IT WAS once considered one of Labour’s safest seats in the country and the fifth safest in the UK.
But the Blaenau Gwent seat hit the headlines at the 2005 General Election when Labour Assembly member Peter Law ran as an Independent and won the seat.
He had resigned from the Labour party in a protest at their use of an all-women shortlist to select the parliamentary candidate to replace his ally Llew Smith, the left-wing Labour MP who stood down at the 2005 election.
Sadly, less than a year after becoming MP, Mr Law died from a brain tumour in April 2006. This led to a by-election in June 2006 in which Labour suffered a double defeat.
Mr Law’s former campaign manager Dai Davies was elected to replace him as MP with a near 2,500 majority while Mr Law’s widow Trish became AM with a 4,400 plus majority.
Prior to this dramatic change in 2005, the seat had continually been held by iconic Labour figures including Aneurin Bevan and Michael Foot and the opposition parties would often have difficulty getting more than 10 per cent of the vote with Labour holding a 19,000 majority.
The Blaenau Gwent area which covers the main towns of Abertillery, Brynmawr, Ebbw Vale and Tredegar has strong historical mining links.
Born and raised in the area, Dai Davies is from a coal mining and steelworking background, and currently has a lot of support under the Blaenau Gwent People’s Voice Party.
But Labour candidate Nick Smith, who was also born and raised in the area and comes from a mining and steelworking family too, will be looking to gain back support and win the seat back for Labour.