UK Election 2019: The Key Welsh Seats

(Title Image: Dubhdu under Creative Commons Licence BY-SA-4.0)

This is the final post at State of Wales before election day itself, looking at some of the more important contests in Wales as well as other ones to look out for next week.

Candidates are listed in alphabetical order by party with the incumbent (where applicable) in italics.

Aberconwy

  • Robin Millar (Con)
  • Emily Owen (Lab)
  • Jason Edwards (Lib Dem)
  • Lisa Goodier (Plaid)

This has been a fairly comfortable Conservative seat for some time, but with Guto Bebb standing down, maybe there’s an opportunity for one of the other parties to drag this back towards being a three-way contest.

The Tories are seemingly polling very well along the northern coast, but in the past the Senedd seat has often been keenly contested by Labour, Tories and Plaid Cymru. Labour came very, very close to taking the seat in 2017, while it’s likely to be high up the list of Plaid target seats in 2021, so they’ll be hoping for a strong performance.

Brecon & Radnorshire

  • Fay Jones (Con)
  • Jeff Green (Christian)
  • Tomos Davies (Lab)
  • Jane Dodds (Lib Dem)
  • Lady Lily The Pink (MRLP)

The by-election in August resulted in a clear Lib Dem win, but memories are short and with Chris Davies well out of the way and the highly-regarded lobbyist Fay Jones having been selected to stand for the Tories, it’s not beyond the realms of possibility that Jane Dodds will have a short tenure as an MP if the constituency swings back in line with national trends – which would be an absolute disaster for the Lib Dems.

The good news for the Lib Dems is they secured a Unite to Remain agreement, but it’s a question as to whether it’ll hold up this soon after the by-election.

Bridgend

  • Rob Morgan (BXP)
  • Jamie Wallis (Con)
  • Alex Harris (Green)
  • Madeleine Moon (Lab)
  • Jonathan Pratt (Lib Dem)
  • Leanne Lewis (Plaid)

Bridgend is one of these seats the Tories always target but never win. It’s nominally a Leave-voting constituency (though the result was close to 50:50) with Remain-supporting MP, Madeline Moon, having attracted a lot of criticism on local social media hubs from Labour and non-Labour supporters alike. You would’ve thought that with Brexit and issues like the Ford plant closure looming large – as well as Labour-run council making increasingly unpopular decisions – this would’ve been the opportune time for Moon to stand down but she hasn’t and there’s been a campaign blitz by the Tories – I must’ve had about 6 or 7 Tory leaflets compared to one Labour one.

Under first-past-the-post, Madeline Moon only has to convince 35-40% of the electorate to back her and that ought to come from the Remain side – though in the absence of a Unite to Remain agreement there’s competition for both Remainer and Leaver votes. The Tories threatened to take the seat in 2017 and based on uniform swings are expected to come close to taking it again, but the attempt was derailed by a lack of discipline in the local branch and a disastrous UK-wide campaign.

Cardiff North

  • Chris Butler (BXP)
  • Mo Ali (Con)
  • Michael Cope (Green)
  • Richard Leigh Jones (Ind)
  • Anna McMorrin (Lab)
  • Rhys Taylor (Lib Dem)
  • Steffan Webb (Plaid)

A perennial swing seat in Welsh politics, Cardiff North is once again one of the key battlegrounds and is a difficult one to predict with a number of contradictions. Cardiff voted Remain in 2016 and Anna McMorrin is one of the more explicitly pro-Remain Welsh MPs, but almost the entire constituency is covered by Conservative councillors and the Tories performed well in recent Cardiff Council by-elections. Their candidate, Mo Ali, is also a Remain supporter (albeit backing Boris Johnson’s deal).

The current projections are that Labour will retain the seat, but there’s always a “but” with Cardiff North. More at My Cardiff North.

Ceredigion

  • Gethin James (BXP)
  • Amanda Jenner (Con)
  • Chris Simpson (Green)
  • Dinah Mullholland (Lab)
  • Mark Williams (Lib Dem)
  • Ben Lake (Plaid)

One of the most keenly-contested seats anywhere in the UK, this will see a fight between two supposed Unite to Remain “allies” in the form of the incumbent Plaid MP, Ben Lake, and the Lib Dem MP he narrowly ousted with under 30% of the vote in 2017, Mark Williams.

The Lib Dems are known for fighting dirty but that doesn’t seem to be the case this time around and with a growing personal vote behind him, Ben Lake is probably the narrow favourite based on recent polls – but I expect it to be another close call.

Delyn

  • Nigel Williams (BXP)
  • Rob Roberts (Con)
  • David Hanson (Lab)
  • Andrew Parkhurst (Lib Dem)
  • Paul Rowlinson (Plaid)

As mentioned earlier, the Tories are set to do well along the entire northern coast and there are signs that the Delyn seat, which makes up the northern two-thirds of Flintshire, could go blue for the first time since 1992.

David Hanson does, however, have an incumbency factor having held the seat since then and often securing 40-45%+ of the vote. His current majority is just over 4,000 votes though, so it wouldn’t take a massive swing for the Tories to take it. The same goes for the neighbouring Vale of Clwyd and Alyn & Deeside. More at Deeside.com.

