I’m not going to suggest that Ceredigion will be transformed into Nirvana if Plaid Cymru win an overall majority in the local elections on Thursday, although some winning candidates may temporarily reach there on election night. But the coalition of Independents and Lib Dems which has ruled the county for as long as anyone can remember, really is due for a change.
Now I don’t like those leaflets that always say, “Only voting for x party can save us from The Tories/The cuts/Planetary destruction”, because there’s usually more than one solution to any problem. But, with the Labour Party only putting up one candidate, the Conservatives inconsequential at local level and the ruling Independents and Lib Dems entirely intertwined, it quite literally is only by voting for Plaid Cymru that a change is going to occur in the running of Ceredigion Council.
Now there are all sorts of bad things about political parties, but when a council is dominated by people who call themselves ‘independent’, then you start to see their good side. With councillors representing political parties you have people who are at least connected to the wider modern world. Their parties have things like manifestos that people can read and conferences where they work out ideas, principles and policies based around wider philosophies. Not so ‘independent’ councillors who, strangely, considering they are supposed to be independent, always seem to end up reflecting the same grey, small ‘c’ conservative approach to society.
Odd, therefore, that the Lib Dems should have become so comprehensively absorbed into the Independents locally, to the detriment of any of their party’s more progressive ideas, which are supposed to exist somewhere but, like at Westminster, never seem to see the light of day.
Despite being by far the largest party represented on Ceredigion Council (20 councillors), Plaid have always been kept out of office entirely by an alliance of all the rest (12 Independents, 9 Lib Dems and 1 Labour). I’m under no illusions that whoever runs Ceredigion after Thursday will be faced with the same issues of increasing demands and less and less money to tackle them. But the Council needs a fresh start and it needs to engage with people. I like to think that Plaid Cymru, with an inspirational new leader and with it’s principles of support for public services, local communities, small businesses and environmental sustainability, are now by far the best people to take the communities of Ceredigion forward.
For the many people who want change in Ceredigion, there really is only one answer at this election.