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Assembly Election 2016 – what’s it all about?

OK, so I’ll admit, I always vote.  I’m a Welsh woman; it’s pretty mandatory stuff.  Have I always fully understood the elections I’m voting in or what the parties stand for in total?  Erm, no, I’ll admit that I haven’t, but I’ve been determined to fully understand the upcoming Assembly Elections on the 5th of May and make an informed decision.

The thing is, when politicians start to talk, my brain either goes into scrambled egg mode (aaaaaargh, I don’t understand what you’re saying!  Stop talking to me!) or spaghetti bolognese mode (but there are so many strands; how am I supposed to get them all?).  Determined to get it right this year, I’ve looked into it and broken it down into bite-size chunks (and even thrown in a fruit analogy at the end!):

 

What is the Assembly?

The National Assembly for Wales makes decisions on laws on important areas like health, education, housing and transport.  The home of the National Assembly is the Senedd in Cardiff Bay.

 

Who are the Assembly members (AMs)?

The National Assembly is made up of 60 Assembly Members.  40 of them represent local areas (constituencies) and 20 represent the five regions of Wales: North Wales; Mid and West Wales; South Wales West; South Wales East and South Wales Central (which is the region in which Splott falls).

In the 2016 Assembly Elections, Splottlanders will be voting for a candidate to represent our constituency of Cardiff South and Penarth and a party to represent our region of South Wales Central.

Currently, the constituency Assembly Member for Splott is Labour member Vaughan Gething (AM for Cardiff South and Penarth) and he is standing for re-election in the 2016 elections.

Currently, the regional members for Splott (South Wales Central) are Andrew R. T. Davies (Conservative); David Melding (Conservative); Eluned Parrott (Liberal Democrats) and Leanne Wood (Plaid Cymru).

 

Which parties make up the National Assembly?

The Assembly is currently dissolved before the elections but was made up of the following parties:

Labour: 30 seats (42.3%), headed up by Carwyn Jones who is the First Minster

Conservatives: 14 seats (25%) headed up by Andrew R. T. Davies

Plaid Cymru: 11 seats (19.3%) headed up by Leanne Wood

Liberal Democrats: 5 seats (10.6%) headed up by Kirsty Williams

Assembly seats 2011-16

Assembly seats 2011-16

In order for a party to be voted in with a majority, they need 31 or more votes.

 

Candidates for Splott

Here’s a rundown of the candidates running to be Assembly Member for Cardiff South and Penarth and hoping for the votes of the people of Splott (and a bit about what they’re promising):

 

Vaughan Gething – Welsh Labour
Vaughan is up for re-election and his Labour pledges include:

  • Free childcare for working parents of three and four year olds
  • Tax cuts for small businesses in Wales
  • 100,000 quality apprenticeships for all ages
  • New treatment fund for life-threatening illnesses
  • Double the capital limit for those going into residential care
  • An extra £100m to improve school standards

For more information on Labour’s pledges to Wales, click here 

 

Ben Gray – Welsh Conservatives
Ben is challenging Vaughan for the crown and his party has pledged to:

  • Treble free childcare to 30 hours a week, ensuring affordable and accessible support for families
  • Create more jobs by backing small businesses and improving infrastructure
  • Protect the NHS by guaranteeing more investment in the health service each and every year
  • Provide security and dignity for older people by setting a cap on costs and protecting £100,000 of assets for those in residential care
  • Deliver excellence in education by transforming teacher training and directing more funds to the classroom

For more information on the Conservative’s promises to Wales, click here

 

Dafydd Trystan Davies – Plaid Cymru
Dafydd and Plaid Cymru, also known as Party of Wales, has pledged to:

  • make sure that everyone in Wales is tested and given a diagnosis or the all clear within 28 days
  • invest in NHS in order to bring down waiting times by training and recruiting 1000 extra doctors and 5000 additional nurses
  • provide free care for the elderly, starting with abolishing charges for home care and for people with dementia in the next five years
  • begin the process of creating a national childcare service for Wales with free full-time nursery places for all three year olds by the end of this assembly term
  • cut bureaucracy, give teachers a premium and deliver the most highly motivated and skilled teachers in the whole of the UK to raise standards and create more opportunities for our children
  • fund universities properly, cancel up to £18,000 of debt for those who work in Wales after graduating, and create 50,000 extra apprenticeships
  • improve public transport system and road networks and create jobs by investing nation-wide in home energy efficiency schemes and green energy
  • create a WDA for the 21st century to grow Welsh businesses and boost exports
  • boost small firms who employ so many people by cutting business rates and make sure that when public contracts are given out that more of this work is given to firms in Wales

For more information on the Plaid Cymru’s promises to Wales, click here

 

Nigel Howells – Welsh Liberal Democrats
Nigel’s party has pledged to:

  • ensure more nurses on hospital wards
  • ensure smaller infant school class sizes
  • build 20,000 affordable homes over five years
  • create a “small business administration” offering independent advice and finance
  • ensure business rate flexibility for councils to boost economic development
  • cut the basic rate of income tax by 1p to 19% in Wales

