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Conservatives select Torfaen candidate for next general election

18 Sep 2023 4 minute read
Nathan Edmunds

Twm Owen, local democracy reporter

The Conservatives have selected their candidate to challenge one of Keir Starmer’s top team at the next general election.

Electrical design engineer Nathan Edmunds, from Cwmbran, has been selected as the Welsh Conservative candidate for the Torfaen constituency at the next UK general election which is expected to be held next year.

The seat is held by Nick Thomas-Symonds, who is the shadow minister without portfolio in the Labour shadow cabinet, who has served in a number of front bench roles under Sir Keir and predecessor Jeremy Corbyn since he was first elected in 2015.

Challenger Mr Edmunds, who works in renewable energy and has designed windfarms and now works on new energy storage projects, also has political ambitions closer to home as he is the Conservative candidate for the Two Locks by-election to Cwmbran Community Council which is to take place on Thursday, September 21.

Community councils don’t work along party lines, like county or borough councils, but Cwmbran’s is currently dominated by councillors from the Labour Party while the by-election will be contested by Labour, the Conservatives, the Liberal Democrats and an independent.

Mr Edmunds, who volunteers with Torfaen’s Climate Ambassadors Network a borough council energy saving project, said he has put himself forward as only two community councillors were elected through the ballot box at the 2022 elections with the others taking their places unopposed.

“It’s just to give people an option and to hold the council to account,” said Mr Edmunds: “I don’t blame the other councillors, they put their names forward and no-one else did. But I would like to see more people put themselves forward and give people the opportunity to vote for some else and maybe have a different thought process and challenge some ideas.”

However the married father of three’s ambition is to represent Torfaen in Parliament and though the seat was previously held by former Labour cabinet minister Paul Murphy for 28 years, and before him campaigning Labour MP Leo Abse, he doesn’t believe overturning a 3,742 majority from 2019 is impossible.

Under proposals expected to be confirmed by Parliament to redraw the electoral map Torfaen will expand to include parts of Croesyceiliog and Llanyarfon, which are in Torfaen borough, but currently form part of the Conservative held Monmouth constituency.

He said: “I’m not writing off my chance it will be extremely difficult, it’s not like it’s a seat that’s previously been Conservative and we are trying to win it back, it’s never been Conservative, but the majority is 3,500 something so it’s not a complete write off, there is a chance, a small chance. It’s not something I’m expected to win but it does give me a bit of a chance.”

Cost of living

The 47-year-old has identified the cost-of-living as a priority and while he accepts opinion polls show Labour are likely to replace the Conservatives in power he intends to fight on Labour’s record in the Welsh Government and locally at borough council level.

“I think it is difficult nationally but slightly different here in Wales with a lot of people upset with the Senedd and the 20 mile per hour limit and the council tax reform. There’s a lot of people upset with Cardiff

“I will fight for every vote, I’m not expecting to sweep into power here in Torfaen, but I’m not goint to just not do anything and sit still. I hope to change that Labour mindset in the area.”

Though Mr Thomas-Symonds may be expected to fill a senior role should Labour take power at Westminster Mr Edmunds said he would be able to spend “every minute in Torfaen”.

The other candidates in the Two Locks by-election to Cwmbran Community Council are Welsh Liberal Democrat Brendan Roberts who has campaigned for the borough to adopt a propertional voting system, Welsh Labour candidate Andrew Stephens who Mr Thomas-Symonds has canvassed for and independent David Thomas who is also an independent borough councillor for the Llantarnam ward.

Polls are open from 7am to 10pm on Thursday, September 21.

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Adrian Meagher
Adrian Meagher
7 months ago

I thought the new electoral map was going ahead with or without parliamentary confirmation. Am I wrong?

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