Preseli Pembrokeshire

2015 Result:
Conservative: 16383 (40.4%)
Labour: 11414 (28.1%)
Lib Dem: 780 (1.9%)
Plaid Cymru: 2518 (6.2%)
Green: 1452 (3.6%)
UKIP: 4257 (10.5%)
Independent: 3729 (9.2%)
Others: 23 (0.1%)
MAJORITY: 4969 (12.3%)

Category: Semi-marginal Conservative seat

Geography: Wales, Dyfed. Part of Pembrokeshire council area.

Main population centres: Milford Haven, Haverfordwest, Fishguard, St Davids.

Profile: The constituency is named after the old local government district abolished in 1996. It is the most westerly seat in Wales, at the tip of the Pembrokeshire peninsula, and includes the northern (and more Welsh speaking) part of Pembrokeshire and the more English-speaking and influenced area around Milford Haven and Haverfordwest, the two largest towns in Pembrokeshire. Haverfordwest is the commercial and administrative centre for the area while Milford Haven is a major port and a key point in Britain's energy network with its oil refineries and liquid natural gas terminal. The seat also includes the minute ecclesiastical city of St Davids, by far the smallest city in Britain with a population below 2000. Much of the seat is included within the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park, which runs around the rugged cliffs and beaches of the Pembrokeshire.

Politics: Southern Pembrokeshire is very English in its culture and language, long known as "little England beyond Wales", so might be expected to lean Conservative. However, the seat contains only part of southern Pembrokeshire and while the seat has returned Conservative MPs for most of the time since 1970, it is hardly safe, falling to Labour in 1992 rather than the 1997 landslide. At a local level it is largely dominated by independent candidates.

Current MP
STEPHEN CRABB (Conservative) Born 1973, Inverness. Educated at Tasker Milward V.C. School and Bristol University. Former business consultant. First elected as MP for Preseli Pembrokeshire in 2005. Government whip and junior minister at the Welsh office 2012-2014. Secretary of State for Wales since 2014.
Past Results
Con: 16944 (43%)
Lab: 12339 (31%)
LDem: 5759 (15%)
PC: 3654 (9%)
Oth: 906 (2%)
MAJ: 4605 (12%)
Con: 14106 (37%)
Lab: 13499 (35%)
LDem: 4963 (13%)
PC: 4752 (12%)
Oth: 1267 (3%)
MAJ: 607 (2%)
Con: 12260 (33%)
Lab: 15206 (41%)
LDem: 3882 (11%)
PC: 4658 (13%)
Oth: 771 (2%)
MAJ: 2946 (8%)
Con: 11741 (28%)
Lab: 20477 (48%)
LDem: 5527 (13%)
PC: 2683 (6%)
Oth: 1975 (5%)
MAJ: 8736 (21%)

*There were boundary changes after 2005

2015 Candidates
STEPHEN CRABB (Conservative) See above.
PAUL MILLER (Labour) Born Neyland. Educated at Sir Thomas Picton School and Southampton University. Pembrokeshire councillor since 2012.
NICK TREGONING (Liberal Democrat) Constituency manager. Swansea councillor 1999-2012. Contested Gower 2005, Preseli Pembrokeshire 2010, Wales European region 2009 election.
HOWARD LILLYMAN (UKIP) Former university technician.
JOHN OSMOND (Plaid) Writer and journalist.
RODNEY MAILE (New Society of Worth)
CHRIS OVERTON (Independent Save Withybush Save Lives) Consultant obstetrician.
Comments - 181 Responses on “Preseli Pembrokeshire”
  1. Plaid Cymru have selected John Osmond to stand in this seat in 2015. He is a former journalist and was the director of the institute of welsh affairs think-tank.

  2. A closer look at the result in Pembrokeshire in 1970-
    Edwards (Conservative)- 19, 120 (34.73%, -1.44%)
    Parry (Labour)- 17, 889 (32.49%, -15.66%)
    Donnelly (Democratic Party)- 11, 824 (21.48%, N/A)
    Samuel (Plaid Cymru)- 3, 681 (6.69%, +1.72%)
    Thomas (Liberal)- 2, 541 (4.62%, -6.09%)

    Majority- 1, 231 (2.24%)
    Swing- +7.11% From Lab to Con.

