It is a remarkable fact that Anglesey voters have not rejected a sitting MP at a General Election for almost 60 years - the last time being when Labour's Cledwyn Hughes beat the sitting Liberal MP, Megan Lloyd George in 1951. Since then, the seat has only changed hands (and party) when the sitting MP has for whatever reason stood down:
- Cledwyn Hughes, later Lord Cledwyn of Penrhos, retained the seat for 28 years until he decided to step down at the 1979 general election - clearing the way for a young Conservative councillor from Brighton, Keith Best, to win the seat for the Conservatives.
- Keith Best held the seat in 1983 against a young Ieuan Wyn Jones. Indeed IWJ had to wait until the 1987 election to win Anglesey for Plaid Cymru - but only after Keith Best had become embroiled in the BT shares row and had been forced to stand down.
- Ieuan Wyn went on to win the next two Westminster elections in 1992 and 1997, but stood down prior to the 2001 election in order to devote himself to the Welsh Assembly after having become Ynys Môn's first AM in 1999.
- This opened the way for Labour's Albert Owen to regain the seat for Labour in 2001, narrowly beating Plaid Cymru's Eilian Williams.
And, as we know, Albert Owen retained the seat in 2005 and no doubt hopes that Anglesey will continue its 60 year tradition of backing sitting MPs. I fear this time he will be disappointed...
However, even if Albert Owen is not the Island's MP this time tomorrow, I don't think we are about to get the MP we deserve. The bookies' favourite (at 3/1 to win) is Plaid Cymru's Dylan Rees - a wholly uninspiring candidate. To illustrate the point, the Druid has just found his video of Rees speaking at a Plaid Cymru rally in Beaumaris last week:
It is striking that the worst thing he can think to say about the catastrophic state of Anglesey after 13 years of Labour government is... that they closed some Post Offices on the Island! Of course we all regret rural post offices closing, but we have far larger, more important problems that that - such as:
- A GDP per head of only half of the UK average thus making it officially the poorest region in the UK according to the Office of National Statistics; indeed Anglesey has even been compared to some of the poorest parts of Poland in a recent OECD report;
- The lowest GVA per head in Wales at just 53% of the UK’s average;
- A dwindling private sector following the closures of Anglesey Aluminium (450 jobs), Eaton Electric (250 jobs), Peboc (100 jobs), Octel, Menai Electrical (50 jobs) and the downsizing of Vion/Welsh Country Foods (181 jobs)
- A fastest rising and highest unemployment rate in North Wales;
- An economic inactivity rate of 25.1%;
- A changing population profile with a net outflow of 16-24 year olds;
- And a completely screwed up County Council!
Why doesn't Dylan Rees mention any of this? I'll tell you why: because to do so would make his boss, Ieuan Wyn Jones - a man who has represented this Island as either MP or AM for the last 24 years - look stupid. An MP who is not able to recognise or speak about this Island's real problems for fear of making his boss look bad is not what we need.
The Druid believes that today Anglesey will break its 60 year tradition of not rejecting sitting MPs. The Druid further hopes that Anglesey will remember its newly found killer instinct next year at the Assembly elections and vote out Ieuan Wyn Jones too. Its clear that being Deputy First Minister, Leader of Plaid Cymru and Assembly Member for Ynys Môn is two jobs too many.
UPDATE: If you want to watch the Ynys Môn result live, it is expected to be declared between 1.00-1.30am tonight. (Hat tip: Miserable Old Fart)
UPDATE 00:31am: It appears from IWJ's interview on BBC Wales that the favourite Plaid's Dylan Rees has NOT won Ynys Môn. More to follow...