Translation of Llafur Caled by Vaughan Roderick.
Politicians aren't usually keen on setting electoral targets. Relative success can appear to be a failure for not succeeding in reaching an ambitious target. So it was surprising to hear Nick Bourne boasting today (Tuesday) that the number of Welsh Conservative MPs could reach double figures after the next election.
The Tory's have three seats at the moment. Where could the other seven come from? Cardiff North, Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire, where the AMs are Conservatives, are obvious targets as is the Vale of Glamorgan. Beyond thosethe Conservatives would have to depend on a cluster of marginal seats like Aberconway, Clwyd South and the Vale of Clwyd, Delyn and Montgomeryshire. Winning all of these would be enough to reach double figures, just. It's difficult to imagine the Conservatives doing much better than that. Nick Bourne himself admits breaking the 1983 record of 14 is "unlikely".
But another record was set in 1983 with only twenty Labour MPs being returned from Wales - the lowest number since the second world war. Twenty was still a majority of the 38 seats that Wales had at the time - a key psychological threshold. Is it possible for Labour to win less than twenty seats next time and loss their majority for the first time since 1935?
Yes it is. Let's imagine that the Tories (or in some cases, another opposition party) win the eleven seats above. Add Anglesey, Arfon, Dwyfor Meirionydd, Ceredigion, Camarthen East, Llanelli, Cardiff Central, Brecon and Radnorshire and Blaenau Gwent. That's twenty. Note that the list doesn't include some of the seats the Tories won in 1983 (Bridgend, Cardif West and Newport West), seats Plaid Cymru have won in Assembly elections (Rhondda and Islwyn) nor the Lib Dems' main target (Swansea West).
Labour are facing a battle unlike any they've faced since the twenties, and that's with creaking organisation and empty coffers. There's an exciting year ahead of us!
Translation by Dewi Dau