Jeremy Corbyn will visit the Cardiff North Constituency today as campaigning gets into full swing ahead of the General Election on Thursday 8th June. Labour will hope to win this key seat back in June as it failed to do so in 2015. First Minister Carwyn Jones has said that the up-coming election is a chance for the UK Labour leader to prove himself, however the party faces an up-hill battle.
While Labour currently holds the most seats in Wales, the Conservatives will be keen to capitalise on its best general election result in 30 years in 2015, as it took the Vale of Clwyd and Gower, the latter a constituency Labour had held for more than 100 years. Both seats have paper thin majorities and while both will be key targets for both parties, we can expect to see increased Tory majorities.
As the Conservatives portray a vote for Labour, a vote against stability while Brexit negotiations are under way, we have already seen Labour try to move the argument away from Brexit switching the emphasis to education, the NHS and housing. Here in Wales we can expect the Party to campaign on its record in Government led by a popular figure in Carwyn Jones, with attempts to distance itself somewhat from the UK party, as it attempts to hold onto as many seats as possible. This strategy may however prove difficult as Jeremy Corbyn fronts the campaign nationally and opposition parties will be keen to stress that it is he, not Carwyn Jones, that leads Labour in the UK.
Labour is extremely vulnerable in six highly marginal seats across Wales. Over the last few years, we have seen a significant swing to the Tories in constituencies across the north, with Delyn, Clwyd South, Wrexham and Alun and Deeside all up for grabs. Plaid Cymru will hope to be successful in Ynys Mon where Labour’s Albert Owen hung on in 2015. In the south, we have seen a steady reduction in Labour’s majority in Bridgend a seat which the Tories will be keen to take on June 8th, and also home to the Welsh First Minister.
Meanwhile speculation continues that Plaid Cymru Leader Leanne Wood is to take on Labour MP Chris Bryant in the Rhondda. Ms Wood sensationally took the Assembly seat from Welsh Government Minister Leighton Andrews at last year’s Assembly Election and has said that he is confident that Plaid Cymru can win the seat. In the event of her seeking election to Parliament, a by-election to the National Assembly would be triggered as well as a leadership contest.
There is also the small matter of the local elections on May 4th with 1264 council seats up for grabs across Wales’ 22 unitary authorities. Labour gained considerable ground in 2012, on what had been a period of poor local election results winning back control of cities such as Cardiff and Swansea from the Liberal Democrats. That said, the overall picture will likely see Labour losing some of those gains and ultimately control of some councils.
The current, more fragmented nature of politics, with increasing numbers of Independents means that most authorities will require some form of coalition after May 4th. Of course, national politics always has an impact on the council results and that can only increase with the imminence of a general election.