Tuesday, 25 January 2011

A Look @: South Wales East (Part I)

The post looks at the four constituencies in the eastern half of this region. To find the western constituencies click here, and to find the list overview click here.




Swing Required

First Elected

GE2010 Result



Nick Ramsay




CON Hold

CON Safe

Newport East

John Griffiths





LAB Hold

LAB Lean

Newport West

Rosemary Butler




LAB Hold

LAB Lean


Lynne Neagle




LAB Hold

LAB Safe

Monmouth is one of the few areas of strength for the Conservatives in South Wales, but as strongholds go this isn't bad. The rural constituency borders the South West of England and the Tories dominate every level of politics in Monmouthshire. The MP for the identical Westminster constituency is David Davies, and he represented the area at Cardiff Bay in the devolved assemblies first two terms. In 2007 Nick Ramsay took over, securing half the vote to rack up a majority of almost 8500 votes. The also control Monmouth Council holding 27 of the 43 seats. Labour are the largest opposition grouping with just six seats, and they are likely to provide the main challenge to Ramsay. Not only have Labour comfortably finished second here in all three devolved elections, they held the Westminster seat from 1997 to 2005. They have selected Newport Councillor Mark Whitcutt to contest the Assembly seat this May and it will be a tough ask to defeat Ramsay. Whitcutt requires a 14.3% swing to gain the seat and although the tide is moving towards Labour Ramsay will start as the clear favourite.

Politics in Newport is quite competitive, despite Labour's dominance of both Assembly and Westminster seats. Although Labour are the largest group on the Council it is currently run by Conservative/Liberal Democrat coalition. Being the main opposition party both nationally and locally should help them hold on to their two marginal assembly seats in May.

John Griffiths has represented Newport East since the devolved assembly was set up in 1999. Initially the seat was regarded as quite safe but at the last election a surge from the Liberal Democrats, who were a poor third in 2003, left them 875 votes short of a surprise gain. Their candidate in 2007 was Ed Townsend and he has been selected to fight this seat again for his party. Townsend also had a fair crack at the Parliamentary seat in May, producing an 8.3% swing to run Labour close. However, the Liberal Democrats are likely to fall back from their 2007 result so it'll be tough them to gain this seat, despite starting in a strong position. The Conservatives aren't too far behind and they have selected Nick Webb to fight this seat. Although the Tories were less then 2000 votes behind Labour in 2007 they struggle to poll over 25% in this constituency. The closeness of that result owed a lot to Labour's poor performance, and as they are expected to improve their vote share in May Griffiths is well placed for re-election.

Newport West is the stronger side of the Council for the Conservatives, and so Rosemary Butler has slightly more to worry about than Griffiths if she is to remain an AM. The Tories have 17 Councillors elected in Newport and 15 of them are in wards within the West constituency. They have selected Newport Councillor David Williams as their candidate and he will need a swing of just 3% to take the seat for his party. Although the Conservatives are polling at a similar level in Wales as they were in 2007 Labour are almost certain to recover from their poor performance. As a result Butler is unlikely to be in great danger.

Torfaen is another seat Labour have comfortably held during the last decade. The run the Torfaen Council as a minority administration, but they were stopped short of a majority by the large number of Independent's elected rather than any stiff party competition. Lynne Neagle has been an AM since 1999 and in all three assembly elections no other party has achieved 20% to challenge her. It's a similar story whenever Paul Murphy's Westminster seat has been up for grabs. The Conservatives are consistently runners up here but they do not appear to have selected their candidate for May as yet. Whoever they choose will struggle to defeat Neagle.


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