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 Social Democratic Party candidate Ian McLean.

THE Social Democratic Party might not be the biggest name in the Newport West by-election – but in the current political climate there’s every chance they, and candidate Ian McLean, could make some real waves.

The party’s unique selling point is that it’s a politically-centrist group which supports Brexit, and Mr McLean said he hoped this would attract pro-Brexit voters disenchanted with both Labour and the Conservatives.

But he said he believed it is important Brexit does not become the central issue in the ballot – and voters must be clear on where candidates stand on local issues.


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“Unfortunately I feel the election is going to be a re-run of Brexit,” he said. “That’s going to be a central issue, but there’s more to this election than that.

“The M4 is quite a contentious issue - our party does support the relief road.

“Obviously the choice is down to the Welsh Government, but if I was elected MP I would be fighting for them to put one in.

“Another issue which is very important is the city centre.

“Obviously Friars Walk at one end is nice and new and is lovely, but the centre itself is in decline.

“It needs a lot of investment and a lot of encouragement to bring businesses back into the city centre.

“The council can do a lot about that by encouraging the lowering of rates, or other incentives to encourage people to come into the city centre – that’s something I am keen to see.

“If we can rejuvenate and regenerate the city centre, that’s something which will benefit everybody in Newport."

Mr McLean, a former magistrate who previously ran for Ukip in the 2017 Local Government and General Elections, said tackling homelessness should also be a central issue for Newport West’s new MP, and said he was particularly impressed by a new scheme through which homeless people in the city are offered emergency ‘pods’ to sleep in.

“Homelessness has become a problem everywhere in Britain,” he said.

“Nobody likes seeing people sleep rough on the streets.

“It’s something any MP, whoever is going to be elected, should be fighting for.”

Mr McLean also said he would like to see the Welsh and UK Governments bring more of their departments out of Cardiff Bay and London and into Newport and other areas, and has backed the SDP's policy of bringing devolution in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland onto an equal footing.

The current iteration of the SDP was formed when the former version of the party, which was formed in 1981 by the so-called 'gang of four' merged with the Liberal Party to create the Liberal Democrats. When this happened some activists and members unhappy with the decided to reform a new version of the party - and it is this which Mr McLean is now standing for.

Mr McLean said making gains in a previously staunchly-Labour constituency posed a challenge - but not an insurmountable one.

"There's a lot of apathy out there - people saying "I'm not voting for Labour and I'm not voting for the Tories - who can I vote for?' Hopefully, if we can get our message out there, they'll vote for us," he said.

"That’s my hope."

He added: "A lot of people are disillusioned with Labour and the Tories.

"There's a very good chance a party like the SDP could actually, if not win, split the vote a lot and reduce the majority.

"Obviously we are aiming for a win - or a good second would be nice."


Age: 59

Originally from: Born in Bletchley, moved to Cardiff as a baby. Today lives in Abercynon.

Education: BTEC in telecommunications, qualification in Japanese and diploma in Chinese and Chinese Studies.

Professional background: Worked for BT on Superfast Broadband before taking early retirement two years ago. Was also a magistrate in Merthyr Tydfil and Pontypridd for 22 years. Also served as a Flight Lieutenant in the RAF volunteer reserves, and was responsible for overseeing Air Cadet squadrons.

Political background: Stood for Abercynon in the 2017 Local Government elections and Cynon Valley in the General Election the same year - both times for Ukip. The left the party and later joined the SDP.

Family: Single, no children.

Hobbies: Astronomy, which he described as "the love of my life"


- 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