Thursday, 17 February 2011

Look @: South Wales West (Part I)

This post looks at the four constituencies in this region that are not in Swansea. To find the three Swansea constituencies click here, and to find the list overview click here.




Swing Required

First Elected

GE2010 Result


Carwyn Jones*




LAB Hold

LAB Safe


Janice Gregory




LAB Hold

LAB Safe


Brian Gibbons




LAB Hold

LAB Safe


Gwenda Thomas




LAB Hold

LAB Lean

The seats covered in the South Wales West Assembly region are among the most heavily Labour leaning in the UK. Indeed, all seven constituencies have been held by Labour for the entire history of the Assembly. The Labour are also the strongest party at local level, although in recent years they have failed to get majorities on some of the Councils in this region.

In 2008 Labour won exactly half the seats on the Bridgend Council with support for the other parties very split. An Independent Grouping is the main opposition with just 9 of the 54 seats. The Tories and the Lib Dems hold six seats each with the former traditionally providing the main challenge to Labour's dominance at constituency level.

On paper the Bridgend seat looks fairly close. Carwyn Jones has struggled to get much more than 40% of the vote in Assembly elections but he is helped by the split in the opposition vote. This year he has the added advantage of being First Minister for Wales, and it seems inconceivable that his seat is under threat in what is sure to be a Labour year. Jones was first elected in 1999 and he held various Ministerial briefs in the Assembly before he won the race to succeed Rhodri Morgan two years ago. The Conservatives were the nearest challengers in 2007 and they have selected Alex Williams to take on the Labour leader. It is hard to imagine Jones not increasing his majority here.

Ogmore covers the rest of the Bridgend Council area, with a few wards from west Pontypridd thrown in for good measure. Labour really dominate this area at the local level holding 20 of the 28 seats in this constituency. Janice Gregory is seeking a fourth term in the Assembly in what is a pretty safe Labour seat. Plaid Cymru are the only other political party to have a Councillor in this constituency and they have usually won the race for second here in Assembly elections. They have selected their General Election candidate Danny Clark, who didn't have the best campaigns last May. He was forced to pulp 1500 leaflets which broke protocol by referring to the fact he was a Magistrate and also made false claims about a local police station closing. With a majority of almost 8000 votes in 2007 Gregory is pretty safe.

There are two Assembly seats in the Neath Port Talbot Council (NPT) area and both of them are held by Labour. In a similar situation as Bridgend they face far more opposition in one constituency than the other, although they hold over half the Council seats in each constituency. Plaid Cymru are the second largest group and their support is concentrated in the Neath half of the Council, making this seat a great deal more competitive than the southern Aberavon constituency.

Brian Gibbons has represented Aberavon in Cardiff Bay since 1999 and he has held a number of ministerial positions in the last 12 years. The GP is standing down at this election so he can return to practising medicine before he retires from work for good. Labour have selected David Rees to defend this open seat and it should be a relatively straightforward task. We are not likely to witness a 16% swing against Labour in this election, which is precisely what Plaid Cymru require to win this seat. They have kept faith in their General Election candidate Paul Nicholls-Jones despite the fact he only received 7.1% of the vote and came fourth. Plaid tend to do better in Assembly elections so they should manage second but Rees will almost certainly become Aberavon's next AM.

The Neath constituency covers the northern part of the NPT Council area and it has been represented by Gwenda Thomas since the Assembly's creation. Thomas is seeking a fourth term this springing what is easily the most competitive seat discussed in this post. All 11 of Plaid Cymru's NPT Councillors represent wards in this constituency and in 2007 they enjoyed a 7.3% swing in this seat to get within 2000 votes of Labour. Their candidate at the last election was Alun Llewelyn and he has been selected to fight this seat again. Llewelyn is an NPT Councillor and he was also Plaid's candidate in last May's General Election, where he managed a 4.5% swing for his party. Labour are in a stronger position going into this election but Plaid are certainly strong enough in this constituency to keep the reds honest. Still, I'd expect Thomas to keep her seat.


Post a Comment