Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Will Plaid castle Labour in Caerffili?

2007 Assembly election result

Votes Cast
Cuthbert, Jeff
Whittle, Lindsay
Plaid Cymru
Davies, Ron
Foley, Richard
Price, Huw
Liberal Democrat
 Electorate: 61,937 Turnout: 42.2%
Caerffili was a seat heavily associated with the mining industry but is now a seat with a strong manufacturing base. Its proximity to Cardiff is very much a dormitory area for those that work in the Capital City.
After year’s of campaigning for a new general district hospital, a state of the art facility is due to be opened in October 2011.
Political profile
This is a two horse race between Labour and Plaid Cymru the other parties standing will not get a look in.
The seat has always returned a Labour candidate for both Westminster and the Assembly. If the seat were only Caerffili town, Plaid Cymru would be home and dry. But the northern part of the seat around Bargoed has always been loyal to Labour.
Although Plaid Cymru members with long memories reflect on the time they nearly bucked the natural order of things. When back in 1968 a by election was held and the late Phil William of Plaid Cymru came within two thousand votes of taking the seat from Labour.  Locals still recall the fact that many of Harold Wilson’s then cabinet were canvassing for votes on Caerffili council estates.
Whilst Westminster and the Assembly have eluded Plaid Cymru they have fared better in local elections. Control of the county council has seesawed between Labour and Plaid Cymru, it is currently in Plaid Cymru’s control with the help of independents, one of which is Ron Davies. Although having joined Plaid Cymru and is their candidate in the Assembly he does not take the Plaid Cymru whip in the council because he was elected as an independent.
Politics and Election campaigns in Caerffili are robust tribal affairs, more bare knuckle fighting than Queensbury rules. This campaign is no exception. The fact that Ron Davies was once a Labour AM and MP and Deputy Labour leader of the local authority, and his opponent Jeff Cuthbert was once a political ally and Ron Davies’s constituency chair makes for a no holds barred contest.
Plaid Cymru in choosing Mr. Davies as their candidate are hoping that the nearly 6000 votes he picked up when standing last time as an independent can be added to Plaid Cymru’s vote and give them victory.
Ah! If only politics was as straight forward, but alas it is not. In 2007 Labour were in government in Westminster and were far from popular, as a consequence they suffered a poor vote in the Assembly elections. Now times have changed. There is now a reaction to the Conservative /Liberal Democrat coalition in Westminster and Labour are reaping the rewards with high poll ratings.
When the contest started internal polling showed Plaid trailing far behind Labour in the seat. However, Plaid Cymru’s have a very effective election machine and the gap has narrowed during the campaign. Without doubt Labour has shot themselves in the foot with the Wayne David the Labour MP being caught taking down Plaid Cymru posters.  Undoubtedly, such incidences go down badly with voters who scorn such behavior and tend to punish the culprits.  This will help Plaid Cymru. The question is, by how much.
What looked at the start of the contest as a safe bet for a Labour hold, has now become much more problematic. However, Plaid Cymru despite their better organization have much to do to dislodge this Labour seat, there high profile candidate may not be enough.
Much will depend on turnout. If it is low it will favour Plaid Cymru, if high, Labour will keep its grip on the seat, and all be it with a much-reduced majority.
Prediction:  Too close to call

Jeff Cuthbert
Jeff Cuthbert was elected to the NAW in 2003. He read Mining Engineering in Cardiff University and worked for the NCB in Markham & Oakdale collieries. He was a Labour activist and was Chair of the Caerffili Labour Party.
In the NAW he chairs the Standards and Conduct committee.

Owen Meredith
Owen Meredith was born and brought up in Caerffili.  He studied at Keele University, before moving to London where he worked for a Civil Engineering body, specializing in energy, waste management and sustainability. He now works in a support role for a Member of Parliament concentrating on providing support to small and medium businesses.

Liberal Democrat
Kay David
Kay David comes from the area and has worked in a local Boys' Comprehensive school as head of faculty, and has recently been working as a part-time lecturer for the University of Glamorgan, and for the library service.

She has published a book called The Rhymney Valley and The Great War and has made and researched radio programmes on the history of the local area.  She is married with two children. She went to Tredegar Grammar School; Cardiff College of Education; Qualified Modern Dance teacher and also Cardiff University.

Plaid Cymru
Ron Davies
Ron Davies was born in Machen and began his public career as a teacher in the Gwent and Mid Glamorgan counties, before being elected as a Labour MP for Caerffili in 1983. In 1992 he was elected to the Shadow Cabinet and served as Shadow Secretary of Wales. During this period he developed the strategy for devolution. In 1997 Ron became Secretary of State for Wales and legislated for devolution after playing a historic role in the “Yes” campaign.
After resigning from office Ron was elected to the National Assembly for Caerffili in 1999 but stood down in 2003.
Subsequently, he was elected as an independent local Councillor in 2008 and joined the Plaid-led cabinet in Caerffili County. Subsequently, Ron joined Plaid Cymru and was endorsed as candidate for Caerffili in 2010.

British National Party
Anthony King

1 comment:

  1. Looks like it was Ron who was 'castled' after all - Jeff Cuthbert more than doubled Labour's majority to almost 5,000.