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
2010
Con: 16944 (43%)
Lab: 12339 (31%)
LDem: 5759 (15%)
PC: 3654 (9%)
Oth: 906 (2%)
MAJ: 4605 (12%)
2005*
Con: 14106 (37%)
Lab: 13499 (35%)
LDem: 4963 (13%)
PC: 4752 (12%)
Oth: 1267 (3%)
MAJ: 607 (2%)
2001
Con: 12260 (33%)
Lab: 15206 (41%)
LDem: 3882 (11%)
PC: 4658 (13%)
Oth: 771 (2%)
MAJ: 2946 (8%)
1997
Con: 11741 (28%)
Lab: 20477 (48%)
LDem: 5527 (13%)
PC: 2683 (6%)
Oth: 1975 (5%)
MAJ: 8736 (21%)

*There were boundary changes after 2005

Demographics
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.
FRANCES BRYANT (Green)
JOHN OSMOND (Plaid) Writer and journalist.
RODNEY MAILE (New Society of Worth)
CHRIS OVERTON (Independent Save Withybush Save Lives) Consultant obstetrician.
Links
Comments - 181 Responses on “Preseli Pembrokeshire”
  1. I hope not. I would hope that Grayling would be restricted to one of the ‘pointless’ Cabinet posts.

  2. Grayling would be a poor choice for DWP IMO. Crabb best fit for role, which is what makes it such a shame he’s had to resign. Robert Halfon would be good, though he’s never had a proper ministerial role.

  3. My IDS suggestion was tongue in cheek.

    I’m wondering if DWP Secretary might be a promotion for a Junior Minister we don’t know much about. I can’t think of any obvious good fits from existing full cabinet ministers.

    Possibly Grayling I suppose.

    Anna Soubry?
    Greg Clark?
    Greg Hands?
    George Freeman?
    Robert Halfon?

  4. I don’t rate Patel, but I suppose she’s stuck around and managed not to offend anyone too much (contrast with her predecessor, McVey). Perhaps she deserves a go at the DWP. Remember her intervention re: Leadsom over the weekend was pretty damning (comparing her to Corbyn).

  5. It was reported that Patel and Leadsom clashed while both working on vote leave.

  6. Wouldn’t be surprised. Patel has had a far higher profile than Leadsom since being elected in 2010 and would not appreciate having to pay second fiddle to that chancer.

  7. Anyone think DWP might be a job suited to an Andrew Mitchell comeback?

  8. Anyone think DWP might be a job suited to an Andrew Mitchell comeback??

  9. Whoops, sorry for duplicate comment

  10. Damian Green is the new DWP sec. Cant see Andrew Mitchel returning as junior member.

  11. Next to Bonking Boris’s trail of adultery and abortions, a few racy text messages are harmless. It really is one rule for some and one for others when it comes to Tory sex scandals….nothing new of course a Alan Clark and Jeffrey Archer prove.

  12. It’s slightly different when you have made a big thing about your Christian values though.

  13. Yes, quite.

  14. With Crabb and Morgan gone, plus Osborne and Gove, the cabinet seems to me to be somewhat more right-wing than Cameron’s. Perhaps an inevitable result of having to include more Brexiteers but it’s a bit at odds with May’s speeches yesterday and on Monday.

  15. But conversely there have been promotions for Amber Rudd & Justine Greening, and four of the Brexit six are gone altogether. I think it’s much the same to be honest, outside the Brexit triumvirate of Johnson, Davis & Fox (and of those only the last is a genuine right-winger). The reshuffle was mainly about breaking with Cameron’s cronyism rather than his ideology.

  16. It isn’t a big shift. But with Patel and Leadsom, plus Johnson, Davis and Fox, I maintain it is a shift. The new Lords leader (who I know very little about) is also a Brexit supporter.

    Another thing, very unusually for a reshuffle, is that the average age has gone up a bit rather than down. Perhaps reflecting the PM being older.

  17. More right wing? Depends how you define it. The “nice” Cameroons are socially liberal but are often economically more Thatcherite than those commonly referred to as being of the Right. Just look at Osborne’s enthusiasm for the relaxation of Sunday trading laws for example.

  18. ‘Depends how you define it. The “nice” Cameroons are socially liberal but are often economically more Thatcherite than those commonly referred to as being of the Right. Just look at Osborne’s enthusiasm for the relaxation of Sunday trading laws for example.’

