I really think it’s important to start here, with thanks to everyone who came out on Thursday, 4th May and voted Pirate... and indeed for those who voted at all.
The last local elections in 2012 saw a turn out of just 754 people here, while this time 993 turned up to give themselves a voice at the ballot boxes.
Of those 993, a whopping 75 of them decided to #VotePirate which is a 7.6% vote share. For some perspective, in previous years the Liberal Democrats have only managed 7.2% and Plaid have scored 6.2% to 11.6% while an Independent once hit 6.7%.
This means in St Athan, Pirates are currently out scoring the major party, the Liberal Democrats and separately Independents in County Council elections. If that wasn’t enough, we’re also keeping pace with Plaid Cymru and given the number of farmer votes they could target in this ward, that is no small achievement.
But 7.6% is so much more than that to Pirates. Not only are we beating and keeping up with major, national and long established parties, it’s a new record, our previous high being in the 2012 local elections of 5.2%
If that wasn’t enough for you, in the Community Council election, we were rewarded with 125 votes, which was 17.43% of the vote share. This placed us a mere 47 votes behind Labour. Political parties don’t get much bigger than Labour in the UK. In fact, in terms of membership they are easily the biggest, have massive funding from membership fees, unions, wealthy donors and so much more that we don't have - yet we came very close to beating them!
This did of course mean the loss of my co-option gained Community Council seat. At first, I’d certainly describe this as a shock to the system. There was such positive support for Pirate Party policies as they were truly built from the ground up, sourced from the Community Mapping data and from speaking with people long before the election. I had really hoped these would shine through but alas I underestimated the Labour loyalty.
In hindsight I suppose it was rather ambitious to take on Labour and expect to retain my Community Council seat but now that the excitement from the local elections has settled, I’m starting to wonder if we had run into the election ready to lose, we wouldn’t have stood a chance at winning at all.
Cllr John Thomas retained his County Council seat but his majority did reduce from 58.3% to 56.9% and similarly Cllr Julie Lynch-Wilson gained a Community Council seat but Labour’s County polling also dropped from 41.7% to 35.1%, yet voter turnout actually increased.
So where did these votes go? When previously 8 were spoilt but this time only 3, I think we can safely claim some of the credit for pulling votes from both Labour and the Conservatives for this one, all the while restoring a little bit of trust in democracy, boosting the turnout figures.
This isn’t to make the other candidate's victories any less valid – indeed I congratulated both on the night of the count. Instead this is just to show that those who were bold and brave enough to #VotePirate are influencing the political landscape in St Athan. Your voice has been heard and while I didn’t manage to win, I’m certainly not giving up. How could I after such results?!
We’re going to continue the push for keeping libraries and areas of play funded, better transport links and to reduce taxes for St Athan in true Pirate fashion, from sourcing your ideas and working in a principaled, open and democratic way.
So this isn’t a goodbye or a fair-well but simply a goodnight for now and we’ll be back with our regular broadcasts before you can say Arrrrrr!