Letter to a Defeated Candidate

I probably don’t know you. But that doesn’t really matter.

What probably matters to you most right now is that you stood for election yesterday, and were unsuccessful. Well, let’s not beat-around-the-bush: you lost.

Perhaps you knew that you never had any chance of success, or saw it very much as a long-shot. Or maybe you had realistic chances at one stage, only to feel it slipping away in the last few days of the campaign. Or, perhaps worst of all, you really thought you were going to do it until well into election night itself.

Whatever, the outcome was the same. The simple binary logic of electoral victory and defeat has little regard for how hard you campaigned; or the extent of the sacrifices – both financial and to your personal life – that you probably incurred over many months.

But I don’t think that electoral defeat is what matters most. What I think matters most is that you stood up for what you believe in. Right now that’s not something that our society seems to accord much respect: whatever party you are in, the chances are that you’ve had your fair share – or even more than your fair share – of abuse directed at you over the  past weeks and months. Plenty of people will have assumed that you were in it for the money; only you, and your close friends and family, will probably realise just how laughable that is.

But without you, and lots of other people like you, our democratic process could not function.

You stood up for, and campaigned for, what you believe in.

And, for that, I salute you. And I thank you.


  • Fenella Bowden

    So eloquently expressed. It’s a tough vocation & one must never forget that the electorate can change its mind. Always have a Plan B. Life goes on but you’ll know that you played your part in democracy.

  • J. Harrington

    We really enjoyed campaigning for the Abolish The Welsh Assembly Party and were interested to find that around 50% of people we approached agreed with our policy, 10% disagreed often fairly strongly and 40% could not really be bothered or were not interested. We were pleased to have beaten the Green Party in all five regions and The Lib-dems in two but disappointed that we could not raise sufficient enthusiasm in the media to publicise our campaign.
    Many people told us they had voted for their usual parties on both ballots but would have done so for us on the Part List ballot IF they had been aware of our existence.
    We look forward to our next campaign which we hope will signal the start of the end of the assembly.

    • Christian Schmidt

      I think you make a good point missed by Roger. Yes the core motivation is doing what one believes in. But it can also very enjoyable to spend days working together with people who share you views and values.

      When I used to campaign I did not get abused much. Most people who disagree with you just ignore you or cross to the other side of the road, while those that agree with you are often happy to see you and chat.

      Which is why I don’t believe the feedback that you got reflects people’s views any more than the feedback I used to get…

  • Lyn Thomas

    I applaud the optimism of the ATWAP but I am afraid they are deluded if they think that 50% of the people agree with them. All credit to them though for putting up candidates. I would echo what has been said, the vast majority of people in politics are in it because they care, it costs them a great deal in time, money and often at the expense of their personal lives. Unfortunately the narrative served up to us is that all politicians are self serving and are in it to line their pockets. This – with a few exceptions – is far from the case.

    • Ainslie Freeman

      Odd that so little comment on the fact that Labour’s support in Wales, its percentage of the overall vote, dropped substantially to some 37% or thereabouts. It retained nearly half the seats despite this. The proportional voting, Additional Member, system didn’t seem to work very well in producing a fair. proportional result, did it?

      • Roger Scully

        Yes, Ainslie. I’ll be exploring this in more detail and commenting on it over the next few weeks and months.

      • Christian Schmidt

        It is impressive. There were 25 constituencies were the winner got more than 40% of the vote, of which Labour won 15, Plaid 6, the Tories 3 and the Lib Dems 1. (No runner up had more than 40%.)

        There were then 15 constituencies were the winner only had between 30% and 40%. However there were also 13 constituencies were the runner up got 30-40%. So the chance of winning with 30-40% was just over 1/2 (15/28 or 54%). But this was very unevenly distributed between the parties: The Lib Dems had 30-40% in 2 constituencies, and lost them both. The Conservatives won 3 out of 8. Plaid lost all their 4. Labour won 12 our of 14.

      • Welshguy

        This is the sort of thing I was going on about when Roger did a post about the system a few weeks ago.

        It is absolutely ludicrous that a party which started with so many seats could lose nearly a fifth of it’s support with almost no loss of seats.

