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General Election in Wales Update

Lara Stace
Lara Stace

Lara Stace takes a look at the start of the 2019 General Election in Wales.

The General Election in Wales has had a dramatic start. The Welsh Conservatives have provided more than their fair share of the drama – with even Conservative AM Nick Ramsay saying that their selection process had “fallen short”. Before the campaign had even officially begun, the candidate in the key target seat of Gower hit the front pages for old social media posts where she appeared to advocate violence against benefit claimants and the homeless. The official campaign didn’t start any better, with the resignation of former Welsh Secretary Alun Cairns coming on the very first day, over allegations he knew that his former aide and Vale of Glamorgan Assembly candidate Ross England had ‘sabotaged’ a rape trial.

Compounding this, Chris Davies, the former MP who lost his seat in the Brecon and Radnorshire by-election after a false expenses claim, was briefly selected as a candidate for Ynys Mon – an ostensibly winnable seat for the Conservatives. However, criticism over his selection forced him to withdraw from the election just hours after his candidacy was announced.

Following the launch of the political parties’ campaigns over that last couple of weeks, attention has turned to the candidates. There are very few BAME candidates for Wales seats – two people are standing for the Conservatives, three for the Liberal Democrats, and Labour has no-one from a BAME background standing for a seat. The Brexit Party has said it does not record the ethnicity of its candidates. Further analysis by us finds that just one candidate, Mohamed Ali, standing for the Conservatives, is in a seat with a 10% margin of victory. None of the candidates are contesting a seat with a 5% margin.

Anti-Semitism has also reared its head during the election in Wales. A Plaid Cymru activist featured in the party’s Party Political Broadcast was suspended as old social media posts surfaced. Welsh Labour have also suffered anti-Semitism controversy, with their candidate for Carmarthen East and Dinefwr, Maria Carroll, found to be a member of a Facebook group that contained anti-Semitic posts. Despite First Minister Mark Drakeford referring her for investigation, UK Labour stated that it would not be taking action as they had no evidence she had made anti-Semitic comments herself.

During a ‘Gutsy Welsh Women’ panel talk at Swansea University, former US Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton criticised the “misogynistic” atmosphere online and the toxic environment it creates for women in politics. We have carried out our own analysis on the General Election candidates and gender, and particularly the gender balance between winnable and unlikely to win seats. Plaid Cymru and the Liberal Democrats perform poorly on both the number of women and the number of women in winnable seats. The Conservatives have more female candidates than the Brexit Party, Liberal Democrats and Plaid Cymru, but a minority are in winnable seats. Sitting on top is Labour, with a 50/50 gender balance on the overall number of candidates, with almost all the female candidates are in winnable seats.

For a bird's eye view.
Am olwg oddi uchod.

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