Friday, 1 April 2011

National Assembly Elections 2011: Conservatives

There are people in Wales who believe that the National Assembly is responsible for the success of the Welsh Conservatives since 1999, which is strange considering that Nick Bourne (now leader of the Welsh Conservatives in the Assembly and regional AM for Mid and West Wales) was a leader of the "Just Say NO" campaign back in 1997. Back then of course the Welsh Conservatives had just had the electoral stuffing knocked out of them. They went into the 1997 election with 8 seats and about 29% of the vote, and what happened? "Wipe-out!" (as the Beach Boys would say).

Their vote share plunged 9% to just under 20% and they lost every seat they were defending. Brecon and Radnorshire (Con maj 0.29%) went to the Lib Dems, middle of the range Monmouth went to Labour (overturning a majority of 6.29%) and even the rock solid Clwyd West (17.61% majority, akin to Portsmouth North in England and Dumfries in Scotland) went to Labour. But as was pointed out on the Assembly referendum programme, even on that disaster of a result, due to the regional lists there would be Conservatives in the Assembly (an estimate of 13 was made assuming a 100% constituency to regional list transfer).

So, following the referendum on the Assembly, the Conservatives geared up for the first elections in 1999 and although on the face of it there were prospects for constituency gains, on the night only one toppled into the Conservative column, Monmouth which was won by David Davies on a swing to the Conservatives of 9%. And how did the Conservatives do on the regional list? Well, in the constituency ballot they polled 162,133 votes (15.84%) and on the regional list they polled 168,206 votes (16.49%), in other words they managed a 104% constituency to regional list transfer (and yet somehow managed only to win 8 regional list seats), but the die was cast as the Welsh Conservative reappeared on the Welsh constituency map.

Sadly though any hopes of a breakthrough in 2003 were quashed by the revival in Labour fortunes, they held Monmouth (thanks to the outspoken David Davies who secured an 11% swing to the Conservatives), but their other targets went west. Vale of Glamorgan (1.42% swing to gain), Clwyd West (1.51% swing to gain), Cardiff North (3.65% swing to gain) all failed to fall. But thanks to a better constituency to regional list transfer (and Labour gaining seats) the Conservatives managed to pick up two extra regional list seats (an extra one in Mid and West Wales and in Wales South East).

In 2005, the Welsh Conservatives broke their Westminster duck by winning Monmouth (thanks to David Davies standing down from the Assembly and standing for Westminster), Clwyd West and Preseli, Pembrokeshire. They seemed very confident of winning those seats in the 2007 elections for the Assembly which they did (comfortably) but with Labour polling a meagre 32% on the constituency vote, several other seats went down. Cardiff North came back into the Conservative fold (allowing Jonathan Morgan to re-enter the Assembly as a constituency AM as opposed to the regional AM he had been in the last Assembly), Carmarthen West voted Conservative (for the first time since the mid 1860's) but only by 98 over Labour and by 250 over Plaid Cymru. And there were some very near misses as well. Vale of Glamorgan saw Jane Hutt re-elected by 83 over the Conservatives, Vale of Clwyd saw Ann Jones re-elected by 92 over the Conservatives, Delyn saw Sandy Mewies hold off the Conservatives by 511, and even usually rock solid Gower voted Labour (seeing the re-election of Edwina Hart) by only 4.3%.

However, just like the Liberal Democrats, the Conservatives chances of hitting those near misses in 2007 seem rather unlikely. Indeed, the poll recently published suggests that they will more than likely go back to their three bedrock seats in Wales (Monmouth, Cardiff North and Preseli) and will have to hope for regional list gains.

Conservative Battleground:



AM / Candidate

% Majority / % Swing



Nick Ramsay AM



Cardiff North

Jonathan Morgan AM



Preseli, Pembrokeshire

Paul Davies AM



Clwyd West

Darren Millar AM



Carmarthen West

Angela Burns AM



Vale of Glamorgan

Angela Jones – Evans



Vale of Clwyd

Ian Gunning




Matthew Wright




No candidate



Newport West

David Williams


Harry Hayfield


  1. Hi Harry

    How far do you think we should also consider the General Election results? e.g. looking at only 2007 and the polls one would conclude that Cardiff North is a Tory lean but Vale of Glamorgan was in the safe Labour column. Taking into account the 2010 results, Cardiff North appears more difficult for the Tories (Too Close to Call or even Labour Lean), but the Vale possible. This isn't a point about the specific constituencies its about how far its worth considering the 2010 results.

  2. As the national polls are suggesting a massive swing back to Labour compared with 2007, I am completely discounting the General Election results. It has been a long established fact that Westminster voting patterns and Assembly voting patterns are two distinct types of elections (Carmarthen West, Aberconwy and Llanelli are testament to that)

  3. Let me make a prediction (and I'll happily take an evens wager for a modest sum with anyone on this one) - the Con-Lab swing will be greater in Cardiff North than in the Vale of Glamorgan - based on the General Election results.

  4. Aberconwy is the one to watch. Tory Candidate will pull a strong personal vote.