Labour candidate in trouble after predicting losses

The man heading the Labour list in North Wales has landed himself in hot water after predicting his

A key Labour assembly candidate in North Wales is in trouble with his party after predicting they will lose seats in this Thursday's elections dropping from 29 to 27 AMs.

Kenneth Skates, top of the Labour list in the north of the principality, made his prediction in a posting on newstatesman.com's Election 2007 blog.

He wrote: "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."

But after we published the blog Labour officials apparently got in touch with Skates and he emailed us asking if his blog could be removed as it was causing him trouble.

That prompted opponents to attack New Labour "control freakery".

To be fair to Skates he also says in his blog entry that he does not believe the Labour vote will fall by much and argues there is no Cameron effect in Wales. Plaid Cymru, he claims, have difficulties reaching out beyond their Welsh language-speaking base and he states the Lib Dems will struggle to reach 10% of the vote in North Wales.

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

"In North Wales I see Labour losing a couple of seats, probably to the Tories," he adds.

The 31-year-old's comments have been seized upon by opponents who see it as further evidence of the predicted Labour meltdown in Thursday's elections when there will also be votes for the Scottish Parliament and for councils in the English regions.

The leader of the Tories in the Assembly, Nick Bourne, said: "He's only saying what people in Labour have been saying privately for months - now his party's control freaks are angry because he's let the cat out of the bag.

"Mind you I think on Thursday they're poised to lose rather more seats than two."

Plaid Cymru's director of elections Adam Price MP said: "Yet again we witness the control freakery of New Labour.

"To put pressure on a candidate for stating the obvious is testament to the manner in which the Labour campaign has lost all sense of reality.

"Labour’s key election strategy is in shambles; they are in meltdown and they are going to have the result they deserve for eight years of failure and incompetence."

For the Lib Dems, Jenny Willott MP, Assembly Election Campaign Chair said: "Labour is finally admitting how unpopular they have become. Ken Skates and his colleagues should spend more time listening to Welsh voters and offering them real solutions to their problems."

Skates, who was educated in North Wales before studying Social and Political Science at Cambridge, is an assistant to Mark Tami MP, member for Alyn and Deeside.