Pro-remain pact in Wales – what happened?

15 December 2019

 

Introduction

Just before the election I wrote a piece for New Socialist on the Pro-remain Pact in Wales between Plaid, the Lib Dems and the Greens. I said that in Wales, the pact was:

a pretty shabby deal largely aimed at shoring up support for the Lib Dems and Plaid in seats that they already hold but are concerned they may lose, and at damaging Labour’s chances of forming a government.

So how did it play out?

Plaid Cymru

Plaid were given seven clear runs – in Arfon, Caerphilly, Carmarthen East & Dinefwr, Dwyfor Meirionydd, Llanelli, Pontypridd and Ynys Mon.

They held on to the four seats they were defending (Arfon, Carmarthen East & Dinefwr and Dwyfor Meirionydd and Ceredigion).

But they failed to break through in any of the other seats. Labour held Caerphilly, and Pontypridd and, although Ynys Mon had been held by both Labour and Plaid in recent times, the Tories pushed through the middle to take the seat.

Arfon

In Arfon, which was a 2 way fight between Plaid and Labour (with a 92 vote lead for Plaid in 2017), the result saw an increase in Plaid’s share by 4.3%, a decline in Labour’s of 4.9% and a Plaid majority of 2781.

Party 2017 votes 2017 vote share (%) 2019 votes 2019 vote share (%)
 
Plaid Cymru 11,519 40.8 13,134 45.2
Labour 11,427 40.5 10,353 35.6
Conservative 4,614 16.4 4,428 15.2
Brexit Party 1,159 4.0
UKIP
Liberal Democrat 648 2.3
Green Party

 

Carmarthen East & Dinefwr

Plaid held the seat with a slight decline in vote share and Labour were pushed into third place, having been second in 2017. The Conservatives’ vote share was up by 8.2% and Labour’s down by 8.8%.

Party 2017 votes 2017 vote share (%) 2019 votes 2019 vote share (%)
 
Plaid Cymru 16,127 39.3 15,939 38.9
Conservative 10,778 26.3 14,130 34.5
Labour 12,219 29.8 8,622 21.0
Brexit Party 2,311 5.6
UKIP 985 2.4
Liberal Democrat 920 2.2
Green Party

 

Ceredigion

Under the deal, the only seat that Plaid was defending that was excluded from the pact and that the Liberal Democrats contended was Ceredigion. This was because in 2017 the result was very close with the Lib Dems trailing Plaid by just 104 votes. The result was that Plaid held on with an increase in its vote share of 8.7% and a majority of 6,329. The Lib Dems share of the vote declined by 11.6%. The Tories were up 3.8%, pushing the Lib Dems into third and Labour into fourth position with its vote share down by 4.4%.

Party 2017 votes 2017 vote share (%) 2019 votes 2019 vote share (%)
 
Plaid Cymru 11,623 29.2 15,208 37.9
Conservative 7,307 18.4 8,879 22.1
Liberal Democrat 11,519 29.0 6,975 17.4
Labour 8,017 20.2 6,317 15.8
Brexit Party 2,063 5.1
UKIP 602 1.5
Green Party 542 1.4 663 1.7
Monster Raving Loony Party 157 0.4

 

Dwyfor Meirionydd

Plaid held the seat with a 3.2% increase in vote share. The Tories increased their share of the vote by 3.3% and Labour’s declined by 7.3%.

Party 2017 votes 2017 vote share (%) 2019 votes 2019 vote share (%)
 
Plaid Cymru 13,687 45.1 14,447 48.3
Conservative 8,837 29.1 9,707 32.4
Labour 6,273 20.7 3,998 13.4
Brexit Party 1,776 5.9
Liberal Democrat 937 3.1
UKIP 614 2.0
Green Party

 

Caerphilly

In Caerphilly, although the Labour share declined by 9.5%, Plaid’s increased by just 1.6% and the Tories came second. At one time, Caerphilly was seen by Plaid as a target seat.

Party 2017 votes 2017 vote share (%) 2019 votes 2019 vote share (%)
 
Labour 22,491 54.5 18,018 44.9
Conservative 10,413 25.2 11,185 27.9
Plaid Cymru 5,962 14.4 6,424 16.0
Brexit Party 4,490 11.2
UKIP 1,259 3.0
Liberal Democrat 725 1.8
Green Party 447 1.1

 

Llanelli

Labour retained the seat with a majority reduced from 12,024 to 4,670 and a decline in vote share of 11.3%. The Tory vote share went up by 6.3%. Plaid’s vote share was static.

Party 2017 votes 2017 vote share (%) 2019 votes 2019 vote share (%)
 
Labour 21,568 53.5 16,125 42.2
Conservative 9,544 23.7 11,455 30.0
Plaid Cymru 7,351 18.2 7,048 18.4
Brexit Party 3,605 9.4
UKIP 1,331 3.3
Liberal Democrat 548 1.4
Green Party

 

Pontypridd

Labour retained the seat but received a lower share of the vote (down 10.9%). The Tories were up 2.7% and Plaid up by 2.5%.

