Wednesday, 4 December 2013

By-election Previews: 5 December 2013

There are eight by-elections this week.  Five are covered over on the English Elections blog, while Labour have a seat to defend in Glasgow, covered on the Scottish Elections blog.  Meanwhile in Wales, there are two seats up for grabs on Cardiff City Council.

RIVERSIDE and SPLOTT
Cardiff City Council; caused by the resignations of Labour councillors Phil Hawkins and Luke Holland respectively.

Wilson Street, Splott
  © Copyright Linda Bailey and licensed for
reuse under this 
Creative Commons Licence.
Two by-elections in the capital city of Wales.  The Riverside division lies across the River Taff from the Millennium Stadium and Cathays Park.  Much of the actual riverside forms the park of Sophia Gardens, home to Glamorgan cricket club's Test ground, the SWALEC Stadium.  This is an interesting mix of areas; Riverside proper at the south end is an ethnic enclave with large Bangladeshi and Chinese populations, while Pontcanna to the north is a leafy area favoured by the Welsh arts and media establishment (the so-called "crachach") and was once a broadcasting centre for HTV and S4C.

There are also broadcasting links with Splott, the place of birth of the Today and Mastermind presenter John Humphreys and the BBC Radio 2 traffic reporter Lynn Bowles.  South-east of the city centre, Splott was a steelworking centre created by the industrial revolution, and even today almost the entire housing stock is late-Victorian terracing.  The Splott division also includes the severely deprived Tremorfa area, further out of town.

These two divisions have very difficult political complexions.  Splott is a Labour versus Lib Dem battle, the Lib Dems' share of the three seats having fallen from two in 2004 and one in 2008 to nought as a result of the 2012 election, although their vote did not collapse utterly and they are still the clear challengers to Labour in the division.  Riverside, on the other hand, is a Labour versus Plaid battle: the three seats there split 2-1 in Plaid's favour in 2004.  Plaid gained the Labour seat in 2008 but then the tide turned, Labour easily winning a March 2011 by-election and gaining the other two seats in 2012.

Riverside's defending Labour candidate is PCS officer Darren Williams, who got into trouble earlier this year for suggesting on Facebook that Tony Blair should share Margaret Thatcher's coffin.  His main opposition will come from Plaid's Elizabeth Gould.  Aled Crow stands for the Conservatives, Sian Donne for the Lib Dems, Joel Beer for the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition and Simon Zeigler for UKIP, fighting the ward for the first time.

In Splott a major election issue appears to be the proposed closure of the local swimming pool.  The defending Labour candidate is Edward Stubbs, whose main opposition will come from the Lib Dems' Jamie Matthews, a disability charity worker.  The Tories have selected Daniel Mason and Katrine Williams stands for TUSC.  Independent Elys John and UKIP's Brian Morris complete the ballot paper.

Riverside
Parliamentary and Assembly constituency: Cardiff West
Assembly electoral region: South Wales Central
Postcode district: CF11

Joel Beer (TUSC)
Aled Crow (C)
Sian Donne (LD)
Elizabeth Gould (PC)
Darren Williams (Lab)
Simon Zeigler (UKIP)

May 2012 result Lab 1731/1555/1431 PC 1153/944/940 Grn 294/272/189 C 286/276/263 LD 142/129/122 TUSC 99
March 2011 by-election Lab 1700 PC 1099 C 369 Grn 277 LD 187
May 2008 result PC 1064/1064/991 Lab 786/743/707 C 295/209/206 LD 280/250/235
June 2004 result PC 1448/1408/1248 Lab 1280/1135/1092 LD 693/658/561 Grn 605 C 465

Splott
Parliamentary and Assembly constituency: Cardiff South and Penarth
Assembly electoral region: South Wales Central
Postcode district: CF24

Elys John (Ind)
Daniel Mason (C)
Jamie Matthews (LD)
Brian Morris (UKIP)
Edward Stubbs (Lab)
Katrine Williams (TUSC)

May 2012 result Lab 1686/1624/1432 LD 1055/805/775 PC 250/197/167 Grn 157 C 151/137/130 Comm 117 TUSC 105
May 2008 result LD 1490/1211/1149 Lab 1485/1350/1215 C 373/329/292 PC 275/231/212 Comm 127
June 2004 result LD 1474/1215/1181 Lab 1199/1104/1000 Cardiff Citizens 309 Grn 270 C 238/224 PC 207/193/168 ProLife Alliance 134 Socialist Alternative 76/57/52 Comm 56