Most associate this seat with heavy industry and indeed it contains the steel making plant in Port Talbot and the Energy Park of Baglan. But away from the dark satanic mills in the south of the constituency there is a developing a leisure industry based on the extensive forestry. Those into off road biking, and strangely there are such people see it as somewhat of a Mecca. Of course the innocent pleasure of making sandcastles in Aberavon beach still remains.
Traditional industries may wax and wane but in it’s politics it has remained constant. It has returned a Labour member to Westminster from the start of the twentieth century and latterly the same pattern is developing in the Assembly.
It is one of the few constituencies that can claim a Prime Minister as its MP. Ok, it was some time ago and it was Ramsey MacDonald, but it is a claim. He served between 1922 to 1929 but clearly his Welsh voters were to demanding so he upped sticks and moved to Seaham Harbour, County Durham.
Clearly the good burghers of Aberavon never forgave this or maybe it was the treachery of heading a National government with the Conservatives that upset them. Either way they’re an unforgiving lot, so no statute to you Ramsay Mac my boy. Perhaps they’ll have one to Blair or do I mean local boy Michael Sheen who has portrayed Blair on screen. Better than the real thing maybe.
Another local boy that did well in the political arena was Geoffrey Howe. He fought the seat for the Conservatives in 1955 and again in 1959. It took two elections for him to realise that he would be better off plying his political trade in Surrey. As a career move it did him some good too, rising through the ranks to be Deputy Prime Minister and Leader of the House, Chancellor of the Exchequer, and Foreign Secretary. But what a forgiving man he is for when ennobled and taking his seat in the House of Lords he forgive the electors rejection of him and took the title of Lord Howe of Aberavon.
Although Mrs Thatcher’s longest serving cabinet member he was not as forgiving of her as he was to the voters of Aberavon for his resignation speech hastened the lady’s demise. He likening her to a cricket captain sending her team out to the crease and finding that before the first ball was bowled, she had broken all the bats.
He too found himself earlier in his career at the receiving end of a political put down by then Labour Chancellor Dennis Healey.
Healey said in a Commons debate that been attacked by Howe ‘was like being savaged by a dead sheep.’
Not all the sons that leave Aberavon do well. For poor Dic Penderyn it definitely was a wrong career move. He went to Merthyr got involved in the Merthyr rising. He authorities wanted a scapegoat so they pinned it all on poor Dic. So he was hauled before the Beaks In Cardiff found guilty and hung outside Cardiff market. He did come home again, but surely not in the way he’d have wished for he was buried in Saint Mary’s Church in the constituency.
2015 General election results
|He, Edward Yi||Conservative||3,742||11.87|
|Higgitt, Duncan||Plaid Cymru||3,663||11.62|
|Clarke, Helen Ceri||Liberal Democrat||1,397||4.43|
|Jordan, Andrew||Soc Lab||352||1.12|
Labour majority 10,445 (33.13%) 8.6% swing Labour to Ukip
Electorate 49,821 Turnout: 31,523 (63.27%)
2011 Assembly election result
|Nicholas-Jones, Paul||Plaid Cymru||2,793||14.79%|
|Clarke, Helen Ceri||Liberal Democrat||1,278||6.77%|
Turnout: 18,879 (37.2%)
|Labour hold||9,311 majority|
2010 General election results
|Davies, Keith||Liberal Democrat||5,034||16.3|
|Nicholas-Jones, Paul||Plaid Cymru||2,198||7.1|
Electorate 50,789 Turnout: 30,958 (60.%)
David Rees was an academic civil engineer in Swansea Metropolitan University before winning the seat. He’s married with two daughters who attend a Welsh medium school. Educated in Dyffryn School, Port Talbot and then Cardiff University. A member of the University and College Union and like many an aspiring Labour politicians a member of a affiliated trade union in his case Unite.
Member of Parliament