One of the familiar strap-lines of the Scarlets; and an oft repeated remark of my west coast friends and family. Last weekend saw a significant pick up in the campaigning for the Welsh Assembly elections. We joined comrades on the Gower, in Llanelli and in Ogmore to support their respective AM West is best candidates – Rebecca Evans (AM), Lee Waters and Huw Irrancca-Davies (MP).
Ogmore sits on the fringes of the uplands of the Valleys of South Wales, north of the M4. Its many communities have returned sizeable Labour majorities at both Assembly and Parliamentary elections. We hope Huw will be well placed to take his place on the Assembly, and bring his undoubted skill and experience from Parliament to serve Wales more directly. Canvassing in Llanharry saw a tight knit team of ten plus cover a swathe of streets from Alder to Sycamore, regardless of the initially inclement weather (though it does rain it Wales it doesn’t always rain in Wales!)
Nearer the coast and we are in Llanelli, starting our canvas near the site of one of the Rebecca Riots of 18430s, campaigning against unfair taxation . . . . While the Llanelli Parliamentary seat shows a healthy 7,000+ majority for Labour Nia Griffith MP, the Assembly seat was much closer. The retiring Keith Davies won through in 2011 on a tiny majority of 80. Lee Waters, Director of the Institute for Welsh Affairs is working hard to secure a Nia like majority for Labour. With her help and that of local campaigners, the Progress three seats gang and LCC.
The Gower is a seat we should not have lost in the general election. It seems on election day the Tories bussed in eight or more coaches of volunteers to help get them over the line, and yet we only lost by 27 votes!
Though the Assembly seat has the same electorate and a new AM candidate, Rebecca is an existing Labour (list seat) AM so has the experience of campaigning and office. A robust two hour session with local campaigners, comrades from Cardiff and the Vale, and a Three Seats team from Progress, saw us cover a lot of ground and the great majority positively in favour of Labour for the 5th of May.
These are all seats that we need to hold in Wales for a Labour Assembly, and long term for a Labour government in Westminster. Many of the characteristics of these seats are also true of other Welsh seats (e.g. Carmarthenshire, East & West, The Vale of Glamorgan). they are also like many English seats we need to win back.
Labour does hold rural seats – we need to get better at fighting in all of them.