Party 2017 votes 2017 vote share (%) 2019 votes 2019 vote share (%)
 
Labour 22,103 55.4 17,381 44.5
Conservative 10,655 26.7 11,494 29.4
Plaid Cymru 4,102 10.3 4,990 12.8
Brexit Party 2,917 7.5
UKIP 1,071 2.7
Independent 1,792 4.6
Independent 337 0.9
Independent 149 0.4
Liberal Democrat 1,963 4.9
Green Party

 

Ynys Mon

This was a gain for the Conservatives with a 7.7% increase in their share of the vote compared with an 11.8% loss for Labour. Plaid’s vote increased by just 1.1%. Ynys Mon was a key Plaid target to take back from Labour but they failed and the seat went to the Tories.

Party 2017 votes 2017 vote share (%) 2019 votes 2019 vote share (%)
 
Conservative 10,384 27.8 12,959 35.5
Labour 15,643 41.9 10,991 30.1
Plaid Cymru 10,237 27.4 10,418 28.5
Brexit Party 2,184 6.0
UKIP 624 1.7
Liberal Democrat 479 1.3
Green Party

 

Liberal Democrats

Brecon & Radnorshire

Despite having beaten the Conservatives in a by election earlier in 2019 (following the removal of the Tory MP after being convicted of fraud), the Lib Dems were unable to hold the seat with the Tories increasing their 2017 vote share by 4.6%

Party 2017 votes 2017 vote share (%) 2019 by election votes 2019 by election vote share (%) 2019 votes 2019 vote share (%)
 
Conservative 20,081 48.6 12,401 39.0 21,958 53.1
Liberal Democrat 12,043 29.1 13,826 43.5 14,827 35.9
Labour 7,335 17.7 1,680 5.3 3,944 9.5
Brexit Party 3,331 10.5
UKIP 576 1.4 242 0.8
Monster Raving Loony Party 334 1.0 345 0.8
Christian Party 245 0.6
Plaid Cymru 1,229 3.1
Green Party

 

Cardiff Central

This was another Lib Dem target, having held the seat in the recent past and seeing the large numbers of students living in the constituency as fertile ground for their Remain agenda. The result was another convincing victory for Labour with a majority of 17,179 and a small decline in the vote share of 1.2%. The Lib Dems came in third with a small increase in their vote share (1.6%), despite Plaid and the Greens standing aside in their favour.

Party 2017 votes 2017 vote share (%) 2019 votes 2019 vote share (%)
 
Labour 25,193 62.4 25,605 61.2
Conservative 7,997 19.8 8,426 20.1
Liberal Democrat 5,415 13.4 6,298 15.1
Brexit Party 1,006 2.4
UKIP 343 0.9
Plaid Cymru 999 2.5
Green Party 420 1.0
Gwlad Gwlad 280 0.7
Independent 119 0.3
Socialist Party of Great Britain 88 0.2

 

Montgomeryshire

The Conservatives held Montgomeryshire with the former Cardiff North MP, Craig Williams receiving 58.5% of the vote (up 6.7% on 2017). The Lib Dems came in second with a drop in their vote share of 2.2%. Labour’s vote share was static.

Party 2017 votes 2017 vote share (%) 2019 votes 2019 vote share (%)
 
Conservative 18,075 51.8 20,020 58.5
Liberal Democrat 8,790 25.2 7,882 23.0
Labour 5,542 15.9 5,585 16.3
Plaid Cymru 1,960 5.6
Brexit Party
UKIP
Green Party 524 1.5
Gwlad Gwlad 727 2.1

 

The Green Party

 

Vale of Glamorgan

The pact allocated just one constituency to the Greens – the Vale of Glamorgan. They had no chance of winning the seat having received just 419 votes in 2017. In fact, the total votes for all of the pact parties in 2017 was just 3,734 while the Tories and Labour were very close with 25,501 and 23,311 respectively.

At the start of the campaign the Tory candidate Alun Cairns resigned from the Cabinet as Welsh Secretary because of the scandal over a former aide wrecking a rape trial. Despite this, he held the seat with an increase in vote share of 2.3% and a majority of 3,562. The Greens received almost exactly this figure (3,251) in votes. Labour’s vote share was static, while receiving a small increase in the number of votes.

Party 2017 votes 2017 vote share (%) 2019 votes 2019 vote share (%)
 
Conservative 25,501 47.5 27,305 49.8
Labour 23,311 43.4 23,743 43.3
Plaid Cymru 2,295 4.3
Brexit Party
UKIP 868 1.6
Liberal Democrat 1,020 1.9
Green Party 419 0.8 3,251 5.9
Gwlad Gwlad 508 0.9
Women’s Equality Party 177 0.3
Pirate Party 127 0.2

 

Results of the pact

If the pact was intended to provide a springboard for electoral gains for the three participants, then it was a complete failure.

For Plaid, it almost certainly assisted in enabling them to hold on to Arfon, although their majority there was larger than the total 2017 vote for the Lib Dems. But they failed to increase their number of seats, missing out on their key target of Ynys Mon.

For the Liberal democrats, the pact produced no gains at all and they failed to hold on to their only Welsh seat (Brecon and Radnorshire).

For the Greens, the pact was an unmitigated disaster. Not only were they allocated a seat that they had no chance of winning (Vale of Glamorgan), but they stood in a Tory/Labour marginal and gained almost exactly the same number of votes as the Tory majority over Labour, arguably handing the seat to the Conservatives. They sacrificed any credibility they had in Wales for a futile pact with Plaid and the austerity Lib Dems. A sorry chapter in their history.

 

 

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