Wednesday, 12 May 2010

The Second Fronts: Wales

Unlike Scotland and Northern Ireland, the Conservatives had a pretty good night in Wales, moving back to being the second party in Westminster terms. However, we missed out on a few seats and some others have moved well into range, so here I’ll take a look at Welsh seats (mostly) outside the Red Belt and take a swipe at what the future might hold for the Conservatives there. All numbers that look two neat to be real have been rounded to the nearest hundred.

Labour: Vale of Clwyd
A pre-election majority of 4600 falls to 2500, but this was one the Conservatives were predicted to have taken. A three-point rise in vote share for the blues and a four-point drop for the reds. Eminently takeable if the swing goes the Tories’ way in a second election.

Labour: Delyn
Neighbouring Vale of Clwyd, and with a very similar showing: a Labour majority of 6300-ish falling to 2300. A four-point drop in Labour vote share and an impressive nine-point increase for the Conservatives. Another seat the Welsh party should have its eye on.

Labour: Alyn & Deeside
An even more impressive result here, with a Labour majority of around 8400 slashed to 2900. The Labour vote share fell nine points to 40%, whilst the Conservatives rose seven points to 32%. This seat has been Labour since its creation in 1983 but it doesn’t look out of reach.

Labour: Wrexham
A tougher prospect with the Conservatives in third place, but a Labour majority of 6800 fell to 3700 at this election. The Conservatives also managed to close a four-point vote share gap between them and the Liberal Democrats to only one point, gaining five points in the 2010 election to the Liberal Democrats’ two. The Labour vote share here, as in neighbouring Alyn & Deeside, fell by nine points.

Labour: Clwyd South
A Labour majority of 6200 fell to 2800 in the last election, as Labour’s vote share dropped seven points to 38%. The Conservative vote share rose five points, to 30%. The Conservatives enjoy a thirteen-point vote share lead over the third place Liberal Democrats.

Labour: Newport West
Labour’s majority of 5500 fell to 3500 at the last election, with the Conservatives maintaining a strong second place with a fifteen-point lead over the third-placed Liberal Democrats. The Labour share dropped four points to 41%, with the Conservatives gaining two points.

Labour: Cardiff South & Penarth
Even with a slashed majority, from 9000 to 4700, this seat presents a formidable challenge to the second-placed Conservatives. Labour’s vote share fell eight points, with the Conservatives gaining four points and the Liberal Democrats two, widening the gap between the Conservatives and Liberals to six points, 28% to 22%. The Conservatives might have to start eating into the Liberal vote to overcome a near-5000 majority.

Labour: Cardiff West
The Labour majority fell from 8400 to 4800 at the last election, with Labour dropping four points. The Conservatives rose seven points, handily increasing their lead over the Liberal Democrats, who gained only one. Another formidable but not unreachable seat in a city that once returned three Conservative MPs.

Labour: Bridgend
Labour’s majority falls to 2263, down from just over 6000 after the last election. Labour’s vote share falls seven points, from 43% to 36%, with the Conservatives gaining five points to rise to 30%, increasing their lead over the Liberal Democrats who rose a single point to 23%. Last won for a single term in the 1983 election this might represent something of a high-tide mark for the Welsh Conservatives, but with a slashed majority and Labour losing control of the council last year (to a ‘rainbow coalition’ of everyone else) it should now be squarely within Conservative sights.

Labour: Gower
A sobering history: this seat has never been Conservative. Yet on present numbers this could change. Labour’s vote share fell four points for the second year running, falling to 38% and slashing a majority of 6700 to around 2800. The Conservatives, who fell in 2005, gained 6.5 points taking them to 32%, broadening their lead over the Liberal Democrats, who gained only 0.6%.

Labour: Ynys Môn
A bit of an outlier, but an interesting seat. Gained by the Conservatives in 1979 (as Anglesea), and held until 1987, the Conservatives remain only three points behind the second place Plaid in what looks like a three-way fight. It might be a bit of a push, but a Labour-Plaid split could allow the Conservatives to come through.

Liberal Democrat: Brecon & Radnorshire
Gained by the Conservatives in 1992 after the Alliance captured it in a 1985 by-election, this seat has been Liberal Democrat since 1997. A majority of a few hundred in 2001 became one of 3900 in 2005, and this majority narrowed only slightly in the last election. Nonetheless history shows that, if the Conservatives can combine an effective ground campaign with a good election, this seat could be regained. After all, neighbouring Montgomeryshire fell without so promising a past.

Plaid Cymru: Dwyfor Meirionnydd
Bear with me on this one: in the 2010 election both Labour and Plaid’s vote share fell by 7.8% and 6.4% respectively, with the second-placed Conservatives gaining a massive 8.1% increase in vote share. The notional Plaid majority of 8700 fell to 6360, with Labour dropping into third place.

Plaid Cymru: Carmarthen East & Dinefwr
Another seat that saw a major boost to the Conservatives, with a 7.7% rise in vote share. Plaid and Labour both fell, the former by more than ten points. The Conservatives remain in third, but are within a couple of thousand votes of second-placed Labour. The gap between the Conservatives and Labour in vote share fell from fourteen points to six.

That’s the lot. The only non-Red Belt seats I’ve not looked at are: Arfon, where the Times Fink Tank prediction had us taking it but as far as I could see the Conservatives only advanced marginally (although did open a three-point lead over the fourth-placed Liberal Democrats) and Ceredigion: Lib/Plaid seat where we barely register. Trawling through the Red Belt seemed a tad pointless, so I didn’t.

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