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A self-described ‘weird dad’ is aiming to be the next MP for a seat with a history of returning influential Labour politicians

24 Jun 2024 3 minute read
Lee Dunning who is an independent candidate at the general election aiming to represent Torfaen.

Twm Owen, local democracy reporter

A self-described ‘weird dad’ is aiming to be the next MP for a seat with a history of returning influential Labour politicians.

Lee Dunning is running as an independent, motivated by a lack of faith in party politics, having only decided to put his name forward after Prime Minister Rishi Sunak set July 4 as the date for the general election.

“I think it was just after the election was announced. I thought who will I vote for? I’ve not heard good stuff about any of them and it would be better to just have someone representing the people and I thought, perhaps I should stand up then and give people an alternative,” said the Cwmbran resident.


The 56-year-old turned his passion for brewing into a full-time business, after taking an early retirement package from a 37-year career as a railway engineer, and established his Weird Dad Brewery and tap room in Newport.

The name, came from when he coached his now adult son’s junior football team, but Mr Dunning said while some may see his perspective as a small business owner as useful he doesn’t want his campaign to be mistaken as an attempt to promote his business.

He is standing in his home constituency that has never returned anyone other than a Labour MP,. Torfaen has been represented since 2015 by Nick Thomas-Symonds who was quickly brought into the shadow cabinet and has held the shadow minister without portfolio brief since September 2023.

Previous MP Paul Murphy played an influential role in the Northern Ireland peace process, under Tony Blair, and he followed one of Britain’s best known, and most successful, campaigning back benchers Leo Abse who helped decriminalise homosexuality and reform divorce and fertilisation laws.

‘Great names’

Mr Dunning acknowledged there are “some great names” in the seat’s history and said he doesn’t want to “knock” people personally but questioned if Torfaen would be best served by electing another MP serving in cabinet.

“In all probability the polls say Labour will win and we’ll have a Labour MP in Torfaen who is quite likely to be a cabinet member but there might be concern his attention is dragged away from the constituency to work on, what might be a good cause, in that position.”

The independent candidate’s publicity material states he would support proposals on the basis of whether they are positive “firstly to Torfaen, secondly to Wales and then to the UK” and be he believes “every constituency deserves an independent MP”.

While political parties stand on a platform of agreed policies, Mr Dunning said: “I can only make personal promises and one is I would not take any personal donations, the time may have been for that 100 or so years ago when they were not paid, but MPs are now well paid individuals and I’m not prepared to accept donations.”

Full list of candidates standing in the Torfaen constituency

Nikki Brooke, Heritage Party
Philip Davies, Green Party
Lee Dunning, Independent
Nathan John Edmunds, Welsh Conservative
Matthew Jones, Plaid Cymru
Brendan Roberts, Welsh Liberal Democrats
Nick Thomas-Symonds, Welsh Labour
Ian Michael Williams, Reform UK

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