Mark Drakeford hits out at coronavirus restrictions in England
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Today is the last day of campaigning for political parties across the UK. The leaders are due to visit key electoral battlegrounds before voters go to the polls on Thursday. While voters will elect councils which run various community services in England, Wales and Scotland, and Northern Irish voters will choose who they want in Stormont.
Parties often use the local elections as a way to gauge the broader national mood, and how they might make inroads at the next general election.
In Cardiff, Wales’ capital city, Adam Price, the leader of Plaid Cymru, says people feel as though the Labour Party has “lost its sense of values” — a sign, he says, that the tide may be turning against the party.
Labour has dominated Welsh politics for generations, with the country having voted for a Labour government in Westminster for more than 100 years — although it has only got that on a handful of occasions.
Since devolution became an active part of Welsh politics, no other party has sat at the head of the Senedd than Welsh Labour.
But, Mr Price tells Express.co.uk that the people his party are speaking to — some lifelong Labour voters – are fed up with business as usual.
He said: “At a local government level we are challenging Labour in those areas where they are running the local authorities, and we’re getting a lot of support from former Labour voters that are actually very disgruntled with the lack of leadership at a local level.
“We’ve had a very energetic campaign in Cardiff, a city that feels that Labour has lost a sense of its values — a party they feel has become very corporate, building over every piece of green land and tearing down many historic buildings against the wishes of local people.
“Even in the Valleys areas where Labour has been in power for pretty much over 100 years, a lot of people there are reaching out to Plaid because they feel the Labour Party is departing from its core values and isn’t the party of old.”
In Cardiff, Plaid and the Welsh Green Party have partnered and are standing under the name, the Common Ground Alliance.
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They say they are aiming to “bring a new kind of politics to Cardiff” that has mostly been in the hands of Labour for decades since the first Cardiff City Council elections in 1973.
Their manifesto reads: “Behind the facade of glass office blocks, student halls, luxury flats and multi-storey car parks, our basic services no longer work and inequality is ever-increasing.
“Our independent venues and businesses are struggling and disappearing, and the quality of life in our homes and communities is declining ‒ and much of this is because Cardiff Labour can’t get the basics right.”
Plaid is not stabbing in the dark either: the party has experienced a continued surge at the local level in Cardiff and around the country in recent years.
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At the close of the last council in the capital, Plaid had no councillors.
But, in the 2017 local elections, it had three councillors elected, all of whom later left.
Astonishingly, the party received a total of 42,352 votes, only slightly more than 2,000 short of the third largest party in the area, the Liberal Democrats.
But while Mr Price suggests many voters are turning their backs on Labour, other reports suggest that people are in fact welcoming the party.
A number of scandals surrounding Prime Minister Boris Johnson and members of his Conservative Party has seriously damaged his leadership across the UK.
Huw Thomas, a 70-year-old retired police officer from Bridgend, South Wales, told The Guardian that he had backed the Tories all his life.
But in light of the Partygate scandal, he said: “I’m voting Labour for the first time ever.
“Every time I see Boris the buffoon, it makes me more sure. He’s lied and lied.
“He expressed shock that parties took place at Downing Street, then it turns out he was there.
“He’s laughing at us. That’s it for me.”
Bridgend is a minority Labour council, with the Tories in second and Plaid in third.
It lost control of more than 100 of what were once seen as stronghold councils like Bridgend, Merthyr Tydfil and Blaenau Gwent in the 2017 ballot.
Labour even lost Bridgend to the Tories in the 2019 parliamentary election.
But, as Mr Johnson and his MPs continue to fall short of the mark in the eyes of the people, more and more people in Wales — and across the UK — appear to be drifting from one major party to another.
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