While much of Europe is sensibly going off on its holidays, here in Wales (well, bits of it, anyway) next week is by-election week.
First, and most obviously, we have the Ynys Mon by-election for the National Assembly seat recently vacated by Ieuan Wyn Jones, the former Plaid Cymru leader. The full list of the candidates is here.
Blog Menai have very useful summarised the recent electoral history of the Assembly constituency. Ynys Mon is one of those interesting seats in that its political representation is split: it has always returned a Plaid Cymru AM, but Labour’s Albert Owen has been the Westminster representative since 2001. The most recent Westminster result, from 2010, is available here:
The stakes in the by-election are rather higher than is normally the case. This is not just about party morale. Were Labour to take the seat, this would give them 31 seats in the National Assembly – finally delivering them the hitherto elusive absolute majority in the chamber. It would also be a major blow to Plaid Cymru. Alternatively, a convincing win for Plaid, following up on their strong performance in this year’s local elections on the island would be a good morale booster for them. While Labour and Plaid look the main contenders, we will also be looking out for the relative success of the other parties. For example, UKIP’s leader Nigel Farage was campaigning in Anglesey (as he would probably call it) this week: might the party be able to repeat its strong recent English by-election performances in north-west Wales?
There is also a local council by-election in the Penryheol ward in Caerphilly. Harry Hayfield has very helpfully put together a summary of recent results in the ward, as well as the overall status of the Council. As can be seen, this has in recent times been one of Plaid’s relative strongholds in south Wales. Will they be able to maintain this position, or will Labour’s post-2010 Welsh resurgence be evident here as well?
Penyrheol ward (emboldened denotes elected)
1995: Plaid 1,525, Lab 1,457, Lab 1,398, Lab 1,293, Lab 1,255, Plaid 1,198, Plaid 1,150, Plaid 1,079 (Three Lab WINS, One Plaid WIN)
1999: Plaid 1,924, Plaid 1,687, Plaid 1,672, Plaid 1,491, Lab 1,021, Lab 993, Lab 913, Ind 628 (One Plaid HOLD, Three Plaid GAINS from Lab)
2004: Plaid 1,753, Plaid 1,549, Plaid 1,472, Plaid 1,384, Lab 1,055, Lab 1,048, Lab 1,024, Lab 840, Ind 479 (Four Plaid HOLDS)
2008: Plaid 1,924, Plaid 1,687, Plaid 1,672, Plaid 1,491, Lab 1,021, Lab 993, Lab 913, Ind 628 (Four Plaid HOLDS)
2012: Plaid 1,361, Plaid 1,196, Plaid 1,110, Lab 1,074, Plaid 992, Lab 917, Lab 871, Lab 851, Ind 398, TUSC 174 (Three Plaid HOLDS, One Lab GAIN from Plaid)
1995: Lab 56, Plaid 9, Ind 3 (Lab majority of 44)
1999: Plaid 39 (+30), Lab 28 (-28), Lib Dem 3 (+3), Ind 3 (n/c) (Plaid GAIN from Lab with a majority of 5) Boundary Changes
2004: Lab 39 (+11), Plaid 26 (-13), Ind 8 (+5) (Lab GAIN from Plaid with a majority of 5)
2008: Lab 32 (-7), Plaid 32 (+6), Ind 9 (+1) (Lab LOSS to NOC, Plaid and Lab short by 5)
2012: Lab 50 (+18), Plaid 20 (-12), Ind 3 (-6) (Lab GAIN from NOC with a majority of 27)