    That’s a good pint

    Until he ganged up with Cameron to take over the Tory Party, I always saw George Osborne as very much a Thatcherite Tory, who like many on that wing, was quite liberal on social issues, so it’s quite odd that he fell out with many people who you would think might be his allies

    I still think the new cabinet is more Right Wing than the one it succeeded and I find it hard to fathom how those in charge of the way we conduct ourselves abroad – Johnson, Fox and Davis – all of whom allegedly despise each other – will do anything to improve our rapidly declining image to the rest of the world

    You could say May has played a blinder by making Leadsom Environment Minister after her promises during the referendum of maintaining the ludicrously beneficial subsidies British farmers have been used to as part of the EU. I don’t see her in that job for too long

  19. Fewer modernisers – but that supports May’s move towards ‘a country that works for everyone not just the privileged’ – as many of the modernisers so-called were perceived to be. I can’t see any of the appointments radically disagreeing with May’s vision set out.

    And even if it’s more right-wing on other measures – a big ‘if’ – then it’s quite subtle to me rather than intentional.

    Not as if May’s just brought Bill Cash, Nadine Dorries and Philip Davies into cabinet. In fact, she hasn’t even brought IDS back in – or Gove, who though a moderniser and a reformer, is definitely right-wing on many measures.

    Frankly all the left-right stuff is made more of than is relevant for our times, imho.

  20. ‘And even if it’s more right-wing on other measures – a big ‘if’ – then it’s quite subtle to me rather than intentional.’

    The new cabinet has a mere two (maybe three) representatives from the Left of the party – and nine from the Right – which pours scorn on May’s intention to create a unifying government

    When you add t that the likes of Morgan, Soubry, Letwin, Harper have all been given the boot one might think May was trying to pull the wool over people’s eyes with her speech outside Downing Street on Wednesday- saying one thing and then doing the precise opposite

  21. TIM JONES

    Plenty of right wing governments have had interventionist economic policies. Italy between 1922 and 1943 springs immediately to mind.

  22. ‘Plenty of right wing governments have had interventionist economic policies. Italy between 1922 and 1943 springs immediately to mind.’

    But as we all know European Fascists don’t fit neatly into the Left/Right alignment as much of their beliefs – like a massive, all-powerful and constantly interfering state – are now considered left wing

    Let’s not forget the One nation Tory governments of Churchill, Eden and McMillan all believed in an interventionist government – but the Tory party of today is almost incomparable to the one of days

  23. TIM JONES

    Government intervention is a means to an end.

    The end in the case of Fascism was government intervention to help capitalist and reactionary interests which is what makes it Right Wing.

    The end for left-wing governments are to aid working class or progressive interests.

    Don’t forget that the original idea of Communism was to allow the State to wither away.

  24. So which of Morgan, Soubry, Letwin and Harper would have stuck up for ‘The Great British left behinders’ more than those in cabinet now? Your argument seems to be based on some ideological left-right axis you’ve got everyone on rather than reality.

    I just don’t see where May has pulled the wool over anybody’s eyes with her speech in Downing Street or anything else.

  25. Besides, most of those named were Junior Ministers – so how do we know if they’ve been given the boot yet?

  26. The guy has clearly been exposed as a shallow hypocrite. The Expenses scandal in 2009 showed him to be a ‘flipper’ happy to make material gain at the taxpayer’s expense. Now we discover that he has been close to being an adulterer despite professing to have strong Christian beliefs. Who is he to give moral guidance to anybody when he is so clearly in need of it himself.?

  27. Campbell – Bannerman – Asquith – Bonar Law – Macdonald – Douglas-Home run counter to that suggestion.

  28. Well Douglas – Home is often thought of as having done rather well in 1964 to have come so close to being re-elected given the polling outlook when he became PM in October 1963.
    As for Callaghan, I have never seen it suggested before that his defeat in 1979 had anything at all to do with his representing a Cardiff constituency – the ‘winter of discontent’ sealed his fate . Similarly -re – Brown in 2010 I don’t think having a Scottish seat was held against him in England.
    Had he lived I am also confident that John Smith would have come to power in 1997.
    Foot – most people were probably unaware of him having a seat in Wales.
    Kinnock was probably held back by being perceived as a ‘windbag’ and lightweight – not the location of his seat.

