Live blog: All the build up and results from the 2021 Senedd election
And that’s that!
The final result is:
- Labour – 30 (+1)
- Plaid Cymru – 13 (+1)
- Conservatives – 16 (+5)
- Lib Dems – 1 (-)
- UKIP – 0 (-7)
Who would have predicted that two days ago? I think you would have had very few takers!
Thank you all for following the blog over this last day and a half. 10,000 words after we started, it’s time to sign off. I’ve loved every second of – let’s do it again in four/five years!
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South Wales Central result – as expected, two for the Conservatives, two for Plaid Cymru.
That’s Andrew RT Davies (Welsh Conservative), Rhys ap Owen (Plaid), Joel Stephen James (Welsh Conservative) and Heledd Fychan (Plaid Cymru).
Professor Richard Wyn Jones on S4C says that Plaid Cymru needs to ask themselves some very hard questions rather than brushing off the election results. “In every seat where Plaid Cymru faced off with Labour – in Rhondda, in Llanelli and Cardiff West – they got demolished.
“They can’t just say ‘next time’. Or they’ll be sitting here again in five years saying the same thing.”
The Abolish party wanted to get rid of Welsh democracy. In response, Welsh democracy decided to get rid of the Abolish party. #SeneddElection2021
— Martin Johnes (@martinjohnes) May 8, 2021
That may be it for Abolish the Assembly, as South Wales Central looks as more of a lock for the Conservatives and Plaid Cymru, who failed to pick up a single constituency seat there. Questions may well be asked about the BBC’s decision to give Abolish such a prominent platform – particularly at the leadership debate – given their complete lack of electoral success beforehand.
I think three things may explain why they underperformed the polls: 1) Those polls were based on 2016 turnout which saw a surge of UKIP voters. Did they turn out this time? If they did, it looks like many voted Labour in the end. 2) Bizarrely Abolish were the only party on the ballot paper without a logo next to their name. As a result, they blended into the small print at the top of the page. 3) UKIP branded themselves Scrap the Senedd and split their vote.
Two seats for Plaid Cymu and two seats for the Conservatives in South Wales East.
Mark Reckless out of the Senedd – and the Senedd has its first female BAME member in Natasha Asghar! She is the daughter of former Plaid Cymru and Conservative MS, the late Mohammad Asghar.
When someone tells you a count announcement is coming in 30 minutes you should probably mentally add at least double that…
However, the key South Wales East result is expected any minute now…
We’re back! We hope you had a good night’s sleep. The South Wales Central and South Wales East results are expected shortly.
It looks like South Wales Central could be two Plaid, two Conservatives. South Wales East could be the same but that last seat could also go to Abolish or UKIP, who performed more strongly here last night.
One side effect of the Conservatives and Plaid’s weakness in the constituencies might well be more list members for them, locking out some of the smaller parties.
Remember that yesterday Labour won a regional seat in North Wales by 21 votes, and the Lib Dems bagged their only seat by 500 votes. Out of hundreds of thousands across these regions. Let no one tell you that your vote doesn’t count!
Well, that was a quite amazing electoral performance by Labour and in the 21 vote margin on the north Wales list every so slightly flukey in delivering them a de facto majority alongside the Lib Dems.
The last two regions, South Wales Central and South Wales East, will be announced in the morning. We will also have plenty of analysis to chew over I’m sure.
Thank you to everyone who has followed this blog over the last 16 hours! I’m now going for a lie down.
Mid and West Wales regional results – 2 Lab 1 Plaid Cymru 1 Lib Dem
The Liberal Democrats are saved from wipeout in Wales!
Once again, the Greens won more than Abolish!
Elin Morgan, Joyce Watson, Cefin Campbell and Jane Dodds elected.
It appears that the very last bit of news we have tonight is the regional list seats for mid and west Wales. It’s likely to be some combination of Plaid, Conservative and Labour seats, although with all parties represented in the constituencies there may be room for a Green, Lib Dem or Abolish in the last seat. Unless Labour take that too – and with the streak they’re having tonight, who would bet against them?
The full Vale of Glamorgan results
|Lib Dem||Sally Stephenson||994||2.3|
The big winner today is obviously the Labour party.
But also the idea of Wales as a separate political unit. Labour were ultimately rewarded for doing things differently in Wales. There was a clear juxtaposition with the results in England. And Abolish have (so far) failed to win the seats they were hotly tipped to gain, although they may well squeeze in on the mid-Wales list due to a lack of other obvious candidates for the fourth seat.
It’s been a renewed mandate for devolution, as a time when it seemed to be coming under fresh assault for the first time since 1999.
At last – it’s the Vale of Glamorgan! The Conservatives’ top target seat in Wales. And Labour hold it. If they get two seats on the Mid and West Wales list it now looks like they have gained a seat on 2016. Incredible after the dire predictions and Labour’s performance in Wales.
There is some talk of them getting three seats on the Mid and West Wales list and 31 seats – the first every majority in Wales. But since they hold Llanelli that may be a tough ask.
Apparently, Plaid Cymru were only 21 votes away from a second seat in the North Wales region. Out of 60,000. Ouch.
One has to wonder how badly Abolish would have done without the huge platform they were given, seemingly on the basis of a YouGov poll that ended up quite wide of the mark.
Abolish were predicted to get about twice the vote they did on the North Wales regional list and clinch the third seat.
North Wales regional list – 2 Tories, 1 Plaid, 1 Labour
Labour on 30 seats!
No seat for Abolish the Assembly’s leader!
No re-run for Michelle Brown then. 382 votes!
South Wales West regional list – 2 Con, 2 Plaid.
Interestingly, the Green beat Abolish! South West Wales was always a stretch for them, but does that suggest that the YouGov polls overstated their support?
Welsh Conservative leader Andrew RT Davies has congratulated Mark Drakeford “on a successful campaign”.
He said that he was “delighted to have gained constituency seats in North Wales and Mid Wales, and see our share of the vote across the country increase”.
