2015 Result:
Conservative: 3521 (13.1%)
Labour: 8122 (30.3%)
Lib Dem: 718 (2.7%)
Plaid Cymru: 11790 (43.9%)
UKIP: 2277 (8.5%)
Others: 409 (1.5%)
MAJORITY: 3668 (13.7%)

Category: Safe Plaid Cymru seat

Geography: Wales, Gwynedd. Part of the Gwynedd council area.

Main population centres: Bangor, Caernarfon, Bethesda.

Profile: A coastal seat in the north-west of Wales, facing Anglesey across the Menai Strait. The main towns and cities in the constituency are the small university city of Bangor (one of the smallest cities in the UK) and Welsh-speaking Caernarfon, the site of Caernarfon castle where Prince Charles was invested as Prince of Wales in 1969. The South of the constituency stretches into Snowdonia National Park, with the peak of Mount Snowdon lying just inside the constituency border.

Politics: A marginal seat between Plaid Cymru and Labour - the former being strong in Carnarfon, the latter taking its support from Bangor. The seat has only a little over 40,000 voters, making it the constituency with the smallest electorate apart from the special cases of the Scottish island seats, and less than half the size of the largest seats such as Manchester Central and East Ham.

Current MP
HYWEL WILLIAMS (Plaid Cymru) Born 1953, Pwllheli. Educated at Ysgol Glan y Mor and University of Wales. Former social worker. Contested Clwyd South 1999 Welsh Assembly election. First elected as MP for Caernarfon in 2001.
Past Results
Con: 4416 (17%)
Lab: 7928 (30%)
LDem: 3666 (14%)
PC: 9383 (36%)
Oth: 685 (3%)
MAJ: 1455 (6%)
Con: 3483 (12%)
Lab: 7538 (27%)
LDem: 3508 (13%)
PC: 12747 (46%)
Oth: 723 (3%)
MAJ: 5209 (19%)
Con: 4403 (15%)
Lab: 9383 (32%)
LDem: 1823 (6%)
PC: 12894 (44%)
Oth: 550 (2%)
MAJ: 3511 (12%)
Con: 4230 (12%)
Lab: 9667 (28%)
LDem: 1686 (5%)
PC: 17616 (52%)
Oth: 811 (2%)
MAJ: 7949 (23%)

*There were boundary changes after 2005, name changed from Caernarfon

2015 Candidates
ANWEN BARRY (Conservative)
ALUN PUGH (Labour) Born 1955, Llwynypia. Consultant and former college lecturer. Contested Arfon 2010. Assembly member for Clwyd West 1999-2007.
MOHAMMED SHULTAN (Liberal Democrat)
SIMON WALL (UKIP) Educated at Bishop Grosseteste College. Training consultant.
HYWEL WILLIAMS (Plaid) See above.
KATHRINE JONES (Socialist Labour Party) Contested Wales region 2014 European election.
Comments - 54 Responses on “Arfon”
  1. There is large student population and many would have voted Lib Dems before because of tuition fees. This should benefit Labour provided the election is during term time.

    Otherwise predominately Welsh-speaking Caernarfon and Bethesda will outvote mainly English speaking Bangor allowing Plaid to retain this seat.

  2. It’s a bit early to say. Labour have generally been in better form than Plaid for quite a while now. I wouldn’t rule out a Labour gain at this stage.

  3. I would be moderatley surprised if this doesnt go labour.

  4. I’d be very surprised if Labour didn’t gain this to be honest. It should be ripe for the taking as Plaid are simply not on the advance anymore at all and areas like Bangor, with its large council estates, uni and hospital public sector populations are very Labour and will outvote Caernarfon and the rural areas.

  5. Former Clwyd West AM (1999-2007) Alun Pugh has been chosen by Labour. He has defeated Tal Michael (son of Alun and former North Wales PCC candidate) for the nomination.

