Jacob Williams

Party planners: The party files, Pt. 5

Sunday 11th November, 2012
Party planners: The party files, Pt. 5

If the unspoken benefits of being an IPG councillor are enhanced prospects of re-election, then Partygate is building up quite a clear picture of the canvassing efforts assisted using authority resources. I’ve made the point before that political loyalty is normally something a politician is proud of, so it’s quite telling that not a single returning IPG councillor mentioned their preceding years’ membership of the IPG in their election leaflets. We’ll have to wait to see if any of the 2012 intake mention it in their re-election material in 2017, but I think I have a pretty good idea that none will.

In fact, I have strong reasons to believe that some members are very much on the outskirts and are very unimpressed with these party-tactical revelations. What is becoming clear to me is that, for the party ultra-loyalists the IPG really does its best to look after its own, pulling out all of the stops in a bid to secure their re-election.

In the files so far we’ve seen IPG-created election leaflets, prediction documents, strategies and canvassing schedules. Skip forward four years, and the scope of the party-political assistance afforded for IPG candidates seems to have broadened somewhat.

Going to the polls 2012

Folders inside ‘Election addresses > 2012’

As with 2008, the council computers were put to good use in creating election literature for the IPG’s 2012 hopefuls. All of them were for serving councillors, unlike 2008, and this montage of some of the files shows that things look a little more professional than they did four years earlier.

Maps

Despite a lack of election strategy documents for 2012, there are a couple of things that appear within the 2012 haul of files that weren’t in the 2008 folders. Maps of four electoral divisions, including my own, East Williamston, are included inside a folder called ‘maps.’ If you look through the back-issues of Partygate, you’ll realise that the four wards have quite different background stories, which I’ll explain below:

East Williamston was a ward held by IPG member Jim Codd, and was an ‘at risk’ seat as highlighted in the documents covered in last week’s post, where the IPG predicted I would win. Numerous voters told me at the time that other IPG members were seen out canvassing on his behalf, and I know that at least one (possibly two) have since been elevated to the cabinet. I don’t think this was a case of performance-related promotion, probably more of a reward for general party-loyalty. Obviously I didn’t know then as much as I do now about the party-machinery he had behind him, but I had strong suspicions that he had his leaflets designed for him. In every instance on the leaflets, calling cards and road-side posters; East Williamston was spelt ‘East Williamson.’ I happened to bump into Jim Codd on the campaign trail, and took the opportunity to ask him who created his leaflets. His response was “that’s for me to know and you to find out.” I have done.

The discovery of the maps for the Haverfordwest Castle ward, however, are a bit of a surprise to me. It’s been held by Tom Tudor of Labour for years. In 2004 he had a 213 majority over two independent candidates, and in 2008 his sole Conservative challenger got within a hundred votes of his 438. I guess it was this reduced majority that warranted putting Tudor in the ‘at risk’ category I covered in last week’s party files, which predicted that the Conservative candidate -the same Sarah Llewellyn, would win this time around. Quite why maps for this ward are included within the IPG’s election bundle remains a mystery, because no ‘independent’ candidate submitted nomination papers for it in 2012, so any thoughts on this from readers will be most welcome.

At the 2012 election, Solva’s IPG stalwart Leslie Raymond stood down. Battling it out were three candidates whose descriptions on the ballot paper were ‘independent,’ one with no description, and a Labour candidate. The eventual winner, Lyn Jenkins, was out of the country after the election, and, in her absence, became the IPG’s number one sign-up target as they were struggling to reach a majority. As I understand, there was much indecision (from both the IPG and Cllr. Jenkins) as to whether or not she would/should sign up – so I think it’s safe to say that she was not an ‘IPG candidate,’ which begs the question, of the other three independent candidates on the ballot paper, which, if any, was? I’ve spotted one clue which might suggest that it could have been the blank-description candidate, David Phillips, who came a very close second – by only 10 votes. His nomination papers were proposed with the signature of a certain W. L. Raymond.