Full Cardiff West results
|PC||Rhys ab Owen||5,897||16.1|
|Lib Dem||Heath Marshall||803||2.2|
— ITV Wales News (@ITVWales) May 7, 2021
Mark Drakeford wins Cardiff West with 17,665 votes. His majority increased from 1,176 to 11,211 votes. Neil McEvoy gets 3,473 votes – he comes fourth! The Conservatives come 2nd and Plaid Cymru 3rd.
The First Minister thanks his opponents in the “mainstream parties” for the “democratically respectful way” the campaign has been run. That looks like a dig.
Looks like Propel and Plaid Cymru split each other’s vote but let’s face it they were crushed by the Drakeford juggernaut there.
Looks like a big 10k plus majority for Mark Drakeford. Not quite Elin Jones level of course…
After all the focus on the constituencies, the real change in numbers of seats could come on the regional lists. Seven UKIP will be vacating the scene and that will open up new slots to Conservatives, Plaid Cymru and Labour MS – and perhaps a few from some other minor parties such as Abolish or the Greens?
We should get at least a few of the lists before 10pm.
Full Aberavon result
|Labour David Rees 10,505S 47.4%S -3.3|
|Plaid Victoria Griffiths 4,760 21.5% 1.5|
|Cons Liz Hill O’Shea 2,947 13.3% +6.9|
|Ind Scott Jones 1,357 6.1% +6.1|
|LibDem Helen Clarke 953 4.3% -1.7|
|Abolish Sarah Allen 646S 2.9% +2.9|
|UKIP Timothy Jenkins 407 1.8% -13.2|
|Gwlad Ceri Paul Golding 386 1.7% +1.7|
|Reform Dennis Walter May 208 0.9% +0.9|
BBC Wales’ Welsh affairs editor Vaughan Roderick points out that Welsh Labour is one of the only social democratic governments left in existence in Europe.
“It’s partly because our opposition political parties are hopeless,” he says. “It wouldn’t have been hard for Leanne Wood to hold Rhondda. They need to choose their constituencies and work on them year after year.”
Healthy majority for Mark Drakeford incoming in Cardiff West. It will be interesting to see who comes second, however.
Former Plaid Cymru leader Ieuan Wyn Jones on Radio Cymru is saying that Adam Price should be given a second chance, as he was given when the results in 2003 went badly but he was given a second shot, and entered government, in 2007.
I said right at the start of this blog that Cardiff always kept us waiting and it has proven once again to be the case!
Dafydd Trystan suggests that Dafydd Wigley’s majority of 12,273 in Caernarfon is the largest in Senedd history, narrowly beating Elin Jones’ 12,145 majority at this election.
The full Pontypridd result
|Lib Dem||Steven Rajam||628||2.3|
It’s strange looking at London media which are living in a parallel universe where Labour have had a day of atrocious results – which they have, in England, of course. Few seem particularly interested in how they have pulled off such a result in Wales.
Only two results left – Vale of Glamorgan, the top Conservative target seat. And Cardiff West, which has perhaps the most high profile candidates.
Saving the besy until last!
Full Cynon Valley result
|Lib Dem||Gerald Francis||335||1.6|
The full Carmarthen East & Dinefwr result
|Lib Dem||Monica French||975||2.9|
Somewhere in the rush Labour also won Cynon Valley and Pontypridd, as expected.
A slightly oddly upbeat speech by Adam Price in Carmarthen East and Dinefwr given the rather bruising results they have had in Rhondda, Llanelli and Caerphilly.
Full Brecon & Radnorshire result
|Lib Dem||Bill Powell||8,921||27.8|
Full Cardiff South & Penarth result
|Lib Dem||Alex Wilson||1,402||3.9|
Full Cardiff North results
|Lib Dem||Rhys Taylor||1,641||4|
Plaid Cymru leader Adam Price holds Carmarthen East and Dinefwr.
Perhaps with a sense of drama they are keeping the battle in Cardiff West between the First Minister, Plaid Cymru and Neil McEvoy’s Propel until last.
It seems obvious that the First Minister will win it but seeing how it pans out will be entertaining nevertheless.
It has just struck me that the big loser today is the M4 relief road. The wading birds of the Newport wetlands will be sleeping easy tonight.
Conservatives gain Brecon and Radnorshire. Outgoing Education Minister Kirsty William’s seat, who had a 8,000 vote majority. Liberal Democrat wipeout? They have slim hopes on a seat on the list.
Lib Dems 8,921
Labour hold Cardiff North. Julie Morgan has won the seat.
Labour also hold Cardiff South and Penarth. The seat of Health Minister Vaughan Gething.
Leanne Wood is the only Senedd Member who chose to stand again who has lost their seat. Ouch.
The full Cardiff Central result
|Lib Dem||Rodney Berman||5,460||19.1|
Another Labour win, another poor Lib Dem showing, in Cardiff Central this time. But the fact that the Lib Dems have come second here suggests perhaps that they have more hope going forward in the urban areas than rural mid-Wales.
Labour will be asking Mark Drakeford not to retire! Labour on 39% so far, beating their polls by some margin. Tories on 26% and Plaid Cymru on 22%.
Full Torfaen result
|Lib Dem||Veronica German||1,180||4.9|
Full Newport West result
|Lib Dem||John Miller||882||3|
Full Rhondda results
|Lib Dem||Jackie Charlton||200||0.9|
Full Llanelli results
|Lib Dem||Jonathan Burree||606||2|
Full Ceredigion results
|Lib Dem||Cadan ap Tomos||3,227||10.5|
Those Llanelli and Rhondda results are body blows for Plaid Cymru. Not just marginal upsets but putting those seats into ‘safe Labour seat’ territory. Plaid pushed right back into their Y Fro Gymraeg constituencies at this election, where they’ve done well but can’t seem to escape from.
Labour gain the Rhondda. That’s only the second gain of the night. Heartbreak for Plaid Cymru’s former leader, Leanne Wood, who is not on the regional list and therefore no longer a Senedd Member.
It’s a big win too to Elizabeth Buffy Williams, 12,000 to 7,000 votes.
Labour win Llanelli with a 5,000 majority. This was Plaid Cymru’s top target seat.
