Clwyd West

2015 Result:
Conservative: 16463 (43.3%)
Labour: 9733 (25.6%)
Lib Dem: 1387 (3.6%)
Plaid Cymru: 4651 (12.2%)
UKIP: 4988 (13.1%)
Others: 806 (2.1%)
MAJORITY: 6730 (17.7%)

Category: Semi-marginal Conservative seat

Geography: Wales, Clwyd. Parts of Conwy and Denbighshire council areas.

Main population centres: Colwyn Bay, Abergele, Kimmel Bay, Rhos-on-Sea, Ruthin.

Profile: Clwyd West covers a large amount of rural territory but the electorate is heavily concentrated along its northern coast - particularly the large seaside resort of Colwyn Bay and its suburbs. Colwyn Bay is a popular tourist destination and retirement location and, as the second biggest town in north Wales, an important commercial hub in its own right. To the south the constituency is far more sparsely isolated, stretching down across the Denbigh Moors and taking in mostly small villages. The largest settlement in the southern part of the seat is Ruthin, the administrative centre for Denbighshire council.

Politics: A mixture of rural villages and coastal retirement towns, Clwyd West would probably be solid Conservative territory in England. Even in Wales it is fairly Conservative, falling to Labour only in their landslide years of 1997 and 2001. Prior to 1992 the area, then part of Clwyd North West, was represented by Sir Anthony Meyer, famous for being the stalking horse who was put up against Margaret Thatcher for a doomed 1989 leadership challenge. Meyer himself was deselected for his perceived treachery and would later join the Liberal Democrats..

Current MP
DAVID JONES (Conservative) Born 1952, London. Educated at Ruabon Grammar School and University College London. Former solicitor. Contested Conwy 1997, City of Chester 2001. Member of the Welsh Assembly for North Wales 2002-2003. First elected as MP for Clwyd West in 2005. Minister for Wales 2010-2012, Secretary of State for Wales 2012-2014.
Past Results
Con: 15833 (42%)
Lab: 9414 (25%)
LDem: 5801 (15%)
PC: 5864 (15%)
Oth: 1199 (3%)
MAJ: 6419 (17%)
Con: 12909 (36%)
Lab: 12776 (36%)
LDem: 4723 (13%)
PC: 3874 (11%)
Oth: 1332 (4%)
MAJ: 133 (0%)
Con: 12311 (36%)
Lab: 13426 (39%)
LDem: 3934 (11%)
PC: 4453 (13%)
Oth: 476 (1%)
MAJ: 1115 (3%)
Con: 13070 (32%)
Lab: 14918 (37%)
LDem: 5151 (13%)
PC: 5421 (13%)
Oth: 1697 (4%)
MAJ: 1848 (5%)

*There were boundary changes after 2005

2015 Candidates
DAVID JONES (Conservative) See above.
GARETH THOMAS (Labour) Born 1954, Penygroes. Educated at Rock Ferry Hill School and Aberystwyth University. Barrister. Flintshire county councillor 1995-1997. MP for Clwyd West 1997-2005, prevented from standing in 2010 by an all woman shortlist. Former PPS to Paul Murphy.
WARWICK NICHOLSON (UKIP) Former police inspector. Contested Clwyd West 2005, 2007 Welsh election, 2010. Contested North Wales Police Commissioner election 2012.
MARC JONES (Plaid) Born Flintshire. Press officer and former journalist. Wrexham councillor 2008-2012. Contested Wales 2014 European Election.
BOB ENGLISH (Socialist Labour Party) HGV driver for the Royal Mail. Contested Wales region 2009 European election.
RORY JEPSON (Above and Beyond) Born 1992. Former bar manager.
Comments - 83 Responses on “Clwyd West”
  1. Does Gareth Thomas live here? He’s a barrister in Liverpool.

  2. There seems to have long been a select band of Lib Dem candidates who have perennially stood in North East Wales down the years at both the Westminster and Assembly elections- The Burnhams instantly spring to mind for example.

  3. Gareth Thomas is listed on the SOPN at an address in Ruthin. The journey from there to Liverpool City centre could take about an hour depending on traffic conditions.

