It was a strange election, the first time that I have not been a candidate at county level since 1999, not that I was not kept busy behind the scenes canvassing and dropping in different wards across the city. Results wise, it could have been much worse, but, it wasn't – the Plaid vote held up in many parts of the country and we retained (despite the losses) a healthy 158 county councillors, I have been around long enough to remember that not that long ago we held barely 50.
Clearly things have changed; we are the second party in Wales at local government level. It is disappointing to lose some hard working community focused activists, many of whom have genuinely dedicated many years of service to their communities, their country and the party. Yes, Plaid took a hit in an election that was largely dominated by Westminster focused issues. The other parties took a much harder hit, which may in some areas of Wales have done lasting damage to their party machines and their activist base.
Labour set out to turn the election into a referendum on the UK government's austerity measures. This was much easier than having to deal with local issues on which they were decidedly more vulnerable, it was much less of a gamble to play the old and trusted 'keep the Tories out / send a message’ card and it worked, particularly well in some areas.
In Newport and elsewhere, Plaid has much work to do to gain more councillors but we have a good base to work from and the hard work began today. I mean it's not like any resident of Newport will actually see or here form their newly elected / re-elected Labour city councillors out and about very much in the next few years.