Labour – 13,930
Plaid – 8,255
There have only been a few votes in it in the past. This is a seat that is going further away from Plaid Cymru.
In a side-note this is the first time anyone has ever held the seat! Well done to Lee Waters.
Guto Llewelyn at the Brecon and Radnorshire count thinks the Conservatives have won by 2,000 votes in Brecon and Radnorshire.
Dylan Iorwerth making a good point, in that Plaid Cymru seem to have strengthened in Y Fro Gymraeg, Labour in Welsh Wales and the Conservatives in British Wales. “We’re all going to our silos,” he says.
The full Newport East result
|Lib Dem||Mike Hamilton||1,574||6.8|
Jane Bryant back in Newport West for Labour.
Plaid Cymru’s Elin Jones holds Ceredigion with a big win. Liberal Democrats in 4th place, even worse than their 3rd in 2019 General Election. A big change on 2016/2017 when the Liberal Democrats held the seat at Westminster and were very close in the Senedd election.
12,145 is a big, big majority for Elin Jones.
Leanne Wood in tears according to BBC Radio Wales.
Full Monmouth results
|Lib Dem||Jo Watkins||1,892||5.3|
Full Bridgend results
|Lib Dem||Harvey Jones||782||2.7|
I just mentioned Richard Wyn Jones and he has something to say on Radio Cymru: “We have three dominant parties in three different countries. Labour have enchanted their former voters back. They have played the patriotic game very cleverly.”
He says that it looks like Abolish the Assembly will be disappointed with their results and that Plaid Cymru and the Tories could take those list seats.
He says that Plaid Cymru’s organization is amateurish and that this problem existed before Adam Price was leader.
Labour’s John Griffiths holds Newport East.
Labour community councillor Calum Higgins nails it, I think:
There’s going to be an awkward conversation between Welsh Labour and U.K. Labour about soft nationalism. Identity politics is the driver of voting intention these days, and one has nailed it while the other is in disarray.
— Calum Higgins (@calumhiggins) May 7, 2021
They could start by reading Alisa Henderson and Richard Wyn Jones’ book on Englishness.
It looks like the Tory’s top target seat, the Vale of Glamorgan, is beyond them. So it may just be two seats changing hands – the Vale of Clwyd and, not yet announced, Rhondda.
Conservatives hold Monmouth. With former candidate Nick Ramsay running again it looked as if he might split the Tory vote – but he only got around 1,000 votes. He came last. Ouch.
Labour’s Sarah Murphy holds Bridgend, the former seat of First Minister Carwyn Jones. The Conservatives won this seat at the 2019 Westminster election.
The Tories did gain ground here however suggesting again that an incumbent running again is a big advantage. No sign of that blue wave we saw in England however. It seems to have washed up on Offa’s Dyke.
Dafydd Elis-Thomas, elected as a Plaid Cymru member in 2016 before becoming an independent and standing down at this election, says that he voted for Mark Drakeford, rather than the Plaid Cymru candidate, in the election in Cardiff West.
He says however that as well as being a good night for Labour, it has been a good one for Plaid Cymru. He says that those parties who support different politics in Wales are being rewarded.
Looks like the Conservatives have beaten the Lib Dems in Brecon and Radnorshire. Total wipeout for the Liberal Democrats in Wales? Their results across the country have been very, very poor tonight. In contrast with Scotland, for instance, where they are still very relevant.
Full Swansea West results
|Lib Dem||Chloe Hutchinson||1,645||6.9|
Regional results for Montgomeryshire:
Lib Dems 3,398
If Lib Dems don’t win Brecon and Radnorshire it looks like it could be a tight race between the Lib Dems, Abolish and Greens for the fourth seat in mid and west Wales – unless one of the major parties snaffle it of course.
Full Blaenau Gwent results
|PC||Peredur Owen Griffiths||3,588||17.2|
|Lib Dem||Paula Yates||333||1.6|
Full Neath results
|Lib Dem||Iain Clamp||395||1.4|
Labour’s Julie James holds Swansea West.
Full Ynys Mon result
|PC||Rhun ap Iorwerth||15,506||55.9|
|Lib Dem||Christopher Jones||547||2|
The full Ogmore result
|Lib Dem||Cameron Shippam||441||1.8|
So what’s the story so far? It looks like Labour will be on 28-29 seats. Only the Vale of Clwyd has been lost so far, and Labour are likely to gain Rhondda. It looks like they’re unlikely to need Plaid Cymru’s support to govern.
Full Gower result
|Lib Dem||Michael Sheehan||869||2.6|
Full Clwyd West result
|PC||Elin Walker Jones||5,609||19.8|
|Lib Dem||David Wilkins||1,158||4.1|
Full Dwyfor Meirionnydd result
|PC||Mabon ap Gwynfor||11,490||48.3|
|Lib Dem||Stephen Churchman||916||3.9|
Huw Irranca-Davies of Labour holds Ogmore.
One sub-plot to many of these seats are some pretty poor under-1,000 vote Liberal Democrat results.
Plaid Cymru hold Ynys Mon. Incumbent Rhun ap Iorwerth had Wales’ biggest majority last time and has a sizeable one again, of 9,817. Tories in second place – just about – having won the seat at the Westminster election.
Labour hold Blaenau Gwent. It was quite close with Plaid Cymru last time but the Plaid candidate, Nigel Copner, turned against the party in the meantime.
Full Alyn and Deeside results
|Lib Dem||Christopher Twells||1,584||6.1|
Full Carmarthen West & Pembrokeshire South results
|Lib Dem||Alistair Cameron||1,224||3.9|
Plaid Cymru have gained / held Dwyfor Meirionnydd. A new Senedd Member, Mabon ap Gwynfor, elected there to replace Plaid Cymru then independence MS Dafydd Elis-Thomas. Mabon pays tribute to him.
Mabon ap Gwynfor a grandson to former Plaid Cymru leader Gwynfor Evans.
Darren Millar keeps Clwyd West for the Conservatives. There’s a pattern emerging here of incumbents doing very well. Did the pandemic restrictions allow enough time for challengers to make themselves known to voters?
