Blaenau Gwent by-elections, 2006


Blaenau Gwent by-elections, 2006

Two by-elections were held for the constituency of Blaenau Gwent in Wales following the death of Member of Parliament and Assembly Member Peter Law on 25 April 2006. As Law was the MP and Assembly Member (AM), his death required by-elections in both the parliamentary seat and the equivalent Welsh Assembly constituency. The two elections polled on the same day, 29 June, as a by-election in Bromley and Chislehurst. A win by the Labour Party in the AM by-election would have restored their majority in the Welsh Assembly, which was lost when Law was expelled from the party.cite news|url=http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/wales/4944102.stm|title=Double poll looming in Law seat|date=2006-04-26|accessdate=2006-04-26|publisher=BBC News]

Law's successors won both seats: the independent Dai Davies won the Westminster seat with a majority of about two and a half thousand. He was the first independent to hold a seat previously occupied by an independent since Sir Charles Vere Ferrers Townshend held The Wrekin in 1920.

Candidates

Westminster by-election

The writ for the UK Parliament by-election was moved on 6 June so that it would be held on the same date as the Assembly by-election, (29 June 2006).cite news|url=http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/wales/south_east/4761869.stm|title=Blaenau Gwent election date set|date=2006-05-11|accessdate=2006-05-11|publisher=BBC] Labour whips had reportedly pressed for the election to be held on 25 May. The movement of the writ was more complicated because Law sat as an Independent, and therefore the convention that the party of the former member moves the writ cannot apply.cite news|url=http://icwales.icnetwork.co.uk/0100news/0200wales/tm_objectid=16993908&method=full&siteid=50082&headline=outrage-at-bid-for-early-by-election-name_page.html|title=Outrage at bid for early by-election|date=2006-04-26|accessdate=2006-04-26|first=Martin|last=Shipton|publisher=Western Mail] According to the precedent (when Denis Canavan resigned his Parliamentary seat at Westminster as an Independent), the whip of the governing party moves the writ.

Maggie Jones, the Labour candidate defeated by Law, wasn't able to stand — due to the fact that she had been elevated to the House of Lords.cite news|url=http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/wales/4896562.stm|title=Losing candidate will become peer|publisher=BBC News|date=2006-04-11|accessdate=2006-04-26] There had been speculation about an independent candidate running with the backing of the Conservatives, Liberal Democrats and Plaid Cymru,cite news|url=http://iaindale.blogspot.com/2006/04/how-to-defeat-blair-in-blaenau-gwent.html|title=How to Defeat Blair in the Blaenau Gwent By Election|date=2006-04-25|accessdate=2006-04-27|publisher=Iain Dale] but all three parties decided to contest the election.

It had been reported that prior to Law's death that the Labour Party had decided against selecting their candidate for the next general election with an all-women shortlist.cite news|url=http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/wales/4900286.stm|title=Peter Law, rebel who had a cause |date=2006-04-25|accessdate=2006-04-27|publisher=BBC News] It was the use of such a shortlist for the 2005 general election that led to Law standing as an independent. Labour instead left the selection to the local party.cite web|url=http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/wales/4952376.stm|title=MP 'offered peerage' not to stand|date=2006-04-27|accessdate=2006-04-27] The Labour candidate, Owen Smith, was chosen on 8 May.cite news|url=http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/wales/4983628.stm|title=All-women list apology rejected|date=2006-05-08|accessdate=2006-05-08|publisher=BBC News] cite news|url=http://icwales.icnetwork.co.uk/0100news/newspolitics/tm_objectid=17050492&method=full&siteid=50082&headline=viagra-firm-lobbyist-to-stand-for-labour-in-blaenau-gwent-name_page.html|title=Viagra-firm lobbyist to stand for Labour in Blaenau Gwent|date=2006-05-09|accessdate=2006-05-09|publisher=icWales] He is a former special adviser and BBC producer who works for a pharmaceutical company.cite news|url=http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/wales/south_east/4753239.stm|title=Parties pick by-election hopefuls|publisher=BBC News|date=2006-05-09|accessdate=2006-05-09]

