Once again in the UK, we are in map season, with Wales being the first country to release its independently drawn electoral map. This time around, we have a new revised map which seeks to make the constituencies better drawn and take on the criticisms made of them.
Just like last time, I have made a spreadsheet of the ward proposals. But this time, I’ve added which seat in the initial proposals the wards were in to show the amount of change which has taken place from the initial proposals.
Questionable Choices in Rhondda
One of the biggest changes is the seat of Rhondda, which is currently held by the very outspoken Labour MP Chris Bryant. The MP stated “you can’t drive from one to the other without traveling into another constituency.” He added “The Welsh boundary commission have produced the oddest shaped seat imaginable for the Rhondda with an island of Pencoed barely attached.” Luke Fletcher, AS/MS for South West Wales, stated “There’s a lot to unpack in the updated boundary proposals. For me though, Pencoed going into Rhondda constituency is an odd one.” I think Rhondda will have to be a seat that is looked at closer. While the reduced number of seats means communities will have to be mixed together, this is one that looks almost disconnected. When I first saw the map, I thought there was a section missing, only to later realize that was a part of Rhondda.
More Controversy in the South
Another one of the interesting elements is that in the last map, Newport West had conjoined with Caerphilly, whereas this time it has joined with Islwyn. A lot of the valley areas were dismayed about having to join areas, and with Newport being culturally different to the area of Islwyn, some do not agree with them becoming one seat. Councillor Rhys Mills stated that “Newport West and Islwyn as one constituency is an awful idea.” This design is in large part due to the design philosophy that formed these boundaries, and in this congested area it’s likely that some community would have to form as a result. Perhaps this Newport West moving with somewhere else is just part of what will just occur, and there’s little that can be done about it.
This is not the only controversy with the South of Wales. Sioned Williams AS/MS has since called on the Boundary Commission to amend the proposal, deeming it “undemocratic” due to its combination of the Swansea Valley with Brecon and Radnorshire. On Twitter, he said that “lumping the post-industrial valley communities of #CwmTawe with the distant rural areas like Brecon and Radnor makes absolutely no sense, and will make serving these communities effectively impossible.” It would be interesting to see if this criticism is considered in future drawings, though it appears likely that it won’t be; the newly named Brecon, Radnor and Cwm-tawe is pretty much a carbon copy of the Brecon and Radnor in the initial proposals.
Looking away from the south of Wales, one of the most visible changes is Mid and South Pembrokeshire which takes more of Preseli Pembrokeshire, which certainly gives the Conservatives less of a chance in the new Ceredigion Preseli. However, on paper at least, this means that Mid and South Pembrokeshire would be more solidly Conservative, though given the nature of current polls this is by no means guaranteed.
In the north, there are certainly interesting developments. Delyn is gone, as is Clwyd; instead we have Alyn and Deeside taking in more of Delyn, Clwyd East takes the majority of it however. North Clwyd takes in lots of the Vale of Clwyd. Aberconwy, renamed as Bangor Aberconwy, takes in a small amount of Clwyd from the initial proposals which looks like it may increase more Conservative wards. Of course, that’s based on projections but the north certainly looks interesting considering how clean it looked before. Montgomeryshire and Glyndwr takes in some of Wrexham which may make this race more interesting, as though Powys is usually more Liberal Democrat than Labour, this added Wrexham area may give Labour a bit more of a boost in a region they generally struggle with.