  3. Why don’t you take a “closer look” at 1992 here, which to my mind was a much more interesting result than 1970.

    I had a brief chat with Nick Bennett about 10 years ago and he mentioned that he never expected to lose his seat and it really hit him for six. He was defending a pretty large majority – over 5000 IIRC. The same thing happened to him in Reading in 1997 when, again, he never expected to lose. Bennett was elected to Bromley council in 2006 and was chairman of Beckenham Conservative Association a few years back.

  4. A closer look at the result here in 1992-
    Ainger (Labour)- 26, 253 (43.29%, +12.32%)
    Bennett (Conservative)- 25, 498 (42.04%, +1.05%)
    Berry (Liberal Democrat)- 6, 625 (10.92%, -15.16%)
    Bryant (Plaid Cymru)- 1, 627 (2.68%, +0.71%)
    Coghill (Green)- 484 (0.80%, N/A)
    Stoddart (Anti-Federalist League)- 158 (0.26%, N/A)

    Majority- 755 (1.24%)
    Swing- +5.635% From Con to Lab.

  5. Is the much improved tory position here a result of demographic change or more favourable boundaries or both?

  6. 1992 Notional:

    Con 17,270 39.49%
    Lab 16,667 38.11%
    LibDem 5,379 12.3%
    PC 3,773 8.63%
    Others 642 1.47%

    Notional Majority 603 1.38%

  7. I think there are grounds for arguing that there is a pro-Tory trend here. The Tories have achieved three good swings in a row now and they had an excellent result here in the 2011 Assembly elections, holding on by 8%. I think Stephen Crabb has grounds for some optimism here as 2015 looms.

  8. Holding it in 2011 should certainly give the Conservatives grounds for thinking they will in a General Election. Having said that 2011 was a pretty decent year for the party.

  9. Prediction for 2015-
    Crabb (Conservative)- 41%
    Labour- 34%
    Plaid Cymru- 12%
    UKIP- 7%
    Liberal Democrats- 6%

  10. Would have thought it will be a bit closer than that personally, though it should still be a fairly comfortable Con hold.

  11. Does Stephen Crabb have a slight personal vote, as he has done remarkably well here since he first contested the seat in 2001-
    1. 2001- 12, 260 (33.3%, +5.6%)
    2. 2005- 14, 106 (36.6%, +3.3%, 607 (1.6%) majority)
    3. 2010- 16, 994 (42.8%, +6.4%, 4, 605 (11.6%) majority)

  12. prediction for 2015-

    con- 40%
    Lab- 35%
    PC- 13%
    UKIP- 6%
    Lib- 6%

    A pretty simple con hold, majority 5%. The liberal democrats will be in competition with UKIP for fourth place.

  13. Amusing that you think UKIP will do so badly in “little England beyond Wales” but storm way into double figures in a student liberal seat like Norwich South. I suggest you think a bit more before you predict every seat under the sun.

  14. Can’t see Labour taking this seat in 2015. Too picturesque and affluent. Voters here won’t be won over by a Ed Miliband-led Labour party. If David were leader, they may of had fighting chance here.

  15. Conservative Hold. 3,000 majority.

  16. Mr Crabb appears to be on the up!

    Slowly building up a safe position in his previously marginal seat, getting a Cabinet post in his 2nd term (albeit theres not much competition amongst Conservatives for the Welsh and Scottish posts) and now being moved to Work and Pensions, in somewhat unusual circumstances. Obviously someone thinks he’s a safe pair of hands.

    In a quiet way, he seems to be becoming a contender – should the Conservatives have second thoughts about George or Boris, he might be worth a punt.

  17. He’s obviously an outsider, but media reports I’ve read seem to suggest he is quite well liked amongst Tory MPs.

    It probably helps that he has (as the cliché says) ‘a good backstory’.

    Incidentally, I think this the first time a Conservative cabinet has contained more than one member who sits for a Welsh seat.

    That obviously says a lot about the historic weakness of the party in Wales, but also the relatively strong post-97 recovery.

    However this does remain a very viable target for Labour, in a good year for that party. I doubt boundary changes will create anything much safer, so there is a risk.

