A RECENT poll revealed that UKIP’s new Senedd leader Neil Hamilton is by some distance the least popular leader of any Welsh political party in the history of the Senedd.
The Welsh Political Barometer poll, as is standard, included a question asking respondents to rate political leaders on a dislikelike scale of 1-10. Although they are not the leaders of their parties in Wales, Senedd leaders Kirsty Williams and Neil Hamilton were included this time. Neil Hamilton’s average score among respondents was 2.1 out of 10, on a scale where zero indicates strong dislike and 10 represents strong like. To put this in perspective, while Welsh party leaders generally score less than five out of ten, the most popular leader, Leanne Wood, scored 4.8, and was closely followed by Carwyn Jones on 4.7. Kirsty Williams, the last remaining Lib Dem in the Senedd, scored 4.4, while Leader of the Welsh Conservatives Andrew RT Davies, in spite of losing his party’s status as the official opposition in the Assembly elections, showed a slightly improved showing on 3.6.
Wales’ Green Party leader Alice Hooker-Stroud, despite failing by some margin to win the party’s first Senedd seat, got an average score of 3.4. Professor Roger Scully described Mr Hamilton’s approval rating as ‘quite extraordinarily poor’. “I’ve looked back through the full run of past YouGov polls in Wales that have asked this form of question (and also asked my colleagues at YouGov to doublecheck), and cannot find any other leader ever scoring as low as an average of 2.1 out of 10,” he said. “Indeed, no-one has ever scored nearly as badly as Mr Hamilton.
Nor have I yet been able to find any other example anywhere in the world where, on this form of question, a political leader has been so poorly rated,” he added, suggesting that Mr Hamilton has reached a nadir of popularity as yet unsurpassed in democratic society. The question also includes a ‘don’t know’ option, which although it is used by some people because they are genuinely undecided about a leader, generally functions effectively as a way of measuring their public visibility.
Given that the poll was taken less than a month after the Assembly elections, it is perhaps unsurprising that First Minister Carwyn Jones received the least ‘don’t knows’ with 25%, closely followed by Leanne Wood on 30%. However, a mere 35% of people were unable to express an opinion about Neil Hamilton, compared to 47% for Andrew RT Davies who has led the Welsh Conservatives for five years. “Indeed, it is striking that Neil Hamilton appears to have greater public visibility than Davies, Williams, Farron or Bennett, and far greater recognition levels than were ever managed by Nathan Gill,” Prof Scully remarked. However, he quantified this by pointing out that ‘recognition is only generally a good thing if it is accompanied by a fair level of popularity’.
Unfortunately for Mr Hamilton, it appears that his unpopularity is not confined to non-UKIP voters. Prof Scully admitted that 2.1 was an average rating, and that it has been suggested that what matters for parties like UKIP is less the views of the whole public, but those of the 20-25% who may consider voting for them. As an example, he pointed out that among current UKIP supporters on the Assembly constituency vote Nigel Farage averages 7.8 out of 10. Unfortunately the same cannot be said for Mr Hamilton, whose average score with the same group is a mere 3.4 out of 10.
To reiterate, supporters of UKIP in Wales, on average, dislike their Assembly leader more than they like him – something that is sure to be a cause for concern in the party. Prof Scully added that “literally 0% of them score him as a 9 or 10 out of 10. “It is d i f f i c u l t to place a positive interpretation on these findings,” Prof Scully remarked. “ P r o b a b l y the worst combination a political leader can manage it to be both visible and disliked. This, however, is what Neil Hamilton appears to have managed. The best thing I can say is that at least he hasn’t peaked too early in public popularity.”
Lecture considers the future of war
INTERNATIONALLY renowned war scholar and military conflict expert, Professor Christopher Coker delivered this year’s Kenneth N. Waltz Annual Lecture on Thursday (Nov 16).
Christopher Coker, Professor of International Relations at the London School of Economics and Political Science, is a prolific author on all aspects of war. He is a former NATO Fellow, a former twice serving member of the Council of the Royal United Services Institute, and a regular lecturer at Defence Colleges in the UK, US, Rome, Singapore, and Tokyo.
In his lecture entitled ‘Still ‘The Human Thing’? Thucydides, Waltz & the Future of War”, Professor Coker discussed war as a feature of what we call ‘human nature’ or ‘humanity’ in general, while focusing on urgent contemporary issues such as possible changes in the nature of war by the blurring of the distinction between humans and machines.
He also considered how, as Artificial Intelligence becomes ever more a fact of life, the traditional functions and forms of war could change, discussing such questions as: will we still need war and will war still need us?
