Along with the Rhondda and Blaenau Gwent, Merthyr & Rhymney is one of the great iconic Welsh coalfield constituencies. It was in Merthyr Tydfil that the Industrial Revolution began in Wales. It was here that Richard Trevithick built and ran the world’s first steam locomotive, and indeed at one point in the 18th Century Merthyr was supposed to be the biggest industrial town in the world. The town is believed to be named after Saint Tydfil, the daughter of King Brychan of Brycheiniog.
The second section of the constituency is the town of Rhymney, just across the mountain from Merthyr at the top of the Rhymney Valley. The Rhymney part of the seat includes the villages of Abertysswg, Fochriw and Pontlottyn. Industrialisation came to Rhymney in the 1750’s with the establishment of the Sirhowy Ironworks. Buccaneer Henry Morgan was born near Rhymney in about 1635. More recently the great Welsh poet Idris Davies who immortalised the town in his poem, “The Bells of Rhymney” was born in the town.
Politically speaking the town has had a rich history, and has been represented by some of Wales’s most colourful and long serving MP’s.In 1900 Keir Hardy was elected the first ever Labour Member of Parliament although the Merthyr seat was tied to Aberdare at that time. He represented the seat for the remainder of his life.
Between 1950 and 1972 the seat was represented by Labour’s S O Davies. Davies was deselected by the Labour Party in 1970 on the grounds he was too old. Davies stood as an Independent Labour candidate and won the seat. He died two years later, and in the resultant By-election the seat was won by the veteran Labour MP, Ted Rowlands who served as MP for Merthyr, and then after 1983 Merthyr and Rhymney, until his retirement in 2001.
Since 2001, the seat has been held by Labour’s Dai Havard. Labour’s grip on the seat has weakened considerably over the 30 years or so, with the Labour majority falling from the 1987 highpoint of 28,130 to 4,056 in 2010, when the Liberal Democrats made a spirited but unsuccessful attempt to win the seat.
In the Welsh Assembly the seat has been held by Labour’s Huw Lewis since 1999. Lewis has increased Labour’s majority from just over 4,000 in 1999 to just over 7,000 in 2011.
2015 General election results
|Mann, Rhayna||Plaid Cymru||3,099||9.4|
|Griffin, Bob||Liberal Democrat||1,351||4.13|
Labour majority 11,513 (35.19%) 2.88% swing Labour to Ukip
Electorate 61,719 Turnout: 32,715 (53.01%)
2011 Assembly election result
|Turner, Noel||Plaid Cymru||1,701||8.80%|
|Kitcher, Amy||Liberal Democrat||2,480||12.84%|
Turnout: 19,320 (35.11%)
|Labour hold||7,051 majority|
2010 General election results
|Jones, Glyndwr Cennydd||Plaid Cymru||1,621||5.1|
|Cowdell, Alan||Socialist Labour||195||0.6|
Electorate 54,715 Turnout: 32,076 (58.62%)
Huw Lewis (Labour) was first elected to the Assembly in May 1999. Huw was Assistant General Secretary of the Welsh Labour Party prior to his election. Born in Merthyr Tydfil in 1964, he was educated at Edinburgh University. A former chemistry teacher, his interests include literature, classical music and the challenges facing the South Wales valleys.
Huw was appointed Deputy Minister for the Economy and Transport with special responsibility for Regeneration before losing his post in the coalition reshuffle. He has reviewed the Welsh Government’s flagship anti-poverty programme, Communities First and wrote the Welsh Government’s Action Plan to eliminate child poverty. In December 2009 he was appointed Deputy Minister for Children. Following re-election to the National Assembly for Wales in May 2011, Huw Lewis was appointed Minister for Housing, Regeneration and Heritage and in March 2013 was appointed Minister for Communities and Tackling Poverty. In June 2013 he was appointed Minister for Education and Skills.
Member of Parliament
Dai Havard (Labour) was elected MP in 2001. The first MP to represent the constituency to be born and brought up in the constituency.
He attended the then Woodlands School, Quakers Yard, now Ysgol Rhyd-y-Grug, the then Treharris Secondary Modern, and Quakers Yard Grammar/Tech Schools and Afon Taf Comprehensive.
He gained a Certificate in Education from St Peter’s College, Birmingham and an MA in Industrial Relations, from the University of Warwick. Immediately before being elected he was the Wales Secretary of the trade union MSF – now part of Unite.
He is Secretary of the All Party Parliamentary Group for the Army in 2009 and Vice Chair of the Parliamentary Labour Party Defence Group; with in addition membership of the Treasury and Foreign & Commonwealth groups. He describes his recreational interests as hill walking, horse riding, field archery and bird watching.