Labour’s Jeremy Miles holds Neath. This is another seat that Plaid Cymru had their eye on.
Labour hold Gower – another Conservative target seat they haven’t picked up. There were 5,000 votes in it so Labour actually increased their majority from around 1,800.
Full Caerphilly result
|Lib Dem||John Aicheler||787||2.7|
Full Swansea East result
|Lib Dem||Sam Bennett||1,055||4.9|
Full Clwyd South result
|Lib Dem||Leena Farhat||730||3|
Alyn and Deeside hold for Labour.
A sad story here of course as the former seat of the late Carl Sargeant, now held by his son Jack Sargeant since a by-election in 2018.
It’s the one north east seat that the Conservatives didn’t win at Westminster in 2019.
|Lib Dem||Timothy Sly||755||3.3|
Preseli Pembrokeshire result
|Lib Dem||Tina Roberts||952||3|
Full Islwyn result
|Lib Dem||Oliver Townsend||476||1.9|
Sam Kurtz is the new Conservative Senedd Member for Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire. He replaces the Conservative Angela Burns. Only a 900 vote majority however which is not great.
Full Arfon results where Sian Gwenllian has increased her majority.
|Lib Dem||Calum Davies||642||3|
Returning officer in Swansea East introduced Mike Hedges as Labour and Conservative rather than Co-operative to much mirth. He won, of course.
Full Aberconwy results.
|Conservative Janet Finch-Saunders 9,815 41.7% +7.0|
|Plaid Cymru Arron Wynne 6,479 27.5% -3.8|
|Labour Dawn McGuinness 5,971 25.4% -2.0|
|Lib Dems Rhys Jones 735 3.1% -0.4|
|Reform Rachel Bagshaw 320 1.4% +1.4|
|No More Lockdowns Sharon Smith 223 0.9% +0.9|
Labour hold Clwyd South. Another Conservative target they have missed out on. Transport and Economy Minister Ken Skates re-elected.
Islwyn was declared for Labour earlier, with UKIP beating expectations and coming in second as they did 2016.
BBC Wales’ Welsh Affairs Editor Vaughan Roderick has just made quite a suggestion. It will be a three-party Senedd but with Neil Hamilton elected to represent UKIP on the South Wales East list!
Preseli Pembrokeshire. Paul Davies former Welsh Conservative leader holds the seat by 1,400 votes. Labour had been eyeing this as a possibility for a steal.
Sian Gwenllian holds Arfon for Plaid Cymru, as expected.
Labour’s Lesley Griffiths holds Wrexham. Again the Conservatives miss out by some margin. Labour are holding these seats quite handily. We’re seeing a similar pattern to the south of Wales where old UKIP votes haven’t transferred to Conservatives.
Quite a strong result for Carrie Harper from Plaid Cymru here with 4,000 votes compared with 2,000 in 2016.
Conservative hold in Aberconwy – two disappointing results for Plaid Cymru in a row there. Aaron Wynne loses out to Janet Finch-Saunders.
The results are coming in all at once!
Labour hold Caerphilly. This was a top Plaid Cymru target for Delyth Jewell against Hefin David and a disappointment for them.
Delyn result – Labour’s Hannah Blythyn holds the seat, as expected given that the Conservatives couldn’t win nearby Wrexham.
Tories 3,000 short which isn’t great for them. Not even close. A similar Labour majority to 2016.
These are constituencies very near the border but seem to be behaving very differently to constituencies just on the other side.
‘It’s Plaid Cymru and the Conservatives’ fault they can’t win elections,’ BBC Wales’ Welsh Affairs Editor Vaughan Roderick says on Radio Wales. ‘The electoral system isn’t great’ he says but has become an excuse for parties that can’t beat Labour.
Outgoing Plaid Cymru Senedd Member Bethan Sayed tells Radio Cymru that the curtailed campaign due to Covid meant that Plaid Cymru did not get the opportunity to hit the streets as they would have liked to.
Eluned Morgan MS suggests that Adam Price should have been less presidential in his campaigning style and should have given others, such as Leanne Wood – who looks set to lose her Rhondda seat – more space.
Wrexham will stay Labour, Conservatives concede. They only needed a 3.25% swing there and it was a top target seat. Boris Johnson visited last week. So no blue wave in Wales this year, it seems. It’s hard to see where Tory gains are going to come from at this point.
Labour have also held Delyn, we’re told. That was going to be harder for the Welsh Conservatives to win. But again clear that they aren’t going to be sweeping the north-east as they did at the 2019 Westminster General Election.
It’s been drip drip so far with only three constituencies announced. But in the next few hours we’re likely to see the taps open and a number of constituencies arrive all at once. In a parallel universe where they counted overnight, it’s 3.30am now, to give you some idea where we are in the election ‘night’.
Full Vale of Clwyd vote where the Conservatives gained from Labour:
|Vale of Clwyd Result:|
|CON Gareth Davies- 10792 41% (+5)|
|LAB Jason McLellan 10426 40% (+0.5)|
|PC Glenn Swingler 2972 11% (+3)|
|LD Lisa Davies 782 3% (-0.1)|
|REFUK Peter Dain 552 2% (+2)|
|IND David Thomas 529 2% (+2)|
In better news for the Conservatives, it looks as if they have kept hold of Aberconwy. Plaid Cymru seems to have thought earlier on that they had won it. They were scuppered by postal votes. It’s Trump v Biden in Pennsylvania all over again (not that I’m comparing Aaron Wynne to the orange one of course).
Labour think they have held Wrexham. That would be another blow for the Conservatives. It’s a seat they won at the 2019 General Election. It suggests again that they will fall short of major gains today.
Where are their gains coming from at this point? Vale of Glamorgan? It’s not impossible that the Vale of Clwyd might be their only gain.
Elsewhere, in Scotland Nicola Sturgeon has held her seat with a majority of more than 9,000 over the Scottish Labor leader, Anas Sarwar.
The Vale of Clwyd result is also interesting because of the increase in the Plaid Cymru vote, up 3%, which mirrors an increase in the Montgomeryshire vote. They seem to be falling short in the south of Wales but gaining some ground in more rural, north Wales constituencies, which bodes well for them in Aberconwy too.