  6. And more importantly, Pugh was also the Lab candidate here in 2010 GE.

  7. Dafydd Wigley’s electoral record in Caernarfon-

    1. February 1974- 14, 103 (40.54%, +7.18%, 1,278 (4.97%) majority)
    2. October 1974- 14, 624 (42.55%, +2.01%, 2, 894, (8.42%) majority)
    3. 1979- 17, 420 (49.65%, +7.1%, 8, 724 (24.87%) majority)
    4. 1983- 18, 308 (52.73%, +3.08%, 10, 989 (31.65%) majority)
    5. 1987- 20, 338 (57.11%, +4.38%, 12, 802 (35.95%) majority)
    6. 1992- 21, 439 (59.03%, +1.92%, 14, 476 (39.86%) majority)
    7. 1997- 17, 616 (51.05%, -7.98%, 7, 449 (21.59%) majority)

  8. The local election results for the wards within Arfon were:

    Plaid – 6,200
    Lab – 2,809
    Llais – 2,049
    Lib Dem – 707
    Con – 60
    Ind – 3,760

  9. A closer look at the result in Caernarfon in February 1974-
    Wigley (Plaid Cymru)- 14, 103 (40.54%, +7.18%)
    Roberts (Labour)- 12, 375 (35.57%, -4.55%)
    *Garel-Jones (Conservative)- 5, 803 (16.68%, -3.38%)
    David (Liberal)- 2, 506 (7.20%, +0.74%)

    Majority- 1, 728 (4.97%)
    Swing- +5.865% From Lab to PC.

    *Yes Barnaby, that is Tristan Garel-Jones, Conservative MP for Watford from 1979-1997.

  10. A closer look at the result in Caernarfon in 1979-
    Wigley (Plaid Cymru)- 17, 420 (49.65%, +7.1%)
    Hughes (Labour)- 8, 696 (24.79%, -9.34%)
    Paice (Conservative)- 6, 968 (19.86%, +7.28%)
    Edwards (Liberal)- 1, 999 (5.70%, -5.04%)

    Majority- 8, 724 (24.87%)
    Swing- +8.22% From Lab to PC.

  11. That is quite an interesting one – unusual for Labour to fall much in 1979 – overall they polled about 75,000 more votes
    if you allow for the fact that the Liberal surge was without a full slate of candidates,
    they’d be higher than in Feb 1974.

    But there were some very big swings in rural Wales – I had assumed it was more at the hands of the Nats and Liberals
    rather than Labour though

  12. Lib surge in Feb 74 of course

  13. Funnily enough in next door Merioneth the result wasn’t as overwhelming for Plaid- the increased majority there was because of a bigger fall in vote share than Labour. An indication of differing popularity levels for the MPs perhaps?

    Furthermore, Wigley’s results further up the page show how safe he made Caernarfon- whereas Thomas didn’t seem to make that much progress in his vote during the late 70s and 1980s, much unlike Wigley, his seat remained marginal.

  14. If it did go Lab in 2015 it may be the first of the night to do so I suppose. It was early (for these days) in 2010 presumably because it is so small. And widespread locals in England will slow everything down even more than last time.

  15. I think the Ynys Mons assembly by election has ensured this seat isn’t competitive and should be a definite Plaid hold. I have not been impressed by Leanne Wood, but she has done better recently and although (ironically for an English speaker from south Wales) has done little for expanding plaid, has ensured that in the heartlands they eill hold up.

    This seat isn’t one to watch.

  16. These seats in Wales seem to be extraordinarily small and frankly undemocratic when compared to some of the much larger populated seats in England.

    does anyone know if there is some rule official or unofficial that allows such a free pass for these diminutive (in population) Welsh seats?

    This article suggested a rather brutal cut the next time seats are rejigged..