Torfaen

  • David Thomas (BXP)
  • Graham Smith (Con)
  • Andrew Heygate-Browne (Green)
  • Nick Thomas-Symonds (Lab)
  • John Miller (Lib Dem)
  • Morgan Bowler Brown (Plaid)

Ifan Morgan Jones picked Merthyr Tydfil and Rhymney as a possible Brexit Party beachhead, but Torfaen could be one too. You would still expect Labour to come out on top, but the Brexit Party do have a foothold in the Gwent Valleys and their performance here could give us an idea of how well they’ll perform in the 2021 Senedd election.

Vale of Glamorgan

  • Alun Cairns (Con)
  • Anthony Slaughter (Green)
  • Belinda Loveluck-Edwards (Lab)
  • Laurence Williams (Gwlad)

Until the Ross England scandal, I would’ve had this down as a relatively secure Tory seat (despite its reputation for changing hands regularly), but it’s suddenly come into serious play again for several reasons.

I’m sure most of the people reading this will be staying up for Cairns on 12th/13th December, but I doubt it’s in the bag for Labour – though the Greens are doing their best to hand it to them with well-intentioned if ill-thought-through comments on Cardiff Airport and the aviation industry (one of the biggest employers in the area). My gut instinct is it’ll be a Tory hold with all the implications that come with that as I suspect Cairns will head straight back into Cabinet should there be a Conservative victory.

Wrexham

  • Ian Berkeley-Hurst (BXP)
  • Sarah Atherton (Con)
  • Duncan Rees (Green)
  • Mary Wimbury (Lab)
  • Tim Sly (Lib Dem)
  • Carrie Harper (Plaid)

If the Tories take Wrexham – as some polls have predicted – it would be for the first time ever. Apart from some time under the old Liberal party, it’s nearly always been a solid Labour seat.

The Tories have been gradually building on their second places since 2001 to cut Labour’s majority from over 9,000 votes to just over 1,800. With a new face standing for Labour, this is probably the Conservative’s best chance to take it for a generation or more – though it’ll be too soon for this to reflect on what might happen to the likes of Lesley Griffiths and Ken Skates in 2021. More at Wrexham.com.

Ynys Môn

  • Helen Jenner (BXP)
  • Virginia Crosbie (Con)
  • Mary Roberts (Lab)
  • Aled ap Dafydd (Plaid)

Ynys Môn has a historic tendency to vote in the incumbent regardless of party. Plaid’s Ieuan Wyn Jones took the seat when the Tory’s Keith Best stood down in 1987 and Labour’s Albert Owen took the seat when Ieuan Wyn Jones stood down in 2001. This year, Albert Owen is standing down so whoever’s elected to replace him could well be there until they themselves stand down.

Who will that be? Rhun ap Iorwerth has a convincing majority in the Senedd constituency and Plaid are hoping to repeat his success in the 2013 by-election by selecting another well-known BBC journalist to run – though my impression of the campaign so far is that it’s in danger of being more style than substance.

Labour will clearly want to retain the seat and I don’t think they should be discounted despite what social media says. There have been hints that the Tories could re-take the seat based on some polling with Plaid maybe finishing third, but it’s up to you whether that poll is an outlier or not.

Others ones to watch:

There are a lot of them. Despite the inconvenience of holding an election at the worst possible time of the year, this promises to be one of the most unpredictable elections in Wales for a long time.

Arfon – This should be a Plaid hold, but given the very small majority and Hywel Williams perhaps having the lowest profile of the four Plaid MPs, there’s the outside chance that after decades of attempts Labour could take it if Plaid have a bad night.

Caerphilly – I don’t expect anything other than a Labour hold, but with this being one of Plaid’s top target seats in 2021 and with a strong Brexit Party presence this could end up being closer than expected.

Cardiff Central – One of Labour’s safest seats with a strong Remain advocate incumbent, but will that be enough to stop the Lib Dems pulling off a large swing against them?

Cardiff West – Plaid’s track record when it comes to picking celebrity candidates is hit-and-miss (for every Rhun ap Iorwerth there’s a Glyn Wise), but Boyd Clack could help maintain longstanding momentum in the seat with one eye on 2021. Will almost certainly be a Labour hold though.

Gower – After narrowly claiming the seat in 2015, the Tories promptly lost it in 2017 despite increasing their share of their vote. A high-profile gaffe by the Tory candidate should go some way to ensuring Labour keep the seat, but it could be close.

Llanelli – Plaid always talk big when it comes to the Westminster seat and fall short, I’d expect that to happen again but you never know.

Monmouth – We often see and hear complaints about Remain-leaning MPs ignoring the wishes of Leave-voting constituents, but the Conservative’s David TC Davies is an example of the opposite (along with Alun Cairns). He has a large majority and a sizable personal vote, but if Monmouth voters are fed up with Brexit there could be a shock result here.

Montgomeryshire – See Brecon and Radnorshire. With the popular incumbent, Glyn Davies, standing down, there’s the opportunity for the Lib Dems to take advantage.

Preseli Pembrokeshire – Former DWP and Welsh Secretary, Stephen Crabb, clung on by the skin of his teeth in 2017 with a majority of fewer than 400 votes. The decision by the Brexit Party to stand aside and the fact there’s no UKIP candidate should be a welcome boost to the Tories though.

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