For candidates, activists and journalists, it can be easy to forget that not all voters are as absorbed as we are by the accusations and counter-accusations surrounding who’s going to form a coalition with whom, assuming that Labour don’t win a majority in Wales.
The Welsh media has been full of it for weeks and at least one party has threatened to sue over claims that they are considering supporting a Welsh Conservative government. To everybody else, it’s beginning to sound like a steamy new BBC Wales soap opera.
For those of you who have missed the last few episode, here’s a quick summary of the story so far:
Ieuan (Wyn Jones) likes Rhodri (Morgan), but Rhodri accuses Ieuan of flirting with Nick (Bourne).
Ieuan tells Rhodri that that’s ridiculous as he doesn’t even fancy Nick and would never get together with him unless he could be on top. Ieuan says that he will be loyal to Rhodri if he shows him the attention he deserves. Meanwhile, Mike (German) is so desperate for a bit of the action that he’s happy to hop into bed with anyone.
There is a serious side to all of this. A growing majority of voters want a change of government in Cardiff Bay. Whilst all parties will naturally be saying that they’re aiming for their own majority, the only realistic alternative to a Labour-led government is a “rainbow coalition” of Plaid Cymru, Welsh Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats.
Plaid and the Lib Dems are left trying to persuade voters that a vote for them is a vote for a change of government, whilst at the same time refusing to rule out a coalition/alliance with Labour after 3rd May.
But on the doorstep, this all goes down about as well as a discussion on the comparative merits of Schopenhauer and Hegel. With post offices and rural schools closing and community hospitals under threat, local services are by far the most common issues raised by people I’ve canvassed.
This week I visited a village in North Wales that has bucked the trend by opening a petrol station and village shop, employing 15 people, at a time when others are closing across the country. As the post office has already closed, the petrol station has become the centre of the village.
Now, the council is planning a by-pass that would take passing traffic away from the village and threatens the future of not only the petrol station but of the small hotel that is being redeveloped. For local people involved, arguments over independence and coalitions take a distant second place to whether they can get a traffic island added to the by-pass to allow traffic into the village.
As Tip O’Neil said, all politics is local.