Just thinking about the Merthyr Tydfil result, which isn’t usually very interesting, but it’s notable that the populist right-wing parties just split each other’s votes there. This is a seat I would have expected any that was going to take a list seat to perhaps put in a stronger showing.
But it’s possible that we’ll see people vote very differently on the list to the constituencies.
First gain of the day in the Vale of Clwyd! Conservatives take it with 10,792 votes.
That’s a good win for them but if they are only winning their second top target seat very marginally it doesn’t bode well for winning some seats where they needed a slightly larger swing.
Labour down to 28 seats at least and unlikely to get a regional top up here.
Full Merthyr Tydfil & Rhymney results
|Abolish||Hugh Moelwyn Hughes||656||3.1|
|Lib Dem||Jez Becker||420||2|
Dawn Bowden of Labour holds Merthyr Tydfil and Rhymney – as expected. But a good result for them. It looks like the former UKIP vote has not gone to the Conservatives there. Very different to what we’ve seen in post-industrial communities in England.
Bowden won with a majority of 9,311 – up 18.5% – while turnout was 35%.
UKIP were in second place last time, Plaid Cymru in second place this time.
656 votes for Abolish the Welsh Assembly, which isn’t amazing for them. They may do better on the regional list, however.
As expected it looks like the First Minister, Mark Drakeford has won Cardiff West. The interesting race there looks like being for the silver medal – between Plaid Cymru’s Rhys ab Thomas and Neil McEvoy in Propel.
Potentially bad news for the SNP in Scotland. At the moment they aren’t doing quite enough to win a majority, says John Curtice. But no SNP target seats have been announced as of yet.
Speaking from the mid-Wales count in Ysgol Bro Teifi in Llandysul, Ceredigion incumbent Elin Jones says the pandemic has put Plaid Cymru in a difficult position, locked in a battle between a Labour-run Welsh Government and Conservative Government at Westminster.
Those sentiments echo what I said in yesterday’s analysis of who had the better campaign here.
Watch out for the result in Ceredigion – given the Liberal Democrats’ collapse in Montgomeryshire, it wouldn’t be entirely surprising to see them come 3rd behind the Conservatives as they did in the 2019 General Election.
Beyond the drama of individual seats, what really matters in this election is whether Labour can govern alone or need a coalition partner. Currently, it looks like they will have 27 seats or above, and so will be able to put together a minority government if they wish to.
What happens on the regional lists after all the constituencies are counted will be key, however, and could come down to a few 100 votes here and there.
An interestingly low turnout in Caerphilly, one of Plaid Cymru’s top target seats. 44.1%. Does that favour a challenge from Plaid Cymru’s Delyth Jewell?
There is going to be a recount in the Vale of Clwyd. This was the Conservatives’ second top target seat, needing only a 1.59% swing. So if it’s that close there it suggests that the Tories won’t see large gains today. It seems they’re ahead there though – one of their only gains of the day?
Helen Mary Jones of Plaid Cymru says the race in Llanelli still looks “neck and neck”. They don’t know as much about the result because of the Covid restrictions, she said.
This is very different to what Labour were briefing earlier. We shall see!
Aaron Wynne in Aberconwy says that he is in a “two-horse race” with the Conservatives in Aberconwy but that it’s currently too close to call. “We’re definitely still in the race and really close to beating the Tories here,” he tells Jez Hemming of the LDRS.
Conservative incumbent Janet Finch-Saunders says she is “cautiously optimistic” but “we haven’t even started counting yet”.
Plaid Cymru probably need a win here to be able to put a brave face on what look like a set of disappointing results elsewhere.
A win in Aberconwy might not help Plaid Cymru much in terms of increasing their overall seat count as it may rob them of an additional seat on the list.
In the meantime, losing Rhondda might give them an additional seat in South Wales Central!
Essentially, the list is a good hammock if you do fail in the constutuencies, but until you start winning 4-5 seats in a region it’s hard to win more seats overall.
Former Plaid Cymru Senedd Member Nerys Evans says that they face a hard task in the south of Wales.
“Well, yes, I did canvass in both constituencies,” she said of Llanelli and the Rhondda. “And of course it’s very difficult in terms of context.
“The election period has been shorter than usual in terms of being able to knock-on doors and get our message across. It’s a coronavirus election of course.
“In one way it’s good that people are aware of the Parliament, the Government, the powers we have here in Wales. And also what the Government has been doing with the powers.
“But yes, a hard task for us in Llanelli and the Rhondda. And let’s see how this turns out over the next few hours.”
That huge Clwyd South turnout is wrong apparently – it’s 44% not 59%. That did seem very unusual!
James Williams on S4C notes that of the 40 seats in the Senedd, only 12 have ever changed hands! And it looks like only one or two may change today. We can have huge constitutional change in Brexit, and a global pandemic, but it’s going to take more than that to shift Welsh voting patterns!
Light at the end of the tunnel for Plaid Cymru? It is apparently very, very tight in Aberconwy between Plaid’s Aaron Wynne and the Conservative Janet Finch-Saunders.
There’s been a big increase in turnout in Clwyd South, which has gone from 40.9% to 59%. More Conservative voters coming out, or is it Labour voters coming out to defend a seat which was billed as one that could change hands?
Some of the turnout stats in the valleys look quite dismal, however. Merthyr Tydfil is 35%.
BBC Wales’ Welsh affairs editor Vaughan Roderick saying that Plaid Cymru leader Adam Price has had a good campaign personally but it’s also the party leader’s job to organise the party and there is a feeling that in recent years Plaid Cymru’s organisation has gone downhill.
If Labour are doing well elsewhere it may be worth keeping an eye on Monmouth and Preseli Pembrokeshire, two Conservative seats they had their eyes on. In Monmouthshire, incumbent Nick Ramsay is standing as an independent and could perhaps peel votes off the Conservatives. In Preseli Pembrokeshire, Paul Davies has been dealing with high profile problems after standing down as Welsh Conservative leader earlier in the year.
