Thursday, 4 July 2013

By-Election Preview: 4 July 2013

There are five by-elections on 4 July 2013 with both the major parties in action.  The Conservatives and Labour are both defending seats in England, covered on the English Elections blog.  Meanwhile, Labour has a safe seat to defend in Swansea.

Swansea City Council; caused by the death of the Lord Mayor of Swansea Dennis James at the age of 68, from pancreatic cancer.  First elected to Llansamlet division in 1985, James, a Labour councillor, spent his working life in the construction industry and had a degree in civil engineering from Swansea University.

Bryn Teg
  © Copyright Burgess Von Thunen and licensed
for reuse under this 
Creative Commons Licence.
Centred on junction 44 of the M4 motorway, this is a suburban ward to the north-east of Swansea, containing the communities of Llansamlet (south of the motorway) and Birchgrove (north of the motorway).  Llansamlet was a coal-mining area originally, but in 1981 much of the former mining property was designated as the UK's first enterprise zone and has now been extensively redeveloped into Swansea Enterprise Park, Swansea's largest out-of-town shopping area and a major centre for local employment; Morgan Crucible, the Land Registry and Welsh Water are major employers here.  Llansamlet also has a railway station, with trains every two hours to Swansea and Cardiff (no Sunday service).

One of the few remaining four-seat wards in Wales, from 2004 to 2012 the Labour Party held three of the four seats with the fourth going to independent councillor June Evans, who topped the poll at the 2004 election but lost her seat heavily in 2012.  The Liberal Democrats came quite close in a July 2007 by-election, the Swansea East constituency being a target for them at the time, but that was the closest Labour have come to losing this ward to another party.

It's unusual for local by-election candidates to have their own Wikipedia pages, but such is the case for the defending Labour candidate Bob Clay, who was the MP for Sunderland North between 1983 and 1992.  Labour have presumably forgiven Clay, who will join his wife as a ward councillor if elected, for being election agent to Reg Keys in his run against Tony Blair at the 2005 general election.  The Tories are running James Hatton, deputy chairman of Swansea East Conservatives, while the Lib Dems have selected party staffer Samuel Rees.  The ballot paper is completed by Claire Thomas, standing for the National Front.

Parliamentary and Assembly constituency: Swansea East
Assembly region: South Wales West
ONS Travel to Work Area: Swansea Bay

Robert Clay (Lab)
James Hatton (C)
Samuel Rees (LD)
Claire Thomas (NF)

May 2012 result Lab 2185/2154/2051/1971 Ind 952 C 354/335/328
May 2008 result Lab 1119/1109/919/877 Ind 912/753/722 BNP 635 PC 616 C 520/511/475/361 LD 411/379
July 2007 by-election Lab 769 LD 581 C 283 BNP 226 Ind 221
June 2004 result Ind 1176 Lab 1063/1062/975/939 PC 770 LD 598 C 566/509/504

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