As promised, following YouGov’s Welsh poll here’s the first stop in a tour of marginal constituencies west of Offa’s Dyke. First up, it’s the north – traditional marginal country combining rugged uplands, industrial Deeside and the ‘Costa Geriatrica’. Labour notionally hold 8 of the 10 constituencies here, but recent evidence (notably the Euro elections and, if you’re inclined to take these things seriously, the regional sub-samples of the Welsh poll) suggests that this is an area where their downward curve is particularly steep. There were 12 seats in Wales where the Westminster incumbent party polled less than 20% of the vote in the Euros – only one northern Labour seat escaped this distinction (and then only just).
There are only two seats in the region where a safe hold is in little doubt. The MP for one of them is sitting on a notional majority of 111, but in the current climate no-one expects Labour to retake Clwyd West from the Conservatives’ David Jones. Dwyfor-Meirionnydd is likewise safe for Plaid, its task made easier by boundary changes and by the decision of school-closure protest party Llais Gwynedd (which has gained council seats here) not to contest the Westminster election. All the rest are in play, which I’m afraid means a long post!
The retirement of Betty Williams, along with boundary changes which remove
Alyn & Deeside
Remarkably, the Conservatives outpolled Labour in this industrial seat at the Euro elections. With demographic change and Labour’s general under-performance in north
The seat where Boris Johnson cut his electoral teeth (“I fought Clwyd South, and it is fair to say that Clwyd South fought back”) is in danger of turning blue. Three parties have strong areas here; Plaid in the upper Dee valley from Corwen to Llangollen, Labour in the post-industrial villages west of Wrexham, and the Conservatives in ‘Maelor Saesneg’ along the border. Labour’s stronghold is much the more populous, and a minor boundary change also helps them in my view (which doesn’t accord with the official notional figures, but hey ho). Martyn Jones’s retirement makes this seat genuinely competitive. Then again, the Conservatives’ Euro results weren’t as strong here as in nearby seats. Tough to call, yet strangely I can’t find anyone offering odds.
This seat has less favourable boundaries than the one which was held by ‘colourful’ Conservative Keith Raffan (later a Lib Dem MSP) in the 80s. But there are demographic shifts, and Labour’s recent electoral form here is dire. So although the Marginals Poll had this staying Labour, the Conservatives might just squeeze the Lib Dems and get the 10% swing they need, so my prediction is that we’re going to have to get used to the idea of a 6-foot tall Welsh Tory MP named Antoinette.
Vale of Clwyd
An odd constituency which combines (reluctantly, one would think) the central
The Lib Dems’ only hope in a part of
A true understanding of the island’s politics still eludes me. It’s often stated that incumbents never lose but statistical quirks have come to an end sometime. Although Labour gained seats here in the 08 council elections (mainly due to the end of an intra-party schism in Holyhead), a Labour hold in the current circumstances would be remarkable. Their majority over Plaid is just 1,242, and their vote in the Euros slumped to 12.9%.