  29. Labour could have been led by (dare I say it) Corbyn in 97 and they would have been elected.

  30. @rivers10 well the Tories would have still lost that’s for certain but it is also certain that Labour under Corbyn in ’97 would have done far, far worse than they did under Blair. Blair detoxified the Labour brand to millions of people who had never voted Labour before if Corbyn was leader then would have still been highly toxic to Tory and swing voters. Remember this was an era when the Lib Dems were still doing fairly well and if Corbyn was leader of the Labour party then they would almost certainly have been the main recipiants of Tory switchers as opposed to Labour and voters who switched from the Lib Dems to Labour in 97 would not have switched and labour would have lost a lot of their more centrist voters to the Lib Dems who had left leaning credentials back then.

    My guess the result would have been something like with Corbyn as leader (i.e a very hung parliament):
    Con:32%
    Lab:32%
    LibDem:31%

  31. Thus if Corbyn was Labour leader in 1997 we could well be reflecting on the premiership of Prime minister Ashdown…

  32. MPR and Pepperminttea
    We’re all in agreement that Lab would have won in 97 regardless but Pepps I seriously think your underestimating the extent to which the Tories had stooped in 97. Lab might not have achieved a Blair style landslide but they would have done vastly better than breaking even with the Tories and the Lib Dems were never going to leap that high that quickly. I’m with Maxi in thinking that Lab would have done sufficiently well to win outright in 97 and in 2001 as well but then lost in 2005 (actually probably would have been 2006, governments on the way out generally held out for the full five years before calling an election)

    And this is where it gets interesting I imagine many things would be different in that scenario. For one Theresa May likely wouldn’t even be an MP let alone PM. You’re right to point out the Lib Dems would have taken a much more centrist approach rather than positioning themselves to the left of Lab like they did under Charles Kennedy and this will have only endeared them to middle class Tory sympathetic voters in the South which very well could have meant May’s once marginal Maidenhead falling to the Lib Dems.

    More interestingly though if Lab were ejected in 05/06 that would have left the new Tory government with just a few short years before the full force of the 08 crash hit them saddling them with the blame instead. Consequently I wouldn’t have been surprised if that Tory government lasted only a single term. Possibilities abound then, could the Tories have survived that? Would the centrist Lib Dem’s then sweep to power as you suggest buoyed by a collapsing Tory party and a lethargic, tired Lab party? All hypothetical but interesting nonetheless and reaffirms my firm believe that New Labs “modernisation” strategy was medium to long term electorally catastrophic even if that was impossible to know at the time.

  33. Say after Kinnock stepped down after the loss in ’92 and Jeremy Corbyn became Labour leader instead of John Smith. Essentially all the reforms that happened in the 92-97 period and all the Kinnock reforms re. things like Militant would have been undone (Corbyn being an avid supporter of Militant). Essentially Labour would have made themselves more electorally scary/poisonous to the average voter than even the Foot years (at least he tried to fight Militant). With the Tory government in freefall and Labour being essentially run by militant the average voter would have turned to the Lib Dems who would have essentially pitched to the electorate as not incompetent like the government or extremist like the opposition. They would have received extremely good press coverage while the coverage of both the government and the opposition would have been abysmal (if anything a Corbyn lead Labour party would have made the Major government look far better as they would have attracted away a huge quantity of the negative headlines). The whole history of 92-97 would have been completely different as the main beneficiaries of the governments woes would have been the Lib Dems who would have been the New Labour of that alternate timeline and I actually think it is possible they would have won the election.

  34. I actually think the Con-Lib coalition of 2010-2015 is Corbyn’s saving grace actually. If Cameron won outright in both 2010 and 2015 and Corbyn had become Labour leader I am pretty sure Labour’s polling would have collapsed into the low 20s as its more moderate voters jump ship to the Lib Dems. Corbyn should thank his lucky stars that these people have nowhere else to go at present.

    I do happen to think that virtually anyone would have won as Labour leader in 97 except for someone of the far left like Corbyn with associations with militant, the IRA, black power etc. These issues would have been much more poignant/ painful then than now which is why I am confident even in 97 he would have lost (and yes the Tories wouldn’t have won either).

