Sunday, 10 April 2011

Welsh Assembly Elections 2011: Labour

Wales is considered a Labour heartland. Even when the Labour party were having the worst times possible Wales always came through for them. In 1983, Labour polled a dire 28% of the vote and won a mere 209 seats, compared to the Conservatives who won 397 seats on 44% of the vote, but in Wales Labour polled 38% of the vote and won 20 seats. So it is perhaps no great surprise that in the Labour landslide of 1997, 34 Welsh seats went to Labour and they polled 55% of the vote. This makes what happened in 1999 even more startling.

Labour polled 38% in the constituency vote, down 17% on the general election, and only 35% on the regional list vote. In 2003 there was a slight recovery (40% constituency, 37% regional) before it all went pear shaped again in 2007 (32% constituency, 30% regional), which marked the start of a bad set of results for Labour in Wales. In the 2008 local elections Labour bastions fell like nine pins. Blaenau Gwent (Lab maj 20) was gained by the Independents, Newport (Lab maj 12) was a loss to NOC, Torfaen (Lab maj 24) was a loss to NOC. In all, Labour lost 90 councillors across Wales, nearly a fifth of their seats they were defending, and ended up losing six of the eight councils they controlled outright.

Yet worse was to come in the 2009 European Elections when for the first time ever in a Welsh election Labour didn't poll the most votes. They were second (a mere 6,341 votes) behind the Conservatives. Instantly people looked at the Welsh political map and wondered what damage might be caused on Election Night 2010.

The strange thing is that Election Night 2010 could have been a lot, lot worse than it was. In 2005, Labour polled 43% of the vote with the Conservatives polling 21%. In order to gain an overall majority, the Conservatives needed a national swing of 6% (suggesting a Welsh result of Lab 37%, Con 27%) and seeing five seats change hands and although there was a national swing of 6% in Wales, Labour actually made a gain in Blaenau Gwent and saw off the challenge of the Liberal Democrats in Newport East, Swansea West and Wrexham. And since then, Labour have been on an absolute tear with some people suggesting that Labour could actually win a majority in the Assembly for the first time since devolution.

If they make five net gains they will have an overall majority in the Assembly.

Labour Battlegrounds :



AM / Candidate

% Majority / % Swing


Newport West

Rosemary Butler AM



Clwyd South

Ken Skates



Newport East

John Griffiths AM




Edwina Hart AM




Sandy Mewies AM



Vale of Clwyd

Ann Jones AM



Vale of Glamorgan

Jane Hutt AM



Carmarthen West

Christine Gwyther



Clwyd West

Crispin Jones




Keith Davies



Preseli, Pembrokeshire

Terry Mills



Cardiff North

Julie Morgan




Eifion Wyn Williams



Blaenau Gwent

Alun Davies AM


Harry Hayfield


  1. Labour won a majority in 2003, did they not?

    The trouble with getting a majority in assembly elections is that Labour need to win virtually everything. In 2003 they won every seat they had a reasonable chance of winning except Wrexham. This included Llanelli and Conwy (Plaid in 1999 and 2007), and both Pembrokeshire seats, Cardiff North, etc.

    Had any one of those gone the other way, Labour would not have won their majority; this time, once again they will have to win (virtually) everything, and it's easy to imagine the couple of failed gains that are required to prevent a majority. Llanelli for example was won by only a handful of votes in 2003. Plaid's Helen Mary Jones is a popular incumbent and is sitting on a bigger majority now than she was in 2003. The boundaries have been redrawn in Conwy and the new seat will be much harder for Labour to win (it's now a mix of rural and urban areas, but was formerly almost entirely urban). The conservatives are sitting on healthy majorities in Cardiff North and Preseli Pembrokeshire, and Labour's majorities in these constituencies in 2003 were slight. A single shock result from an unknown direction would further reduce the chances of an overall Lab majority.

    However, if the polls are accurate, then Labour probably have enough momentum to win this one outright. With support that high many seats may return to the fold and they could start winning list seats, in which case it's game-over for everyone else.

  2. Bob Kilmister in Preseli Pembs is the Lib Dem candidate, not the Labour candidate Harry.

  3. Labour did not win a majority in 2003. They won exactly one half of the seats (30/60) which was enough to form a minority government with a Plaid Cymru Presiding Officer.

  4. They will NOT win Aberconwy.