2015 Result:
Conservative: 4123 (11%)
Labour: 3615 (9.7%)
Lib Dem: 13414 (35.9%)
Plaid Cymru: 10347 (27.7%)
Green: 2088 (5.6%)
UKIP: 3829 (10.2%)
MAJORITY: 3067 (8.2%)

Category: Marginal Liberal Democrat seat

Geography: Wales, Dyfed. The whole of the Ceredigion council area.

Main population centres: Aberaeron, Aberarth, Aberporth, Aberystwyth, Borth, Cardigan, Lampeter, Llanarth, Llanddewi Brefi, Llandysul, Llanilar, Llanrhystud, New Quay, Penparcau, Tregaron.

Profile: Ceredigion is a large rural seat in the west of Wales. It is mostly uninhabited moorland and mountains with the population concentrated in the strip along the Cardigan bay coast and the towns of the Teifi valley. Tourism and hill farming are important to the local economy and there are (someone incongrously for such a remote and rural area) two universities, Aberystwyth University and the University of Lampeter. There are a high proportion of Welsh speakers here, particularly outside the two university towns.

Politics: Ceredigion has a long history of Liberal representation, though the main challengers to the Liberals have varied through the years. In the immediate post-war period Labour had a strong prescence here (indeed, it was an area where the Conservatives stood down their candidates to help the Liberals keep Labour out) and it was held by Labour rom 1966 to 1974. The seat was a surprise win for Cynog Dafis in 1992 as a joint Plaid Cymru-Green candidate, winning the seat from fourth place at the previous election. The Liberal Democrats regained the seat in 2005, built up a substantial majority in 2010 and clung on in 2015, though Plaid remain the main challengers here.

Current MP
MARK WILLIAMS (Liberal Democrat) Born 1966, Hertfordshire. Educated at Richard Hale Secondary and University of Wales. Former deputy headteacher. Contested Ceredigion 2000 by-election. First elected as MP for Ceredigion in 2005.
Past Results
Con: 4421 (12%)
Lab: 2210 (6%)
LDem: 19139 (50%)
PC: 10815 (28%)
Oth: 1673 (4%)
MAJ: 8324 (22%)
Con: 4455 (12%)
Lab: 4337 (12%)
LDem: 13130 (37%)
PC: 12911 (36%)
Oth: 1114 (3%)
MAJ: 219 (1%)
Con: 6730 (19%)
Lab: 5338 (15%)
LDem: 9297 (27%)
PC: 13241 (38%)
MAJ: 3944 (11%)
Con: 5983 (15%)
Lab: 9767 (24%)
LDem: 6616 (16%)
PC: 16728 (42%)
Oth: 1092 (3%)
MAJ: 6961 (17%)

*There were boundary changes after 2005

2015 Candidates
HENRIETTA HENSHER (Conservative) Born 1976. Educated at Stowe School and Royal Agricultural College. Cakemaker. Contested Carmarthen East and Dinefwr 2007, 2011.
HUW THOMAS (Labour) Educated at Penweddig Comprehensive. Project manager. Cardiff councillor since 2012.
MARK WILLIAMS (Liberal Democrat) See above.
GETHIN JAMES (UKIP) Ceredigion councillor, originally elected as an Independent.
MIKE PARKER (Plaid) Born 1967, Birmingham. Travel writer and television presenter.
Comments - 394 Responses on “Ceredigion”
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  1. Plaid Cymru have selected Mike Parker here – he is an author and broadcaster and hails from Birmingham.

  2. A friend of mine was a student at Aberystwyth University in 1990 and told me then that the University Plaid Cymru branch were confident of gaining Ceredigion & Pembroke North in 1992.

    Given that the Liberals had 37% and Plaid were 4th with 16% and thought this was nonsense. I can’t think of any precident where a party has gone from a distant 4th place to win?

    In addition, the PC seats in Wales had all been longstanding Liberal seats that had fallen to Labour in the 1950’s or 1960’s and then first gained by PC in 1966, 1974 or 1987. Cardiganshire (as it had been) had no previous history of being PC, and had gone back to the Liberals and the incumbant Liberal MP was not retiring.

    In the event, Plaid won by over 3000, and the Liberals then went onto fall over 10000 votes behind Plaid in 1997.

    The Liberals have made no impact on the Welsh assemby constituency that has returned Plaid on all three occasions, so how did they manage to get this one back and then hold by nearly 10000.