        The only reason Labour lost a seat at all was because of Plaid’s success in Rhondda; had Leighton pipped Leanne to the post then Labour would have kept all 30 of the seats it held at the previous election. Even worse – Leanne’s fantastic achievement didn’t actually help Plaid Cymru at all, because all it did was actually mean that Plaid – which would have gained 2 list seats – gained only one instead, with the extra seat going to, of all people, the Tories.

        So basically David Melding owes his seat to Leanne Wood. Had Leanne not won in the Rhondda Plaid would have been two seats ahead of the Tories, not one.

        In practice the system is not rewarding parties who work to gain support either locally or regionally. It just gives a load of seats to Labour and then distributes the rest by lottery. It is downright ridiculous and should be replaced by something fairer – if STV isn’t too complicated for NI then it’s not too complicated for Wales.

  • Felicity

    I had not heard of the campaign to Abolish the Assembly. I would have put my cross there.

  • Ian Harrison

    Thank you Roger. As number 2 on the Welsh Conservative Mid and West Wales list there was never really any doubt that I would be unsuccessful. Ultimately I have always enjoyed meeting and talking to people on their doorsteps, even in Labour strong holds like Llanelli. Abuse from residents is rare in my experience, and what residents tell me is always fed back. The count is a roller coaster of emotions irrespective of how your Party has actually fared and there is an unwritten comraderie between candidates and activists on the night. This election was particularly frustrating because the hard work and votes won didn’t translate into seats won, simply because of how the system works. We start work on the Powys Local Government elections 2017 and the challenge to remove the grip of the Independents. Bit like a drug, I can’t wait to get going again.

  • gwil williams

    First figures, from the 2011 census, are those in each area who did not put Welsh as their only identity. The second figure is the % of UKIP support in the last Euro election which matches those area.

    Rhondda: 26.7 and 26.1
    Torfaen: 33.8 and 32.5
    NeathPT: 28.2 and 26.4
    Caerphil: 28.8 and 30.7
    BlaenGwent: 27.6 and 30.2
    Merthyr 26.8 and 33.8

    Correlation or what?

    • Christian Schmidt

      Isn’t the one a percentage of the total population and the other a percentage of voters at the European Parliament election? so the actual numbers are totally different. And there does not appear any covariation. So, not really.

      • gwil williams

        I don’t think you understand the word correlation.

        • Christian Schmidt

          I do: “In Statistics, an interdependence of two or more variable quantities such that a change in the value of one is associated with a change in the value or the expectation of the others”. Wikipedia notes the difference between dependence and correlation, and notes that “in common usage it [correlation] most often refers to the extent to which two variables have a linear relationship with each other”.

          The point is that your comments appears to suggest that because the percentage figures for both are similar, there is a correlation. (My apologies if that isn’t what it is meant to say.) My reply notes that this is spurious and not correlation.

          And even if the similarity in percentage figures is not what you refer to when claiming correlation, but dependence of change, then there is still no case for correlation as the figures do not show change in one set to have any relationship with change in the other one. Which is what covariance is, as Wikipedia says “correlation coefficients can simply be understood as a normalized version of covariance”.

          • gwil williams

            Christian, as you are reduced to quoting Wiki, I think I’ll leave it there.
            What do you make of it Roger? It seems at the very least, to suggest that there could well be (I realize the qualifications are coming thick and fast here) a relationship between Welsh identity and not voting UKIP. Difficult to research without funding, but worthy of exploration.

  • J.Jones

    So what are you actually recommending Gwil? Quite a few people in Wales view themselves as British or Welsh and British or Welsh and some other nationality or just English, Scottish or Irish. Those same people are likely to support the Union since only about 6% of the Welsh population support independence. If those people DO support unionism then it’s quite possible that they would vote for the party most likely to protect the UK union…ATWAP or UKIP.

    Are you suggesting that people who don’t share your national identity should be denied a vote? Oh, and apparent correlation does not mean there is a causal link…or indeed any link.

  • Christian Schmidt

    Re gwil May 9 – this seems an interesting case of ‘runs out of arguments (about the message), goes for the messenger (Wikipedia)’. The first quote is actually from the OED, the others are also factually correct, just find a statistician and ask. You appear to misunderstand correlation, but even if not there is none.

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