Alison Halford always seemed a wee bit different from her colleagues when she sat as an AM in Cardiff. Her years as assistant chief constable for Merseyside gave her an outlook on her fellow man which was a trifle broader than most of us ever attained.
Although she sat for Labour, she was fiercely independent; independent enough, indeed, to eventually end up as a Tory.
Now she’s almost sure to come back into the news – although in a rather lower key than she attained in the capital. Ms Halford is standing for Flintshire county council, and she has a very good chance of winning in Ewloe. It’s not only that the Tories already hold one of the two seats in the ward. There’s also the fact that Ms Halford is very well known in the ward … she used to be its Labour councillor.
Of course, all parties are keen to talk – although without too much detail – of how they expect to make gains. Some parties are bouncier than others. Just about hitting the ceiling is Nick Bourne.
His party has put some Cabinet manpower into several local authorities. In the North, top target is listed as Conwy. But I feel they may be putting their hopes too high here – the rural/urban split in these northern areas can cause chaos with political party hopes. All credit to them, though, for having done such a solid job of demolishing what was once a Lib Dem stronghold.
Which leads me to wonder how well the Lib Dems are really doing. When asked whether Labour voters were switching straight to the Tories in the current local election campaign rather than stopping in so-far usual half-way house offered by the Liberal Democrats, Lib Dem leader Mike German did his best to answer another question in his briefing this week.
Mr German added, “We will gain seats around Wales; I will not predict how many or the outcome. Labour’s vote is very weak. They could lose a number of councils.”
He added, “Some Labour will not vote at all; others will vote for the party which locally is closest. There will therefore be a fairly mixed picture across Wales.” So, perhaps we can expect Lib Dem advances mainly restricted to the areas where the Tories are weak – chiefly, the Valleys and the cities.
Plaid are keeping mum. Minister Elin Jones was willing to circulate some top-party talk – Ceredigion could fall; Plaid’s opponents in Gwynedd “are not as strong as people are saying they are”, and Caerffili “looks interesting”.
Control of Caerffili would be a fantastic boost; the party has high hopes of regaining control, probably through an alliance with Independents. Plaid’s hopes are boosted by the weakness of both Tories and Lib Dems over most of the county borough.
Mind, many journalists would say it is dangerous to speculate on election results so close to a poll – it’s so easy to be proved wrong !