    Of course this was linked to the national shrinkage of seats in absolute numbers that was envisioned in the abandoned reforms, so even if the shrinkage is not of the same order as 10 seats, but maybe 6 or 7 face the grim reaper at the next rejig,…

  17. There is a useful map on page 12 of this document showing the current Westminster seat populations for Wales….

  18. with the welsh assembly, the case for having seats with such small electorates has largely ceased to exist

    you could make the ‘isle of wight’ case for arguing that is the isle of anglesey should keep its mp but given that so few people live their, pairing it with bangor would seem a more sensible solution

    if the tories don’t get a majority in 2015, such electoral anomalies are likely to stay with us

  19. PLAID HOLD MAJ: 4.6%
    Plaid 37
    LAB 33
    CON 15
    LD 10
    UKIP 5

  20. It would be hard to do the 2018 constituency reordering with a straight face and leave such glaring anomalies

    using 2010 results the Tories would lose 3 maybe 4 seats to Labour losing 6-7… PC might lose one

    It might be a positive cost-benefit analysis for the Conservatives to push for more equitable seats in Wales.

  21. Really DW? I don’t think the assembly byelection in Ynys Mon will make the slightest difference at the next General Election. I fully expect Ynys Mon to return their Labour MP in 2015 and Arfon could well elect Mr Pugh.

  22. The reason why the seat still has such a small electorate is the Tories’ love of Lords.

    Meaning, if the Tories hadn’t buggered up the Lords reform, which led to the LibDems stopping constituency reform as revenge, then Wales would have lost about 1/4 of its seats to bring the average number of voters up to the UK average. Most of this one would have merged with Ynys Mon.

  23. Ladbrokes have Arfon as PC and LAB tied at 5/6

  24. Odds of 5/6 on PC seem to me to be generous.

    Hywel Williams will get the equivalent of a first time incumbency bonus from the Bangor half of the seat in 2010.

  25. I don’t think anyone has explicitly stated this yet, but the seat was notionally Labour in 2005 based on the boundary changes:

    Labour look like having a national vote share comparable to 2005 (allowing for a margin of error 🙂 ). Going by UNS, setting the starting odds level with an incumbent non-government MP seems about right – from a pure polling perspective which factors in incumbency this should be close. That said, the “incumbency bonus” assumes that all incumbents are equally popular – my experience of smaller parties is that their incumbency tends to be stronger, provided that they previously won the seat at a general election rather than by-election.

  26. Agree with analysis above – PC will hold this seat.

    Also – I note that Independent came 2nd in election results higher up the thread – is this indicative of this being one of those seats where a portion of the working class are merely voting Labour until an alternative comes along (i.e. UKIP – and NB I am talking about perceptions, not trying to start a discussion on which party best looks after the working class)?

  27. I can’t make my mind up about this seat. I incline very slightly to a Plaid hold, but it could be very close. Labour is perhaps slightly too dependent on Bangor though clearly its addition has made the seat far better for them than it was as Caernarfon.

  28. I know this seat very well. Hywel Williams is pretty solid, if uninspiring, and Plaid Cymru’s local organization here is very strong – in contrast the local Labour party which is pretty shambolic. Although the majority is small, I don’t think Labour have the resources or ability to quite overturn the PC majority here. It’s anyone’s guess as to where the LD will go … lab/PC prbably.

  29. This really really could go either way.

  30. I think that after the Yns Mons by election Labour will be too focused on holding that seat than seeking to gain Yns Mons.

  31. Ladbrokes have finally woken up to the fact that PC’s chances are better than those of Labour here. Odds now 8/11 PC, evens Lab.

  32. Labour had better hope it forms the next government because the redrawing of seats will fall within the next term and the Tories in charge could easily extinguish eight Welsh seats and still not get the Welsh seats up to the average for English seats..

    With at least 7 of the likely losses coming from Labour and with whatever damage the SNP inflicts in Scotland this time around… Labour will find itself with an even steeper hill to climb in future elections…

  33. “With at least 7 of the likely losses coming from Labour and with whatever damage the SNP inflicts in Scotland this time around… Labour will find itself with an even steeper hill to climb in future elections…”

    Every seat Labour lose to the SNP or to the boundary commission in Wales (ie 40 to 30 approx.) they will offset with more seats in London and the North moving their direction. Its ironic now, but even under new boundaries the constituencies will benefit Labour.

    I the past new constituencies usually benefited the Tories and as they matured Labour benefited as Tories moved out of the cities into the suburbs.

