Labour MPs in North-East Wales remain defiant despite opinion poll findings

Reporter:

David Humphreys and Jonathan Grieve

The four Labour MPs in North East Wales have shrugged off claims the voters will hand them their P45s at the General Election.

Wrexham MP Ian Lucas , Susan Elan Jones, his counterpart in Clwyd South as well as Flintshire representatives Mark Tami (Alyn and Deeside) and David Hanson (Delyn) will all lose their seats if a Welsh-based opinion poll is to be believed.

A YouGov poll released earlier this week suggested the Tories could be on course to win most of the Welsh parliamentary seats for the first time in living memory. It put Prime Minister Theresa May’s party on 40 per cent, with Labour 10 points behind with Plaid Cymru in third.

Translated into votes on June 8, it might mean voters in the four North East Wales constituencies would wake up with a Conservative MP.

However in 2015, while large parts of the country turned away from Labour under Ed Miliband in favour of David Cameron and the Tories, Labour fared well enough in North East Wales to hold onto all four seats and across the border regain the City of Chester from the Tories by just 93 votes and easily hold onto Ellesmere Port and Neston.

There was a also glimmer of hope for the Tories who surprised many people by snatching the nearby Vale of Clwyd constituency, with James Davies defeating long-serving Labour MP Chris Ruane by 237 votes.

If the 2015 results are anything to go by, Ian Lucas in Wrexham has the hardest fight on his hands.

His majority over Tory Andrew Atkinson was only 1,800 votes, although Mr Atkinson was subsequently defeated by Labour’s Lesley Griffiths in last year’s National Assembly elections.

Mr Lucas, who has served as the town’s representative in Parliament since 2001, said the YouGov figures did not reflect what he is hearing from voters on the doorsteps.

“We are getting a very positive response to the local campaign,” he said. “People in Wrexham know me – I have fought for the seat four times and my record on local issues is something I am very proud of.

“Obviously this is going to be a very tough General Election,” he said.

“We have been campaigning in Wrexham in connection with the local elections so we have been talking to lots of people and the figures in the poll do not chime with what we’ve been hearing. I do realise it is going to be an extremely competitive and challenging election but it is very early days and we have a tremendous team in place.

“We are going to fight hard to get what we believe is the best outcome for Wrexham. We are going to make the case for Labour acting as a check on a Conservative government which consistently acts in the best interest of England and doesn’t seem to pay any attention to Wales.”

Susan Elan Jones, who retained Clwyd South for Labour in 2015, urged those who may have voted for Plaid Cymru or the Liberal Democrats in the past to back Labour if they do not want to see Tories gain a foothold in the region.

She said: “This really vindicates the message were are putting out that it is a two-horse race between Labour and the Tories in North-East Wales.

“This election is about saving good local representatives who will stand up for our area.

“Last time, the Conservatives were represented by a guy from Chelsea and let us not forget that once upon a time they sent us Boris Johnson.

“Polls come and go and national issues come and go but for me, being an MP is about representing your local area and that is what I will continue to do.

“My big message to people who don’t want a Tory MP in North East Wales is it’s vitally important to vote Labour.”

Both Flintshire MPs increased their majorities at the 2015 General Election.

Alyn and Deeside MP Mark Tami shrugged off the poll’s suggestion and said his own track record stood up to scrutiny, trusting voters to back him in June.

“I am aware Alyn and Deeside will more than likely be a target seat for the Tories,” he said. “However, I believe I have represented the people of Alyn and Deeside well over the past 16 years and I’m confident this will be reflected in the election result.”

Delyn MP David Hanson, who is defending a majority of 2,930, said electors had a simple choice to make in his constituency.

“I will have fought this constituency eight times, winning six and this time it will be close,” he said.

“The choice in Delyn is a Labour MP working for constituents or giving Theresa May a massive Tory majority to do with what she wants with no opposition.”


A former Tory General Election candidate has suggested Labour has been “complacent” in its handling of North-East Wales.

Laura Knghtly, Conservative candidate for Alyn and Deeside in 2015, has accused Jeremy Corbyn's party for taking voters for granted.

Ms Knightly, second to Labour MP Mark Tami in the 2015 national poll, said party leader Mr Corbyn was damaging the Labour standing.

It is suggested by holding the snap election Theresa May's party could gain 10 new seats in Wales including traditional Labour strongholds in Alyn and Deeside, Delyn, Wrexham and Clwyd South.

It is a stark contrast to the party's position in 2015 when a leaked list suggested the Conservatives would not target Alyn and Deeside as it was felt a Tory victory was highly unlikely.

Former candidate Ms Knightly, who has followed in her late father William’s footsteps by being a member of Conwy Council, said: “I think these areas are in play in this election as it has been all too easy for Labour to be complacent in what they regard as traditional seats.

“On the doorsteps in the 2015 election, the big issues were health, education and an EU referendum.

“On health and education, people across Wales have realised it is the Labour-led Welsh Assembly which is consistently letting their families down.

“Turning to the question of the EU referendum, people in Alyn and Deeside, for example, voted more in favour of leaving the European Union than the rest of the country.

“Some Conservatives were Remainers, but we all want to work together to ensure Britain gets the best deal out of Brexit. Jeremy Corbyn now joins a list of Labour leaders, like [Neil] Kinnock and [Michael] Foot, who are so out of touch with the wishes.”

Conservative candidate Andrew Atkinson, who has previously stood in Welsh Assembly and Parliamentary elections, has confirmed his intention to stand for Wrexham in the General Election on June 8.

Mr Atkinson, who is also registered to stand as a candidate for Gresford East and West in the Wrexham Council election next week, said: “There has not yet been a candidate selection but I thank all of the local residents who have got in touch and pledged their support. It is greatly appreciated.

“I’m keen to stand as there is so much that needs doing for our town and wider community.”

Stating his current focus was on the Wrexham Council election, he said: “I believe in being honest and up front with people and that’s why I’ve written a letter explaining this to Gresford residents. I’m currently distributing the letter.”

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