Tuesday, 18 May 2010

The new "Môn a Menai" constituency

Following on nicely from Sunday's post about Albert Owen's 'increased' majority, here are some interesting general election statistics (from Iain Dale) of MPs who won with the with least amount of votes:

No fewer than four out of the top ten winning MPs with the lowest votes came from North Wales:

  • Hywel Williams in Arfon (9,383 votes)
  • Guto Bebb in Aberconwy (10,734 votes)
  • Albert Owen in Ynys Môn (11,490 votes)
  • Ian Lucas in Wrexham (12,161 votes)

This is only to be expected I suppose as these constituencies are amongst the smallest in the UK in terms of size of electorate, and, indeed, all are more than around 30,000 voters below the standard sized constituencies of 77,000 voters favoured by the new Con/Lib government:

  • Arfon - 42,998 voters
  • Aberconwy - 43,976 voters
  • Ynys Môn - 49,831 voters
  • Wrexham - 50,980 voters

Accordingly its very likely that the general election just gone will be the last time that the Isle of Anglesey will be a constituency in and of itself - bringing an end to a Westminster ward which has remained unchanged since its creation in 1545. One one hand I can understand that standard sized constituencies are fairer insomuch that every vote will carry equal weight; however I fear that the downside will be that the new 77,000 voter constituencies will in effect simply transfer even more political power to cities at the expense of the countryside. 

As for what the boundaries of our new constituency will be: its likely that that it will include all of Anglesey, Bangor (population: 21,000) and various other parts of the hinterland to get up to 77,000 voters - I doubt it will include Caernarfon. As a commenter under this thread guessed, I'd also agree that the new name could be "Môn a Menai". What effect will this have on which party will win the seat? The Bangor wards in Gwynedd County Council are currently mostly represented by Plaid Cymru and Lib Dem councillors so I can only guess that this merger will strengthen Plaid Cymru's chances of winning "Môn a Menai". What do you all think?


Yr Eliffant said...

could be site of the Battle of the Slapheads :)

Anonymous said...

Surely, although we'd like to be a progressive and cosmopolitan electorate, the fact is we are not, and widening the net of captured ward population must bring a wider set of views - and votes.

Maybe we can then see an end to the banal voting patterns displayed for so long on Anglesey.

Prometheuswrites said...

This raises interesting questions.

Ynys Mon differs from the mainland in that by vitue of being an island it has a discrete identity both culturally and geographically. It also differs in attitudes towards issues such as Wylfa B; traffic bottlenecks and congestion across the bridges, IOACC, etc.)
It would make more sense to be joined with Bangor than with Caernarfon as Bangor is contiguous with Ynys Mon, while as being joined to Caernarfon would result in a constituency with a gap in the middle. Furthermore Bangor is home to both Bangor University and Ysbyty Gwynedd who are the biggest employers (and wealth creators) in North Wales.

Alternatively we could always build homes for another 20,000 voters on the island, (after all there's all that unused agricultural land AND EU farm subsidies are in the process of being phased out altogether). This would create an interesting tension between those who want have affordable homes for our young people and those who oppose 'immigration' into the area, nevermind the planning administration issues involved.

I'm not making hard proposals here, just throwing some straws into the wind to see which way the wind blows.

Anonymous said...

Or putting it out on the porch and seeing if the cat licks it up?

I think an epanded airport coupled with a dormitory development for Dublin and the North West of England is a splendid idea. Shouldn't have much problem getting planning to agree. Can't see there being any opposition.

Anonymous said...

No chance of being a dormitory development for Dublin. Have you seen what's happened to the 'Celtic Tyger'?
It's been neutered by the economic razor.
Houses just outside of Dublin are a third of the price they were in 2008

Anonymous said...

Be warned!
This report about Cymad http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/wales/north_west/8687388.stm
shows the time it takes to get a enquiry finished and what the results are.

The Druid of Anglesey said...

Eliffant - Albert v Hywel? That would be fun, though my guess is that Hywel would prefer to represent a more Caernarfon-centric constituency; plus neither of them would probably want to have to face another sitting MP.

Prometheus - very interesting points. It will become a political battle to win over voters in Holyhead and Bangor, whilst all the bits in the middle will be even more neglected than they are now! Plus as you say, the mainland has different attitudes towards Wylfa - how easy will it be for a Plaid candidate in the future to oppose their manifesto pledge of no nuclear power if they have to represent Bangor too?

Ioan said...

"...I can only guess that this merger will strengthen Plaid Cymru's chances of winning "Môn a Menai".

Not so sure. Apparently Bangor was split between Plaid Cymru and Labour. Adding Bangor will only establish the new seat as a two (not three) way marginal. Without Bangor, the Conservatives would have a good chance next time (assuming Peter Rogers does not stand).

The Druid of Anglesey said...

Ioan - I just counted the affiliations of all the councillors who represent Arfon wards (which also includes Caernarfon) on Gwynedd County Council - here are the results:

Plaid Cymru - 13
Independent - 7
Lib Dem - 4
Labour - 3
Llais Gwynedd - 2

Labour don't seem to figure at all - it appears to be overwhelmingly Plaid Cymru territory.

menaiblog said...

