Monthly Archives: Mehefin 2013

Target Seats in Wales: Plaid

Plaid Cymru’s situation throws up a series of interesting findings. For the other parties, there was by and large a clear correlation: those seats where the party does well in share of the vote are those where it is relatively close to the incumbent party. For Plaid there are a slew of seats where they pick up a decent share of the vote (ten seats they don’t hold with 20% of the vote or more) but are way behind the victorious party. The reason is, of course, the Labour hegemony in south Wales.

So here are the stats for those keenest amongst us.

Plaid already hold: Arfon, Carmarthenshire East & Dinefwr, Ceredigion, Dwyfor Meirionnydd and Ynys Môn.

And here’s the top 10, in order, of seats that Plaid will be eyeing up in 2015:

  • Llanelli
  • Carmarthen West & South Pembrokeshire
  • Caerphilly
  • Aberconwy
  • Clwyd West
  • Neath
  • Clwyd South
  • Cardiff West
  • Rhondda
  • Preseli Pembrokeshire

This gives us an indication of the scale of the challenge facing Leanne Wood in her decision to contest Rhondda in 2016. The reason it’s only the 9th-best prospect is because Plaid were a massive 34% behind the first-placed party in the last poll, despite recording nearly 30% of the vote themselves. It’s a mountain to climb. People talk in awe about Alex Salmond’s astounding capture of Gordon in 2007. That required an increase in the share of the vote of merely 19%. Leanne needs an increase of 35%. Such a result would be spectacular and – excepting Brent East (itself a special case) – unprecedented.

Should Labour be complacent? The stats tell us a bit more of the story. Leighton Andrews’ 12,650 votes were only 1,400 more than Wayne David’s in 1999 – and would not have been enough to deny Geraint Davies from taking Rhondda in 1999. In that first Assembly election turnout was 50.2%; turnout in the last Assembly election was just 38%. It seems to suggest that when there’s an interesting political contest, turnout is boosted. And history suggests that the boost in turnout benefits one party more than any other.

Enough of Rhondda. Because we need to take account of the fact that Plaid don’t hold the same constituencies in both Parliaments, Ceredigion and Ynys Môn arrive at the top of the list, pushing Rhondda to 11th spot. Our list now looks like:

  • Ynys Môn
  • Ceredigion
  • Llanelli
  • Carmarthen West & South Pembrokeshire
  • Caerphilly
  • Aberconwy
  • Clwyd West
  • Neath
  • Clwyd South
  • Cardiff West

It’s no surprise to see Ynys Môn at the top of the list. Following Plaid’s recent success in the local elections, and with Ieuan Wyn Jones announcing his resignation today, Plaid would be in pretty poor shape to lose the seat at the upcoming by-election. Expect lots of visits to the island from Peter Hain and other Labour big guns, and a non-stop discussion of Plaid’s uncomfortable position on nuclear. Following by-election success, Ynys Môn is clearly a major target for Plaid in 2015, with Albert Owen’s majority of under 2,500. Ieuan Wyn as the candidate, perhaps?!

Ceredigion has become a much more interesting contest with the selection of Mike Parker as candidate for Plaid. Mike is one of the most interesting candidates Plaid could have picked for this constituency. Erudite, English and engaging. Someone who can fire people’s imagination.

I said previously that Mark Williams would be “firmly in control of the seat for 2015”. Suddenly I’m not so sure. Let’s remember that Cynog Dafis pulled in an additional 8,200 votes to take Ceredigion for Plaid in 1992. And Mark’s majority? 8,300. Hold onto your hats!

Llanelli looks distinctly less achievable for Plaid in the UK election than at the Welsh election. Nia Griffith commands a 4,500 majority, and although that was reduced at the 2010 election, it was a poor election for Labour in general. And given that the totemic Ron Davies couldn’t take Caerphilly in an Assembly election that is always more benign for the Party of Wales, it’s not likely to fall in 2015. 

In the face of a Labour party expected to improve on its 2010 performance – although not spectacularly, given Ed Miliband’s struggling leadership – most of the rest of the top 10 look challenging. Add in the UK context under which UK elections are (unsurprisingly) fought, alongside the London-centric bias of the broadcast and print media, and the picture looks tough for gains of more than one seat. Holding onto Arfon will be enough to keep the troops busy between now and 2015.

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10 Sylw

Filed under Democracy, Elections, Labour, Plaid Cymru, Westminster

Target Seats in Wales: Lib Dems

A question to all my Liberal Democrat readers – do you want the good news first, or the bad news?

Bad news you say? The Lib Dems hold just one constituency seat from the most recent Welsh plebiscite.

And the good news? There are 39 seats just waiting to be won! And where are these fields of delight located? Hold onto your hats…

At the National Assembly the Lib Dems already hold: Brecon & Radnorshire. Surely that means that the top 10 will be crammed full of fantastic opportunities for the Lib Dems to make advances?

Sadly for the Lib Dems, the computer says no.

Because a toss-up for 10th place in this listing is between Gower and Preseli Pembrokeshire. And in the best-placed of those constituencies (Preseli Pembrokeshire), they’re nearly 35% behind the first-placed party. Let’s press ahead regardless with our top 10, seats of best potential first:

  • Cardiff Central
  • Ceredigion
  • Montgomeryshire
  • Swansea West
  • Newport East
  • Aberconwy
  • Wrexham
  • Pontypridd
  • Clwyd South
  • Preseli Pembrokeshire

Once again, we can ground-truth this assessment using the UK election results. And once again, it’s spot on – the Lib Dems already hold Cardiff Central and Ceredigion at Westminster, and Lebmit Opik used to hold Montgomeryshire for them until some cheeky fun put paid to that former Lib Dem stronghold.

