Back in May I said that the series of posts on “Targets Seats in Wales” was relevant to Penarth. For those of you who’ve been hanging on waiting for the relevance, your patience is about to be rewarded. Here’s a series of posts examining the performance of the parties that contested the November by-election. So the Conservatives reaped a whopping 19.9% of the vote, coming in second place. I’d predicted they would get 24%, and explained the difference thus:
The Conservatives fared worse than envisaged by 4%. We can combine this with the surprisingly good performance of UKIP (2% better than foreseen) to suggest that UKIP captured more disaffected Conservative voters than I’d thought likely.
Still, the Conservative result was their worst ever in this seat since its creation in 1983. Let’s remember that in that election, the Conservatives were within 5.4% of taking the seat. And now that distance is 27.4%. How did the Conservative candidate respond? Craig Williams was “happy to get a strong second place”. Following that stunning piece of hyperbole, it would appear that he’s looking for more promising pastures, having been selected as their candidate for Cardiff North. Not that he’ll be the MP for that constituency come 2015 either, despite it being the number one target seat for the Conservatives:
Jonathan Evans has taken the coward’s way out having already seen the writing on the wall in Cardiff North
Where does Penarth and Cardiff South sit in the ranking of Target Seats in Wales: Conservatives? It wouldn’t surprise most people to discover that it’s not in the top 10. But it’s not far off, actually, at number 12. Since the Conservatives have 34 target seats in total, that makes it a seat that they need to win if they’re serious about becoming a major power in Wales.
Clearly the Conservatives are a long way from being a major power in Wales. But things are looking a whole lot worse for them all of a sudden. Because how the political landscape has changed! The Conservatives of Penarth and Cardiff South must be thanking their lucky stars the election was held a while before UKIP’s sudden burst of
popularity cannibalising the right wing Conservative vote. It’s difficult to imagine following the Ynys Môn result that UKIP will be hovering around the deposit-losing stage in the next election.
So where do the Conservatives go from here? The answer is ‘nowhere’. And they know it – in the eight elections since the seat’s formation, they’ve had eight different candidates. Hardly a recipe for success from a consistently second-placed party. Their only real hope is for this constituency to be carved up should the bonfire of the constituencies be dragged back from the hole it was dumped into by their coalition friends.