Former Rhondda candidate warned: ‘Be careful, they don’t like Tories up there’
A former Rhondda Senedd candidate has revealed that he was warned to “be careful” because “they don’t like Tories up there”.
But Tom Parkhill, who stood in the valleys seat for the Conservative says his experience campaigning there “was not hostile in the slightest”.
He wrote about the campaign on the conservative website Gwydir and asked whether it could be the start of a “sea change” for his party in the area.
According to Parkhill, people were “ready to listen” to the Tories, even of they didn’t end up voting for them.
He said: “I encountered a similar attitude a number of times in my candidacy for the seat, but my experience in Rhondda and in other Valleys seats was not hostile in the slightest.
“I encountered friendly people, interested in what I had to say and frankly I had far fewer people swearing at me on the campaign trail than I have received in canvassing sessions in Cardiff or even the Vale of Glamorgan.
“People were largely ready to listen to what we had to say as a party, even if they ultimately didn’t elect Conservative candidates.
“Perhaps though, this illustrates progress in seats which have been defined by their hostility to the Conservative Party over the last century.
“This was reflected in a record number of votes for the Senedd elections in all three of the Valleys seats; Pontypridd, Cynon Valley and Rhondda.
The seat was won by Labour’s Buffy Williams, who ousted Plaid Cymru’s Leanne Wood with a 19% swing.
Williams received 12,832 votes, while Wood came in second place with 7,335, and Parkhill got 1,490.
Parkhill added: “Is this the start of sea change in the Valleys? Firstly, lets put these record results into perspective.
“As the candidate in Rhondda, I received 1,490 votes, this is approximately 1,000 votes less than I received in my Cardiff Council seat in 2017, whilst Mia Rees in Cynon Valley received 2,795 votes in a very energetic campaign.
“Even though our results are records, it really shows we are still a long way off mounting a significant challenge to Labour.
“Overall, the recent Senedd elections showed in the Valleys that Welsh Labour are in a much better shape than their former heartlands in the North East of England or Scotland — I don’t foresee a collapse anytime soon.
“That being said, the electorate are more open to alternatives to Welsh Labour than anytime in the recent past.”