Independents have been given a recent boost by Labour's unpopularity.
Such is the loyalty to Labour in large swathes of Wales that even if people want to give it a bloody nose, they are “never quite desperate enough to fall in love with another party,” says Roger Scully, a political scientist at Cardiff University.
Instead, they vote for candidates who belong to no party.
Ms Skinner, who describes herself as a socialist, joined Labour to support its leader, Jeremy Corbyn, but was turned off the Merthyr branch by what she calls the “old boys' club” that runs it.
Lisa Mytton, an independent who is now vying to lead the Merthyr council, also testifies to her strong Labour background.
About half of Merthyr's independents are ex-Labour supporters who were put off at one time or another by its local machine.
The profusion of independents also owes something to the animosity towards the Tories in Wales.
The loss of jobs in the local coalmining and steelmaking industries in the 1980s is intimately associated with Margaret Thatcher.
Thus, as one Tory official concedes, the party has an image problem.
Some independents in rural Powys, for instance, are conservative by inclination but won't use the party label.
The official Tory party put up a record 628 candidates in Wales on May 4th.
But still, logistically the party barely operates in many parts.
Even this time, with the party buoyant in the national polls, it did not compete much in places like Merthyr.
In some places the lack of competition is unhealthy.
Almost 100 candidates, 7% of the total, were returned unopposed.
The first-past-the-post voting system makes it especially hard for challengers to break through (Scotland, by contrast, uses a form of proportional representation, which helps small parties).
Wales's many independents enliven its democracy, but they are also a symptom of its sickliness.