    At first sight the swing from PC to Lib Dem has been doubled by much of the former Tory and Labour vote going to the Liberals – now significantly less than what it was in 1997 (Labour down 18% and Conservative down 3%).

    I could see the Liberal majority falling here significantly and could see the support of all five other parties (including UKIP and Greens) rising –

    Aberystwyth to Plaid Cymru as they recover the interlectual academic vote.
    Left leaning Unionist vote would revert to Labour.
    ‘Soft Tory’ Liberal vote in costal and rural areas would revert to the Tories.
    The Green vote will rise in Aberystwyth
    UKIP will take more votes within the Unionist community, particuarly amoung white settlers.

    I think that this will be the Lib Dems only one of two seats in Wales in 2015 (in Brecon & Radnor is Cardiff Central must be doomed for them).

    Something like –

    Lib Dem: 14600
    Plaid Cymru: 12300
    Conservative: 5500
    Labour: 4300
    UKIP: 1100
    Green: 1000

    Lib Dem Majority 2300

  3. Much of that seems like good common sense. I wouldn’t rule out a Plaid win, but they’re not exactly setting Wales alight politically & must be a little worried about Labour in 2 of the seats they do already hold, Arfon (in particular) and E Carmarthen & Dinefwr (a bit less so). It’s an unique contest between 2, in essence, minor parties neither of which is enjoying much popularity in the last few years.

  4. I wasn’t sure what difference the election of Leanne Wood as Plaid leader would have on their fortunes – I guess we won’t really know until 2015.

  5. I wouldn’t rule out a Plaid win (swings do seem larger here it seems quite a volatile seat) in fact the only thing that doesn’t make me favour that scenario is Leanne Wood. It was the right strategy get a South Welsh English speaker, galvanise the socialist base in the south rather than preaching to the cultural base in the north. Unfortunately it was just the very poor execution, Leanne appears much weaker than Carwyn Jones, and nothing suggests she will lead a resurgence.

  6. In the Welsh assembly seat Elin Jones has seen her lead over the Liberal Democrats fall at every election from over 10000 in 1999 to under 2000 in 2011.

    The Liberals came within 1777 here in 2011 when they were being smashed all over the UK, so the Welsh parliament election result must be encouraging to them.

  7. Plaid Cymru’s vote in the last three elections, Westminster, Assembly and Local elections was down here.

    Also, in 2011, this seat was the 3rd best Lib Dem result in the UK (behind Orkney & Shetland) and also saw the smallest fall in the Lib Dem share of the vote.

    And Mark Williams’ share of the vote has risen at every election he’s stood for here in Ceredigion.

    It’s also taken Plaid months and months of scouring to pull together what was a comparatively lacklustre list of candidates… Not exactly exuding confidence there.

    As previous posters have noted, Ceredigion is known for surprise results and it’s always worth remembering that.

    But if Plaid couldn’t make a serious dent on the Lib Dems during their worst set of elections so far this Parliament (2011), then I seriously doubt they’ll be able to turn things around this time.

    Lastly given that most of their resources will be going into defending seats from and trying to win seats off of a resurgent Labour party, Ceredigion won’t be getting anywhere near the same level of funding from Plaid nationally as they did last time…..

  8. I suppose really here it’s been a case of the Lib Dems returning to the position they were in before 1992.

    I would hasten to say that Cynog Dafis must have had some degree of personal popularity given the large swing that election to gain it from Geraint Howells. I think the only reason the Lib Dems have come back the way they have has been because when Dafis left the picture, it must have left open the possibility of some of his personal vote returning to the Lib Dems, which is what must have happened in the by-election, 2001, 2005 and again in 2010.

    Because of course one must not forget that Plaid’s original level back in the 70’s and 80’s was still nowhere near what it is now, suggesting that so long as the Lib Dems hold this seat Plaid may get even lower. But I would have to say a reduced majority for Williams looks likely in 2015, probably about 5,000 on a good night.

  9. A large reason why Geraint Howells lost this seat in 1992 was because he was considered by some to take it for granted and assumed his majority was big enough to withstand any challenge

    Still a remarkable result for Plaid though

    Intertesting than in 2010 no other seat in the UK had a smaller share of the vote for the two main parties

  10. The name “Ceredigion & Pembroke North” was odd because in 1983 the boundary commission adopted the policy of giving Welsh names to majority Welsh speaking constituencies and English names to majority English speaking constituencies.