  4. Was Clwyd West the seat in which Con, Lab, PC and Lib Dems were all represented by women candidates at a recent GE or Welsh Assembly election, Or was it another of the North Wales seats that I have got confused with?

  5. Gareth Thomas lives just outside Ruthin town and speaks welsh.

  6. I see that you are using an old photo of me. My hair is longer now! I am still arguing for a proper Socialist approach however. I live in the constituency, and currently work as an HGV driver with Royal Mail.

  7. Best Wishes, Bob.

  8. This appears to be quite an attractive constituency: interesting to see that the rural hinterlands of the constituency tend to be better areas for Plaid Cymru whilst the more populated urban north of the constituency is much more favourable for the Conservatives, almost an inverse of the norm?

  9. This actually reminds me quite a lot of my own council area of South Ayrshire where the Conservatives tend to perform best around the more urban coastal parts of the council (Ayr, Prestwick and Troon), with the SNP doing better in the more rural parts of the council (Maybole, Girvan, Mossblown, Annbank and Tarbolton in particular).

  10. Is there a reason for that in Ayrshire, NTY? Are these people the ‘rural poor’ or self-sufficient or however they’d best describe themselves and perhaps therefore. while not necessarily pro-Independence they’re ‘small i’ independent and looking for a more local representative, hence opting for the Scottish/(in this case) Welsh Nationalist?

  11. @ Paul D – The urban coastal parts of South Ayrshire are more affluent than the rest of the county, which is more rural in nature. The urban parts can broadly be described as a mix of solidly Conservative suburbs and more SNP-friendly council estates which combined have a pretty strong Conservative vote. The Conservatives tend to poll at between 50-75% of the vote in the suburbs and anywhere between 5-20% of the vote in the council estates.

    The rural parts of the county are considerably more deprived, consisting of neglected former coal mining villages like Annbank, Mossblown, Tarbolton and Dailly in addition to the deprived towns of Girvan and Maybole, which are predominantly made-up of council estates. In saying that in much of the countryside and in the larger villages of Coylton, Dundonald and Symington nearer Ayr the Conservative vote tends to be fairly solid. The Conservatives vote is also solid in the north-west of Girvan, although this is countered by a strong SNP vote in the Glendoune estate to the south-east of the town.

    Is the vote in Girvan, Maybole etc. more independent in nature compared to the urban parts of the county? I would say no: these areas have traditionally been reliably Labour in the past with little inclination towards electing Independent councillors over the SNP… The county as a whole tends to have an exceptionally strong Tory vote in relation to its demographics.

    At the independence referendum the more urban parts of the county voted against Scottish independence on a margin of around 61% No 39% Yes, contrasting a stronger Yes vote of around 53% No 47% Yes in the rural side of the county.

  12. As for the rest of Ayrshire (East Ayrshire and North Ayrshire) you have a whole range of areas.

    There’s the more populated “poverty belt” ranging from Ardrossan down through Stevenston, Saltcoats and Irvine to include Kilmarnock and the villages of the River Irvine: an area whose traditional industries have collapsed and had a decent Yes vote in 2014 and is today a very strong SNP heartland.

    To the north of Irvine there’s also the Garnock Valley and the town of Kilwinning: an area which is again very deprived though did vote marginally against Scottish independence (on the whole) back in 2014 and has traditionally been slightly more accommodating for the Conservatives.

    There’s the former coal mining region of Cumnock and Doon Valley, which actually had a reasonable No vote back in 2014 in spite of its deprivation, and could be classed as the closest thing to a Labour heartland in the county.

    There’s also some wealth in the north-west coast of Ayrshire in places like Largs, Skelmorlie, Fairlie and West Kilbride: areas which have traditionally been accommodating to both the Conservatives and the SNP. The same goes for the rural area of Annick to the north of Kilmarnock.

    The Isle of Cumbrae is fairly mixed and a strong area for the SNP, whilst Arran is more affluent and typically more supportive of Conservative candidates locally.