The Liberal Democrat candidate was Amy Kitcher. The Conservatives stood Margrit Williams, who worked for Sir Malcolm Rifkind. Dai Davies, Peter Law's former agent, stood as an independent with the support of the Blaenau Gwent People's Voice Group.cite news|url=http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/wales/4985038.stm|title=Widow gets People's Voice backing|date=2006-05-16|accessdate=2006-05-16|publisher=BBC News]

Despite contesting both the previous Assembly and Parliamentary elections, the United Kingdom Independence Party decided not to stand a candidate, instead calling for a vote for the Blaenau Gwent People's Voice Group - even though the Group does not support withdrawal from the European Union, nor the abolition of the Welsh Assembly, key UKIP policies. [cite news|url=http://www.ukip.org/ukip_news/gen12.php?t=1&id=2153|title=UKIP Annnouces that it will not stand in Blaenau Gwent by-election|date=2006-05-17|accessdate=2006-06-09|publisher=United Kingdom Independence Party]

The Conservative fifth place was their worst position in a UK mainland by-election since at least 1945.

Election box begin
title=Blaenau Gwent House of Commons by-election 2006
Election box candidate with party link
party = Independent (politician)
candidate = Dai Davies
votes = 12,543
percentage = 46.7
change = -11.5
Election box candidate with party link
party = Labour Party (UK)
candidate = Owen Smith
votes = 10,055
percentage = 37.0
change = +4.7
Election box candidate with party link
party = Plaid Cymru
candidate = Steffan Lewis
votes = 1,755
percentage = 6.5
change = +4.1
Election box candidate with party link
party = Liberal Democrats (UK)
candidate = Amy Kitcher
votes = 1,477
percentage = 5.4
change = +1.1
Election box candidate with party link
party = Conservative Party (UK)
candidate = Margrit Williams
votes = 1,013
percentage = 3.7
change = +1.3
Election box candidate with party link
party = Official Monster Raving Loony Party
candidate = Alan "Howling Laud" Hope
votes = 318
percentage = 1.2
change = "N/A"
Election box majority
votes = 2,488
percentage = 9.7
change = -16.2
Election box turnout
votes = 27,161
percentage = 50.5
change = -15.6
Election box hold with party link
winner = Independent (politician)
swing = Independent to Labour

Welsh Assembly by-election

The Assembly by-election had to be held within twelve weeks of the vacancy arising. It was announced on 11 May 2006 that the Assembly by-election would be held on 29 June 2006.

Labour chose John Hopkins, who had already been selected as their 2007 assembly election candidate, to contest the seat. John Price stood for Plaid Cymru. The Liberal Democrats fielded Steve Bard, a councillor in Abertillery. The Conservative candidate was Jonathan Burns, a Cardiff councillor. Peter Law's widow, Trish Law, stood as an independent backed by the Blaenau Gwent People's Voice Group.

The Green Party fought the Assembly election but did not stand at Westminster. [ [http://www.by_elections.blogspot.com/ By-Elections ] ]

Election box begin
title=Blaenau Gwent Welsh Assembly by-election 2006
Election box candidate
party = "no description"
candidate = Trish Law
votes = 13,785
percentage = 50.3
change = "N/A"
Election box candidate with party link
party = Labour Party (UK)
candidate = John Hopkins
votes = 9,321
percentage = 34.0
change = -36.2
Election box candidate with party link
party = Liberal Democrats (UK)
candidate = Steve Bard
votes = 2,054
percentage = 7.5
change = -3.4
Election box candidate with party link
party = Plaid Cymru
candidate = John Price
votes = 1,109
percentage = 4.0
change = -5.6
Election box candidate with party link
party = Conservative Party (UK)
candidate = Jonathan Burns
votes = 816
percentage = 3.0
change = -2.7
Election box candidate with party link
party = Green Party of England and Wales
candidate = John Matthews
votes = 302
percentage = 1.1
change = "N/A"
Election box majority
votes = 4,464
percentage = 16.3
change = -43.1
Election box turnout
votes = 27,387
percentage = 49.6%
change = +12.2
Election box gain with party link
winner = Independent (politician)
loser = Labour Party (UK)
swing = Independent to Labour

Electorate and campaign timetables

The electorate for the constituency is 52,900 as quoted by the Returning Officer's Department of Blaenau Gwent Borough Council on 14 May 2006 (-0.75% on the Westminster election and -0.05% on the Assembly election). The close of nominations for the Assembly constituency was on 2 June; if the elections take place on the same day, the Westminster nominations will close on 14 June.

