Wales politics

Vote 2011: Sun and scaremongering in week three

You may have spent the last five days looking longingly out through the office window hoping that the unseasonably warm weather lasts until the four-day Easter weekend.

But there's been little opportunity for the politicians and their helpers to plan visits to the beach or barbecues in the garden. They've been out in the sunshine continuing their pursuit for votes in the assembly election campaign.

And as the sun shone, tempers have been tested. Keen to put some space between themselves after a four-year truce, former coalition partners Plaid Cymru and Labour have been arguing about hospitals.


This election is supposed to be a battle of ideas. But there is a secondary contest underway which is of great interest to hungry journalists.

It's not a contest for the most amenable personality or the best sound bite. It's a contest for the best snacks.

Labour has been serving bacon rolls at its weekly Monday-morning press conferences in Cardiff. And mighty fine bacon rolls they are too.

Keen not to be outdone, Plaid also had a press conference on Monday morning. The venue: a cinema in Cardiff Bay to unveil a cinema advertising campaign. The snacks: sweet or savoury pop corn in a Plaid branded popcorn cup.


Political rivalries were put aside on Tuesday while the leaders of the four big parties tried to put more pressure on returning officers in north Wales, where votes in the election will not be counted until the day after polls close.

Labour, the Conservatives, the Lib Dems and Plaid fear the election will be overshadowed by results from Scotland's devolved elections, English local elections and the AV referendum - all taking place on the same day. Despite a joint letter from them complaining that a delay is "unacceptable", officials in the north say they have no plans to change their minds.

Meanwhile, we were pondering the odds being offered by bookies on some interesting marginal seats. One betting website predicts that six of the 40 constituencies will change hands on 5 May. Looks like it could go right down to the wire on election night. Or "election day after", if that's how long we have to wait for the final result.


On Wednesday Labour and Plaid were at war. Labour claimed Plaid was scaremongering voters with unfounded warnings about hospitals. Plaid asked why Labour had not to ruled out threats to certain district general hospitals.

Meanwhile, Ed Miliband, was in Llanelli on Wednesday. Labour leaders should remember Gillian Duffy and beware little old ladies they meet on the campaign trail. On a walkabout with the local candidate, Mr Miliband received this advice from a diminutive white-haired lady on how to dislodge the Tories: "Machine gun."

"Well I don't think that's a good idea but we need to get them out, you're right," Mr Miliband said as he gave her a reassuring pat on the shoulder and moved on to the next potential voter.


Rhondda's Labour MP Chris Bryant will not be able to do much door knocking to help his party in the rest of the campaign. We found out on Thursday he had broken his leg in a charity rugby match.

"My contribution to the assembly campaign will now have to be sedentary," he told his Twitter followers.

It brings to mind an earlier incident in the campaign. A BBC colleague, en route to interview some Conservative candidates in Cardiff, came across a gentleman who had gone for a walk under doctor's orders while recovering from a broken leg. Unfortunately, he found himself stranded on a foot path behind a locked gate. Your intrepid reporter put down his camera and gave the gentleman a piggy back. Who says you don't get value for money from your licence fee?


As it was the start of the holidays, Labour headed for the seaside, saying how reviving resort towns was the core of its tourism strategy.

It was Jane and Glenys in Barry Island, rather than Gavin and Stacey, although the hit TV comedy was highlighted by Hutt and Kinnock for the "shot in the arm" it brought to the local economy.

Plaid Cymru's Nerys Evans kept the Easter theme going with a visit to a 'chocolate farm' in Pembrokeshire.

She highlighted the party's planned £90m initial growth fund for loans for small and medium sized business struggling to access credit.

The Welsh Liberal Democrats challenged the other parties to publish a full set of costings for their manifestos, accusing them of "failing" to provide anything a week after their policy documents were launched.

The Conservatives hightlighted their commitment to establishing a cancer drugs fund and extending free bus travel to carers.