This seat marks the end of the South Wales coalfield area, dominated by the Labour Party, and the move to the vast rural open spaces of West Wales, where the political playing field is a lot more open.
It was created out of the Carmarthen seat that was abolished for the 1997 General Election, with the remainder of the seat being put into the neighbouring constituency of Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire. Due to it’s rural nature, high percentage of Welsh speakers, 64% of the population can read, write or speak Welsh, and former coal mining areas, the seat has been a two way marginal between Plaid Cymru and Labour for much of the last fifty years, with the Conservatives making the occasional strong surge.
The seat was the scene of Plaid Cymru’s political break through in 1966, when Plaid’s first MP; Gwynfor Evans was elected at a By-election. Labour held the seat until October 1974 before losing it back to Gwynfor Evans. Labour held the seat from 1979 until 2001 when it won back by Plaid Cymru. Plaid has held it since then, with the current incumbent being Jonathan Edwards MP. Labour are nipping at Plaid’s heels, but over the last 13 years Plaid have built a small but solid lead in the seat. At the Welsh Assembly level the seat has been held since it’s creation in 1999 by Rhodri Glyn Thomas AM for Plaid Cymru. Plaid’s grip on the seat at the Assembly is pretty safe with no serious challenges being mounted by Labour for the seat.
The main towns in the constituency are the eastern half of Carmarthen town, Llandovery, Llandeilo and Ammanford. The seat contains a rarity in the South Wales linguistic scene, in that the old coalfield areas of eastern Carmarthenshire remained Welsh speaking, unlike the coal mining communities across the rest of South Wales where immigration during the industrialisation period all but wiped out the Welsh language.
The seat is a large, predominately rural one, stretching from the sea in the south deep into the Brecon Beacons National Park in the north east. The highest point in Carmarthenshire, Picws Du at 749m, 2,457ft is to be found on the Black Mountain massif near the Powys border. Agriculture and tourism are the major employers in the area.
2011 Assembly election results
|Thomas, Rhodri Glyn||Plaid Cymru||12,501||44.92%|
|Griffiths, Wil||Liberal Democrat||1,339||4.81%|
Turnout: 27,828 (51.30%)
|Plaid Cymru hold||4,148 majority|
2010 General election results
|Edwards, Jonathan||Plaid Cymru||13,546||35.6|
|Powell, Bill||Liberal Democrat||4,609||12.1|
Electorate 52,385 Turnout: 38,011 (72.56%)
Rhodri Glyn Thomas (Plaid Cymru) was elected to the Assembly in 1999. He has announced that he’s to retire in 2016. In the Labour/Plaid coalition government in 2007 he was appointed Heritage Minister a position he held until 2008. Following his resignation, he served as Chair of the Rural Development Sub-Committee, member of the European and External Affairs Committee, and the Sustainability Committee.
He was born in Wrexham in 1953. He attended the University of Wales Aberystwyth, Bangor and Lampeter. He is a minister of religion. Married with children. He was the former Chair of CND Cymru.
Member of Parliament
Jonathan Edwards (Plaid Cymru) was elected in 2010 taking over from Adam Price who stood down (Price has been chosen to stand for the seat for the Assembly).
Jonathan Edwards was born and raised in the mining village of Capel Hendre near Ammanford. He attended Ysgol Gymraeg Rhydaman and Ysgol Gyfun Maes yr Yrfa before graduating in History and Politics at the University of Wales Aberystwyth and gaining a postgraduate degree in International History.
After completing his academic studies, Jonathan worked as Chief of staff for Rhodri Glyn Thomas AM and Adam Price MP for 7 years. A former Carmarthen Councillor. Before being elected to Parliament he worked for Citizens Advice Cymru.