Campaigns

On 27 April 2006, BBC News published allegations by Peter Law's widow that Law had believed he would be in line for a peerage should he decide not to stand in the 2005 general election. The Labour Party denied that a peerage was offered.

Welsh Secretary Peter Hain attempted to build bridges with Law's supporters by apologising for imposing an all-women shortlist and suggesting that those expelled from the Labour Party might be able to rejoin. This apology was rejected by Dai Davies, Peter Law's agent and putative successor, as coming too late and being a cynical ploy to try to win the by-elections.

Opinion Polls

An opinion poll was conducted by NOP between 24 May and 28 May which asked 1,000 voters in the constituency how they would vote. The results were:

Westminster

Assembly

2005 UK Parliament result

The 2005 general election result was a gain for Peter Law as an independent candidate.Election box begin
title=General Election 2005: Blaenau Gwent
Election box candidate with party link
party = Independent (politician)
candidate = Peter Law
votes = 20,505
percentage = 58.2
change = +58.2
Election box candidate with party link
party = Labour Party (UK)
candidate = Maggie Jones
votes = 11,384
percentage = 32.3
change = -39.7
Election box candidate with party link
party = Liberal Democrats (UK)
candidate = Brian Thomas
votes = 1,511
percentage = 4.3
change = -5.0
Election box candidate with party link
party = Plaid Cymru
candidate = John Price
votes = 843
percentage = 2.4
change = -8.8
Election box candidate with party link
party = Conservative Party (UK)
candidate = Phillip Lee
votes = 816
percentage = 2.4
change = -5.2
Election box candidate with party link
party = United Kingdom Independence Party
candidate = Peter Osborne
votes = 192
percentage = 0.5
change = +0.5
Election box majority
votes = 9,121
percentage = 25.9
change =
Election box turnout
votes = 35,251
percentage = 66.1
change = +6.6
Election box gain with party link
winner = Independent (politician)
loser = Labour Party (UK)
swing = +48.9

2003 Welsh Assembly constituency result

In 2003, Peter Law was re-elected as the Labour Assembly member for the Blaenau Gwent constituency. By announcing that he would stand as an Independent for the parliamentary constituency he expelled himself from the Labour Party (and the Labour Assembly grouping).Election box begin
title=Welsh Assembly Election 2003: Blaenau Gwent
Election box candidate with party link
party = Labour Party (UK)
candidate = Peter Law
votes = 13,884
percentage = 70.2
change = +9.4
Election box candidate with party link
party = Liberal Democrats (UK)
candidate = Steve Bard
votes = 2,148
percentage = 10.9
change = -0.6
Election box candidate with party link
party = Plaid Cymru
candidate = Rhys Ab Elis
votes = 1,889
percentage = 9.6
change = -11.6
Election box candidate with party link
party = Conservative Party (UK)
candidate = Barrie O'Keefe
votes = 1,131
percentage = 5.7
change = +0.2
Election box candidate with party link
party = United Kingdom Independence Party
candidate = Roger Thomas
votes = 719
percentage = 3.6
change = +3.6
Election box majority
votes = 11,736
percentage = 59.4
change = +18.7
Election box turnout
votes = 19,771
percentage = 37.4
change = -10.85

ee also

*List of United Kingdom by-elections
*Blaenau Gwent

References

External links

* [http://by-elections.co.uk/GE2005/lawblaenau.html Peter Law Campaign literature from the 2005 General Election]
* [http://www.geocities.com/by_elections/blaenau06.html Campaign literature from the 2006 Parliamentary by-election]
* [http://www.geocities.com/by_elections/blaenau06a.html Campaign literature from the 2006 Welsh Assembly by-election]
* [http://www.blaenaugwentlibdems.org.uk/ Blaenau Gwent Liberal Democrats]


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