  35. Any mainstream Labour figure would have won a very, very comfortable overall majority in 1997. Before his death, John Smith’s Labour was running 20 points ahead of the Tories.

    Also, all the reasons that people had for not voting Tory in 1997 would have continued to apply – the Tory reputation for economic competence was trashed by Black Wednesday, the Maastricht debacle would have continued, as would the undermining of Major by the right, and we would still have had the seemingly unending string of scandals. I think people who weren’t around at the time don’t quite realise how much the Tories were loathed, and how much people felt there was a real need to get them out and someone else in.

    Also, even the 32-31-31 result that Peppermint Tea predicts would likely have resulted in something very close to a Labour overall majority. That would still have been something like a 4% swing from Con to Lab, which would have resulted in significant Labour gains. The Conservatives would also have lost swathes of seats to the Lib Dems, unlike Labour, who had very few seats that were even semi-exposed to a Lib Dem challenge.

  36. What if Blair hadn’t become leader is, of course, a great hypothetical. My best guess is that Smith would have won with a smaller but still comfortable majority of 50-odd. The Tories were in no state to win in 1997 against any semi-competent Labour leader and I don’t think they would have. But Smith wouldn’t have been able to completely overhaul the Labour brand in the way Blair did. Though ‘New Labour’ and ‘modernisation’ later became synonyms for spin and style over substance in 1997 it was new and exciting, and surely did play a major part in getting so-called ‘Mondeo Man’ and ‘Worcester Woman’ to turn out for Labour.

    Corbyn doesn’t fall into the category of semi-competent and if him or any of his associates had led Labour even in 1997 I don’t think they’d have come close to winning. The LDs would probably have surged as Pepperminttea suggests.

  37. I think a good chunk of the further deterioration of the Tory poll position after Blair took over the leadership was due to the Tories’ continuing problems rather than Blair’s modernisation. I’d guess that the Labour majority under Smith would have been over a hundred.

  38. @Simon

    I just think the contrast between clapped out Tories under Major and reinvigorated, modernised, media-friendly Labour under Blair would have been less with Smith in charge of Labour. Smith had been around a long time and in approach was closer to Kinnock than Blair. He’d have carried more baggage from 1992. Blair was new and exciting as I say and successfully, as he had intended, made ‘New Labour’ into something that seemed to the electorate to be a completely different party from the one they rejected at the four previous elections. But this is all a hypothetical discussion and the thing about hypothetical discussions is we don’t really know!

  39. Certainly, the optics would have been different. I suspect that it would still have been clapped-out, divided, somewhat corrupt Tories, but Labour would have presented themselves as the safe pair of hands who would restore the fairness that the Tories had forgotten. Given how unpopular the Tories were, I think Labour would have been successful in that.

  40. I would also suggest that Labour would have been electable in 1997 on a virtual repeat of its 1992 manifesto. The electorate had changed its view of the parties in the intervening five years and was in a much more anti – Tory mood by 1997. Moreover the sheer scale of Labour’s victory strongly suggests that the Blair changes were not – with hindsight – necessary in order to win. Labour was going to win anyway – Blair simply made the difference in that instead of a comfortable win Labour completetly routed the Tories.

  41. I think Blair was (correctly IMO) looking to Labour’s long-term electability, not just 1997. Another leader might have done equally well in 1997 but not in 2001 and thereafter.

    Seems ironic now, given the rapid reversal in the opposite direction in recent years.

  42. What would have happened in 2001 and beyond would depend much more on the competence of the Labour Government. The economic position by 1997 wasn’t bad, and Smith was hardly a mad lefty, so I suspect that Labour would have been just fine in 2001.

  43. @Simo yes I agree that any mainstream Labour figure would have crushed the Tories in 1997 (though not by a much as Blair) however we are talking about militant supporting Corbyn here which is a different kettle of fish entirely…

  44. @Peppermint Tea The problem is that there’s no remotely plausible counterfactual that leads to a Corbynite style leader at that time. In the 88 and 92 leadership elections, more radical/left-wing candidates were defeated by about 80% in both cases.

