dylan Thomas in its first line.

In fact, it came from the pen of retired social worker David Hughes. In fairness to Plaid Cymru, they are not the only ones to believe the urban myth that Dylan Thomas said "Ambition is Critical". While the BBC News website can take the credit for exposing Plaid's error, it is, of course, aware that it is not infallible itself.

But that was not the only gaffe of the day. Plaid has a key pledge to deal with illiteracy among children. It was a bad day for poor old Plaid. It misspelled the Welsh word for illiteracy - "anllythrennedd" - in a press release.


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Media captionKirsty Williams: 'What we need is a government with the will to get things right for Wales'

The Welsh Liberal Democrats were in the target seat of Ceredigion to launch their manifesto (541g). It is a seat they hold in Westminster and one they would dearly love to add to their tally of assembly seats, having been stuck on six since 1999.

They can only hope the people of Ceredigion are not pedants for grammar and spelling. The manifesto contains a series of errors and typos.

I'd like to claim the credit for being the first to spot a mistake, but I'm afraid the honour belongs to the eagle-eyed seven-year-old daughter of a colleague who quickly pointed out a clanger on the cover of the Lib Dem manifesto. She's a credit to the foundation phase.


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Media captionCarwyn Jones launches Welsh Labour's manifesto in the Vale of Glamorgan

Another day, another manifesto. And another batch of spelling mistakes.

The Lib Dems may have put a mistake on the cover of their manifesto. But at least they spelled the name of their party correctly. Unlike Labour, who called themselves Llanfur, instead of Llafur, on every other page of their Welsh language manifesto.

It may be good fun for journalists to point out politicians' poor spelling, but I've been getting increasingly nervous about committing my own mistakes as the week goes on. People in glass houses and all that.

Labour promised to correct its manifesto online. At least the internet allowed it to put its mistakes right. Otherwise the party might be returning to the location Carwyn Jones visited on Monday - a document shredding business in Cardiff.


I was nervous, but I would not have traded places with the Welsh Conservatives. They were the last of the big four to publish a manifesto (the lightest at 190g), holding the launch in north Wales.

While the error count mounted through the week, the Tories must have wondered whether their manifesto would also get the red pen treatment.

In in the interests of balance, we can report that we have found no glaring errors in the Tory manifesto.

A Tory source tells us that he noticed the first draft of the manifesto had "prime minister" spelled wrongly.

I can confirm they got it right by the final draft.