Just one by-election tonight – a Labour defence in Wales

Just one by-election tonight – a Labour defence in Wales

Bedwas, Trethomas and Machen on Caerphilly (Lab defence)
Result of council at last election (2012): Labour 50, Plaid Cymru 20, Independent 3 (Labour majority of 27)
Result of ward at last election (2012): Emboldened denotes elected
Labour 1,854, 1,574, 1,282, 1,181 (61%)
Non Party Independents 508, 484, 409, 254 (17%)
Independents 438, 389, 378 (12%)
Plaid Cymru 664, 258 (10%)
Candidates duly nominated: Ray Davies (Ind), Ron Davies (Plaid), John Dew (Ind), Bobby Douglas (Ind, was UKIP), Lisa Jones (Lab), Rita Lukins (Con)

The natural assumption of most people to Caerphilly would be “Yawn, Labour hold, next council please!” but to disregard Caerphilly would be most unkind as this council has actually been very surprising since it’s creation in 1995. Admittedly those first elections were as predictable as ever. Labour 56 councillors out of 68 with a 63% vote share but then things “turned on a dime” in 1999.

Not only did Plaid Cymru manage to win Islwyn in the Assembly elections but as the local elections were held on the same day, Plaid did what many thought to be impossible. They won control of their first council in the South Wales valleys polling 45% of the vote and winning 39 councillors. This shocked Labour so much that one of the first actions of the 1999 – 2003 Assembly was a rule that local elections and Assembly elections would never be held on the same day ever again.

And so having regained Islwyn in 2003, Labour regained Caerphilly in 2004 and vowed never to mention 1999 again. However, the electors of Caerphilly didn’t get the memo as in 2008 Labour lost control again and although they were the largest party Plaid sprang at the chance and combining their 32 councillors with the nine Independents elected Labour were knocked out of power for the second time in fifteen years.

Added to which in Bedwas in 2012, there was more than one type of Independent, as there is in this by-election (including Bobby Douglas was who nominated as the UKIP candidate but then made a comment, that some people may class as “this is the true UKIP”, that saw UKIP sack him as their candidate and therefore we now have three Independents standing). Another reason why I use terms such as Independent, Non Party Independents and Independent Independents when dealing with Welsh local elections.

Harry Hayfield

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