Sunday, 13 November 2011

Welsh By-Election Preview: November 17th 2008

"Alea Jacta Est" announced Caesar as he led his troops across the Rubicon river near Rimini in 49BC. The phrase which roughly translates as "The die is cast" was a reference to the fact that Caesar was marching into an area controlled by Pompey and led to the formal establishment of the classical Roman empire and has come to mean in times since an action that means crossing a point of no return.

The 2008 local elections in Wales were seen at the time as a point of no return for Labour. Going into the elections with control of eight councils and 478 councillors, Labour came out of the elections losing control of all but two of the councils (losing their heartlands of Blaenau Gwent to NOC, Flintshire to NOC, Torfaen to NOC and Wrexham to NOC) and at the same time losing 130 councillors (27% of their defending councillors). The ward of Ruabon in Wrexham was a perfect demonstration of this.

In 2004, Nicholas Colbourne won the ward for Labour with a majority of 2 over Cyril Edwards (Independent) with Leon Price polling 140 votes for Plaid Cymru and ending up in third some 10% behind in a five cornered contest. Lab 29.56% Ind 29.27% Plaid 19.80% Lib Dem 10.74% Forward Wales 10.60%

In 2008 (having regained the Assembly constituency of Wrexham from John Marek of Forward Wales), Labour should have expected to hold on to wards like Ruabon, but the electorate had other ideas as on a swing of 15% from Labour to Plaid Cymru, Plaid gained the ward polling 44% of the vote (against Labour's 24% and a Non Party Independent candidate who polled 32%).

Cllr. Leon Price became deputy leader of the Plaid Cymru grouping on the council and also served as Co-Chair of the Finance and Performance Scrutiny Committee but died in the middle of September. Plaid will seek to hold on to a ward that it gained at the height of Labour's unpopularity and have selected Pol Wong (a former martial arts champion) as their candidate. Labour (seeking to regain the seat) have chosen Dana Louise-Davies with the Conservatives selecting Adam Prescot Owen. Andy Kendrick is also standing again as a non party Independent and will hope to improve on his 32% vote share last time and perhaps gain the seat himself from Plaid. Polling opens at 7.00am and closes at 10.00pm with the polling station being located in the village hall of Ruabon.


  1. The former councillor was known as Barrie Price not Leon Price. As you correctly point out, in the past two elections Labour's vote has stalled at around 200 and the decision of the previous independent (ex-Labour) councillor Cyril Williams to support Pol Wong will ensure a fascinating battle for the seat. Andy Kendrick has a base on the council estate and did enough to beat Labour last time.

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