My old Mamgu was a great fan of the wrestling on a Saturday afternoon. It was a joy to watch her throwing an empty can of Double Diamond at the black and white set when Mick Mc Manus had Johnny Kwango in a headlock, a pinfall and a one a, a two a for a submission. That is nothing to the bout about to take place for the title of MP for Llanelli. Sadly Mamgu has long gone but the wrestling continues and I for one am looking forward to some serious bouncing off the ropes from each of the competitors, some of who past and present appear in our election special pictorial fruit machine below this post.
The pundits are already making their predictions for the Llanelli seat at Westminster. A number of factors appear to be influencing the predictions, which to some extent may not be what is on the minds of voters in Llanelli. Labour may be in disarray and Jeremy Corbyn may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but it is hard to see how a town, which has voted Labour since Cro Magnon Man stuck on a rosette and went looking for votes based on saving the dinosaurs would return anything other than Labour.
There was of course the 1918 win by Josiah Towyn Jones – Coalition Liberal. The Liberal Democrats will be hoping for an historic return to the days of Josiah Towyn Jones as they field their candidate Rory Daniels, a student at Kings College London.
History has a tendency to repeat itself, none more so than in Llanelli where from 1922 the town selected John Henry Williams as their MP and he hung on up until the 1936 by-election where Jim Griffiths took the seat for Labour. Jim served the town up until 1970 when Denzil Davies was elected for Labour. He held on to that seat until 2005 when Nia Griffith won it again for Labour. The majority has not increased nor decreased significantly in the last couple of elections sitting at between 4,000 and 7,000. That is not a great number of votes for Plaid to capture and is more likely to be the realistic reason for any pundit claiming a shock win for Plaid.
Where would Plaid Cymru be most likely to take those votes away from Labour? The party’s stronghold is in the Welsh speaking communities of the Gwendraeth but there have been community issues regarding the Welsh language in areas like Llangennech with a population of nearly 5,000. Issues surrounding the use of green spaces for schools and housing, issues of the selling of of assets and the near gift of Parc Howard to companies without a ty bach in which to piddle.
Plaid will point to Labour for the woes of Llanelli after all, it has been a Labour administration at the County Council for many years, a Labour led Welsh Assembly and a Labour representative in Westminster. Are the people of Llanelli wrong or misguided in their consistent selection of Labour? Will they be confident enough, trusting enough in Plaid Cymru to deliver them from the spiralling decline in the town as some see it?
What message are they touting on the doorstep regarding social housing, crime, homelessness, alcohol and drug abuse, unemployment, doctors waiting times, unaffordable child care, lack of help for business start ups, cuts to special education budgets, lack of funding for grass roots sport, lack of quality care for the elderly, unfair planning decisions, pollution of the Burry estuary, large scale development and flooding, a council described by a former Police and Crime Commissioner as Wales’s answer to a Sicilian Cartel and a whole host of issues pertinent to the hard working and proud people of Llanelli?
Political pundit Iain Dale is citing the Corbyn factor as the demise for Nia Griffith. My old Mamgu used to say, you vote for the person not the party. Nia is a very visual politician she can be seen at just about any event, rally or protest in and around the town. Wild rumours have been flying around that the Conservatives might just surprise people with a landslide victory. Here in Wales and Llanelli in particular it is hard to see anything other than 3rd place unless UKIP continue to make the gains they made at the 2015 election if they field a candidate.
Mari Arthur is standing for Plaid Cymru. Not much is known about her politically other than one would imagine she concurs with Plaid Cymru’s manifesto. We do know that she is a Welsh speaker and a successful business woman. We know that she hails from Trimsaran, which has been an Independent stronghold for the council for many years. With over 2,500 votes up for grabs in a predominantly Welsh speaking community Plaid might clean up here.
Llannon is another ward with around 5,000 voters plus and the stronghold of Plaid’s Council Leader Emlyn Dole. It suffers from one of the highest precepts in the county and this may just sway the Plaid faithful or the undecided to see red. Will history repeat itself or can the new, new Plaid candidate pull it off on June 8th? A swing of around 10% is required and Mari Arthur has just over one month to convince the people of Llanelli that that is justified.
Conservative: 5381 (14.4%)
Labour: 15916 (42.5%)
Lib Dem: 3902 (10.4%)
Plaid Cymru: 11215 (29.9%)
UKIP: 1047 (2.8%)
MAJORITY: 4701 (12.5%)
Labour Nia Griffith13 15,948 41.3 −1.1
Plaid Cymru Vaughan Williams14 8,853 23.0 −7.0
UKIP Kenneth Rees 6,269 16.3 +13.5
Conservative Selaine Saxby15 5,534 14.3 0.0
Liberal Democrat Cen Phillips16 751 1.9 −8.5
Green Guy Smith 689 1.8 N/A
People First Siân Caiach17 407 1.1 N/A
TUSC Scott Jones 123 0.3 N/A
Majority 7,095 18.4 +5.9
Turnout 38,574 64.5 -2.8
Leave Vote: 56.43%
Labour – Nia Griffith
Plaid Cymru – Mari Arthur
Liberal Democrats – Rory Daniels
Conservatives – TBC
UKIP – TBC
A N Other TBC