Talking ahead of the the event, Professor Ken Booth of Aberystwyth University said: “Chris Coker is a very imaginative, interesting, and controversial thinker. Intellectually ambitious, he always addresses the biggest questions. The titles of some of his most recent books attest to this: Future War, Can War be Eliminated?, Warrior Geeks: how 21st Century Technology is Changing the Way We Fight and Think about War, The Improbable War: China, the US, and the Logic of Great Power Conflict and Men at War: what Fiction tells us about Conflict. We can be sure of a fascinating and challenging lecture about a supremely important area of human behaviour.”
The Kenneth N. Waltz Annual Lecture brings distinguished scholars to Aberystwyth to talk about issues that were central to the concerns of the late Ken Waltz, the leading theorist of international relations over many decades.
Hosted by the David Davies Memorial Institute and the Department of International Politics, this year’s lecture was held in the Main Hall in the International Politics Building on the Penglais Campus.
Youth Service invited to international training event
TWO Youth Workers from Ceredigion Youth Service have been selected to represent the UK on a week’s training opportunity in Horažd’ovice in the Czech Republic.
‘The danger of a Single Story’ is a training course funded by Erasmus+, that combines stories, media, global education and active citizenship to empower trainers, educators and youth workers with the tools to educate young people on issues such as cyberbullying, hate speech, and online harassment.
Elen James, Head of Youth Engagement and Continuing Education, said: “We are extremely proud of both Rebeca Davies and Guto Crompton, 270 people had applied, for 24 places, 2 were allocated for the UK and both places have been assigned to Ceredigion Youth Service staff.
“This is an excellent training opportunity for them, which will inform them and encourage them to reflect on the evolution of media and the consequences that it has on the formation of stereotypes and prejudices. We wish them all the best in Prague!”
Rebeca Davies and Guto Crompton will join 22 other Youth Workers from Cyprus, Czech Republic, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovenia, Spain and Turkey. The week will be hosted at the PROUD Environmental Centre approximately 120km from Prague, from Sunday (Nov 19) for a week.
Rebeca Davies, School Based Youth Worker said: “I’m really looking forward to visiting Prague, and meeting other Youth Workers from across the World. It will be a fantastic opportunity to learn new tools and techniques to encourage and empower young people back here in Ceredigion.”
Guto Crompton, School Based Youth Worker added: “I’m looking forward to learning more about different Youth Work methods and approaches. I’m also eager to develop a greater awareness around education, active citizenship and democracy.”
Cabinet member for Learning Services, Children and Young People’s Partnership, Councillor Catrin Miles, commented: “As a Council, we are very proud of the hard work of our Youth Service to the young people of the county. This will be a very important and worthwhile opportunity for Rebeca and Guto to represent Ceredigion and Wales and we wish them all the best at the event.”
Pot Noodles bought with theft proceeds
ON WEDNESDAY (Nov 15), Aberystwyth Magistrates’ Court heard that a 23-year-old man stole an HDMI cable from a store and sold it for a tenner to buy ten Pot Noodles.
Joel Alexander Owens, of Portland Street in Aberystwyth, pleaded guilty to stealing alcohol to the value of £24.96 belonging to his hometown’s B&M Bargains on June 29. He also admitted stealing an HDMI cable to the value of £14 belonging to Tesco in Aberystwyth on September 24.
Prosecuting, Helen Tench said a staff member at B&M was notified by a member of the public about a male who left the store without paying for items.
CCTV footage was checked, which showed Owens select a number of alcoholic items and leaving the store without making any payments.
Police officers later viewed the footage and identified the defendant.
On October 14, a member of staff at Tesco was informed of the incident at B&M. The Tesco CCTV footage was viewed as a result and the defendant was seen removing an HDMI cable from its box on September 24 and leaving without paying.
Ms Tench said Owens was interviewed on October 19, where he admitted committing the offences in his personal statement.
The defendant also admitted he sold the HDMI cable for £10 in order to buy ten Pot Noodles.
Defending, Katy Hanson said Owens pleaded guilty at the first opportunity and admitted to stealing beer and cider from B&M.
Probation officer Julian Davies stated that the defendant was currently serving a 12-month community order for two previous offences of theft and a breach of a conditional discharge.
Aberystwyth magistrates revoked Owens community order and imposed a 12-month community order with 20 rehabilitation activity requirement days and a four-week curfew.
Owens was told to pay prosecution costs of £85, compensation of £14 to Tesco and compensation of £24.96 to B&M Bargains.
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