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Ex-Tory Welsh Secretaries Simon Hart and Stephen Crabb agree where they’ll be standing in the general election

04 Jan 2024 4 minute read
Simon Hart and Stephen Crabb – by Chris McAndrew (CC BY 3.0)

Martin Shipton

An agreement has been reached between two former Tory Welsh Secretaries about the seats they will fight at the coming general election, ending the possibility of a selection showdown in west Wales.

With redrawn constituency boundaries across Wales to take account of the reduction in the number of Welsh MPs from 40 to 32, there has been speculation that Simon Hart, currently the MP for Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire, and Stephen Crabb, who represents Preseli Pembrokeshire, might have to go head-to-head for the right to stand in a new seat.

But Nation.Cymru has been told that the two MPs are both happy with what has been agreed – that Mr Hart will stand in the new seat of Caerfyrddin / Carmarthen, with Mr Crabb the candidate in the neighbouring new constituency of Mid and South Pembrokeshire.

Contest

A Welsh Conservative source told us: “It’s good that Simon and Stephen are content to be standing in these seats and that there will be no need for a bruising selection contest between them.

“On paper, the Pembrokeshire seat looks more winnable for us, so it would be easy to imagine both sitting MPs preferring to stand in it. But Simon is happy to stand in Carmarthen.”

Nevertheless, the current omens for the Conservative Party are not good in either seat, with Labour maintaining a commanding lead in the polls. Electoral Calculus, the election predictor website, says Labour is favoured to win in both seats.

If a general election were held now, Electoral Calculus suggests that Labour candidate Henry Tufnell would win in Mid and South Pembrokeshire with 21,891 votes (40.7%), ahead of Mr Crabb with 15,361 votes (28.5%), the Plaid Cymru candidate with 6,558 votes (12.2%), and Reform with 5,597 votes (10.4%). This would give Mr Tufnell a majority of 6,530 over Mr Crabb.

Interestingly, the predicted majority is only 933 more than the number of votes assumed for Reform, illustrating the point that Reform is likely to damage the Conservatives and make it easier for Labour to pick up marginal seats.

Chances

So far Reform’s leader Richard Tice has made it clear that the party he founded with Nigel Farage as the Brexit Party will not be standing down candidates to improve the chances of Tory MPs getting re-elected.

In Mid and South Pembrokeshire, Electoral Calculus gives Labour an 80% chance of victory and the Conservatives 20%.

In Caerfyrddin / Carmarthen, the prospects are even less rosy for the Conservatives. According to Electoral Calculus, the seat would be won by Labour’s Martha O’Neil, a 25-year-old high-flying former policy adviser to the UK Government’s Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport with 18,329 votes (36.2%). In second place would be Plaid Cymru’s Ann Davies, a cabinet member on Carmarthenshire County Council, with 15,887 votes (31.4%), while Mr Hart would trail behind in third place on 11,151 votes (22.0%).

Electoral Calculus gives Labour a 62% chance of winning the seat and Plaid Cymru a 31% chance. Mr Hart’s chance of victory is put at just 8%. One important element missing from Electoral Calculus’ calculations is the possible candidacy of Jonathan Edwards, the current Independent MP for Carmarthen East and Dinefwr, most of which will be included in the new seat.

Mr Edwards was first elected as a Plaid Cymru MP in 2010, going on to win three more elections. But he was suspended from the party following an incident for which he later accepted a police caution for assaulting his wife.

Originally he was due to be readmitted to Plaid, but the party’s ruling national executive committee overruled a disciplinary panel and he decided not to rejoin and continue sitting as an Independent.

Challenge

He has not yet decided whether to stand at the general election. Some local political observers believe that if he did so, he could win several thousand votes, most of which he would take from Plaid Cymru.

Elected an MP in 2005, Mr Crabb was Secretary of State for Wales from 2014 until 2016, while Mr Hart, who was first elected in 2010, held the post from 2019 until 2022. He is currently the Government Chief Whip.

Given the severe electoral challenge for the Conservatives in Caerfyrddin / Carmarthen, why is Mr Hart apparently happy to be the party’s candidate there? We’ve been told by Welsh Conservative sources that in the likely event that he loses, he has been promised a consolation seat in the House of Lords.


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Annibendod
Annibendod
1 month ago

In Carmarthen – vote Plaid Cymru! Do not let the Unionists win that seat!

Alwyn
Alwyn
1 month ago

so – a consolation seat in the House of Lords – that REALLY stinks

hdavies15
hdavies15
1 month ago
Reply to  Alwyn

Nearly as well rewarded as a seat in the other House, and stacks more scope for paid lobbying and all the other wide boy stuff that politicians of all colours, not just Tories, have grown to love.

Geraint
Geraint
1 month ago
Reply to  hdavies15

Loosing MPs will also be eligible for bigger payouts for continuing case work, doubling to £17,300.
On top of this MP’s who lose their seats or decide not to stand will get four months salary instead of the current two months salary. MPs will also get twice the statutory redundancy winding up payments on top of this. These new arrangements came into force in August.

Last edited 1 month ago by Geraint
Owain Glyndŵr
Owain Glyndŵr
1 month ago

To think that Carmarthen East and Dinefwr would be represented by any party other than Plaid Cymru makes me feel nauseous 🤢

If only for their own benefit, I hope Labour restore most, if not all, of the eight seats of representation the Fascist Tory party is taking away from Cymru. Either way these projections don’t please me. Tories and Labour play a game of Tennis with many rural seats in Cymru and I’m sick of it 😠😤

Last edited 1 month ago by Owain Glyndŵr
Paul
Paul
1 month ago
Reply to  Owain Glyndŵr

To think that Carmarthen East and Dinefwr would be represented by any party other than Plaid Cymru makes me feel nauseous “

No party has a god given right over any seat, this kind of talk is disingenuous to everyone.

Johnny Gamble
Johnny Gamble
1 month ago
Reply to  Paul

With the exception of a few constituencies Labour will never have that problem between Newport and Llanelli or South of The County of Powys.

Jeff
Jeff
1 month ago

This is how you will defeat the cons
https://tactical.vote/all/
Oh, and if Mr Hart ever gets bumped up to the Lords, no on ever use his title other than Mr.

Fi yn unig
Fi yn unig
1 month ago

This was an easy agreement for the two of them to reach given that they will be clearing their desks and leaving anyway.

G Horton-Jones.
G Horton-Jones.
1 month ago

Now I understand what rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic was really about
With luck both wil disappear without trace

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