Why is Labour in danger of losing Wrexham to the Conservatives?

Wrexham. Picture by Kenneth Allen (CC BY-SA 2.0).

Rakib Ehsan

Wrexham has returned a Labour MP to the Commons ever since the 1935 UK General Election. Like many other seats in traditional Labour heartlands, it once had a proud coal mining tradition, and delivered a resounding Leave vote back in the June 2016 referendum on EU membership (58 per cent).

A Survation poll commissioned by The Economist for the constituency made for great reading – for the Conservative Party. Labour, meanwhile, were trailing the Tories by 15 percentage points.

I would imagine a good number of Wrexham’s constituents find themselves in what I call the “red-blue” political space – left-leaning economic views combined with socio-cultural conservatism. It is exactly the kind of place where both the politics of economic and cultural security can find electoral appeal.

Voters in this space are likely to hold ‘economic anxieties’ over the inequalities produced by free-market capitalism, but may also have ‘cultural anxieties’ related to issues such as immigration and gender identity.

UnHerd Britain data for Wrexham makes for fascinating reading. Out of a total of 632 constituencies, Wrexham is ranked 603rd when it comes to level of support for the view that tax rate for high earners should be minimised “to keep the UK competitive”.

However, looking at level of support for the view that immigrants should be free to move to Britain for work, the constituency in the north of Wales is positioned in 501st place. On level of support for the view that it is acceptable for adolescent children to make their own decisions about their gender identity, Wrexham was in 495th place.

 

Rejection

If the Tories win over Labour “citadels” such as Wrexham, along with the likes of Bishop Auckland, Barrow & Furness, Ashfield, and Great Grimsby, it will lead to a fundamental realignment of our politics. The country could be on the verge of a pro-Brexit, security-oriented, “Red Tory” administration. A ‘red and blue’ politics which represents the fundamental rejection of the ‘Cameron-Osborne’ blend of fiscal conservatism and social liberalism.

There is, of course, the possibility that when it comes to the crunch, a good number of Labour Leavers across austerity-choked, declining communities, will make a personal compromise on Brexit – and stick with the usual to help end of nine years of Conservative-led rule.

But if Labour was to find itself on the opposition benches after the General Election, sat opposite Conservative MPs returned with the support of deprived areas in provincial towns such as Wrexham, it will surely have it ask itself:

“How on Earth did we let this happen?”

Dr Rakib Ehsan is a researcher who specialises in public attitudes and political behaviour. Views expressed are solely his own.

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RhosdduErnie The Smallholderjr humphrysHuw DaviesColin samuel Recent comment authors
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Perryn Edwards
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Perryn Edwards

The language used in this article, and many others in Nation Cymru is exactly the reason many voters are put off by politics. The article as written is more suited to a thesis. If you want to attract an open, full discussion, use language appropriate to your audience. I don’t mean here, dumbing down – use language that engages the reader and encourages thought and further discussion.

Eos Pengwern
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The breakdown of the recent Survation polling results is very informative. There’s no evidence of any increase in the Conservative vote in Wrexham; the poll shows it stuck at almost exactly the same level it was at in 2017, just over 40%. Rather, the Labour vote is collapsing, with the bulk of it going to the Brexit Party and the residue showing up as small increases for Plaid Cymru and the Lib Dems. Wrexham ought to be fertile ground for Plaid Cymru, and Carrie Harper is a good candidate with a high profile locally. It’s a tragedy that the party’s… Read more »

Rhosddu
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Rhosddu

Correct about Plaid Cymru. They have a very good local party in Wrecsam that has fought the town’s corner over unwanted new-build and have backed the ever-increasing demand for Welsh-medium primary schools in the town. They also have an excellent candidate in Carrie Harper, who has the calibre to make this a three-horse race. But the party bosses will never convince Wrecsam people to welcome free movement. This is the dilemna facing those who believe (correctly, I now think) that despite the more sinister aspects of the EU, Remain would be far better for Wales than Leave. They are also… Read more »

jr humphrys
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jr humphrys

There are the old mine and steel villages which form part of the town. People come in to the town to shop. The council had a mall built on the old meadow, where the fairs used to come. The mall does not have a roof…………..in Wrecsam! It is also a mile and half from the train and bus stations. Council is independent, but people blame Labour.
One cannot deal with reasons in a comment, but this lack of thought by the Range Rover brigade could be one.

Eos Pengwern
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The council was Labour when the mall was built; it’s only independent/Tory controlled now because there was a mass exodus from the local Labour party in 2014.

What happened to Wrexham town centre from the mid-90s onwards is heartbreaking. It went from being an architectural gem, full of successful independent shops where you could buy really decent stuff, to a windswept wasteland of tattoo parlours, betting shops and empty units, while Chester and Shrewsbury thrive on all the business that has left Wrexham. Bad planning is all it was, and it happened on Labour’s watch.

jr humphrys
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jr humphrys

Fair enough, and I agree with all you state. The old folk all say “poor old Wrexham”.

Rhosddu
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Rhosddu

Cywir. Wrecsam has a higher Welsh profile, and has more Welsh spoken in the streets, than for over 150 years, but its Victorian character has been destroyed by successive councils. Most of the local retail businesses, and all the heavy and light industry, has folded, and since the demolition of the area around Tuttle street the only significant retail is in the hands of the big chains like Debenhams, TK Max, etc in Cae Yreri, which you refer to. Its one saving grace is the Saith Seren pub.It’s not just the elderly who are saying “Poor old Wrexham”. The town… Read more »

Colin samuel
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Colin samuel

Blue Wrexham I never thought I would live to see the day bring it on Labour does not deserve any votes it takes places like Wrexham for granted and play London politics it makes me sick

Huw Davies
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Huw Davies

People seem to forget that leaving the EU/Common market was a Labour manifesto policy in the 1980s. As I recall they didn’t want the cheaper foreign workers coming in and depressing wages for British workers. It was one of the reasons Margaret Thatcher got a landslide majority in 1983 as Michael Foot, Tony Benn (and Jeremy Corbyn probably) would have taken the UK out of the ‘EU’ without even bothering with a referendum. ‘Brexit’ was a ‘loony left policy’ in 1983 and ten years later a Conservative PM signed the Maastricht Treaty but now Brexit is the Tory flagship policy… Read more »

jr humphrys
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jr humphrys

Problem is, the Conservatives are no longer “soft c” Tory’s. They are now the angry English nationalists.

Ernie The Smallholder
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Ernie The Smallholder

Let’s hope that Plaid Cymru do win in Wales.

And the Liberal Democrats do well in England !
It looks as if the Surrey seat of Esher & Walton could well elect a LD MP !