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 latest in a series of interviews, IAN CRAIG met Labour's Ruth Jones.

ON PAPER Ruth Jones' job as Labour candidate for Newport West should be an easy one.

The constituency has been staunchly Labour since Paul Flynn stole the seat from Conservative Mark Robinson in 1987, and he successfully defended it in seven subsequent elections - with no-one ever coming close to unseating him.

So in normal times Mrs Jones could reasonably feel confident of coming out on top on April 4.

But these are not normal times.


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For her part, Mrs Jones, who campaigned for Remain ahead of the 2016 referendum and said "all options should be on the table, including a people's vote" said she, if elected, her top priority would be to improve the city's economy.

"Unless you've got a strong economy you can't do any of the other things," she said.

"We need jobs, we need highly-skilled, better-paid jobs.

"There are people who are working and still have to claim Universal Credit and they're still not making ends meet - that's a big issue to me.

"Homelessness is on the increase - that's a big issue.

"Young people having rented accommodation that is lousy, where they cant lock their front door, they've got mould or whatever - that's not fair on them, they're starting out and they should have decent, secure housing.

"And jobs - obviously you need jobs, but we want skilled, well-paid jobs in this area - not the minimum wage stuff."

She added crime and community safety in areas such as Pill is also an issue she would want to tackle.

"It's not just crime, but also the feeling of being vulnerable to crime," she said.

"If you are frightened to go out on the street then that is an issue - even if you're not an actual victim of crime, the fact that you're afraid of crime in an issue."

On the M4, Mrs Jones said she was firmly in favour of a relief road.

"I travel back and forth to Cardiff every day, or I go to the West Midlands, and every day I sit in traffic," she said. "It's a nightmare - one accident, one little shunt, and everything's coming through Newport."

She added: "I understand the report is with Mark (Drakeford) now and he will read it very carefully and he will make the right decision, but I will do everything in my power to make sure we get something sorted quickly, because - let's be honest - it should have started ten years ago."

As a Newport native, Mrs Jones said she was proud of the city's unique character, describing her hometown as as "an ugly, lovely city".

"The people of Newport I think are fab," she said. "GLC highlight it very nicely, the County highlight it very nicely - we are always the underdogs, but when we come through we do a good job."

Describing Mr Flynn's legacy as "massive", she added: "No seat is a safe seat at the moment.

"I take nothing for granted and we will be throwing everything at this campaign.

"To honour Paul's legacy we want to keep it red for Newport West."


Age: 56

Originally from: The Gaer, Newport

Education: Duffyrn School (now John Frost School)

Professional background: Physiotherapist with the NHS and trade union official

Political background: Stood twice for Monmouth MP, coming second both times

Family: Married, two children

Hobbies: Singing, keeping fit, church


- 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