Llanelli looks set to go to Labour with a larger majority for incumbent Lee Waters. Time for someone apart from Helen Mary Jones to have a go there? She’s stood six times and won twice, in 1999 and 2007.
She could still be elected to the regional list if Plaid Cymru pick up a second seat.
If Plaid Cymru have missed out on Llanelli it’s fair to say that some of their other target seats, such as Caerphilly, Blaenau Gwent and Cardiff West, will probably be out of reach.
Full Montgomeryshire result
|Lib Dem||Alison Alexander||4,207||16.8|
Gary Pritchard holds the Seiriol by-election on Anglesey for Plaid Cymru. Ynys Mon is Plaid’s safest seat in Wales, but the Conservatives hold it at Westminster.
So far it’s shaping up thus:
- A good day for Labour in Wales
- Conservatives not doing as well as they hoped
- Plaid Cymru on the back foot
- Lib Dems facing wipeout
I wrote this back in April. ‘Are the Lib Dems dead or just resting?’ Given the result in Montgomeryshire – down 10.9% – we may just be able to answer this question now…
Key seats in Cardiff haven’t started counting yet. Have people finished queuing to vote, at least?
Cardiff West and Cardiff Central are looking far less likely to flip giving Labour’s strength across Wales’ and the Lib Dems’ terrible result in Montgomeryshire.
The first Welsh result! Tories hold Montgomeryshire – as expected. Russell George keeps his seat. He’s been in the Senedd since 2011.
Elwyn Vaughan of Plaid Cymru comes 2nd – that’s a bit of a shock. Not good for the Lib Dems who used to hold the seat. That does not bode well for Brecon and Radnorshire. They might miss out on a list seat, let alone a constituency seat.
Professor Richard Wyn Jones on S4C says that Labour have an English problem – they are rapidly losing ground with people who feel an English identity. This isn’t as big a problem in Wales, where only 20% of the population are English born, but a huge problem in parts of the north of England.
We have the first result! From Scotland.
SNP up 4% in Orkney but the Lib Dems keep the seat. It’s a Lib Dem fortress (one of the last in the UK?).
Former First Minister and Bridgend Senedd Member Carwyn Jones is grinning like a Cheshire cat on S4C so I think we can presume he has been hearing similar things to us about Labour’s performance in Wales.
Professor Richard Wyn Jones says that politics in the three nations is diverging, and that Welsh Labour are in for an incredible result in Wales.
Plaid telling press that the campaign context has been “challenging” and there has been an “unprecedented focus on the London parties”
— David Deans (@DeansOfCardiff) May 7, 2021
I think this is the wrong excuse by Plaid Cymru. This was the most Wales-focused campaign to date, as indicated by the fact that Welsh results seem set to diverge significantly from England. The issue for Plaid Cymru is that it was Welsh Labour who got the chance to wear that mantle of standing up for Wales in the Covid-19 pandemic.
Over in Scotland the Conservatives are briefing that the SNP are having a “good day” on the constituency list, which could take them a long way to a majority.
As stated earlier, it looks like we may be seeing a pandemic ‘rally around the flag’ effect, but with three different flags.
It’s early days but I think we’re looking at Labour on 27-29 seats. Even if we see small seat changes in the north-east they could be topped back up on the North Wales regional list. Plaid and the Conservatives really needed to dig into the south Wales seats to see big gains as it’s in these regions where Labour would not get any additional seats on the list. It doesn’t look like they’re going to do that – in fact, with Plaid Cymru likely losing Rhondda they may have gone backwards.
Labour seem to think they’re keeping Llanelli. If so, and with the likely loss of the Rhondda, this election looks like it’s going to be back to the drawing board for Plaid Cymru.
It also looks like a disappointing night across the board for the Welsh Conservatives. ITV’s Adrian Masters sums it up: “For Wales, don’t see England.” Have Wales and England’s politics now significantly diverged due to devolution?
Could a Senedd election be about to cross the golden 50% turnout benchmark?
Ben Gwalchmai, Labour candidate in Mid and West Wales, says that the Turnout in Montgomeryshire was exactly that – 50%. The turnout here was two points above the national average in 2016, though.
With hope dwindling of Conservative gains across Wales, and Labour on course to win the Rhondda, it looks as if Labour could secure half the seats in the Senedd – an astonishing result compared with what is going on in England. No word from Llanelli as of yet but if the Labour vote holds up as well there as across the rest of Wales then it does not look too promising for Plaid Cymru.
It’s still early days, however – a handful of seats like Wrexham, Vale of Clwyd and the Vale of Glamorgan could still marginally go against Labour – but it looks at the moment as if big losses are off the cards.
It looks like the story of the night might be that every incumbent government across Wales, England and Scotland will be getting a lift from their handling of the Covid-19 pandemic. A rally around the flag effect but with three different flags, if you will.
The narrative coming from the counts in Wales certainly looks more positive for Labour in Wales than it does in England. Good news coming from Bridgend for Labour too, a seat they lost at the 2019 General Election.
All eyes on Wrexham and the Vale of Clwyd for those last possible Tory gains from Labour. If they don’t get those it will be a crushing disappointment for them.
There are some indications that the Conservatives are running into stiffer opposition in Wales than they are in England. Both Clwyd South and the Vale of Glamorgan are looking uncertain for them. The Vale of Glamorgan was really a minimum bar for progress, Clwyd South was a bit of a stretch.
They are more optimistic in Brecon and Radnorshire, Wrexham and Vale of Clwyd but three gains wouldn’t be spectacular under the circumstances elsewhere.
If Leanne Wood does lose Rhondda I think Plaid Cymru might point to the seat being a victim of restrictions on campaigning during the pandemic. In 2016 she started early and knocked every door in the valley twice. This time, with restrictions on canvassing lifted late in the day, that clearly wasn’t possible. With the party unable to depend on regular media coverage, they really need to win the ground war. Plaid campaigns in other seats like Caerphilly may fall victim to the same issue.
It’s quite early in the count for Labour to be making positive noises too, so the result in Rhondda may not be that close. But it’s early days yet.