  18. John D
    Boundary review will probably see the seat abolished.

  19. Indeed many have been quick to claim this new review will definitely pass and that it will be worse for Labour, I’m not so sure a lot of this comes down to luck.
    An example I was discussing was North Lancashire. The area has to go from three MP’s to two and last time it was all peachy for the Tories. Morris could vote for the review as it left his Morcambe and Lunesdale seat pretty much unchanged bar the addition of a solidly Tory ward. While Wallace was happy that his new Lancaster and Wyre seat was still rock solid Tory. The loser was Labour.

    This time though it looks like were going to get a rock solid Labour seat of Morcambe and Lancaster (leaving Cat Smith safe) leaving two Tory MP’s to fight over the one ultra safe Tory rural North Lancashire seat. As it happens I imagine they both might vote against instead of risking their own futures competing for a seat they both have a claim too.

  20. Its almost an impossibility that a seat will be “found” for all of them. Cameron would have to look at all his retirements then parachute anybody who looks set to lose their seat into any safe seats vacated, this will likely infuriate local parties and doesn’t answer the question of what you do with those MP’s who find themselves in a more marginal seat than before. If Philip Davies finds his Shipley seat paired with parts of Bradford again he will almost certainly vote against and that’s just one example. So Cameron would have to find new seats for the likes of him too, frankly I just cant see it happening, by my very rough calculations Cameron looks like he’ll need to find about 30-40 safe seats to parachute his losing MP’s into.

  21. If they end up being split between the Leadership and backbenchers, I do not see how the boundary review passes.

    Re Crabb. Given Osborne’s fall, and the subsequent hype on Crabb’s promotion, I wonder if we are seeing the first potential “anti-Boris” candidate being ramped by the Cameroons.

  22. It may be nice for Steve Crabb being made Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, but did we really need a replacement Ian Duncan-Smiith? There are too man ministers.

    Do we need more than sixteen cabinet ministers?

  23. HAWTHORN – I think you may be right. But is there a question mark overy his views on homosexuality? He could be savaged on that if he really does believe in “gay cures” etc.

  24. Interesting:

    He wants people to be able to express their religious beliefs “without fear of being labeled an extremist or homophobe”. The statement of an extremist homophobe, perhaps?

  25. I suspect that his views have been taken out of context. And while it could be damaging, ultimately it is the candidates’ visions of the future of the Conservative Party that will count in the leadership contest. It sounds like the sort of line that is endlessly parroted in Guardian comment sections (normally alongside the phrase “TORY SCUM” or similar) but doesn’t really spread into the wider public consciousness.

    Much depends on when the contest is held, too. If it’s right after the EU referendum, Crabb may face the charge that he is still somewhat unproven, though of course we are currently in the situation where neither of the two main party leaders had had ministerial experience before taking over. If the contest is held in 2019, Crabb has the not inconsiderable hurdle of Universal Credit to overcome, which could yet scupper his chances.

  26. Another thought: if Crabb does become leader, we could be on for a huge number of candidates, perhaps some kind of record, in Preseli Pembrokeshire in 2020. There were already eight in 2015, including one of the most successful independents in the country. And then you’d have the Loony and the assortment of protest candidates alongside all that.

  27. I think it could cause more difficulty for him than that. His comments sound like those of a genuine believer (unlike Cameron) and therefore he may struggle to deny them when asked. If his christianity is IDS-ish (ie fairly mainstream, socially conservative and citing ‘family values’ more than theology) then he’ll get away with it. If, however, he holds extreme views (ie creationism, millennialism, hell etc) then he could find himself ridiculed and made unelectable.

  28. This would be justified, too, in my view. Politicians like Ruth Kelly regularly claim their religiosity should not be scrutinised, and yet admit that their beliefs inform their behaviour in politics. If Crabb really does have extreme views, then his opponents should go for the throat.

  29. He doesn’t hold extreme views, more the type of views you ascribe to IDS I think. He has said that he isn’t certain how he’d vote if gay marriage came up again:

    “Following the vote on gay marriage one of the things that struck me most was the difference in tone of the correspondence I was getting from angry Christians in my constituency and the gay people who were actually going to be affected by the vote.

    “I guess getting to know Ruth [Davidson] over the last couple of years has made me reflect in a deeper way on the experiences of gay people,” he said.