    I understood that the odd Welsh/ English name was perhaps down to “Ceredigion” being majority Welsh speaking and “Pembroke North” majority English speaking, but I have since been informed that both areas were majority Welsh speaking…therefore don’t understand the name?

  11. Also shouldn’t it have been Pembrokeshire North instead of Pembroke North?

  12. I fancy Plaid’s chances here. This is an odd seat indeed, for it seems to play a completely different ball game to the national mood. The LD vote is only going to go down though, and Plaid’s could go anywhere; so that is why I think that they will just take it, although they may also go down they could also go up.

  13. “I think that they will just take it, although they may also go down they could also go up.”

    Thanks for that incisive analysis. This is really useful stuff

  14. 111 is The Results, and I claim my £5

  15. Geraint Howells’ electoral record in Cardigan/Ceredigion and Pembroke North-
    1. February 1974- 14, 371 (40.2%, +10.6%, 2, 476 (7.0%) majority)
    2. October 1974- 14, 612 (42.2%, +2.0%, 2, 410 (9.4%) majority)
    3. 1979- 13, 227 (35.6%, -6.6%, 2, 194 (5.9%) majority)
    4. 1983- 19, 677 (41.8%, +6.2%, 5, 639 (12.0%) majority)
    5. 1987- 17, 683 (36.6%, -5.2%, 4, 700 (9.7%) majority)
    6. 1992- 12, 827 (25.1%, -11.5%)

  16. A closer look at the result here in February 1974-
    Howells (Liberal)- 14, 371 (40.17%, +10.54%)
    Morgan (Labour)- 11, 895 (33.25%, -0.2%)
    Llewellyn (Conservative)- 4, 758 (13.30%, -3.98%)
    Davies (Plaid Cymru)- 4, 754 (13.29%, -6.36%)

    Majority- 2, 476 (6.92%)
    Swing- +5.37% From Lab to Lib.

  17. Hard to see anyone but Mark Williams winning here. He’s hugely popular locally and a well oiled operation in play.

    As others have noted Plaid came within a wisper of losing the Assembly seat in 2011 when the Lib Dems were down everywhere.

    Could easily be the only Lib Dem seat in Wales if all goes badly on the night come 2015.

  18. The 2000 by-election I suspect may have helped Williams a bit here. Here after all is the result that Cynog Dafis achieved in 1997-
    Dafis (Plaid Cymru)- 16, 728 (41.6%, +10.7%)
    Harris (Labour)- 9, 767 (24.3%, +5.7%)
    Davies (Lib Dem)- 6, 616 (16.5%, -10.0%)
    Aubel (Conservative)- 5, 983 (14.9%, -9.1%)
    Leaney (Referndum Party)- 1, 092 (2.7%, N/A)

    So the fact that the Lib Dems came back as quickly as they did here really is an achievement on Williams’ part. In the elections that followed, here is what he managed for them-
    2000 by-election- 5, 768 (23.0%, +6.5%)
    2001- 9, 297 (26.9%, +10.4%, +3.9% against by-election)
    2005- 13, 130 (36.53%, +9.66%, 219 (0.61%) majority)
    2010- 19, 139 (50.0%, +13.5%, 8, 324 (21.8%) majority)

  19. Not really sure what you mean by helped…. The by-election did mark the first time the Lib Dems had campaigned in the seat properly since Geraint lost it, which would explain the rather fast recovery of the Liberal vote. Previous elections had essentially been just the hardcore of habitual lifelong Liberal and Liberal Democrat voters voting for the Lib Dems – in 2000 Mark actually started winning some of the voters we’d lost to Plaid and Labour back.

  20. Yes I know that Rob but what I’m wondering is whether or not he would have made the same progress that he did in 2001.

    It’s just striking how much he managed to recover the Lib Dem vote that suddenly collapsed in 1992 when Geraint Howells lost the seat- Particularly when you consider the following big fall in vote share that occurred in 1997. I can only assume that Williams has enjoyed personal support that has gone beyond the normal Liberal strength in this seat, but then again it was a traditional seat for them anyway.

  21. Geraint got complacent, Plaid got active. Hence the big leap in the Plaid vote. They were well organised, well motivated and effective in 1992. In 1997 the Liberals did literally nothing. Hence why their vote collapsed. By 2000 Plaid were a bit less organised – but it was the first time the Liberals had organised and fought an election in Ceredigion properly since about 1987. Hence the much increased share of the vote. He didn’t enjoy much increased levels of personal support, he just gave Liberal voters a reason to vote Liberal again. Of course by 2010, he did enjoy the large levels of personal support – hence the huge majority.