The first gossip of the day is that Labour think they’ve done well in the Rhondda, where Plaid Cymru are attempting to hold a seat taken unexpectedly by then-leader Leanne Wood in 2016. Could be a rare gain for them today?
However, there are more positive noises coming out of Plaid Cymru in Aberconwy. That too would be a gain against the grain considering how well the Conservatives seem to be doing elsewhere.
Conservatives are more positive in the north-east, as might be expected, but some of the counts there are yet to begin. I think the difference between north-east and south Wales might be quite pronounced, as it was to an extent in the 2019 General Election.
If the Conservatives are gobbling up most of the Ukip/Brexit Party vote in places like Hartlepool and English council seats, it will be interesting to watch seats in the Senedd where UKIP came in second place in 2016.
These include Torfaen where the combined efforts of the 2016 Conservative and UKIP vote might – if not upset Labour – then at least challenge its status as a safe Labour seat.
Rob King makes the point on Twitter that while the Conservative vote went up 23% in Hartlepool their actual numbers of votes only went up 1,000. This might point to Labour voter apathy rather than a big shift to the Conservatives.
It should be pointed out however that only three-quarters of 2019 voters turned out, so votes were lower across the board.
ITV’s Robert Peston notes that based on the Hartlepool result “Tories can expect to be in power for another ten years.”
Our Editor Gareth Hughes has written an opinion piece about what this could mean for Labour in Wales.
We’ve covered a few swing seats in-depth during the race, if you want to have a look before the results start coming in:
Huw Edwards makes the point on BBC News that the north-east of Wales where a number of seats such as the Vale of Glamorgan and Wrexham are up for grabs will now be the key test for Labour.
If Labour can withstand a Tory surge there then perhaps “steady, safe, academic” Mark Drakeford and Welsh Labour could set a model for UK Labour to follow, he said.
First indications are that turnout in Scotland seems to be up on 2016. That could have interesting implications for the Senedd election. Either it will be similarly up, or – if significantly down – it will be hard to blame on the pandemic.
Getting over 50% turnout – something never managed at a Senedd contest – would be an achievement.
Jac Larner of Cardiff and Edinburgh Universities has an extremely interesting article about which candidates outperformed their party at the 2016 Senedd election. It looks like Rhun ap Iorwerth of Ynys Môn did best relative to his party’s vote on the list seats.
Labour’s Llanelli candidate – and Welsh Government cabinet member – Lee Waters, tweets:
The disconcerting thing about fighting a tightly contested seat is that you have to mentally prepare yourself for two outcomes, and two very different futures.
And no matter how encouraging people are nobody knows for sure
Solidarity with marginal seat candidates everywhere ✊
— Lee Waters (@Amanwy) May 7, 2021
Llanelli is Plaid Cymru’s top target seat in Wales with a margin of only 382 votes. Labour have thrown the kitchen sink at the seat over the last few days with a pack of Labour MPs assigned to knock on doors there. It sounds as if it’s anyone’s guess how it will go, however – including the candidate’s.
Conservatives gaining ground on Labour could rob them of the seat without Plaid Cymru gaining any support. In the meantime, Gwlad’s Sian Caiach is standing again and has been a perpetual thorn in Plaid Cymru’s side in the past.
What does this mean in the context of the election in Wales?
Latest from Sir John Curtice: In places last contested in 2016, there is a swing of 10 points from Labour to Tory in places where relatively large numbers of people have no qualifications, whereas there is a slight swing to Labour in places with a large number of graduates.
— Lewis Goodall (@lewis_goodall) May 7, 2021
It would seem to suggest a result closer to last month’s YouGov poll which had Labour and the Conservatives a little closer in the polls than the later polls did, with Labour down 4-7 seats. That could see Labour on 25 or fewer seats and probably in need of a coalition to run a government.
However, given the different Covid-19 dynamics in Wales, Labour could of course buck the trend here. We will find out shortly.
Some good news for Plaid Cymru. Project Vote, a parallel Senedd election for young people aged 11-15, has handed them a big win with 19 seats to Labour’s 17. The Green Party also won six and the Communist Party four.
Now Plaid Cymru just have to wait half a decade and hope none of these young potential voters change their minds in the meantime.
The bad news continues to pile up for Labour in England where they are taking something of a hammering across council areas that were previously quite friendly to them.
Poor Labour performance even in very strong Labour areas. Labour lost six seats in Oldham, Conservatives up four. Leader of the Council lost his seat. pic.twitter.com/r11S3OvPQu
— Lewis Goodall (@lewis_goodall) May 7, 2021
The question now is whether the larger than expected swing towards the Conservatives is replicated in Wales – in which case Labour could be looking at 4-5 seat losses – or if Wales becomes a cast-iron ‘red wall’ all of its own.
My hunch is that it could perhaps be a Wales of two halves – with the north-east of Wales acting more like the rest of England, as it did in the 2019 General Election – while the south of Wales is friendlier territory for Labour.
Early indications from Labour in Cardiff and Rhondda, where they are looking fairly confident, would suggest the latter. But it’s very early days yet and votes are still being verified.
For Plaid Cymru, it won’t just be the overall number of seats that tells us how they’ve done but also how they arrived at that number of seats. For instance, if they lose Rhondda they are likely to win a regional list seat. If they win Llanelli, they could lose a regional list seat. The same with Aberconwy in the North Wales list.
The party could still see a gain from 12 to 15 seats while losing seats and not making any seat gains, because of the removal of UKIP from the regional lists. That will no doubt be spun as a success for them by party leadership, but in practice, if they have any long-term ambitions of replacing Labour as the largest party they really need to start winning (and keeping) constituencies outside west Wales.
So even if they gain three regional seats, I think that keeping Rhondda and gaining Llanelli or Caerphilly should really be set as a minimum bar for success for them.
Another niggle of yesterday’s election were huge queues in some areas. Some individuals voting at Canton’s Broad Street polling station – which was essentially a portakabin with a one in, one out policy due to Covid-19 – had to stand in line for an hour and a half to vote.
Many declared that they had to go home and not vote at all. Given that Cardiff West was so tight in 2016 it could have an impact on the result – although with both Plaid Cymru and Neil McEvoy’s Propel in the mix many are predicting an easy win for incumbent First Minister Mark Drakeford there this time.