  13. ‘This appears to be quite an attractive constituency: interesting to see that the rural hinterlands of the constituency tend to be better areas for Plaid Cymru whilst the more populated urban north of the constituency is much more favourable for the Conservatives, almost an inverse of the norm?’

    This is the sort of seat that were it in England would be solidly Conservative – comprising retirement coastal settlements and rural villages

    The coastal parts are the more Conservative, largely because they tend to be populated with retired people many of whom are from North West England

  14. 4 North Wales Conservatives have resigned to run as Inds in May’s locals.

    They include Cllr Julie Farron, Cllr Geraint Woolford and Cllr Alex Jones.

    The latter cited cuts in Ruthin.

  15. Yes the urban coastal parts of South Ayrshire also have a large number of retirees from Ayrshire, Renfrewshire and Glasgow.

  16. I wouldn’t be terribly surprised if the proposed Ayr & Carrick and Colwyn & Conwy constituencies end up with similar Conservative vote shares in 2020.

  17. ‘I wouldn’t be terribly surprised if the proposed Ayr & Carrick and Colwyn & Conwy constituencies end up with similar Conservative vote shares in 2020.’

    I would have thought that’s highly unlikely

    The new Colwyn & Conwy seat will be on paper the Tories strongest in the Principality, except Monmouth, and with the polls as they currently are they would be looking to get close to 50% of the vote

    In Ayr & Carrick the best they can hope for is a close 2nd to the SNP but even if they manage that, I don’t see them getting near 50%

    The seats might be similar demographically but Scottish politics is a different ballgame where the norms that dictate voting habits South of the border don’t seem to apply. Wales much less so

  18. I disagree, think the Conservatives will be looking at upwards of 45% of the vote in Ayr & Carrick based on current polling.

  19. The feeling on the ground here, in Ayr, from both SNP smd Conswevative camps is that the Conservatives pose a serious challenge to the SNP here come 2020.

  20. @ Plopwell – that doesn’t mean that there aren’t any areas of comparison between this area and South Ayrshire: the two are fairly similar both demographically and politically.

  21. I know as much about Scottish politics as the next person so can’t substantiate NTY’s prediction of 45% for the Tories in Ayr and Carrick, from what I do know that does seem a little bit high but I could see the Tories possibly getting into the high 30’s perhaps? I do defer to NTY on that though since he’s the resident Scottish politics expert.

    As for Conwy and Colwyn though I’m much more familiar with Welsh politics and that seat in particular. While Tim’s claim that “Colwyn & Conwy will be on paper the Tories strongest in the Principality, except Monmouth” is technically correct we do have to bear in mind that every Tory Welsh seat bar Monmouth is either abolished or made more marginal so that doesn’t really say much. As is I can certainly see the Tories in the low 40’s in Conwy and Colwyn even in an election they win comfortably. The seat isn’t as friendly as the current Clwyd West and they only managed 43% there after all.

  22. Okay so I apologise for not explaining this one very well – I think I understand all of the confusion.

    As part of the Boundary Review for 2020 the interim proposals suggest that a new constituency be established in the South Ayrshire council area named “Ayr and Carrick”. This is not the same as the existing Ayr, Carrick and Cumnock constituency as the constituency loses more SNP/Labour-inclined areas in East Ayrshire, gaining the fairly solid Conservative-voting coastal resort towns of Prestwick and Troon. During the public consultation period of the review the constituency received the most public responses of any constituency in Scotland (over 400), with unanimous support in favour of rejoining Ayr, Prestwick and Troon up in a single Westminster constituency (something which was overlooked in the previous Boundary Review in time for the 2005 general election: where Ayr forms part of Ayr, Carrick & Cumnock while Prestwick and Troon are located within Central Ayrshire).

    Assuming that the Boundary changes go through this constituency should form a part of the final bill given the overwhelming support for the new boundaries here.

    At the 2016 Scottish Parliament election, when the Conservatives took 22% of the vote nationally on the constituency vote, my figures suggest that the vote in the proposed Ayr and Carrick constituency was as follows:

    Scottish National 43%
    Conservative 41%
    Labour 14%
    Liberal Democrat 2%

    I believe that Monkton and Loans will end up moving into the proposed seat, with Annbank joining Kilmarnock. If this additional change happens it would be 42% Conservative 42% SNP in 2016.

