Politics

Labour hold on, as Plaid fail to break through

Labour retained their dominance in Wales after the elections for the National Assembly for Wales on May 5th. Despite a plummet of eight per cent in their vote share, Labour will have 29 seats in the fifth National Assembly for Wales.

Despite predictions Labour would face losses, especially in Cardiff, the held off the divided opposition. The Vale of Clwyd, Wrexham, Llanelli, Blaenau Gwent, Caerphilly, Vale of Glamorgan, Cardiff West, Cardiff North and Cardiff Central were all seats where Labour narrowly kept their seats, to the dismay of Plaid Cymru and the Welsh Conservatives.

In Cardiff Central, it was widely expected that Eluned Parrott, of the Liberal Democrats, would gain the seat from Labour, but Jenny Rathbone increased her majority from 38 votes in 2011 to 917 votes. Also in Cardiff Central, there was a sign of good news in terms of turnout, where it was up eight per cent on 2011, to 45 per cent. This election has seen efforts by Cardiff University Students’ Union and NUS Wales to get people to register to vote and to get students’ voice heard, and some of these efforts seem to have worked. NUS Wales have said they are glad to see turnout up in Cardiff Central, as well as over 50 percent turnout in constituencies where Bangor and Aberystwyth students’ unions have been campaigning.

The big shock of the night came from the Rhondda, where Plaid Cymru leader Leanne Wood catapulted herself in front of cabinet minister Leighton Andrews, with a majority of well over 3,000 votes to sweeten the deal. The outgoing Andrews did not seem too impressed:

There was a few hours of worry for the Welsh Labour leader, Carwyn Jones, but eventually the party did much better than expected.

Elsewhere for Plaid Cymru the narrative is they came close, but not close enough, with a number of votes that would make this their second worse Assembly election. The party gained just one seat, making them the biggest opposition, but far behind challenging Labour in Cardiff Bay.

The Welsh Conservatives had a sore night, despite making progress in every previous Assembly election, it was a big step back for them, making losses to UKIP in the regional seats.

And what a night it was for UKIP, exceeding even their own expectations, seven AMs will be serving Wales for the next five years. With 13 per cent of the vote and the campaign having been shadowed by the EU referendum in June, UKIP means Wales swings to the right at this election.

“It will take a long time to rebuild the party…but that begins here”, was the message of Kirsty Williams, the leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats. Despite losing the seat in last year’s general election, Williams grew her majority in Brecon and Radnorshire. Outside this constituency however, it was a long and tough night for the party, losing every other seat.

It was a very disappointing night too for the Green Party, who were hopeful of their first representation in Wales in the Assembly, with even the Abolish the Assembly party getting more votes.

An additional note on the election, after 17 years of the Assembly, there are now LGBT representation in the Senedd, thanks to the election of Hannah Blythyn and Jeremy Miles for Labour and Adam Price for Plaid Cymru.

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