  45. I’m totally in agreement with Graham and Simon on this. Of course nobody is suggesting anybody else could have done as well as Blair but the scale of Blair’s victory probably did more harm than good, it meant the Lab governments got sloppy after about 2002 and as I said up thread had Labour been ejected in 2005/06 (which they probably would have been had they won with smaller majorities) that would have landed the blame of the 08 crash squarely on the Tories doorstep, Lab could have had a line about how the Tories “tanked the economy last time and now they’ve tanked it again” thus destroying the Tories economic credibility, possibly irreversibly so and lets be real the Tories supposed economic competence is the main thing that’s getting them elected these days, they’re seen as a safe pair of hands on the economy.

    Blair won over people who had always voted Tory in places like Kettering and Shrewsbury, the fact that these types have since went back to the Tories (many while Blair was still in power in 01 and 05) and look very unlikely to ever return shows there wasn’t much long term electoral gain in appealing to these types.

    What people often forget is that Lab ran the Tories pretty close in 92, the reason the election was touted as a disaster was because Lab were widely expected to win. You don’t gain 40 odd seats on a losing manifesto. With the totally different dynamics in 97 compared to 92 it should be fairly apparent that Lab would have easily been looking at a majority around the 100 seat mark with most any leader and manifesto. Thus even if you assume Corbyn would do just a fraction as well we’re still looking at a majority of 20 seats or so.

  46. @Rivers10
    In 1992 Labour did not run the Tories close in terms of vote share. The Tory lead at 7.6% was actually bigger than in either 2010 or 2015. As for expectations that year, they were really more of a Hung Parliament with Labour as the largest party – the polls were not really pointing to an overall Labour majority.

  47. Graham
    Yes I meant ran them close in terms of seats and yes obviously by win I meant become the largest party, the bulk of polling prior to the election showed Lab with a small lead of between 1-3 points.

  48. ‘Blair won over people who had always voted Tory in places like Kettering and Shrewsbury, the fact that these types have since went back to the Tories (many while Blair was still in power in 01 and 05) and look very unlikely to ever return shows there wasn’t much long term electoral gain in appealing to these types.’

    I’m not sure if Kettering is a good example given it was a Labour seat from 1945-1983, -first won by the party in 1918 (!) – and like many post-industrial, lower middle class seats it backed Thatcher throughout the 1980s – but Labour will need to win at least some of these voters if they are to hope to form a government again

    You can’t write off such large proportions of the population and still hope to win an election by appealing to what’s left – as Ed Miliband tried to

  49. Indeed Kettering wasn’t a good example, I was working off memory and got Kettering’s political history totally wrong.

    Basically what I meant was firmly middle class seats that Labour rarely if ever won prior to Blair. there was a presumption amongst New Labs architects that if they moved sufficiently to the centre they’d win over swathes of normally solid Tory voters thus creating an essentially permanent winning coalition.

    This was unbelievably naïve since for one most of those voters only backed Blair cos the Tories where in such a dire state. Lab could have copied the Tories policy for policy those folks wouldn’t have voted Labour if they had a semi competent Tory party to vote for. Also as was evidenced as soon as the Tories got their act together or the shine wore off New Labour a bit these folks jumped straight back to the Tories and their flirtation with Labour looks to be little more than a blip. As I mentioned Lab lost many of these voters in 01 and especially 05 years before even the most ridiculous pundits could claim New Lab was abandoned. The writing really was on the wall by then.

  50. ‘Why do people have such derision for Kettering?’

    I didn’t know they did bit I think you’ll find it;’s not just the Lefties who see Kettring as a bit of a dump, with a population that isn’t especially affluent yet is very Conservative and whose greatest contribution to UK politics in recent times has been keeping the less than charming Phil Hollobone in a career

    And it’s not just Labour who look down on such groups – if they do at all. I found Tory MP John Whittingdale’s description of his right-wing Essex constituents as “oiks” fairly revealing

    ‘There was a presumption amongst New Labs architects that if they moved sufficiently to the centre they’d win over swathes of normally solid Tory voters thus creating an essentially permanent winning coalition’

    But to be fair it worked in 1997 and 2001 – and only stopped working as one of the many effects of the Iraq war

    Whilst the Tories lost themselves the 1997 election – as government’s always do – there’s no way Labour would have had the 179+ majority had Corbyn been leader.

    Up until the war New Labour was a fairly potent political movement – and the Labour Party might do themselves some credit if they recognised that – especially so given the utter mess they are in now

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