Plaid Cymru reveals candidate shortlist for new Carmarthen seat
A shortlist of three has been drawn up by Plaid Cymru as it chooses a candidate to contest the new seat of Caerfyrddin / Carmarthen at the next general election.
The selection will be the next step in what promises to be one of the most intriguing contests in Wales at the election expected next year.
Local Plaid members in Caerfyrddin / Carmarthen will decide between Ann Davies, Jordan Griffiths and Elin T Jones.
Ms Davies is a Carmarthenshire county councillor representing the Llanddarog ward. She is the authority’s cabinet member for rural affairs, community cohesion and planning policy.
Mr Griffiths is a senior communications and community engagement officer working for former Plaid Cymru leader Adam Price MS.
Ms Jones, from the neighbouring constituency of Ceredigion, works as the manager of Carmarthen town’s Business Improvement District.
She also chairs Plaid Cymru’s constituency party in Ceredigion and sits on the party’s national executive committee.
Hustings meetings will be held on November 1 in Llandeilo and on November 9 in Carmarthen.
Caerfyrddin / Carmarthen has been created following boundary changes that will see the number of MPs elected in Wales reduced from 40 to 32.
Most of the seat is made up of part of the existing Carmarthen East and Dinefwr constituency, with the rest coming from the current seat of Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire.
The result of the general election contest in the new seat is difficult to predict, with all three main parties experiencing problems.
Carmarthen East and Dinefwr is held by Jonathan Edwards, who was first elected as a Plaid Cymru MP in 2010.
He was suspended by the party after an incident during the Covid period in which he subsequently received a police caution for assaulting his wife.
Initially a party disciplinary panel said he could return to the party after undertaking a domestic violence training programme, but the party’s NEC later overruled the panel and said Mr Edwards should not return to party membership.
He has since sat as an Independent MP and has indicated that he may stand as an Independent candidate in the new seat.
If he did so, that would diminish Plaid Cymru’s chances of victory.
Labour has chosen as its candidate Martha O’Neil following a fraught selection contest in which Rob James, who leads the opposition Labour group on the county council, was disqualified after postal ballot papers including his name had already been sent out to members.
Before his exclusion, Cllr James was seen as the favourite to win the nomination. It is understood he was told by Welsh Labour officials that he was removed from the process because of a text message he supposedly sent that he has no recollection of.
The text message is understood to have referred to Deputy Transport Minister Lee Waters, the MS for Llanelli, around the time earlier this year that Carmarthenshire county councillors were debating the issue of second homes.
Cllr James was accused of having texted an unspecified person a message which said: “If you want to cause some trouble today you may want to point out in the second home debate that the MS for Llanelli has two second homes in Carmarthenshire and doesn’t live in either of them.”
The councillor has told local party members that he can’t remember having sent such a message. Mr Waters has denied that he has two second homes in Carmarthenshire.
It is understood that Welsh Labour has said it can’t prove that Cllr James sent the message, but that allowing him to continue in the selection process would have risked reputational damage for the party.
When a hustings meeting was held days after his removal from the contest, it had to be abandoned after descending into chaos with members complaining about what they saw as his undemocratic exclusion. A number of party members were subsequently suspended.
A postal ballot resulted in victory for Ms O’Neil, a former policy adviser to the UK Government, although the result has not been publicly announced.
Labour sources have suggested that Ms O’Neil’s unidentified employer in the charity sector is unhappy with her candidacy.
The Conservatives also have a big decision to make about who they will select as their general election candidate.
Simon Hart, the Tory chief whip in the House of Commons, currently represents Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire.
But while it may seem logical for him to put his name forward for Caerfyrddin / Carmarthen, the neighbouring new seat of Mid Pembrokeshire is seen as arguably more winnable by the Conservatives.
Part of the current Preseli Pembrokeshire seat, represented by ex-Welsh Secretary Stephen Crabb, forms part of Mid Pembrokeshire.
There has been speculation that both Mr Crabb and Mr Hart may seek the party nomination in Mid Pembrokeshire, and that the loser might then seek selection in Caerfyrddin / Carmarthen.
Tory sources said that unlike the Labour Party, sitting MPs are not given preferential rights to be the candidate in a new seat following boundary changes.
It’s therefore possible that other would-be candidates will put their names forward.
No date has yet been set for the Tory candidate selections in Caerfyrddin / Carmarthen or Mid Pembrokeshire.
At the general election in 2019, Plaid Cymru’s Jonathan Edwards won with a majority of 1,809 over the second-placed Tory. The Labour candidate came third.
In Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire, Conservative MP Simon Hart was re-elected with a majority of 7,745 over Labour. The Plaid Cymru candidate was a distant third.
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