Alan Evans reporting
ON AN EXTRAORDINARY night in British politics Carmarthenshire was no different to many parts of the U.K. with twists, turns and surprises.
Carmarthenshire voters returned Nia Griffith (Labour), Simon Hart (Conservatives) and Jonathan Edwards (Plaid Cymru) as their MP’s for the next 5-years.
Jonathan Edwards said: “It’s an incredible feeling, we’ve been working for this moment for five years. The work began to win this the night after the election in 2010. All that work has come to fruition. For the Conservative party to talk of the common interest within the UK doesn’t tally with their election campaign where they have demonised the people of Scotland and the people of Wales for daring to think that they could have a different future to what Westminster serves us time after time. They have boxed the Labour party into a corner. The Westminster elite views our country as a second-class nation and that is why we need more Plaid Cymru MP’s in Westminster fighting our corner. It is only going to be three this time.”
Whereas in Scotland the SNP took the majority of seats. Here in Wales Plaid Cymru only managed to hold on to their three existing seats. Ceredigion was a close call with only a 3,067 difference between Plaid and the Lib Dems. The surprise of the night was UKIP’s Ken Rees pushing the Conservatives represented by Selaine Saxby into fourth place. One can only speculate about the result had those voters opted for Plaid Cymru. Plaid’s Jonathan Edwards increased his majority in Carmarthenshire East and Dinefwr taking 15,140 votes as opposed to Labour’s Callum Higgins taking 9,541 votes. It was a similar story only in reverse as Labour’s Nia Griffith took 15,948 votes as opposed to Plaid’s Vaughan Williams taking 8,853 votes.
Labour’s Nia Griffith said: “I’m very honoured to be re-elected. I see this as a duty and a real responsibility. Obviously I will be working with everybody whether it is working with colleagues in Parliament or whether its working with the community here it is not something you do on your own. This is part of being a team, part of being pat of your community and trying to get your very best for them. It was a very challenging situation and it was an interesting selection of candidates. Things can change very quickly anyone of those could have taken a considerable number of votes from me. I’ve had experience so perhaps that has helped Working with people in the community is the way forward.”
In a very emotional acceptance speech Jonathan Edwards told The Herald: “The story of the night undoubtedly is events in Scotland and the landslide victory of the SNP. All the political ingredients that have led to the result in Scotland also exist here in Wales. An arrogant and self-serving Labour establishment and a rising progressive alternative in the national party. What’s happened in Scotland tonight will happen in Wales. It is the duty of the exciting crop of young politicians emerging through the Plaid Cymru ranks to achieve that goal beginning next year in the National Assembly elections. The job of Plaid Cymru MP’s will be to ensure the best possible deal for Wales and our communities in the new political landscape. The old union is now dead. If the British state is to survive a new arrangement between the countries of the UK will have to be forged. I look forward to returning to Westminster with a strong mandate given to me by my home communities, an increased majority. I’d like to close by thanking my opponents and wishing them the very best for the future. I’d like to dedicate this victory to nurse Price from Llandybie who passed away earlier this week aged 94 and Irene Lloyd from Brynamman who died last week. Both Plaid Cymru stalwarts for their entire adult lives. Nights like this for Plaid Cymru are only possible due to the contribution of people like them.”
Labour have been the biggest losers on the night and there were strong views expressed by many of the candidates particularly on the labour led local authority. Candidates told me that discussions on the local authority had been a key issue on the doorstep.
Selaine Saxby (Conservative) said: “Someone needs to hold the council to account for the state they have allowed the town centre to get into.”
Vaughan Williams (Plaid Cymru) said: “93-years of one party is a long time and there is an ambition for change in the town.
Dr. Sian Caiach (People First) said: “There are a lot of local issues. People are concerned with council cuts. People need proper representation. Our policy is to consult people and reflect their views. We seem to have an officer led council. Some people have allowed themselves to be talked into things, which they shouldn’t have. If you have a one party state and that party is not an excellent party it is easy for things to become stale.”
Matthew Paul (Conservatives) said: “People are realising that labour have taken things for granted in too much of Wales for too long. It is a message to Labour. Even if you have places where you thought you could pin a red rosette on a donkey and still come back with a result that situation may not last forever.”
Nia Griffith told The Herald: “Obviously there has been this review and the council is going to try to implement that. It is a bit like turning round the Titanic. It’s not going to be that easy to do it all immediately. Rebuilding a reputation takes a very long time. They recognise there is a huge amount of work to do. There are no silver bullets for the town centre. I don’t think it’s easy to find solutions because we all know that everybody wants their cake and eat it. They want to shop on the Internet, they want to shop at Trostre and at the same time they still expect the shops in the town centre to be there. Quite clearly the trade is in three different places now. It is not going to be easy and we do have to think of different ways we want to make our town centre a place we want to go to. It is important to take local people’s ideas into consideration.”
The results were as follows:
Nia Rhiannon Griffith (Labour) 15,948
Vaughan Williams (Plaid Cymru) 8,853
Ken Rees (UKIP) 6,269
Selaine Saxby (Cons) 5,534
Cen Phillips (Lib Dems) 751
Guy Smith (Green Party) 689
Sian Caiach (People First) 407
Scott Jones (TUSC) 123
Carmarthen East and Dinefwr
Jonathan Edwards (Plaid Cymru) 15,140
Callum Higgins (Labour) 9,541
Matthew Paul (Conservatives) 8,336
Norma Woodward (UKIP) 4,363
Ben Rice (Green Party) 1,091
Sara Lloyd-Williams (Lib Dems) 928