Labour’s North-East Wales seats are ‘all potentially loseable’ at General Election

Reporter:

David Humphreys

All four Labour held seats in North-East Wales are “in play” at the General Election and could potentially be lost, according to a political expert.

Professor Roger Scully said while Jeremy Corbyn's party seemed to be showing resilience in Wales compared to England and Scotland, losing Flintshire or Wrexham seats would signal a “historic General Election.”

But he also said he would be surprised if the Tories performed a clean sweep in the region.

Candidates for seats up and down the country to be contested on June 8 were confirmed last week and with Ukip only offering a challenge in Alyn and Deeside and Clwyd South, Prof Scully suggested they were also heading for political oblivion.

National polls indicated at one time the Conservatives were leading at 41 per cent and will hope to make a challenge for seats in the traditional Labour heartlands of Alyn and Deeside and Delyn in Flintshire as well as Wrexham and Clwyd South.

The Tories have also been installed as favourites to win the seats in odds released by bookmakers.

Prof Scully, professor of political science at the University of Cardiff, said it wouldn’t take a massive leap for Labour to lose.

“Labour have come first in votes and seats in Wales in General Elections since 1922,” he said.

“If they start to lose in the North East [of Wales], it might be a historic General Election.

“If the Tories get more seats than anyone else, it would be genuinely historic.

“There are a clutch of Labour seats in North-East Wales and the Tories last time [2015] took Vale of Clwyd from Labour.

“Those four seats don't need a huge percentage swing for the Tories to capture them.

“All of them are in play and the polls are indicating that they are all potentially loseable for Labour.”

But he added: “I’d be surprised if the Conservatives did capture them and did a clean sweep.”

All four incumbent MPs will contest their seats in next month's election, with the long-serving duo David Hanson and Mark Tami hoping to hold on to Delyn and Alyn and Deeside respectively.

Despite a Tory surge, the party came in for criticism in Alyn and Deeside earlier this month with accusations made by local party members that 2015 candidate Laura Knightly was installed as the Conservative option without their input.

Shadow Wales Office minister Susan Elan Jones will contest the seat she has held since 2010, while Ian Lucas – Wrexham’s MP since 2001 – will hope to defend his slender majority of 1,831 against Tory Andrew Atkinson.

It is in smaller to medium-sized towns, such as Wrexham, that Prof Scully believes that voters may want to opt for a different direction in Westminster.

He said: “The picture is pretty clear from the national polls across Wales that the Tories are stronger than ever before. The local elections suggest Labour won't just curl up and die in Wales and have been more resilient than in England or Scotland.

“If you look at places where it was a leave result, small to medium-sized towns with a proportion of Ukip votes, these places may feel left behind by development and the elites in Cardiff and Westminster don't respond to them.

”Places like Wrexham, small to medium-sized towns, are examples of where voters are rolling the dice.”

Unlike in 2015, when Ukip attempted to plant their flag in Labour heartlands across Wales, the eurosceptic party will only contest two of the four seats – Alyn and Deeside and Clwyd South.

Prof Scully, acting director of the Wales Governance Centre, said next month’s vote comes at a time of a “perfect storm” for the party.

He said: “Ukip seem to be just imploding and descending in front of our eyes into a minor party status again. 

“The Tories are hoovering up their votes and they’ve lost their major donors and electoral asset in Nigel Farage. They’re also saddled with the most unpopular party leader ever in Wales in Neil Hamilton.”

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