Blaenau Gwent

2015 Result:
Conservative: 3419 (10.8%)
Labour: 18380 (58%)
Lib Dem: 620 (2%)
Plaid Cymru: 2849 (9%)
Green: 738 (2.3%)
UKIP: 5677 (17.9%)
MAJORITY: 12703 (40.1%)

Category: Safe Labour seat

Geography: Wales, Gwent. The whole of the Blaenau Gwent council area.

Main population centres: Abertilley, Brynmawr, Ebbw Vale, Tredegar.

Profile: Traditionally a solid, south wales mining seat, seeped in Labour tradition. The coal mines are now long gone and in 2002 the Corus steel plant here closed, causing further economic hardship.

Politics: This is the successor seat to Ebbw Vale, represented by Nye Bevan and Michael Foot, and until recently was assumed to be amongst the most solid Labour seats in the country, with opposition parties normally struggling to get over 10% of the vote. In 2005 it was won by Peter Law, standing as an independent candidate. Law was the Labour member of the Welsh assembly for the seat and an ally of Llew Smith, the left-wing Labour MP who stood down at the 2005 election. Llew Smith`s replacement, Maggie Jones, was selected from an all-woman shortlist - something which Smith believed was used to block the selection of a non-Blairite male candidate. Law ran despite suffering from a brain tumour and died less than a year after his election. His agent Dai Davies successfully defended the seat in the ensuing by-election, with his widow Trish Law managing to hold his seat in the Welsh election. The seat was reclaimed by Labour in 2010.

Current MP
NICK SMITH (Labour) Born 1960, Cardiff. Educated at Birkbeck College. Former Labour party official and NSPCC Campaigns manager. Camden councillor 1998-2005. First elected as MP for Blaenau Gwent in 2010.
Past Results
Con: 2265 (7%)
Lab: 16974 (52%)
LDem: 3285 (10%)
PC: 1333 (4%)
Oth: 8538 (26%)
MAJ: 10135 (31%)
Con: 816 (2%)
Lab: 11384 (32%)
LDem: 1511 (4%)
PC: 843 (2%)
Oth: 20697 (59%)
MAJ: 9121 (26%)
Con: 2383 (8%)
Lab: 22855 (72%)
LDem: 2945 (9%)
PC: 3542 (11%)
MAJ: 19313 (61%)
Con: 2607 (7%)
Lab: 31493 (79%)
LDem: 3458 (9%)
PC: 2072 (5%)
MAJ: 28035 (71%)

2015 Candidates
TRACEY WEST (Conservative) Born Nantyglo.
NICK SMITH (Labour) See above.
SAMUEL ELLIS REES (Liberal Democrat)
SUSAN BOUCHER (UKIP) Local government officer.
Comments - 32 Responses on “Blaenau Gwent”
  1. A long time ago now I promised to construct a list of the most white working class seats on the basis of the 2011 census. This list excludes Scotland because I still haven’t got round to extracting the Scottish data, which is on a different website.

    1. Blaenau Gwent
    2. Rhondda
    3. Grimsby
    4. Easington
    5. Hull East
    6. Aberavon
    7. Merthyr Tydfil & Rhymney
    8. Normanton & Castleford
    9. Ogmore
    10. Redcar
    11. Doncaster North
    12. Ashfield
    13. Barnsley East
    14. Cynon Valley
    15. Islwyn
    16. Washington & W Sunderland
    17. Bolsover
    18. Hartlepool
    19. Torfaen
    20. Knowsley

  2. Labour Hold. 15,000 majority.

  3. Seats where Labour polled more than 40% in Wales:

    Blaenau Gwent 58.01
    Merthyr Tydfil & Rhymney 53.86
    Swansea East 52.97
    Ogmore 52.94
    Rhondda 50.66
    Islwyn 48.97
    Aberavon 48.90
    Cynon Valley 47.69
    Torfaen 44.65
    Caerphilly 44.35
    Neath 43.81
    Cardiff South & Penarth 42.78
    Swansea West 42.57
    Llanelli 41.34
    Newport West 41.22
    Pontypridd 41.06
    Newport East 40.70
    Cardiff West 40.65
    Delyn 40.55
    Alyn & Deeside 40.03
    Cardiff Central 40.01

  4. This wasn’t a bad result for Labour- But it may have been a continuation of recovering the vote share after the last two Independent MPs’ personal votes disappeared.