    Currently the Conservatives are polling at 27-28% of the vote in the Westminster opinion polls in Scotland, which is up 5-6% on 2016. Applying this change to the proposed Ayr and Carrick constituency makes it a likely Conservative gain on 45% of the vote.

  23. On at least 45% of the vote in Ayr & Carrick, which is comparable to this constituency.

  24. Swings from parties as far apart as the SNP and Tories tend to hinge on the strength of (or at other times lack of) tactical or “second preference” votes.

    In that respect, the continuing question mark in Scotland is whether the SNP or the Tories are the “odd party out”, and therefore which party is the more likely to gain or lose softer tactical voters. Until you take a view on that, calculating notional shares in Scotland is a tricky thing to do.

    Extremely tricky, when trying to do whilst looking at 2015 results from a seat in Wales 😉

  25. Well that’s my notionals for my home area, and from what I’ve been told so far they are spot on.

  26. I would challenge you to come up with something different exiled voter?

    Based on the data I have available to me I wouldn’t consider adjusting my figures at all, they seem to be completely bang on and this is supported by canvass data from the main parties in my area…

  27. ‘The seat isn’t as friendly as the current Clwyd West and they only managed 43% there after all.’

    I’m not sure if that’s true

    The new seat essentially swaps the largely Plaid Cymru-voting rural hinterland for the more reliably Conservative-voting Llandudno (certainly nowadays) and Deganwy (strongest Tory ward in North Wales), along with a couple of Labour wards to the East of Bangor

    Net effect, if any, would slightly favour the Tories

  28. Tim
    The rural hinterland of both Aberconwy and Clwyd West is where Plaid gets most of their vote from but they don’t dominate the area, the Tories are very competitive there too, compare this to Lab who get nowhere (with the exception of the town of Ruthin) pretty much all of Labs not unsubstantial vote in both seats is along the coast and thus merged into one, yes Llandudno and Conwy are reliably Tory but unlike the rural hinterland Lab have some solid support there and as you mention the seat also includes the Welsh speaking strip from Dwygyfylchi to Llanfairfechan which is solidly Labour.

    For notionals I get a Tory majority of 13% compared to the present Clwyd West’s majority of 17.7% If you don’t want to take my word for it though Anthony’s own notionals show a similar picture, I’m not sure what data he uses cos he always gets different figures than me but he puts the Tory notional majority at 14.3%

  29. There’s not a great deal in it but this partv of the North Wales coast actually the coast is more Conservative-voting that you might imagine

    Kinmel Bay – one of the grottiest wards in the seat – is staunchly Conservative and both

  30. and I don’t think Ruthin is a Labour-voting town – It certainly doesn’t look like one

  31. Tim
    “this part of the North Wales coast actually the coast is more Conservative-voting that you might imagine”
    Oh I don’t doubt it, I know the area pretty well and the local election results speak for themselves, my point was that pretty much all of Labs not unsubstantial vote in both seats is along the coast as well whereas the rural hinterland Lab get nowhere. Thus the new “Conwy and Colwyn” is a bit better for Lab since it keep pretty much all of their vote intact while removing some areas where the Tories are competitive.

    “and I don’t think Ruthin is a Labour-voting town”
    That was a bad use of language on my part, what I meant was Ruthin is the only area in the rural hinterland where Lab has any noteworthy support, everywhere else they get nowhere.

  32. Don’t disagree Rivers but its the sort of the seat the Tories would only lose in a 1997 2001 Labour landslide type of election, with Labour clearly second

  33. Tim
    “its the sort of the seat the Tories would only lose in a 1997 2001 Labour landslide type of election”

    That’s where we disagree, the notionals show it would have a near identical majority to the current Aberconwy which Lab notionally held by 4% in 2005. Don’t get me wrong it would be top end of Labs targets and certainly a tough nut to crack but they wouldn’t need a landslide to manage it.

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