Election ’17 – Five seats to keep an eye on
Ifan Morgan Jones looks at what we should expect on 8 June…
This was supposed to be a dull Westminster General Election. A seven-week-long coronation, with the only uncertainty being how much of a majority the Tories would get.
That’s still largely the case in England. There’s nothing Wales can do to stop a big Tory win – even though the polls have narrowed significantly over the last two weeks.
In this country however it’s been the most interesting Westminster General Elections in most of our lifetimes. The polls have fluctuated wildly between showing the Tories taking most seats in Wales, to Labour winning one back.
Did the people of this country peek into that dark-blue abyss and decided to step back from the edge?
As one comedian on the Now Show suggested, did the entirety of Wales woke up and remembered the 1980s?
A more likely explanation is that the fractured anti-Tory vote has largely consolidated behind the Labour party, because of two factors:
- The First Minister has stressed Welsh Labour’s independence from the UK party, going so far as to campaign on some devolved issues (which they already had full responsibility for).
- The average voter has decided that Jeremy Corbyn won’t be UK Prime Minister anyway, and that it’s safe to vote Labour so as not to give the Tories carte bleu.
But Wales wide-polls don’t tell us that much about what will happen in individual seats on the day. We need to drill down further.
A dozen seats could change in the early hours of June 9, but I would keep an eye on Blaenau Gwent, Bridgend, Ynys Môn, Ceredigion and Wrexham.
These aren’t all the most likely seats to change hands – but together they should answer the five main questions hanging over this election campaign:
Blaenau Gwent: Will Plaid Cymru follow up on last year’s Rhondda win in the Welsh General Election and capitalise of disillusionment with Labour in the valleys? The Labour party are very worried that this seat could fall to Leanne Wood’s party.
Bridgend: Will Labour’s superior ground-game in the M4 corridor be enough to hold off a Tory surge? Labour are worried about this seat too, which is held by the First Minister at the Senedd. If it goes Tory, it’s going to be a long night for them. If it stays red they will have held back the tide.
Ceredigion: Will the Liberal Democrats enjoy any kind of comeback? There is a danger that could lose their only seat if a large party of their Brexit-supporting, rural vote goes Tory.
Ynys Môn: How safe are seats in the Welsh-speaking ‘Fro Gymraeg’ from the Tory surge? Will the blue waves crash to the east Snowdonia or could we see Ynys Môn or even Dwyfor Meirionnydd swept under by the tide?
Wrexham: Labour have been accused of supporting the ‘west-Chesteristation’ of this part of the country over the last few years – an interesting strategy given that the Chester commuter belt votes for the likes of George Osborne. If this seat goes, it could be the beginning of the end of Labour’s involvement in a key post-industrial region.
We will be live blogging the General Election here on Nation.Cymru, so stay with us to find out the answers to these questions, and more.