ELECTION: Blaenau Gwent returns to Labour fold

ALL SMILES: Nick Smith greets his victory

ALL SMILES: Nick Smith greets his victory

First published in Gwent election news South Wales Argus: Photograph of the Author by

BLAENAU Gwent went back to its Labour roots today when the party clawed back its former stronghold.

Nick Smith’s smiles said it all as he was announced as Blaenau Gwent’s new MP at Ebbw Vale Leisure Centre just before 2am.

But after four years in Parliament Dai Davies stood solemnly on the stage - the disappointment clear in his face.

With a 61.94 percent turnout, Smith received at least 10,000 more votes than his nearest rival bringing to an end the legacy of the late Independent MP Peter Law.

Mr Smith, who grew up in Tredegar, spoke of his gratitude for the Blaenau Gwent people who had put their trust in him, declaring “I promise to be your voice”.

He said he had promised the late Michael Foot how he would bring Blaenau Gwent back to Labour and said how the feeling on the doorsteps during what he said had been a “shoeleather” campaign had been positive towards the party.

The new MP added: “It’s been a fantastic result for Labour. It shows we’ve listened and earned the trust.”

He said his first priority will be to bring “jobs, jobs, jobs” to the area.

Keeping a low profile away from the floor for most of the evening, Mr Davies, standing for Blaenau Gwent People's Voice, said the constituency had been affected by the “frighteners” of having a Conservative government.

He said he would do all he can to hold Mr Smith to his pledges and said he would continue to work to improve the lives of the people of Blaenau Gwent.

The valleys constituency hit the headlines in 2005 when Labour Assembly member Mr Law resigned from the Labour party and won the parliamentary seat as an Independent, Mr Law’s death in April 2006 led to a by-election which Mr Law’s former campaign manager, Mr Davies, won with a near 2,500 majority.

Before then, the constituency of Blaenau Gwent had continually been regarded as a Labour stronghold with the likes of Aneurin Bevan and Michael Foot as its MPs.

Blaenau Gwent Assembly Member Trish Law said: “Dai is Blaenau Gwent through and through. He’s committed to the area.”

She showed no fear for the safety of her own seat in next year’s Assembly election and said how she now expects to see much more investment in Blaenau Gwent from Westminster.

Blaenau Gwent council’s Labour leader, Hedley McCarthy, said Mr Davies’ four years as MP had been “wilderness politics.”

He said: “He didn’t deliver anything for the area other than to continually talk it down.”

He was confident Labour would now also do well in the Assembly and council elections and said the area now has a “strong voice” in parliament who can put the case forward for Blaenau Gwent.

The vice chairman of People’s Voice, Francis Drake, said Mr Davies would be “gutted” at the result and that Mrs Law had “lost her right arm”.

He added: “Everyone’s gutted for People’s Voice. We’ve done so much for the people.”

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