The delightful counties of Pembrokeshire and Carmarthenshire contain four parliamentary seats, all of which have been Labour, which we need to win again if we are to have a good chance of achieving a majority government in 2015.
Taken together these seats are perhaps a microcosm of the challenge we face to win a majority across the United Kingdom. They cover industrial heartlands, former mining villages, market towns, coastal tourist haunts, small ports and a small city. As we enter 2015 we need to hold our heartland city seat of Llanelli, held by Nia Griffith, while we need to fight the Tories in both Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire (last held in 2005), and Preseli Pembrokeshire (last held in 2001), while it is the nationalists, Plaid Cymru, we have to fight in Carmarthen East and Dinefwr (last held in 1997).
Of the three ‘vacancies’ Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire is 62nd on the 106 target seats list, Carmarthen East and Dinefwr is 66th, while Preseli Pembrokeshire is 84th. To secure an overall majority we currently need to win 68 seats.
We have made a start on the road to winning. Having all three ‘vacancies’ on our target list means we have good candidates selected and in place. What they need are the practical support and policies that will make sense for the people who live across west Wales, be that the market towns of Carmarthen and Haverfordwest; the coastal communities of Broad Haven and Laugharne; and the villages of St Clears and Trimsaran.
To help deliver these seats Labour:Coast&Country are working with the party to ensure that one of the manifesto roadshow meetings is held in Carmarthen. The presence of the party engaging with local people, involving them in a direct conversation with members of the shadow cabinet can only help reinforce our One Nation ambition and show that we are listening to each and every community of Britain (as well as building on work already done in West Wales by the likes of Nia, Huw Irranca-Davies and Chuka Umunna among many others).
We need to build on the commitment to a rural manifesto made by Ed Miliband at the National Policy Forum in July and ensure we respond to the issues of all of the places in the UK that are communities of coastal or country areas. These communities face many similar challenges to city constituents such as looking for and obtaining work, empowerment in their home and social lives, while facing greater challenges of greater distance, higher costs, limited public services and often minimal public transport (by city standards).
To go further nationally to secure those seats that are essential to our majority, much more coastal and rural than urban, we should encourage the party to hold its next rural (or, of course, Coast & Country) conference in the new year. That way, we can support those candidates who we need to win, ensure a challenge to the incumbents in seats who might otherwise expect an easy ride and to build a wider next work of twinning and support to these seats from other coast and country areas.
Win these coast and country seats and we win government.
This article was also published at: http://www.progressonline.org.uk/2014/11/06/majority-government-starts-in-west-wales/
Hywel Lloyd is a founder of Labour: Coast & Country
The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, Labour: Coast & Country.