The Newport councillor and past IPG chair, Robin Evans, retired at the 2012 elections. Five candidates tried their luck to replace him, from Plaid Cymru, a Liberal Democrat, and three with the description ‘independent.’ I’m quite sure that the winner, Cllr. Paul Harries, was not an IPG candidate, so he might well have unknowingly beaten ‘the endorsed’ one. If he did, then the IPG probably had hopefuls in more wards than initially meets the eye.

Contents of folder ‘Ken’

As you’ll see, inside the folder called ‘Ken’ are a range of files including photographs, double-sided calling cards, and a poster (in the montage above) with the slogan ‘The voice for Johnston.’ There is no election address or leaflet, but the first two files, ‘CLLRROWLANDS.dta’ and ‘Dear Elector postal labels.doc’ interest me quite a lot more.

The declaration of the 2012 election result for the Johnson Electoral Division states that the electorate is 1889 people, and the file ‘CLLRROWLANDS.dta’ contains the names and details of 324 of them. The data is in a tabular format under such headings as: ELECTORNUMBER, ELECTORNAME, SURNAME, FORENAME etc.

‘Dear Elector postal labels.doc,’ from which I have reproduced two sheets below, is a 19-page Microsoft Word document containing 304 addresses within the Johnston ward. They are neatly arranged into 2×8 cells on the page and each address is preceded with ‘Dear Elector,’ followed by each part of the address on a separate line.

There are many more than 304 residences within the Johnston Electoral Division, but the selection of addresses in the document range from the different communities within it including the Tiers Cross community, Thornton community and the Johnston community. Addresses are included from Dale Road, Tiers Cross, Upper and Lower Thornton, Woodlands View, The Close, Church Road, Bulford Road and many others.

Some of the addresses are duplicated, which means there are fewer than 304 different addresses. One of them I noticed crops up four times, so I checked it against ‘CLLRROWLANDS.dta,’ where I found four voters are registered to vote at that address. Following this I did further checks, and I’ve concluded that every address that appears multiple times within ‘Dear Elector postal labels.doc’  has that same multiple of electors registered at that address listed inside the file ‘CLLRROWLANDS.dta.’

Contents of folder ‘H george’

There are only two types of file inside this folder – data files and Microsoft Word documents – all of which relate to the electoral register for the Maenclochog Electoral Division. The names of the data files correspond to the codes of the community boundaries within the Maenclochog Electoral Division ie: BC0 = New Moat Community Council, BD0 = Maenclochog ward of the Maenclochog Community Council, BD1 = Llancefn ward of the Maenclochog Community Council, BE0 + BE1 = Mynachlog-ddu Community Council, BF0 = Llandissilio West Community Council and BF1 = Clynderwen Community Council.

The .dta files contain the raw data of the electoral registers for those communities in the same format as the .dta file I found inside the folder ‘Ken.’

The correspondingly named .doc files contain the same addresses, but set out in that neat 2×8 format, prefixed with “I’r Etholwyr – To the Elector.”

You might have noticed that one of the communities (BC0) appears twice – firstly as ‘BC0.doc’ and then again as ‘To the Elector BC0.doc.’ The only difference is that the addresses in the latter document are prefixed with the Welsh removed – reading “To the elector.” In all, the addresses of 1417 residences in the Maenclochog Electoral Division are in the 2×8 layout documents; two of those 93 sheets are reproduced below:

←Party planners: The party files, Pt. 4

Plotting the 2012 election campaign

Party planners: The party files, Pt. 6→

Post-election antics 2012


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12 Comments...

  • Tony Wilcox

    My old eyes are not what they were. I’m unable to read the bit at the bottom where it states who printed these masterpieces, would you be so kind as to enlighten us please?

  • Hi Tony, all of them, with no exceptions, state:

    “Printed and promoted by Candidate Forename + Surname, Home Address.”

  • John Hudson

    It seems that our elections are governed by The Registration of Political Parties Act 1998 and subsequent Statutory Instruments.