  22. Thanks for that information Rob.

    I did wonder what degree of personal support Williams enjoys here.

  23. Cynog Dafis’ electoral record in Ceredigion-
    1. 1983- 6, 072 (12.9%, -1.6%)
    2. 1987- 7, 848 (16.2%, +3.3%)
    3. 1992- 16, 020 (30.3%, +15.1%, 3, 193 (6.2%) majority)
    4. 1997- 16, 728 (41.6%, +10.7%, 6, 961 (17.3%) majority)

  24. A closer look at the result in Ceredigion and Pembroke North in 1983-
    Howells (Liberal)- 19, 677 (41.8%, +8.6%)
    Raw-Rees (Conservative)- 14, 038 (29.8%, -1.2%)
    Hughes (Labour)- 6, 840 (14.5%, -7.5%)
    Dafis (Plaid Cymru)- 6, 072 (12.9%, -0.6%)
    Smith (Ecology)- 431 (0.9%, N/A)

    Majority- 5, 639 (12.0%)
    Swing- +4.9% From Con to Lib.

  25. Why do all your closer looks feature Liberals? Aren’t we allowed the odd Labour win in your closer looks? Or, preferably, knock them on the head altogether. And I say this with the greatest possible respect.

  26. Hear hear.

    I would take Barnaby’s advice if I were you, The Results.

    Did your teacher never tell you that sometimes less is more?

  27. I’ll do what I like.

    While I do not support the Liberal Democrats, I do find their past results intriguing because the third party in Britain has never held anywhere near as many seats as the two main parties, therefore I feel it is important to scrawl through the archives to find some of their most interesting results from yesteryear.

    I have already put up some Conservative and Labour ‘closer looks’ and I will continue to do these, though admittedly I don’t do them quite as frantically as I had been of late. This will by no means be the last one I do, I will make that quite clear.

  28. The Results

    Maybe we should try to get you some professional help….

    There must be a therapist somewhere who can help control a compulsive historical elections bore 🙂

  29. There were a few seats classed as Labour gain’s in ’83, considering they had their worst result in recent memory at that time, its worth considering them.

    I like seeing old results, so long as they aren’t on wikipedia (then I can look them up myself). It covers some seats to ancient times and others back only 4 of 5 elections.

  30. The Keele online archive has constituency results going back to about 1950. So only results before that are interesting, unless they are notionals.

  31. Would you have a link H.Hemelig.

    All the 1992 notionals were on the bbc website. They’ve since been removed but there is a trick to getting them back again.

  32. Sure, here’s the link


    Actually it seems they’ve now gone back as far as 1931

  33. A closer look at the result here in 1979-
    Howells (Liberal)- 13, 227 (35.6%, -6.6%)
    Thomas (Conservative)- 11, 033 (29.7%, +20.3%)
    Powell (Labour)- 7, 488 (20.2%, -15.0%)
    Hughes (Plaid Cymru)- 5, 382 (14.5%, +1.3%)

    Majority- 2, 194 (5.9%)
    Swing- +13.45% From Lib to Con.

  34. Thanks H.Hemmelig. (Would have said it earlier but I’ve been a little bit engrossed since you gave me the link.)

    Haven’t posted any I’ve looked up on here mind!

  35. Yes it’s definitely worth giving that site a “closer look” rather than boring everyone’s pants off by spamming them on here

  36. It’s not boring, it’s interesting. Also, you can hardly accuse me of spamming, I’m a serious poster.

  37. Narrow PC gain (figures rounded):
    Plaid 32
    LD 32
    Lab 12
    Con 10
    UKIP 9
    GRN 6

  38. Much securer Plaid gain if the Greens don’t stand here as well.

  39. My prediction for 2015-
    Liberal Democrat- 42%
    Plaid Cymru- 35%
    Conservative- 9%
    Labour- 7%
    UKIP- 4%
    Green- 3%

  40. On this I tend to feel that TheResults is nearer the mark. This is a distinctly odd contest between one party which is doing appallingly and another which is hardly setting Wales alight either. Given the large majority Mark Williams has, my instincts are that he ought to survive, but not with ease.

  41. Surely Labour will increase their share here significantly, winning votes from both LD and PC. I don’t see it only increasing from 6% to 7%.

