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    12 May, 2005

    The result for Welsh Labour

    Overall, Welsh Labour emerged with 29 seats (down from 34). Aside from 2001 and 1997, you would have to go back to 1966 to find an election when Labour emerged with more Welsh seats (the boundaries and number of seats are not of course strictly comparable). There is a now a record number of Welsh women MPs, thanks to Welsh Labour.

    Overall, across the UK, after the landslides of 1945, 1997, and 2001, and the 1966 result, this is Labour's 5th best result at a UK level. It was, of course, the first time Labour has secured a third-term.

    Independent commentators were predicting that Welsh Labour could lose one-fifth of our seats. In other words, seven seats. We didn't, and we came close to a remarkable result, losing two seats with very small margins.

    There was no great surprise, frankly, that we lost Monmouth, our most marginal seat, and Cardiff Central. These losses were widely expected before the election was called, though both Huw Edwards and Jon Owen Jones campaigned hard, with Jon in particular never out of the South Wales Echo. The loss of Clwyd West was also widely expected, and it is a tribute to the campaign run there by Gareth Thomas that he came so close.

    There was concern about Preseli before the campaign started - again, the eventual result was a close one, and Sue Hayman worked hard there.

    Blaenau Gwent was a unique - indeed a bizarre - election and I will write separately about that. It was certainly not Maggie Jones's fault - she was a good candidate who was in the wrong place at the wrong time.

    The Lib Dems did better than expected in taking Ceredigion, although we were hearing reports that they were making progress there quite early on.

    The Tories should have done better in Wales. Leaving aside 1997 and 2001, their performance is their worst in Wales since 1966. They were gutted at not taking the Vale of Glamorgan or Cardiff North, and to win Preseli and Clwyd West by the tiniest of margins was a clear failure for them.

    Plaid Cymru were the biggest losers on the night. They declared at their Spring conference that they only had one target seat in Ynys Mon, and they failed to get that. They had no expectation of losing Ceredigion - it was a shock to the Plaid representatives on the election night panels on TV and radio. Overall, it was their worst result since the 1987 General Election.

    In some ways you could argue there was not a Welsh campaign but a series of local contests. As we said in our final message from Peter Hain on May 5th:

    'Don’t be fooled by the national opinion polls. It’s very different on the ground in the battleground seats. Just a few votes could make the difference in up to a dozen seats. Your vote really counts'.

    We told those representing us on election night panels on May 5 that they should

    • Expect some close results. There are a lot of local, hard-fought contests all over Wales

    and that

    • We are making no predictions early on.

    It was a bruising, hard-fought campaign. At local level, people were having to argue for every vote. Nationally, it felt like one of those end-of-season promotion or relegation battles, where squeezing out a point is what matters.

    There was no appetite for the Tories - but we had to work hard to get a majority.

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    Promoted by Leighton Andrews AM, National Assembly for Wales, Cardiff CF99 1NA.

    Author's editorial policy: This blog does not publish anonymous comments, unless they are really witty and I like them. If you have something to say, then have the courage of your convictions and use your name or an identifiable alias. Even then I reserve the right not to publish comments that are malicious, defamatory, stupid, pointlessly cynical or boring. Any of the statements or comments made above should be regarded as personal and not necessarily those of the National Assembly for Wales, any constituent part or connected body.