But as for target seats – all the indications are that the 2015 election is going to be ‘challenging’ for the Lib Dems. No matter how many two horse races there are, in all probability the party’s going to be left looking at two Welsh MPs next time round. So this list of top 10 is a fantasy for Freedom Central. If they manage to hold onto all their current stock of MPs they’ll have pulled off a stunning electoral surprise.

I’ve already commented that Jenny Willott in Cardiff Central has a heck of a fight on her hands to retain the seat. How do things look for Mark Williams in Ceredigion? Well, he’s defending an 8,300 majority, or 22%. That would seem to put him firmly in control of the seat for 2015, unless he plays his cards stupendously badly over the next 23 months, or unless the Liberal Democrat party actually implodes. I think he’ll hang on, albeit with a substantially reduced majority.

Now I know that this series of posts is supposed to be about ambition and striving for the stars. But the Lib Dems are in a bit of a state in Wales. There are only 11 constituencies where they garnered more than 10% of the vote last time round. And to rub salt into their wounds, they scooped up less than 5% of the vote in 17 constituencies. Lost deposits in Wales alone cost them £8,500 in 2011.

Just for the record, the Lib Dems have no chance of regaining Montgomeryshire. Glyn Davies is a shrewd media operator and outspoken. So in those senses a bit like Lembit, except shrewd (I’m sure Glyn’ll be delighted with the accolade!). Glyn will extend his majority of a shade over 1,000 quite considerably. And if they stand no chance in Montgomeryshire, there’s no hope in any of the remaining top 10. In seat number 4 (Swansea West), for example, they’re 29% behind the incumbent.

Finally, I’ve mentioned the effect of UKIP on the Conservative vote already. But BlogMenai has surmised what it might mean for the Lib Dems in the next Assembly elections. His conclusion? “The Assembly would be a very lonely place for Kirsty Williams”.

8 Sylw

Filed under Democracy, Elections, Liberal Democrats, Westminster

Target Seats in Wales: Labour

We’ve already seen where the Conservatives will be focusing their efforts. Instead of hoping to stretch their influence in Wales, they’ll be desperately attempting to stem the tide. And even if UKIP aren’t going to make the same inroads in Wales as they’re likely to do in England, the influence of another right-wing party pulling votes from Conservatives is all the more reason to write off Conservative chances of any gains. So which of those Conservative seats will Labour be sniffing around and pouring resources into? It’s time to do the stats.

Labour already holds most of the constituencies in Wales at the National Assembly: Aberavon, Alyn & Deeside, Blaenau Gwent, Bridgend, Caerphilly, Cardiff Central, Cardiff North, Penarth & Cardiff South, Cardiff West, Clwyd South, Cynon Valley, Delyn, Gower, Islwyn, Llanelli, Merthyr Tydfil & Rhymney, Neath, Newport East, Newport West, Ogmore, Pontypridd, Rhondda, Swansea East, Swansea West, Vale of Clwyd, Vale of Glamorgan and Wrexham

That means that there are only two seats that don’t make it into the top 10 (for completeness see here). And those top 10 target seats in order of ‘best contender for a challenge’?:

  • Carmarthen West & South Pembrokeshire
  • Preseli Pembrokeshire
  • Carmarthen East & Dinefwr
  • Aberconwy
  • Clwyd West
  • Monmouth
  • Ynys Mon
  • Arfon
  • Brecon & Radnorshire
  • Montgomeryshire

My theoretical model has taken a slight hit. Ynys Môn (6th target in this analysis) is already held by Labour’s Albert Owen – and has been since 2001. And there are three seats currently held by Labour in the Assembly that they don’t hold at Westminster: Cardiff Central, Cardiff North and the Vale of Glamorgan. Clearly those three seats are going to insert themselves at the top of my list, and Ynys Mon is going to drop off. So let’s re-jig it a bit:

  • Vale of Glamorgan
  • Cardiff North
  • Cardiff Central
  • Carmarthen West & South Pembrokeshire
  • Preseli Pembrokeshire
  • Carmarthen East & Dinefwr
  • Aberconwy
  • Clwyd West
  • Monmouth
  • Arfon

It turns out that the Labour Party has done their own wish-list for 2015, and they’re gunning for 8 seats. How do they fit in with my assessment?

Well, they’ve plumped for numbers 1-7 and 10 in my version. Why they think that Clwyd West and Monmouth are impregnable is beyond me, particularly with the entertainment that UKIP is likely to throw into the mix, although Hywel Williams is probably up for a jumpy night in Arfon  despite coming in at number 10 in the Penarth a’r Byd listing. As for the others, the Vale of Glamorgan should be winnable if Labour can select a candidate more credible than their 2010 disaster, Jonathan Evans has taken the coward’s way out having already seen the writing on the wall in Cardiff North, and despite a sizeable majority Jenny Willott has got her work cut out over the next 2 years to cling on to Cardiff Central (BlogMenai thinks it’s certain to fall). Simon Hart in Carmarthen West/South Pembs is vulnerable. However even with the UKIP factor Aberconwy and Preseli Pembrokeshire are rather unlikely to turn red unless it’s a landslide, and with opinion polls saying that Ed Miliband has little credibility as potential Prime Minister I think we can rule out a huge victory for Labour. Jonathan Edwards is looking a safe bet to retain Carmarthen East/Dinefwr for Plaid.

Finally, let’s just remember that since Labour already hold 26 of the 40 Welsh seats at Westminster, some of the ‘top 10’ are likely to be much more challenging – all things being equal – than the ‘top 10’ of the other parties, because with seat number 10 you’re actually looking at the 5th least winnable seat.

10 Sylw

Filed under Democracy, Elections, Labour, Westminster