  42. I don’t see why we have to spend so much time agonising over the minutae of results in Lib Dem and minor party fringe seats. They are a small minority of seats and are unlikely to affect the national election result all that much (as most will be LD and minor party holds anyway). I believe Barnaby has made this same point to The Results as well. We need more focus on the nitty gritty of the Con-Lab marginal that will decide the election.

  43. @AndyJS – that’ll entirely depend on who they pick as their Westminster candidate. The Local Party is fairly happy to not campaign – which barely gives Labour members much reason to turn out. If their Westminster Candidate can kick them into shape then maybe, but I doubt it.

    Again, the same is true of the Greens, the did much better in 2011 than 2010, but they haven’t stood for anything since and their only elected member in the County stood down from Aber Town Council in 2012.

    The Tories are in a parlous state. Their membership has collapsed about 80% since 2010 and despite putting up candidates across the county in 2012, they didn’t campaign and apart from in New Quay, where their 2010 and 2011 candidate stood for Council against an Independent (no Plaid or LD candidate stood in that ward) they barely made more votes than would be expected.

    UKIP will likely do as well as they did last time – as this time they probably won’t be above Mark Williams, with the same surname. Last time they were.

    I suspect the grand story in this seat this time will be no overall change. With some minor fluctuations in shares of the vote.

  44. H Hemelig
    “I don’t see why we have to spend so much time agonising over the minutae of results in Lib Dem and minor party fringe seats. They are a small minority of seats and are unlikely to affect the national election result all that much (as most will be LD and minor party holds anyway).”

    You may think that most will be LD holds, but I don’t. Where the LDs main challenger is not the Conservatives, any former left leaning support for the LDs will disappear in a stampede. Five years of Conservative government is a lot for many to forgive.

  45. Although a dreadful result for PC in 2010, I can see them making some recovery here but not enough to win the seat.

    I’d imagine there will be some tactical unwind towards Labour here, particularly with English students in Aber who would have previously voted Lib Dem.

    LD 38

    PC 33

    Labour 14

    Conservative 12

    Oth 3

  46. I know the Tories did extraordinarily well in Wales in 1979, but the result here in particular was noteworthy for them I would say- I think it might have even knocked Labour out of contention for all eternity, and although the Tories kept second place in 1983 and 1987, I would say it was Plaid Cymru who effectively replaced Labour as the Lib Dems’ main opponents in this seat longterm, and I feel this will continue to be a hard fought battle between the two for many years to come, even though the figures at the moment for Westminster suggest a safe seat for Mark ‘The MP not the snooker player’ Williams.

  47. The Lib Dems and Plaid have now both selected here for 2015 and 2016, Mark Williams & Elizabeth Evans for the Lib Dems and Mike Parker and Elin Jones for Plaid Cymru.

    There’s still rumours that Elin might also stand on the list, which I guess isn’t beyond the realm of possibility.

    Labour are selecting their Westminster candidate later in the month. No word on the Tories, Greens or UKIP yet. The latter don’t have a local branch, or really any local organisation. Their former local candidate is now too old to stand again, so they may well put up an import again.

    There’s also a rumour of a Socialist candidate. There’s always been a small Socialist community based in and around the University and they’ve gotten much more organised in the last 3 years, so if someone wanted to, I’m sure £500 could be scraped together!

    I believe the Labour selection will take place on the 13th of December.

  48. My forecast for 2015

    LD 35
    PC 30
    Lab 12
    Con 9
    UKIP 6
    Green 5
    Others 3

    The LDs polled 35% in May 2011 so I think this is sensible.

    This constituency also had a relatively high pro AV vote.

  49. Another reminder of my Westminster prediction for 2015-
    Liberal Democrat- 42%
    Plaid Cymru- 35%
    Conservative- 9%
    Labour- 7%
    UKIP- 4%
    Green- 3%

    For the Assembly in 2016, I would say at this very early stage-
    Plaid Cymru- 44%
    Liberal Democrat- 31%
    Labour- 11%
    Conservative- 8%
    Green- 4%
    UKIP- 2%

  50. TheResults,

    I think you are mistaken to believe that Labour’s vote share will be so low in 2015. Also, to contend that Labour have been knocked out of contention for good (let alone eternity) is to ignore the rather localised nature of politics in this sort of seat where the right candidate at the right time can cause massive shifts in support.
    For now, I think it is a battle between the Lib Dems and PC, but we will see what the future brings.

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