    The Tories now do far better under PR that is clearly evident in Scotland.

  34. The population density in Wales is considerably less than in most parts of England.

    The Westminster Parliament seats are currently co-terminous with the Cardiff Assembly seat boundaries.

  35. Does anyone know why the Home Office or Returning Officers don’t use machines to help them with the ballot box reconciliation count?

  36. Am I right in thinking that there are a lot of new names and faces standing as Liberal Democrat candidates?

    Some have defected to Labour, while some have “retired” I suppose.

  37. on the basis of wales-wide polling, this seat looks pretty interesting. clearly plaid are treating it as a marginal.

  38. It was the boundary changes that removed the LlĹ·n Peninsula (strongly Plaid) and the addition of Bangor from Conwy (strongly Labour) that has made this seat more competitive and urban. I think Plaid will hold on but their Welsh polling is making that certain.

  39. I wonder if, provided she does OK of course, in seats like this and Ynys Mon which will be very close (and possibly also Ceredigion though that would take a big swing for Plaid to win it back) Leanne Wood appearing in the leaders debate on Thursday will be helpful in giving PC more national profile than they’d usually get?

  40. I wonder if Plaid’s anti-austerity message, tailored for those seats in the valleys where they will hope to break through against Labour at some point, may backfire among their traditional, rural voter base.

  41. Labour Gain. 1,000 majority.

  42. can’t make my mind up about this one. it’ll be close either way. hedging my bets for now. although l personally wasn’t in the least impressed with leanne wood yesterday, how welsh voters see her is far important than what l & other english people think.

  43. I agree. It looks easier for Labour on paper than perhaps in the reality. Frankly though, this would HAVE to be an easy Labour gain, and I always thought it would be. I’m starting to pull back a bit now, which is why I went for a quite low Labour majority of just a thousand.
    But that cannot be good news for Ed Miliband, if those are the perceptions.

  44. the seat is so different from a contest in england that the result here will have a limited bearing on the overall picture. ed miliband could have a working majority, but plaid hold on in arfon. the only similar contest perhaps is ynys mon, but there l go for a labour hold. east carmarthen is rather different, being in south wales & having a former mining element.

  45. I’m not sure any seat as marginal as this could be so easily written off by a party that seriously wants to form a government, though.
    Just look back to the election results night programs of the 60s and 70s. Parties fought for every marginal seat and if just the odd one or two went the ‘wrong’ way unexpectedly, it could seriously upset the overall result.
    For every seat like this that goes the ‘wrong’ way, that is another one they have to pick up somewhere else. And that might be too big an ask.

  46. A recent Labour by-Election Gain in recent days in this constituency with the Plaid vote significantly down has raised Labour hopes of a Gain here & they have a strong candidate. Labour Gain from Plaid.

  47. I’m not sure that by-election really shows much as most of the drop in the Plaid vote seems to have gone to the Llais Gwynedd candidate which is a regionalist offshoot of Plaid. As they aren’t standing for the constituency itself I’d have expected most of them to revert back to Plaid.

  48. There seems to be a bit of a misunderstanding with regards to electoral geography here; in particular, the Labour vote doesn’t correlate with linguistic patterns, but tends instead to be linked with class. Labour are (or at least were when I lived in the area a few years ago) better organised in the outlying old industrial settlements than in Bangor. Given that Plaid’s vote *does* correlated with linguistic patterns this can mean that the two parties can both be very strong in the same places. General Elections in some of the old slate quarrying villages (for instance) present a colourful display of competing red and green widow posters.

  49. I think Labour have pretty much given up in Arfon. They’ve been spending the last few days talking about fox hunting for some reason (and for some bizzare reason dressing up as foxes and following Plaid canvassers around) – wasn’t even a burning issue here over a decade ago when it was on the agenda. Very odd the whole thing I can tell you; maybe a sign they simply don’t know what else to do here.

    I’ve always been a bit unsure about how Arfon would go this time, but actually I’m pretty sure by now that PC have it wrapped up, with a slightly larger majority.

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