One sub-plot of yesterday’s election was that independent Senedd Member Michelle Brown’s name was left off the regional list in Arfon and Ynys Mon. She has now responded to say that this is “not the end of the matter”.
Because the results of the regional list cover such a wider area – almost all of the north of Wales – any do-over could be a massive headache. Holding an election for just the regional list alone wouldn’t be fair because voters would be taking part already knowing the result of the constituencies, and could vote tactically as a result, which isn’t the case in the rest of Wales.
So any do-over might involve all nine constituencies voting again, which could change other results and cause firther headaches.
The vote organisers might be hoping that Michelle Brown’s overall vote is low enough to be able to indicate that leaving her off the ballot paper in two constituencies had no influence on the result.
Michelle Brown was elected to represent UKIP in the North Wales region in 2016, but like the rest of the party’s MS (apart from Neil Hamilton), left before the end of the Senedd term.
One interesting piece of information to look out for early doors will be some sense of what the turnout has been. It has hovered between 35 and 45% over the last few elections and there has been speculation that it could be lower due to the Covid-19 pandemic fears keeping people at home.
If it is significantly higher this time – because of the higher profile devolution has – that will hearten devolution supporters. In terms of the results however, it could mean that the Conservatives – who tend to vote in fewer numbers in Senedd elections compared to Westminster ones – have managed to get their own voters to the polls.
Despite their woes in England, where the post-mortem has already begun, Labour continue to sound quite bullish in Wales. They are even looking for at least one gain, which is former Plaid Cymru leader Leanne Wood’s seat in the Rhondda. It is expected to be close there, after Plaid Cymru gained the seat with a shock 22% swing in 2016.
A side-plot to the Hartlepool by-election was that it was the first Westminster election contested by the Northern Independence Party, which hopes to declare independence for the north of England.
Unfortunately for them candidate Thelma Walker, a former Labour MP, came eighth and only managed a paltry 250 votes. They had hoped to do much better and push for a respectable 3rd place at least. Oh well, you have to start somewhere, right?
I would have liked more votes but we now have a New Democratic socialist party and people are discussing the North /South divide. This is just the start for NIP
Thanks to everyone in the @FreeNorthNow team. Now some sleep!
— Thelma Walker (@Thelma_DWalker) May 7, 2021
When can we expect to start seeing the first results in the Senedd election? The first results are expected to start coming in after midday and will probably become a flood between around 3 and 5pm.
However, as parties will start seeing a sample of the votes as soon as ballot boxes open we’re likely to get some idea of how the election is going in Wales quite a while before then, if there is any clear trend – for instance, a big swing towards the Conservatives as seen in parts of England.
As mentioned earlier, the key seat of Brecon and Radnorshire is expected last because they won’t even start counting it until they do Montgomeryshire.
In my experience, any set timetable of result declarations you see online are usually to be ignored. Close results will sometimes be counted twice, and Cardiff always seems later than they say for some reason.
However, for obvious reasons, smaller seats that are less likely to be close tend to be counted quicker, so look out for seats such as Arfon coming out quite quickly.
Once the seats are declared we will have to wait a while longer to work out those key regional list seats, where (in the absence of seven UKIP MS elected in 2016) we could actually see most of the churn in terms of elected members.
The PCC election results, meanwhile, won’t be declared until Sunday.
The worrying thing for Welsh Labour this morning is that opinion polls in Hartlepool correctly predicted a Conservative gain but got the margin wrong. The Conservatives did a few points better than expected and Labour a few points worse.
With so many marginal Conservative target seats in Wales, if that kind of polling error is replicated then the Conservatives don’t just take Vale of Glamorgan, Vale of Clwyd and Wrexham but start to eye up Cardiff North and Clwyd South, leading to the kind of result with Labour in the low 20s in terms of seats suggested by YouGov in mid-April.
That was thought to be a negative outlier at the time, and YouGov painted a more rosy picture for Labour later on, but we shall see.
turns out this poll wildly *overestimated* Labour’s support https://t.co/oDSQOqjCx1
— Jim Pickard (@PickardJE) May 7, 2021
It’s not just the result in Hartlepool pointing to some big Conservative gains in England – and possibly Wales. We’re also seeing some big swings towards them in the local council elections in the north, too, as Carwyn Tywyn points out here:
Some huge anti-Labour swings results in north east England.
Mind jumps to what, if any, implications for the Clwyd section of the “red wall” in Welsh Parliament (LAB defending 5 seats, CON in 2nd). https://t.co/VXRq4DVcFE
— Carwyn Tywyn (@Carwyn_Tywyn) May 7, 2021
You can read Carwyn’s excellent discussion of Conservatism in the north-east of Wales here: Could Conservative gains end up boosting Welsh nationalism? A Clwydian conundrum
Good morning – and it is a very good morning in Wales. Or is it? That will likely depend on how your chosen party has done in last night’s elections.
The stunning 7,000 vote Conservative win in the Hartlepool by-election overnight means that the Senedd results will be very interesting whatever happens. If we see a big swing towards the Conservatives, a lot of seats will change hands. If not, Wales will have staked a claim to being a different political sphere, similar in demographics but separate in politics to post-industrial of England.
This blog will continue running until the very last vote result is announced, expected to be the key Liberal Democrat – Conservative seat Brecon and Radnorshire sometime tonight.
But we will probably have a very good idea by about lunchtime which way the wind is blowing. Verification of the votes will start at 9am and at that point parties will see a sample of the ballots and news will start to leak out about how it’s going for them.
We will be keeping an eye in particular on seats such as Vale of Glamorgan, Vale of Clwyd, Wrexham, Gower and Clwyd South where the Conservatives hope to make gains.
Plaid Cymru will also be looking to gain seats such as Llanelli, Caerphilly and Cardiff West, the First Minister’s own constituency.
Labour will however be hoping to gain ground in seats such as Rhondda and Preseli Pembrokeshire. Although if Hartlepool is any indication, taking seats from the Conservatives may be a tall order today.