For more information on the Welsh Liberal Democrat’s promises to Wales, click here

 

Anthony Slaughter – Green Party
If elected, Anthony and the Green Party in Wales has promised to fight for:

  • Affordable homes insulated against high bills and cold weather
  • Free for Welsh students to go to Welsh universities
  • Stopping school closures
  • Stopping privatisation of parts of the NHS
  • More electricity from renewable sources
  • A good rail line between north and south Wales
  • Young people from the age of 16 to be allowed to vote in elections

For more information on the Green Party’s promises to Wales, click here

 

Hugh Hughes – UKIP Wales
If elected, Hugh and UKIP Wales has pledged many things in their 48-page manifesto, including to:

  • devolve power from Cardiff Bay to local councils, e.g. over economic development
  • create directly elected health boards
  • involve MPs in Assembly law making
  • scrap climate change projects
  • allow schools to be grammar schools and cut teachers’ workloads
  • make St David’s Day a Bank Holiday.

For more information on UKIP Wales’ promises to Wales, click here

 

How to vote:

In order to vote, you have to be registered.  Registration closes at midnight on Monday 18th April, so if you haven’t registered yet and want to vote, you’d better get your skates on.  You can register to vote by clicking here.

Once registered, you will receive a polling card through the post, which you can use to vote on the day, or a postal vote, which you can submit in advance.

On May 5th, there will be polling stations across Splott open between 8am and 10pm where you can go and cast your vote.  Here’s a list:

East Moors Community Centre, Sanquhar Street, Splott,
Moorland Primary School, Singleton Road, Splott,
The Library At Star Centre, Star Centre, Splott Road,
Moorland Community Centre, Moorland Road, Splott,

 

Still not getting it?  Assembly Elections explained using strawberries and stuff…

But all that’s a bit complicated, so I figured that the only way to do it was to turn the political parties into fruit.  Yep; that’ll make it easier to understand…

Well, there are these strawberries and they currently have the sunniest spot in the greenhouse.  There are more strawberries than any other fruit and, because of this, they have the most say over what goes on (I’m talking about Labour, just in case my fruit analogy is making anyone’s brain go into scrambled egg mode) and they run things in general.  The strawberries want to keep their sunny spot and aim to bring more strawberries into the greenhouse so that their say is final.  To do this, they’ve promised six big things to all the plants in the garden, including stuff to help parents, school kids, small businesses, people looking for work, people who are poorly and people who are old.

There are around half the amount of Blueberries (Tories) in the greenhouse and they covet the sunny spot enjoyed by the strawberries.  They think that the strawberries have had the sunny spot for far too long and that they should give it up to someone else for a change.  In trying to get the other plants on their side, they’ve been quite critical of the strawberries.  The blueberries have also made big promises to the other plants in the garden, also including stuff to help parents, school kids, small businesses, people looking for work, people who are poorly and people who are old.

assembly-garden-small

There are also a fair few pears in the greenhouse (Plaid Cymru) and they don’t believe that the strawberries or the blueberries are the right fruit to manage the garden properly.  They don’t think that those other fruits have the best interests of the garden at heart and that the other plants in the garden should come over to their side because they’re promising some stuff for free which also helps school kids, parents and old people.

Lastly, there are a handful of bananas in the greenhouse (Lib Dems).  There used to be a lot more of them but around five years ago, they had a bad time of it.  Frost got into the greenhouse and they suffered for it.  The remaining bananas are hanging on tenaciously to their spot in the greenhouse and want to grow their numbers in the greenhouse again.  To do this, they need the support of the plants in the garden and have promised them stuff to help small businesses, small school kids and poorly people in hospital.  They’ve also promised more money in the plants’ pockets through a small cut in taxes.

Outside the greenhouse, two other small groups of fruit have their faces pressed to the glass, looking in.  They would love a place inside the greenhouse.

The limes (Green Party) want to see a garden that uses renewable energies and looks after itself without selling bits of the garden to outside people with lots of money.  A bit different from the others, they want to run a train line from the bottom to the top of the garden, making it easier to get around.  This may be a challenge because the garden’s quite bumpy in parts.

The plums (UKIP) want to see an awful lot of stuff happen in the garden.  They have a long, long list of things that they have promised to the plants.  Way too long to list here.  But the main thrust of it, I guess, is offering the plants the chance to have their say on their own bits of the garden and manage a lot of the goings on in the garden themselves.

On the 5th of May, the plants in the garden get to vote on who gets a coveted place in the greenhouse.  The fruit with the most votes will get the sunniest spot and the biggest say, if they get more than double the votes of any other fruit.  If that doesn’t happen, two of the fruits may get together and form an alliance in order to share the sunny spot and then they will have to argue it out over what goes on in the garden.

It’s certainly an interesting time in the garden of Wales!

 

Well, there you have it, my take on the Assembly Elections of 2016.  Hope that sheds a bit of light on things.  Apologies if it makes it even more confusing or if I’ve got any of it completely wrong, but as I said, when it comes to elections, my brain’s usually in scrambled egg or spaghetti bolognese mode.

Inksplott