Leaving asise that I disagree with your suggestion that rural areas should be over represented electorally, you do raise an interesting point. I've discussed the matter at some length here: http://oclmenai.blogspot.com/2009/01/y-toriaid-i-newid-tirwedd-etholiadol.html

If Bangor was added onto Ynys Mon on it's own you'd have roughly 11,500 extra electors bringing the constituency up to roughly 61,000. If you add the Ogwen Valley onto that you add roughly 6,000 extra voters giving you 67,000. You also need to add Caernarfon (roughly 7,000 to get up to a quota of 74,000.

Regardless of that, these areas are very different to Ynys Mon - they're urban & very politicised - people vote for parties & not individuals.

Listing the number of councillors obviously undersetimates Labour's strength in General Elections. You've got plenty of people here who see no contradiction in voting Plaid in local, European & Assembly elections & voting Labour in GEs.

Any or all of the additions I mentioned would fatally weaken a possible independent candidate. The Conservative vote in a GE in these regions taken together would be far lower than it is in Ynys Mon. The net effect would be to strengthen Plaid & Labour & weaken the Tories.

If the commission tried an alternative & started bringing in Gwyrfai wards they'd be starting to eat into real nationalist heartlands & this woyld bring in many thousands of voters who have never voted anything other than Plaid in their lives.

The Druid of Anglesey said...

BlogMenai - Thanks for your specialist input and interesting that the electoral arithmetic means that Caernarfon would also need to be added to reach the magical 77,000 voters figure. This would mean that the eventual winner would need to win at least two of the three towns of Holyhead, Bangor and Caernarfon - no mean task. As you say, the net effect (currently) would be to make it a contest between Plaid Cymru and Labour, with the Tories somewhere in third.

The other interesting point you raise in your blogpost is that the new constituency would cut right across the current boundary of Anglesey and Gwynedd County Councils - perhaps a sign that they will anyway have to re-merge together as many predict (hope?) now.

The most significant eventuality of the formation of such a new constituency will be that our two blogs will have to merge together... ;)

menaiblog said...

On your last post I think that it's unlikely.

If the commission wanted to construct two constituencies out of Ynys Mon / Gwynedd you wouldn't get two constituencies of 77k, but you'd get two over 70k. Reaching out into other council areas would be possible but messy.

If we stick to two Gwynedd / Ynys Mon constituencies of around 70k the most logical (from a geographic point of view) step would be to add just Bangor & the Ogwen Valley & some of the Eastern Gwyrfai wards - Y Felinheli, Deiniolen, Penisarwaun, Bethel & perhaps Llanberis. Caernarfon & Western Gwyrfai would go with the rural West & South of Gwynedd.

The Druid of Anglesey said...

MenaiBlog - I think you've probably nailed it.

menaiblog said...

Bardsey Island isn't a parliamentary constituency is it?

It's got what you term 'water boundaries' though.

The Druid of Anglesey said...

BlogMenai - not unless those 20,000 saints are allowed to vote...!


menaiblog said...

No, but the point is that there will be all sorts of special pleading - Ynys Mon because it's an island, large rural constituencies because they'll become - well too large, & South Wales Valleys constituencies because although they appear close on a map they're miles far from each other by road.

Anonymous said...

Menaiblog 23.25 & 07.24 you did not include
Ynys Seriol or The Skerries!

My question is Why" do WE need that change?


Anonymous said...

Sorry is this is the wrong site but I do not know where else to ask my question.

If we have councillors who are not affilliated to any particular group, do they get a seat on County Council Committees? If the answer is yes, who would decide on which committee they would sit? when would such decisions be necessary and when are they made?


Y g**t sais cochyn said...

Why not just blow the bridges and push for an independant state - as Valley is of such a strategic importance the revenue generated by leasing out to the UK government would not go amiss and then locals would be able to call ALL the shots the island could make money out of Wylfa rather than the other way round - If you really wanted to push the boat out - refuse to include Holyhead suggesting it affiliates with Ireland - just a suggestion... i have had a hard day...

Y cochyn sais said...

another point i keep meaning to raise - there is a university just across, i believe the marine biology/oceanography department is highly regarded internationally, also that the psychology department is held in high regard too
Does it not make a certain amount of sense for Anglesey to try to make stronger more beneficial bonds with such an establishment
i know technically Bangor isnt on the island but treating it as such can hardly be a bad thing - i suppose this relates to your previous posting about new constituency boundaries - maybe it makes sense to give the Anglesey constituency something broader to focus on - for example it would increase the number of swimming pools by 50% ( i may be wrong on that one but it would be a substancial increase) and reflects many peoples everyday reality of living on Anglesey (in that many look towards Bangor rather than Holyhead as a center - look at the revenue Tesco's in Bangor receives compared with Holyhead) Anglesey is an island but the reticence of crossing the bridge cuts both ways