Labour candidate: We will lose seats

The man heading the Labour list in North Wales predicts his party will lose seats in Thursday's vote

The picture across Wales varies dramatically and although there is certainly some disillusionment with Labour, this is not translating into votes for any of the other parties.

As a regional candidate I get to taste the political air across North Wales and I’m predicting a few surprise outcomes.

First of all, turnout for Labour in the past two Assembly elections was low and my assessment is that disgruntled Labour voters who intend to stay at home on May 3rd probably failed to vote in 2003.
Consequently, Labour's vote will not fall by much.

Support for the Tories has increased, but my impression is this due to a desire to hurt Labour. Here in Wales the Cameron effect is non-existent and any rise in the Tory vote should not be seen as a positive endorsement of the party.

Plaid Cymru have the problem of reaching out beyond those who speak Welsh as a first language. My guess is that without the language issue, their support might have been in the 30s instead of languishing in the
low 20s. In contrast to the SNP (for whom a native Scottish dialect has never been an election issue) Plaid Cymru’s appeal will always be limited to those who speak Welsh fluently.

Finally, I see the Liberal Democrat vote in North Wales struggling to reach 10 per cent. Because disgruntled Labour voters will stay at home instead of switching their votes, the Liberal Democrats will not benefit from the Iraq effect this time around.

Turnout in Alyn and Deeside back in 2003 was shamefully low – less than 25 per cent. This time it will be different. I predict a significant increase in Labour’s safest seat in the North and I’m also sticking my
neck out over the result. I reckon Carl Sargeant will be the only Labour AM to increase both the size and proportion of Labour’s vote.

Similarly, Wrexham is looking like a Labour gain. Independent John Marek has worked hard on the Polish vote, but at the expense of his core supporter. He sent out literature in English and Polish, yet the
number of Poles on the electoral register is said to be just 200.

Elsewhere in North Wales I see Labour losing a couple of seats, probably to the Tories.

My forecast is that Labour in Wales will not do as badly as the national polls suggest. We’ll fall to 27 (down two) whereas the Tories will gain a handful. The effect of the regional top-up system will offset some of Labour’s losses and limit the success of the Conservatives. Plaid Cymru and the Liberal Democrats will barely move, so a coalition could yet be avoided if Rhodri has the courage to continue with minority rule.

Kenneth Skates is top of the Labour list in North Wales, 31 years old, he is PA to Mark Tami MP and a former journalist.
Grant Shapps on the campaign trail. Photo: Getty
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Grant Shapps resigns over Tory youth wing bullying scandal

The minister, formerly party chairman, has resigned over allegations of bullying and blackmail made against a Tory activist. 

Grant Shapps, who was a key figure in the Tory general election campaign, has resigned following allegations about a bullying scandal among Conservative activists.

Shapps was formerly party chairman, but was demoted to international development minister after May. His formal statement is expected shortly.

The resignation follows lurid claims about bullying and blackmail among Tory activists. One, Mark Clarke, has been accused of putting pressure on a fellow activist who complained about his behaviour to withdraw the allegation. The complainant, Elliot Johnson, later killed himself.

The junior Treasury minister Robert Halfon also revealed that he had an affair with a young activist after being warned that Clarke planned to blackmail him over the relationship. Former Tory chair Sayeedi Warsi says that she was targeted by Clarke on Twitter, where he tried to portray her as an anti-semite. 

Shapps appointed Mark Clarke to run RoadTrip 2015, where young Tory activists toured key marginals on a bus before the general election. 

Today, the Guardian published an emotional interview with the parents of 21-year-old Elliot Johnson, the activist who killed himself, in which they called for Shapps to consider his position. Ray Johnson also spoke to BBC's Newsnight:


The Johnson family claimed that Shapps and co-chair Andrew Feldman had failed to act on complaints made against Clarke. Feldman says he did not hear of the bullying claims until August. 

Asked about the case at a conference in Malta, David Cameron pointedly refused to offer Shapps his full backing, saying a statement would be released. “I think it is important that on the tragic case that took place that the coroner’s inquiry is allowed to proceed properly," he added. “I feel deeply for his parents, It is an appalling loss to suffer and that is why it is so important there is a proper coroner’s inquiry. In terms of what the Conservative party should do, there should be and there is a proper inquiry that asks all the questions as people come forward. That will take place. It is a tragic loss of a talented young life and it is not something any parent should go through and I feel for them deeply.” 

Mark Clarke denies any wrongdoing.

Helen Lewis is deputy editor of the New Statesman. She has presented BBC Radio 4’s Week in Westminster and is a regular panellist on BBC1’s Sunday Politics.