An open letter to Green Party supporters in Wales

I hold no official position in Plaid, and what I'm writing is entirely my own opinion, written on my own initiative. I am going to ask you to do something difficult, but something I believe is in the best interests of both Wales and the political values and policies that I trust both you and I share.

I am asking you to vote for Plaid Cymru in the European Parliament elections on Thursday next week, rather than for your own party.

     

If we had a fair voting system, there would be no problem. You would number the Green candidates first, and I believe a very good number of you would number the Plaid candidates after that. But we do not have a fair voting system. We just get one vote for one party.

Wales has four European seats. The first three seats will almost certainly go to Plaid, Labour and the Tories, who will each get a share of the vote somewhere in the mid-twenties. The fourth seat would go to the fourth placed party if they were to get more than half the vote of the first placed party. That would mean getting around 13 or 14% of the vote. I do not think that either the Lib Dems or UKIP will get that in Wales, which means the fourth seat will go to the first placed party.

To put it bluntly, and with the highest respect for Jake Griffiths and the rest of your team of candidates in Wales, the Greens will not get anywhere near 13 or 14% of the Welsh vote. Therefore, unjust though that is, a vote for the Green Party will simply not count. So I'm urging you to vote tactically instead.

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Of course the situation is completely different in England. England has larger constituencies, therefore it is perfectly possible for the Green Party to win a seat in several of them with around 8% of the vote. The latest YouGov poll showed support for the Greens at 7%, but at 9% of those who said they were certain to vote. So in England you have everything to fight for. There is every chance of Jean Lambert and Caroline Lucas holding their seats, and of you adding a couple of additional MEPs from other regions.

In particular I wish you every success in the North West, where the Greens and the BNP are running neck-and-neck and where voting for Peter Cranie is the best way of to stop the disgusting Nick Griffin winning a seat. And, as I'm sure there must be some Welsh ex-pats reading this in NW England, this video explains how close that race might be, and why voting Green is a more effective way of stopping the BNP than voting for one of the big three parties. I could even overlook the fact that Ynys Môn was left off the map!
 

      
 

But back to Wales. In asking you to vote for Plaid I would not insult your intelligence by pretending that voting Plaid would be the same as voting Green. Although all parties have to an extent come round to understanding the importance of environmental and ecological issues (call that jumping on the bandwagon if you want, but it's so obvious that no party could avoid the issue) very few have understood the idea of sustainability, and fewer still that the ecomony needs to be fundamentally rethought away from the idea that unsustainable "growth" is the panacea for all problems. Nor would I want to hide away from the attitudes and actions of some in Plaid which are definitely less than Green. For example, even though Plaid is an anti-nuclear party, we have a leader in the Assembly that supports a new nuclear station at Yr Wylfa. And in my opinion we made a mistake by not passing on the fuel duty rebate to bus companies, when we should have done all we could to help public transport.

But despite those things, I would not support Plaid Cymru if our policies on environmental issues were not better than those of the other main parties. Our record may not be perfect, but it's not too shabby either.

     

On a European level, as I'm sure you know, the Green Party and Plaid Cymru are both part of the Green-EFA Group in the European Parliament. We sit together, we work together, we lobby together, we vote together.

If there were any possiblity of the Green Party winning one of the four Welsh seats you would of course be right to go for it. But there isn't, so voting Plaid is the next best thing. But I would not ask you to do this unless there was something concrete to be gained. I need to persuade you that your vote would make a practical difference. So we need to look at some electoral maths in Wales.

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Labour's share of the EP vote has slumped to 22% in the UK as a whole. In Wales, which is a more left-leaning country, Labour's slump will not be so bad. I reckon they will get somewhere around 26% of the vote.

In the last Euro election the Tories got 19.4% of the vote in Wales, compared with 26.7% in the UK as a whole. So even thought the Tories are doing relatively well in the UK as a whole, their performance will be about 7 percentage points lower in Wales, putting them again no higher than about 25%.

It's very hard to gauge Plaid's support, because none of the main polls includes Wales as a separate region. We got 17.4% in 2004. We got over 22% in the Assembly elections in 2007, but that is not the same thing. One recent poll put us at 27% in Assembly voting intentions, 5% more than in 2007, which seems to indicate that our support has grown. What I can say with certainty is that Plaid MPs have not been tainted by the expenses scandal in Westminster. So my best guess would be that Plaid's support will be at least in the low to mid 20s. Say 23 or 24% of the vote. I think it might well be higher, but there's no way of being sure about that. That's why we need your support.

At the last Assembly elections the Greens got 3.5% of the vote. That was two years ago. The polls show that your support has increased since then, but it's hard to give a figure specific to Wales. However it must be at least 5 or 6%.

If most of you can bring yourselves to vote for Plaid, our share of the vote goes up from around 24% to around 27 or 28%. That would be enough for us to narrowly beat both Labour and the Tories and therefore win the fourth Welsh seat. The Green-EFA group in the European Parliament therefore gets one more seat. That benefits both our parties, but more importantly it benefits Wales.

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Thank you for bearing with me. I know I'm asking you to make a difficult decision, but I trust that the reasons I have given are enough to persuade you. I can only ask.

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3 comments:

Jim Jay said...

I do hope that Jill Evans is re-elected, I've heard so many good things about her. Good luck in the election.

MH said...

There's no real doubt that Jill will be re-elected, Jim Jay. The question is whether Plaid's second candidate, Eurig Wyn, will join her.

Penddu said...

MH - Well said - the recent Telegraph poll on European voting intentions actually had Plaid support on 30%. Difficult to extrapolate some of the figures out of other polls, but they all point to Plaid support in the mid to high 20s.

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