A NOTHER election over, with Labour given a massive drubbing across England and Wales and Boris elected Mayor of London. Who would have thought such results possible last October when Gordon Brown was on the verge of calling, and potentially winning, a general election?
Whilst local politics may not be a pointer to any general election results, it is worth reflecting how the political landscape changed in North Wales.
Predictably, Labour took a beating, giving up 26 seats with their only silver lining being the five new Labour councillors elected on Anglesey. The Liberal Democrats did very little, ending up with one seat less than in 2004, although probably retaining the leadership of Wrexham.
Even though they did not win any additional seats, Plaid Cymru, due to Labour's decline, are now the largest party outside the independents in North Wales, Indeed, it would have been a good night for Plaid if Llais Gwynedd had not been as successful in capturing 12 seats in their heartland.
The party that can claim to be the winners are the Welsh Conservatives, gaining 24 extra councillors or an increase of eight per cent. With their political renaissance continuing, they are now level pegging with Labour in terms of the number of councillors across North Wales, and such results should encourage them to put more council candidates across the region at the next election.
The next stage, of course, will be the horse-trading between the winners, given that no single party has a majority on any of the six councils. With coalitions now being increasingly accepted as the way forward in local government, there will certainly be some changes.
In Denbighshire, the Conservatives are again the largest party and may do a deal with the independent group to secure control.
In Flintshire, there seems to be little appetite for Labour and I would expect a coalition of independents, Liberal Democrats and Conservatives to take over the council.
I fully expect that Plaid Cymru in Gwynedd will make a formal arrangement with Llais Gwynedd, especially as many of the architects of the schools closure policy have lost their seats whilst in Anglesey the key will be whether different independent groupings can make any deals with the formal parties in the county.
The Conservatives are now the largest party in Conwy and I would expect a new coalition to be forged with the Independents and possibly the Lib Dems, although Plaid Cymru should be excluded as there is no political benefit whatsoever to the Conservatives to have them sitting in the cabinet. Finally, Wrexham should see its coalition government continuing although Plaid may demand a seat on the cabinet with four new councillors.
The local elections have broken Labour's hold on many Welsh councils and, with the exception of Anglesey, they have had a poor showing in North Wales. Whether these results will affect the outcome in key seats such as Aberconwy, Arfon, Delyn and the Vale of Clwyd at the next general election remains to be seen.
In terms of the Assembly, these results should now give pause for thought to many Plaid Cymru activists as to whether it is still in their political interests to remain in power in Cardiff Bay with a Labour Party that clearly has lost the support of many of the Welsh electorate.
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|Publication:||Daily Post (Liverpool, England)|
|Date:||May 5, 2008|
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