So we’ve examined which of the seats in Wales will be targeted by the Conservatives, Labour, the Lib Dems and Plaid at the next election. I’ll be considering where the tightest contests are going to be in my next post. But for now we’ve got a proposition even more fascinating – which seats are the impregnables? Where are the incumbents guaranteed to be elected, no matter what happens between now and 2015?
My starting point is any seat that doesn’t feature in the top 10 target list of any other party. That gives us the following initial sift:
- Aberavon – Labour
- Alyn & Deeside – Labour
- Blaenau Gwent – Labour
- Bridgend – Labour
- Penarth & Cardiff South – Labour
- Cynon Valley – Labour
- Dwyfor Meirionnydd – Plaid
- Islwyn – Labour
- Merthyr Tydfil & Rhymney – Labour
- Ogmore – Labour
- Rhondda – Labour
- Swansea East – Labour
- Torfaen – Labour
Is there anything that strikes you about this list of 13 impregnable constituencies? Something that should make Labour apparatchiks rub their hands with glee? Perhaps the notion that 92% of them belong to Labour. These ultra-safe seats are important for political parties for much more reason than it’s nice to have them in the bank. Firstly, almost no electoral effort has to be made, which means that the parties can target their resources at other seats – either to defend or to expand their territory. But secondly, and most importantly, these politicians can concentrate on the machinations of government or legislation, without worrying too much about their constituents. It means that they can become Ministers, or focus on becoming experts in subject areas, can serve with distinction on Committees and toady up to lobbyists without casting one eye over their shoulder at their electorate. Everyone else knows their tenure on the gravy train is potentially limited and that they therefore need to be working their constituency as well as everything else. That will necessarily reduce their ability to be good parliamentarians.
I said initial sift because there’s an additional factor to consider. The ‘top 10’ of the four political parties is anything but evenly balanced. Number 10 on Labour’s list is Arfon, where they’re already scooping up 26% of the vote, while the Conservatives are picking up the same percentage in their equivalent seat of Wrexham. For Plaid, the figure in seat 10 (Cardiff West) is 20%, but for the Lib Dems, Preseli Pembrokeshire yields just 8%. So I’m going to withdraw the competitiveness of the Lib Dems for anywhere they’re not polling 20%. That adds in the following to the impregnables:
- Newport East – Labour
- Pontypridd – Labour
- Swansea West – Labour
Are there any other factors to take into consideration? Any of the seats listed above that aren’t actually impregnable?
Just one. I mentioned it here. And it means that Rhondda leaves the list.
Well, pity the poor fools who live in one of the 15 impregnable constituencies. After all, we’ve already proven that your vote is totally irrelevant at a UK general election. And for these suckers it’s doubly true, because whatever you do there’s no chance you’ll winkle out the incumbent.
Who do these poor fools, these suckers include? You and me, my friends, who live in Penarth and Cardiff South.