WHEN you read this we’ll be less than 24 hours away from polls opening in what could be the most fractious council election in Newport’s history.
There’s certainly a long-standing core of Labour support in the city, but the Tories are making an awful lot of noise this year and seem to genuinely think they could swing it.
How much difference this will make tomorrow remains to be seen.
Of course the balance could well be tipped by some of the smaller parties.
At least a handful of the candidates standing for the Newport Independents Party have a decent chance of coming out on top, and it could be this which makes the big difference.
At the start of the year, I would have seriously considered putting money behind Ukip to make some decent gains as well, and that might still happen, but support for the party has waned since its triumphant heights last June.
The fact the party couldn’t find a single candidate to run in the Brexit heartland of Blaenau Gwent speaks volumes.
Although the Liberal Democrats are fielding the third largest number of candidates in the city, it would be a minor miracle to see them make any gains given the current state of the party. Likewise, Plaid has always struggled in Newport and I can’t see that changing this year.
And then there’s the Greens. They should be applauded for putting in the effort, but realistically we’ll have to see some pretty seismic changes before they get any seats in the council chamber.
I’ve never subscribed to the ‘if you don’t vote you can’t complain’ slogan that gets bandied around before elections – a spoiled ballot or a refusal to vote can be just as meaningful, as long as it isn’t done out of apathy or laziness.
But please at least give some thought to what you’d like your city to look like after May 4 and act accordingly.
See you on the other side.
l Thanks to everyone who came to the Argus’ local election hustings on Friday.
I’ve been to an awful lot of these events over the past few years and I can honestly say that was the most fiery, bad-tempered one I’ve ever attended.
Maybe that was somewhat symptomatic of being held so close to polling day, but there was a real sense of animosity from a large part of the audience, who didn’t seem terribly content to a lot of the answers. At one point I heard someone in the audience shout out telling others to stop shouting out.
Perhaps naturally given they are the two strongest parties in the city, the anger was mostly directed at Labour and the Conservatives, with their answers met with cheers and jeers in roughly equal measure.
And it was the same old story from both parties, with Labour’s Debbie Wilcox blaming the Conservative UK Government for everything bad that’s ever happened, and her Tory rival Matthew Evans pointing the finger at the council’s Labour administration for letting Newport go to the dogs, it was better in my day, etc etc.
Needless to say I’m sure Argus editor Nicole Garnon, who moderated the event, needed a large glass of wine afterwards.
l Remember last week when Theresa May came to Newport and didn’t bother to tell the Argus?
Apparently there’s something of a pattern emerging.
On Saturday she and her campaign team went to Aberdeen to ‘take the fight to Scotland’.
This would have been a lot more laudable if her visit hadn’t actually taken place in a village hall about 16 miles away from the city.
That would be like if she said she was coming to Newport only to turn up in Brynmawr. Not to mention the event was invitation only – hardly reaching out to the disenfranchised.
And just yesterday our friends at a Cornish newspaper were refused access to a factory visit by the prime minister.
Local papers are the voice of the people in the area they serve. Shutting them out is not the way forward.
Not only that, but there’s been reports of Conservative Party HQ choosing its own candidates for Welsh constituencies ahead of June’s elections rather than letting local branches decide.
Given this election has been widely cited as the Conservatives to win, this is a baffling approach.
Surely the party would want to go in as strong as possible to ensure predictions of victory become a reality. Maybe there’s some complacency on behalf of the Tories. But complacency can be fatal in politics.
Five weeks to go.