Cardiff Central is set to be the most exciting and tightest constituency in Wales at the upcoming Welsh Assembly elections. Many high profile figures have been selected to contest the student dominated seat, including two current Assembly Members (AMs), two former Big Brother contestants and the Deputy Leader of the England and Wales Green Party.
The seat is currently held by Labour’s Jenny Rathbone, after narrowly taking the seat from the Liberal Democrats in 2011. She won the race then by a mere 38 votes, proving that every vote will count at the upcoming election, and every candidate will be fighting for your vote.
Jenny Rathbone made headlines in October 2015 when she spoke out publicly against the M4 relief road. A week later she was dismissed from her role as chair of the All Wales European Programme Monitoring Committee, and said: “there is an unhealthy culture at the top of the Welsh Government which does not allow for rigorous debate and reflection on the best use of public funds.” Despite this shaky relationship with her party, she is determined to be re-elected.
The other AM going for the seat is Eluned Parrott, Liberal Democrat. After being elected as an AM for South Wales Central in 2011, Parrott has made a big impact in the Welsh Assembly, and was one of four AMs to talk about their experiences with mental ill health. She is the shadow minister for enterprise, transport, Europe and business and won the ITV Wales Politician of the Year ‘One to Watch’. She is no stranger to Cardiff University, having gained a degree in Music here and worked for the university’s community outreach programme.
On to the former Big Brother contesters, Joel Williams was runner-up on Big Brother 16 last summer. He serves as a community councillor on Marshfield Community Council, and is currently completing his A-levels. He said, “I am passionate about running a positive campaign highlighting the many positive policies we can offer.”
Glyn Wise is also a Big Brother runner-up, and became the youngest contestant when he appeared in 2006. He grew up in North Wales, but has since moved to Cardiff. In 2011 he graduated from Cardiff University with a BA in Welsh, and now works at the university’s Welsh for Adults centre as an Informal Learning Officer. He is the candidate for Plaid Cymru, The Party of Wales. He said: “I look forward to using my experience in reaching out to people across all communities, many of whom have become disillusioned with politics in recent years.”
The Green Party candidate will be Amelia Womack, Deputy Leader of her party since September 2014. Womack was born in Newport, but moved to London and stood for the Camberwell and Peckham seat at last year’s election, getting just over 10 per cent of the vote.
UKIP are also fielding a candidate, after getting 6.5 per cent of the vote at last year’s election in the constituency. Riverside councillor Mohammed Sarul Islam will be standing has been a member for the party since 2014.
At last year’s general election, Liberal Democrat Jenny Willott lost the Cardiff Central seat to Labour’s Jo Stevens, but many predict the party will do better in the Assembly elections as they did better than expected in 2011.
The last national Welsh poll had Labour on 35 per cent, Conservatives on 23 per cent, Plaid Cymru 20 per cent and Lib Dems on a mere 5 per cent. This is worrying times for Labour, as this is down seven points on their 2011 election result. Cardiff Central then will be essential for the party to keep their party in government, but the Lib Dems will be fighting hard for your vote again, or risk losing all their members at the election.
In such an important seat, every vote will matter, so make sure your vote is heard and register to vote to make sure you have your say. To register, go to http://www.gov.uk/register-to-vote.