  5. Profile should probably say seat is “steeped” in Labour tradition rather than seeped…..

  6. LOL

  7. AndyJS’ lists show us that there were five seats in Wales where Labour got over 50% of the vote. This may be impressive for them in current British terms, but it is way down on fifty years ago, when Labour would have had over 70% of the vote in a number of coal-mining seats.

    On the list of white working-class seats, it is worth noticing that several of the English seats on this list, e.g. Grimsby, Hartlepool, are on UKIP’s target list, but UKIP seem to be making little or no impact in the Welsh seats.

  8. Erm… 28% swing to Plaid. What happened here?

  9. Blaenau Gwent CLP nominates Owen Smith ( who stood here in 2006). Last year they nominated Jeremey Corbyn.

  10. Because Jeremy Corbyn doesn’t understand anyone outside of London am I right? šŸ˜‰

  11. Well, the nominations so far (excluding Blaenau Gwent where Smith has local connections) are running fairly counter-intuitively to the common perception that Corbyn is loved in London and hated everywhere else.

    It seems to me that that’s likely because it is actually a coaltion of two groups that form his support among the membership. One is the students/bohemians/SWP and TUSC members/social media trolls that are more visible and found in places like Brighton and Bristol and are the archetypal Corbynista. But he also, from what I can deduce from the geography of the CLP results, seems more quietly to have a lot of support from older white working class members (who as well as being likely to very left wing to bother joining the Labour party may take a very unfavourable view of the SpAd type leadership candidate).

    Smith’s support, on the other hand, seems to come (again, with the exception of Blaenau Gwent) from places likely to have much more middle class memberships (mainly London). Or, to put it another way, memberships much more in the image of the PLP than the typical CLP.

  12. What’s curious is that last year this wasn’t the case. Of the 61 London CLPs that nominated last year (12 abstained) Corbyn won 31, Kendall and Cooper 12 apiece, and Burnham 6.

  13. But one that’s symptomatic of a problem on here, in that many posters have a sufficiently strong dislike of Corbyn that they find it impossible to objectively analyse the situation. I think Jack is right in supposing that the pro-Corbyn coalition is wider than just trendy liberals and I’d suggest that Corbyn does appeal to a section of the WWC vote (while accepting that he actively puts off other significant chunks of that vote).

  14. Iā€™d suggest that Corbyn does appeal to a section of the WWC vote’

    A very small section though and its ever diminishing

    Corbyn’s views (and those of the majority of Labour MPs) on immigration are polls apart from WWC voters, and there’s scant evidence that Corbyn even appreciates this as a problem, let alone has a plan on how to tackle it

    As polls show that WWC voters see this as the number one issue, it’s no real surprise that under the current leader scores of WWC former Labour voters are switching to UKIP. There was something from Burnley in last night’s Newsnight

    You coiuld argue that Labour’s support for the open door policy on immigration makes sense because if the numbers keep going up, it’s the only chance they still have of remaining competetive

  15. Yes, Corbyn does appeal to a section of the WWC – just not the section that Labour need to start winning back if they are to have any chance of winning an election. Having said that it is far from clear that Smith or pretty much anyone else acceptable to the PLP would have any more success with patriotic, socially conservatives, Brexit voting working class voting.

  16. Labour have already lost a lot of these voters in 2010 and 2015. So there may not be that many still to lose, and hence it may not lose all that many seats. Where seats are lost may be if UKIP voters do now switch to the Tories, or Tories are prepared to switch to UKIP. There are seats which have anti-Labour majorities but a vote split btwn the Tories and UKIP that could be vulnerable like Mansfield and all the Stoke seats.

  17. UKIP are on a downward trend. They’ve done their job, we’ve left Europe. UKIP will lose their only in 2020.

  18. It is possible, and made more likely I think by May (rather than an Etonian) as Tory leader and the likely choice of the fairly dull (as far as I can tell) Woolfe to replace Farage.

