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Labour tells Welsh supporters to campaign in England for general election

27 May 2024 5 minute read
Mathew Dorrance. Photo Welsh Labour

Martin Shipton

Welsh Labour supporters who live in a seat regarded by their candidate as winnable have been advised by the party to campaign in England instead.

The apparently bizarre advice is one of a number of anomalies on an official UK Labour website called volunteer.labour.org.uk

According to the election prediction site Electoral Calculus, Labour is just 5.2 percentage points behind the Conservatives in the new constituency of Brecon, Radnor and Cwm Tawe.

But party supporters living in the seat who type in their postcode are told that if they want to help in the general election campaign, they should travel to seats in England including Worcester and Stafford..

Electoral Calculus currently predicts that Fay Jones, the incumbent Tory MP, will win 32.5% of the vote with Labour’s Matthew Dorrance, the deputy leader of Powys County Council in second place on 27.3% and Liberal Democrat David Chadwick on 23.4%.

In recent decades the now redundant seat of Brecon and Radnor has been represented by Liberal Democrat and Conservative MPs. In August 2019 the Lib Dems won a by-election called after the previous Tory MP was convicted of expenses irregularities, but it was won back at the general election four months later by Ms Jones.

‘Given up’

Lib Dem councillor Pete Roberts, who serves in Powys council’s cabinet with Mr Dorrance, seized on the fact that Labour was advising its local activists to volunteer in English seats. He posted on X: “It’s Day 1 of the 2024 general election, and a quick check on the Labour volunteering website shows they have given up in Brecon, Radnor and Cwm Tawe. Type in my LD 6 postal address and they wasnt me to go to Preseli, Stroud or Shrewsbury, leaving the field here clear for @LibDemDavid [Mr Chadwick].

Mr Dorrance told us he was unaware of the Labour website’s advice. He said: ““We’re fighting this seat to win. We’ve already had colleagues from other parts of Wales travelling to help us with the campaign. Up until 1979 Brecon and Radnor was a safe Labour seat for many years. It’s now expanding with part of the former Neath constituency that has been represented by Labour MPs for over 100 years. We’ll be fighting to win it back for Labour.

“But we’re not taking success for granted and will be working hard on the campaign until 10pm on polling day, doing our best to get a Labour victory.”

Asked what he thought about people being directed from his seat to others, mostly in England, Mr Dorrance said: “We’re all one party, aren’t we?”

Battleground areas

The Labour volunteering website says: Here’s how to help. We’ve identified battleground areas that are crucial to obtain a Labour victory. Our top choice for you is …”

By entering their postcode, supporters get told where they should volunteer.

We analysed the recommendations for people living in all 32 new Welsh constituencies. The results showed that people living in only 11 of the 32 seats are told to campaign where they live. There are two possible reasons for asking supporters to travel elsewhere: their home seat is regarded as either safe or unwinnable. In some instances they are sent far away, with the furthest travelling distance being 107 miles for supporters living in Pontypridd, who are recommended to campaign in Bangor Aberconwy.

Here is the full set of recommendations, showing firstly the seat where the volunteer lives and then where they are asked to campaign:

* Aberafan Maesteg – Mid and South Pembrokeshire

* Alyn and Deeside – Clwyd East

* Bangor Aberconwy – Bangor Aberconwy

* Blaenau Gwent and Rhymney – Monmouthshire

* Brecon, Radnor and Cwm Tawe – Worcester or Stafford

* Bridgend – Bridgend

* Caerfyrddin – Caerfyrddin

* Caerphilly – Mid and South Pembrokeshire

* Cardiff East – Vale of Glamorgan

* Cardiff North – Vale of Glamorgan

* Cardiff South and Penarth – Vale of Glamorgan

* Cardiff West – Vale of Glamorgan

* Ceredigion Preseli – Ceredigion Preseli

* Clwyd East – Clwyd East

* Clwyd North – Clwyd North

* Dwyfor Meirionnydd – Ynys Mon

* Gower – Caerfyrddin

* Llanelli – Mid and South Pembrokeshire

* Merthyr Tydfil and Aberdare – Clwyd North

* Mid and South Pembrokeshire – Mid and South Pembrokeshire

* Monmouthshire – Monmouthshire

* Montgomeryshire and Glyndwr – Clwyd East

* Neath and Swansea East – Vale of Glamorgan

* Newport East – Monmouthshire

* Newport West and Islwyn – Monmouthshire

* Pontypridd – Bangor Aberconwy

* Rhondda and Ogmore – Bridgend

* Swansea West – Ceredigion Preseli

* Torfaen – Monmouthshire

* Vale of Glamorgan – Vale of Glamorgan

* Wrexham – Wrexham

* Ynys Môn Ynys Mon

Active members

Former Bridgend council Labour leader Jeff Jones said: “When the party had a lot more active members than it does now, people tended to campaign in their local seat. There were activists living in local wards with a big enough team to canvass every house.

“These days a lot of members are passive, paying their subscriptions but not attending meetings or doing any campaigning even at election times. If you look at pictures posted on social media by people who have been canvassing, they tend to go out in small numbers.

“Very often you’ll see a small number of councillors, sometimes with an MP or MS and maybe a small number of others. Sometimes the others are taking part in the campaign because they have the ambition to be a closed list Senedd candidate in two years’ time. But there usually aren’t the numbers of activists to enable the whole seat to be covered. That’s why they’re appealing for people to come in from outside.”


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adrian savill
adrian savill
17 days ago

Good reporting!

Nick
Nick
17 days ago

Fair dues to anyone in Merthyr and Aberdare heading up to Clwyd North

Maesglas
Maesglas
17 days ago

The real reason why the party is struggling with canvassing is that there’s no enthusiasm for Starmer even amongst Labour supporters. Starmer is very lucky in that he is ahead off the back of a very unpopular Tory government. I have yet to meet anyone who likes or trusts Starmer. He’s also bereft of ideas and hardly anyone knows what he stands for. Yet he is on course to win a landslide. Our FPTP politics is broken and this proves my point beyond doubt.

Rhufawn Jones
Rhufawn Jones
17 days ago

Well that’s an idea. Campaigning for the return of the lost lands. In which seat is Pengwern and Y Dref Wen?

Ap Kenneth
Ap Kenneth
17 days ago

Hope supporters of all parties consider tactical voting in Conservative seats. Too many elections are decided by tiny numbers of voters and all of us who vote for a losing candidate have no bearing on the outcome.

Ernie The Smallholder
Ernie The Smallholder
17 days ago

The Labour party is avoiding meeting the electorate in the Welsh valleys,
Yes, Starmer is only interested in English issues.

Local Plaid Cymru members must initiate a full canvass of the area to meet the people and leaflet to as many households as possible.

Llanelli is winnable and so is Bridgend,
Plaid Cymru offer the only hope for ua ordinary folk.

Zoe
Zoe
15 days ago

I’ve just tried the Labour postcode lookup from my own postcode, very close to the Lib Dem councillor who couldn’t manage navigating the website. It came up with loads of events, one in Llandrindod Wells today. The Lib Dem website home page doesn’t mention how to get involved in camapigning at all! More Lib Dem smoke and mirrors. They’re full of it. The FT has a reliable overview of all the polling if people want to look up the true situation where they are. It put Labour ahead of the Lib Dems in Brecon, Radnor & Cwm Tawe so the… Read more »

Last edited 15 days ago by Zoe
Zoe
Zoe
13 days ago
Reply to  Zoe

This article is inaccurate.

BR-CT-battleground
Zoe
Zoe
13 days ago
Reply to  Zoe

Or at least, it’s source is dubious.

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