Newport West celebrates..
The local press has no interest or understanding about politics. We are forced to blow our own trumpet. This was not the biggest of the six general election majorities that Labour has had in Newport West but it was our greatest victory. This is revealed in the tiny swing against Labour compared with all our neigbouring constituencies. The Tories would have clinched victory with a 7.8% swing. It was only 3.1%.
Cardiff West and Caerphilly suffered swings that were double that. If we had the swings in other neighbours Newport West would now be Tory. In Torfaen it was 8.2%, Islwyn 9.1%, Newport East 8.3% and Merthyr 17%.
The Labour vote INCREASED since 2005 by 350. A correspondent has calculated that it was the biggest increase in any Labour seat in Wales. I have not checked. It’s difficult to analyse why our result was one of the best in Wales. For the first time in 100 years the Newport West majority was bigger than the Pontypridd one.
A hundred guests enjoyed a magnificent buffet prepared by Chef Richard Flinn (no relation) that included exotic finger foods of his creation. Richard was the chef at the Waterloo. He is now running his own business. He is one of the undiscovered joys of Newport life. The flair and originality of his work will guarantee him a great future. There was universal delight and enthusiasm for the buffet he had prepared.
Why did we do so well? The campaign was homegrown and used none of the materials from London or Cardiff. It aimed to maximize the advantage of 38 years of casework. I have represented parts of Newport since 1972. A key slogan was ‘Everyone know someone who has been helped by Paul Flynn. Capitalizing on the London origins of the Tory we used the slogan, ‘Paul Flynn From Newport For Newport.’ The work from our volunteers in canvassing and deliveries was magnificent. far more than in any of the previous six elections. We were also smarter in dropping traditional work that does not win votes and concentrating on the essentials. Last night was a big 'Thank You' to our marvellous members.
Luckily I have some new flattering photographs that were taken by a national newspaper for the serialistion of my last book. The Tories were exploiting my age. The pictures counteracted that. There was no long unreadable spiel in our leaflets. I concentrated on brief bullet points about my campaigns and flattering quotes about my parliamentary work.
Our analysis of the result shows an extraordinary picture. We did not get the big share of votes in our traditional areas of support. Many stayed away or strayed into other parties. The bulk of my votes were from the prosperous, middle-class leafy suburbs. Without the support of previous Tory voters I would have lost. There is a sharp lesson for our party here that explains the huge losses in neighbouring seats. It the working class who have become dis-illusioned. Their trust in us must be regained.
One alternative explanation to the great result was the absence of the candidate. I was stuck in Geneva marooned by the volcanic ash for nearly a week during the campaign. It was frustrating for me but, apparently, liberating for my agent and campaign team. Nobody outside of the Labour Party noticed or complained. Absence makes the voters grow fonder. Next time, I will arranged for my `annual holidays to be taken during the campaign.