    Though I don’t think UKIP will go away completely as their vote is much more than just an anti-EU vote. Issues like immigration aren’t just going to go away because of Brexit. Plus, May’s honeymoon on Brexit will fade away once she doesn’t entirely get her own way in negotiations.

  19. I don’t think the concept of a right-wing majority vote in seats like those that Max lists is very helpful. Some of them may eventually end up as Tory seats, but that’s much more due to changes where they end up being largely private sector commuter seats.

    I suspect that there’s a good number of both Tory and UKIP supporters in many of these seats who wouldn’t dream of voting for the other party. I also think that a chunk of the UKIP vote is a “None of the above” vote, because people think that all of the main parties (not just Labour) are failing to speak to them about the issues that concern them.

  20. Also, there’s really no evidence of a significant move from Labour to UKIP since 2015. Would it help Labour if they could get back votes from UKIP? Yes. Is Corbyn doing this? No. But I don’t think he’s made the situation any worse. I think his real weakness is in appealing to voters in aspirational seats.

  21. ‘I think his real weakness is in appealing to voters in aspirational seats.’

    Corbyn appeals to neither WWC nor aspirational voters – and without appealing to either of these groups, Labour simply cannot win an election

  22. I feel that Matt Wilson’s comment may be wishful thinking – while yes, we have voted to leave the European Union which was ostensibly UKIP’s raison d’etre, the EU itself is/was not the main reason that people vote(d) UKIP – the party appeals to a powerful anti-globalist, “things were better in the old days” sentiment of the same kind that is fuelling Donald Trump. And that hasn’t gone away overnight just because of the vote to leave – if anything it has been magnified.

    If it were purely EU membership that these people cared about, rather than a shift in global politics of which the EU was a powerful symbol, then the Referendum Party would most probably have done what UKIP has done ten years ago. Yeah, the Referendum Party. Remember them?

  23. It may be wishful thinking to you but I think it’s unlikely UKIP will get a single seat. Things have changed since the referendum party, Europe has changed. The reasons why people voted to leave aren’t necessarily the same arguments of the 1990s

  24. Put it this way: if the ONLY thing you cared about was leaving the European Union, if nothing else mattered to you at all, who would you have voted for in 2015? UKIP?

    No, you’d have voted for the Tories, because they were offering a referendum on the issue and actually had a chance of forming a government and hence enacting that policy. As indeed they did.

    But four million people voted UKIP anyway. So there were clearly other reasons for them voting that way. And as long as UKIP are saying things no other party is prepared to say those reasons to vote UKIP will still be there too. The biggest threat to them right now is probably their own infighting.

    At the moment I’m not expecting a breakthrough, but I’m expecting them to potter along in the low teens as they have been doing for the past year.

  25. Cllr Dickie Jones has defected (Lab > Ind) here.

    He represents Abertilly.

  26. This is one that will stay Labour no matter what happens.

  27. Blaenau Gwent has the highest gender inequality in Britain: men earn 32% more than women.

    The top ten is a very odd mixture, containing some of the very poorest parts of Britain as well as some of the very wealthiest. There doesn’t seem to be any real pattern.

  28. Certainly an eclectic mix, any list that contains both Wokingham and Knowsley certainly isn’t depicting a trend based on economic factors, I thought for a moment there might have been some correlation based on public sector employment but that doesn’t hold up either. All in all I agree it seems to be totally random.

  29. Presumably a big part of this might be traditional households where only the man works (this is an area of high unemployment don’t forget).

    Income inequality doesn’t mean that men here are necessarily earning a lot, it might mean that lots of women aren’t working full stop.

  30. I don’t think that holds up either, you look at the other end of the spectrum (the area where women earn more than men) and it contains some very similar (demographically) territory to here including Barnsley, Stoke-on-Trent but most interestingly next door Merthyr Tydfil which is almost identical to Blaenau Gwent on most measures. So I don’t think its really a cultural thing either.

  31. Well, they seem to fall into two categories: poor areas with high unemployment, where there are a lot of one-job families; and wealthy areas with a lot of lucrative, male-dominated industries.

  32. During election night ITV Wales were saying first the brexit party were going to win here then the tories were in with a good chance. Oddest rumour of the night.

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