    A party MAY apply for inclusion in the register, by sending the registrar an application that includes a declaration that the party intends to have one or more candidates at a relevant election. “Party” is interpreted as including any person or organisation.

    There is no requirement for any Tom Dick or Harry, who have the intent to carpet bag a council to announce this to the electorate and they appear free, in our democratic system, to operate as a party under the radar of the electorate.

    It is however unlawful to use Council (our) resources for party or individual electoral purposes. How are we supposed to know the intentions of candidates?

  • Tony Wilcox

    You have to admire these people. Slaving away on their own personal equipment at home for hours on end.

  • Watch Dawg

    As interesting as it is with the IPG using Council resources for electioneering purposes, an even bigger question is how they came by the information.

    The maps you show appear to have been produced from the Council’s GIS system. Would members have direct access to this themselves?

    Even more puzzling are the DTA files produced directly from the Electoral Register to which very few people would have access, and it would be interesting to know how these came in to the possession of the IPG, especially as there are very strict regulations governing the supply and use of this data.

  • Dave Edwards

    The electoral register was available digitally to candidates individually for their own ward but not on a county wide basis. Similarly the ward maps were available to download.

  • I think it’s the ‘county wide basis’ that raises the most questions, not to mention the fact that the party-assistance stretches this far. I would be surprised if there was a single candidate in the elections who didn’t have copies of the electoral roll for their ward, and I too had mine in a digital format, though they were PDF not DTA files.

    Perhaps I could have had them in DTA format, I suspect I could have, I’m not sure. The DTA format is pretty unreadable, and is meant for further processing rather than being in a format readily readable. As previously mentioned, the rules are very strict regarding the (unedited) electoral rolls given to candidates, and rightly so, as they are not the same as the (edited) electoral rolls available to be purchased for marketing purposes.

    I don’t know if the ward maps were only available on request, but I requested the maps for the East Williamston ward. I was asked if I was a candidate, and they were emailed to me.

  • Dave Edwards

    Just to confirm that my ward register was in PDF also.

  • John Hudson

    Was there any practical advantage in having a DAT format file over the usual PDF format? Presumably both were on offer to all candidates by PCC officers.

  • I’ve now checked, and when I submitted my nomination papers I had the option of the electoral register in either a paper copy or a digital copy.

    I went for the digital copy, and the registers were subsequently emailed to me in both PDF and DTA format.

    The only practical advantage with DTA I can think of is that the tabular data inside the files is stored by ‘Comma Separated Values,’ and CSV data can be processed, whereas the PDF files present the data in a more readable format which, for all intents and purposes, cannot be processed. One example of processing CSV data would be to automatically produce postage labels with addresses on them rather than typing addresses out manually.

    Wikipedia explains CSV here.

  • John Hudson

    Many thanks, Jacob.

    For a noddy like me, it looked as if the DTA version as shown could be used quite easily for address labelling, (if you know how) where I assume that the PDF version comes out as a list, much the same as I see on the desk at the polling booth. This would need much work (I think) to produce labels. I am afraid I am showing my age!

    While candidates were offered both formats on an individual basis, were they available to registered political parties, or “unregistered” group candidates to use on a party basis?

    With the Council budget process now underway, I fear this matter is taking attention away from the pressing need to scrutinise the budget build up. I see stage one of building up funds for the 21st Century Schools programme has been approved by the Cabinet, in so far as “spare” capital resources are now earmarked for this, rather than on other council service wide services.

    I note that in the current year, a £1.5m overspend on adult services is to be met from overall council resources. Oh to be so rich with other people’s money.

  • All this alphabet soup – DTA, CSV and PDF – is way above my pay grade, but what seems clear is that these supposedly independent councillors were members of a sophisticated, but undisclosed, political party.

    I have no problem with political parties, but surely the electorate has a right to know of their existence. A political party that acquires power by concealing its true identity can’t possibly claim to have a democratic mandate.

    Finally, if you don’t increase the degree of difficulty of the verification sums, you might find your website swamped with comments from members of the IPPG.

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