    “There’s a challenge out there about how we reconcile different groups of rights in society which we haven’t easily resolved but if the vote happened again tom

    Religiosity may, of course, be something of an advantage in a leadership contest when there are still people like Sir Edward Leigh and David Burrowes around. And doubtless some members, particularly older members, still see these things as important.

    If there were a contest in the summer being relatively untested and on the way up may not be a bad thing. It certainly helped John Major when there was a sudden vacancy in 1990. But realistically in such circumstances the contest would become a single-issue contest on how to proceed with implementing Brexit…

  30. JACK SHELDON – Fair enough, it does sound as though he is only moderately religious, and it probably wont cause him any problems. I also agree that being religious goes down well with a certain group, although lip-service is probably sufficient. Cameron proves that, as he is technically a church-going Christian, although his Christianity should be considered in the same light as his support of Aston Villa; certainly no more than superficial, and more than likely entirely bogus. He does like to be politically expedient!

  31. Your open-mindedness, charitability and acceptance of other peoples’ beliefs is humbling to observe, Ecowirral 😉

  32. I didn’t know it was unacceptable to believe in he’ll or creationism these days.

  33. ROBBERBUTTON – it’s perfectly acceptable to believe in creationism or hell, but if you’re an elected politician then your beliefs and opinions are part of the package you sell to the public. Someone who believes, say, that the world is only 6,000 years old and that the end is nigh, might not be the person who you want to make some decisions that are going to affect people’s lives. Someone who believes in an omnipotent Pol Pot who casts people into an eternity of torment for comparitively mild ‘sins’ (especially if those include non-belief) also could rightly be questioned.

  34. JOHN D – believe me, my open-mindedness and charitability far exceed most of the people who may feel offended by my comment. Part of Open-mindedness is the willingness to question and challenge assumed norms.

  35. Surprised to see no-one commenting on Crabb’s press conference today. As a christian myself I’d fully support him, but I also think he brings an effective backstory that Johnson and May don’t have

  36. The joint ticket is certainly interesting – taking in the one-nation & free-market wings of the party. I feel that this may be worth a few more nominations than Crabb alone would manage.

  37. At another time I might be more inclined to enthusiastically support Crabb but I’m not convinced that he’s the right person to lead the country through what will be an extremely difficult process. Talk about opportunity and one nation conservatism is great but the next 2+ years are going to be all about Brexit.

  38. I don’t understand how, from an arithmetic standpoint, he expects to do well. He and Javid are obviously hoping to barge May out the race completely but I just don’t see that happening.

  39. If, as expected, the Cameron loyalists on the payroll vote come out en masse for May then it will be Boris v Theresa. But I don’t rule out that it might be closer than people think between her and Crabb.

  40. I like Stephen Crabb, but I worry how some of the more fervent ‘Brexiteers’ would react to someone who was more actively a ‘Remainer’ than Theresa May.

    One of Mr Crabb’s potential drawbacks is of course that he represents a seat which is far from safe.
    I don’t currently expect him to lose it as Labour is the only realistic challenger, but there’s also the uncertainty of boundary changes if there *isn’t* a snap election.

  41. I’m not sure that’s really a drawback. Pembrokeshire will (almost certainly, even more so if Crabb’s leader) only be lost in an election the Tories lose. So he’d be gone as leader if he lost his seat anyway. I’d actually expect that a Welsh leader would help the Tories to do well there as Labour did even better than usual in Wales under Kinnock and held on in Scotland under Brown.

  42. Which ones? It seems like they’ve already maxed out Wales’s potential in last year’s GE. Rhyl, of all places, has a Tory MP.

  43. There will be a completely new constituency map in Wales after the boundary changes but on current boundaries they are withing striking distance in Bridgend, Wrexham, Delyn, Alyn and Deeside, Clwyd South, Newport West and Bridgend. None are easy targets, obviously, but all have high UKIP votes and so could be won with a vote share in the low-to-mid 30s.

  44. Due to his personal life.
    Third DWP sec of the year. I wonder if it will be Pritt Patel?

  45. How about IDS?

  46. Quite possible as well.

  47. I believe he was seen entering Downing St (?) but that was ages ago. IDS seems like a backwards step anyway.

  48. Crabb going is a shame. I didn’t think the Times allegations were too serious – they amounted to little more than flirting, albeit he is a married man. But maybe there is more that hasn’t come out.

  49. Could also be Chris Grayling at the DWP.

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