Wednesday, 21 April 2010

A Look@: Gwent (Part II)

Similarly to East Gwent, the West is mainly made up of constituencies which are also counties. Islwyn is an exception as it comes under the Caerphilly council.



Notional Majority

Swing Needed



Blaenau Gwent

Dai Davies




LAB Gain


Wayne David




Lab Hold


Don Touhig





LAB Hold

Merthyr Tydfil and Rhymney

Dai Havard




LAB Hold

The council in Blaneau Gwent, like many in this region, suffered a considerable loss of Labour seats. Eight seats were lost, all to independents resulting in no overall control.

Blaneau Gwent is an interesting constituency, a seat once belonging to Michael Foot and previously considered one of the safest Labour seats. However Labours selection of Maggie Jones as a result of the women-only shortlist in 2005 was, I think it's fair to say, negatively received. Retiring Labour incumbent Llew Smith said that she shouldn't have been selected and eight of twelve members of the Labour party's executive resigned over the issue (including Dai Davies, the current MP).

Peter Law also left the Labour party as a result of the selection of Maggie Jones and went on to run as an Independent candidate winning the seat with a majority of 9,121 (25.9%)in the 2005 election. Law died in 2006 resulting in a by-election. This was won again by an Independent (Peoples Voice) again, Law's successor Dai Davies, however with a change of Labour candidate, Owen Smith running, the majority was reduced to 2,488 (9.1%).

I feel that perhaps the anger of the women-only shortlist has subsided somewhat over time, and although Dai Davies hasn't been involved in much in the way of expenses scandal, his appeal over £549.80 for office costs and council tax overpayment was reduced to just £110.00, I feel that he could lose the next election. Nick Smith is local, he appears to be motivated by local issues, and whilst the council elections in 2008 suggested a Labour loss they still have a reasonable following. I think that with a good campaign he could turn this seat red again; I might be pushing it but LAB gain.

Caerphilly's council is evens between Labour and Plaid Cymru following the 2005 council elections, each have thirty-two seats following Labours loss of 9 and a Plaid Cymru increase of three.

Despite these results Caerphilly is considered a safe Labour seat which is reflected in the impressive majorities that they seem to get. Wayne David won the last two elections with 37.2% and 39.2% respectively. However David did have to repay £12,959.69 in expenses for mortgage over-payment and insurance (which isn't allowed). He has paid it all back without appeal but it is still quite a substantial amount. Nonetheless he is running against Plaid Cymru's Lindsay Whittle, who didn't prove to be much competition last time so I would expect him to hold the seat. LAB Hold.

Islwyn, which is also a constituency within Caerphilly council, was once Neil Kinnocks seat. The current MP Don Touhig is accused of 'flipping' his second home and will be standing down this year, his parliamentary researcher, Chris Evans, will be taking over. Islwyn is a safe Labour seat with most of the opposition candidates seeming to change from election to election. Labour always has a big majority in Islwyn as well as a reputation for out-spoken MP's. Despite Plaid's increase in council seats and the Touhig's 'flipping' I still can't see Labour being toppled here. I'll agree with the odds and say LAB Hold.

The council in Merthyr Tydfil follows the usual pattern of a loss of Labour seats, losing nine from seventeen and resulting in no overall control. The main gain was for the LibDems who went from none to six; the others were dispersed amongst small parties and independents.

As a result Labours main opposition in Mythry Tydfil and Rhymney is the LibDems, and candidate Amy Kitcher will be hoping for a real boost from the current surge in LibDem popularity. This said, Dai Havard doesn't appear to have done much wrong, he hasn't had to repay anything, and so with that in mind, and his previous majority in 2005, I can't see him being toppled this time around. LAB Hold


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