The Newport West by-election on April 4 will be significant for a number of reasons - not least that it will see a new MP elected for the constituency for the first time since 1987. There are an unprecedented 11 candidates standing in the election, and, in the first in a series of interviews, IAN CRAIG met Plaid Cymru hopeful Jonathan Clark.

JONATHAN Clark is no stranger to election campaigns in Gwent, having stood multiple times for Plaid Cymru in Monmouth in both Parliament and in the Welsh Assembly.

But Plaid has rarely enjoyed much electoral success in Newport - a candidate running for the party has never placed above fourth in a Parliamentary election or third in the Assembly, and there are currently no Plaid members on the city council.

So Mr Clark is under no illusions about the challenge facing him.


Newport West by-election to be held on April 4 following death of Paul Flynn

Plaid select their Newport West Parliamentary candidate

Plaid by-election candidate kicks off campaign

"We cant go on with what we've got," he said. "Our city has been run into the ground.

"We've got a city council that could redefine inept - and not in a good way - and unfortunately we've got an Assembly government which could join them.

"We have to do something different otherwise our city is going to continue to spiral down."

He added: "As a city we are missing opportunities, massive opportunities.

"Newport as a city has got more potential than you can shake a stick at, and frankly we've got to do better, we've got to turn that potential into action."

Mr Clark - who supports a 'people's vote' on the UK's deal with the EU and is a vocal opponent of the M4 relief road - said the key issues facing the city as housing, public transport and regeneration in the city centre.

"We run a real risk of housing in our city overheating because of the knock-on effect of sitting between Cardiff and Bristol", he said. "House prices in Bristol are so high, and that will effect local people getting housing.

"And we have a massive problem with homelessness in our city - we have people sleeping under bridges, under the flyover and by the river with the rats and everything else and that cannot be acceptable, something's got to be done about that."

The by-election holds special significance for Mr Clark for more than one reason.

Not only is this his home constituency, but the campaign represents a bizarre example of history repeating itself.

In the 1974 General Election Mr Clark's father Hugh ran as a Liberal Party candidate for Abertillery. Among his opponents was a 24-year-old Neil Hamilton, then a member of the Conservative Party.

Now, 45 years later, Mr Hamilton, now Ukip, is running against another Clark for the Newport West seat.

In 1974 there was only 98 votes between Mr Clark, who came fourth, with 2,632 votes, and Mr Hamilton, who won 2,730. The seat was ultimately won by Labour's Jeffrey Thomas with 70.3 per cent of the vote.

Whether history will repeat itself remains to be seen.

Mr Clark said: "We need a good, strong voice in Westminster and we are not getting that.

"This by-election will give us a chance to do that.

"As a city we can punch above our weight," he said. "Our football team can more than do that. I only wish the Dragons could."



Originally from: Newport

Education: St Julian’s Comprehensive School, Newport, studied history at the University of Wales, Lampeter, and a master's in Celto-Roman Studies at the University of Wales, Newport, and an MPhil in Roman Archaeology at Cardiff University.

Professional background:


Hobbies: Hill walking, supporting Newport County AFC and the Dragons


- Jonathan Clark, Plaid Cymru

- June Davies, Renew

- Matthew Evans, Conservative

- Neil Hamilton, Ukip

- Ruth Jones, Labour

- Ryan Jones, Lib Dem

- Ian McLean, SDP

- Hugh Nicklin, For Britain

- Richard Suchorzewski, the Abolish the Welsh Assembly Party

- Phillip Taylor, Democrats and Veterans Party

- Amelia Womack, Green Party