Newport West

IMG_3746Newport West was the second seat created from the splitting of the Newport Borough seat in 1983, the other being Newport East. That election was of course the year of the first Thatcher landslide when the Conservatives won many seats in Wales that normally would be beyond them. Newport West was one of those seats, and the seat was won in its first contest by Mark Robinson MP by just 581 votes. Four years later in 1987, normal service was resumed when the seat was won back for Labour by Paul Flynn MP, who has represented the seat at Westminster ever since. In the Welsh Assembly the seat has been held since its creation by Rosemary Butler AM.

The seat’s western border is the city boundary with Cardiff, whilst in the north it borders Caerphilly and Torfaen boroughs. In the east the boundary of the seat is the River Usk, and to the south lies the Bristol Channel.

The seat is a very mixed one, socially and politically. It contains some of the most prosperous areas of Newport such as rural Marshfield and suburban Allt-Yr-Yn, and some of the poorest areas such as Bettws and Pillgwenlly aka “Pill”. The seat also contains Newport docks, and at one point the seat boasted the longest Aluminium rolling mill in Western Europe in Rogerstone. In the northern fringe of the seat is the village of Caerleon with its impressive Roman Amphitheatre and other remains. The seat has a radical heritage with John Frost and his Chartists marching through the area to the Westgate Hotel in the city during the Chartist uprising in 1839.

The rather mixed political and social inheritance of the seat means that the Labour hold on it may not be as strong as it first appears. Since 1997 the Conservative vote in Westminster elections has increased slowly but steadily at every election, eroding the Labour majority from just over 14,000 to its current size of about 3,500. The Conservative vote in the Welsh Assembly usually hovers in the high twenty’s or low thirty’s percent. The highly anglicised and urban nature of Newport West effectively rule Plaid Cymru out of seriously competing for the seat. In both Assembly and Westminster elections the Liberal Democrat vote rarely troubles the high teens in percentage terms.

2011 Assembly election result

Party Votes Cast Percentage
Butler, Rosemary Labour 12,011 52.19%
Williams, David Conservative  7,791 33.85%
Binding, Lyndon Plaid Cymru  1,626  7.07%
Newton, Liz Liberal Democrat  1,586   6.89%

Turnout: 23,014 (36.43%)

Labour hold 4,220 majority

 2010 General election results

Party Votes Cast Percentage
Flynn, Paul Labour 16,389 41.3
Williams, Matthew Conservative 12,845 32.3
German, Veronica Liberal Democrat 6,587 16.6
Windsor, Timothy BNP 1,183 2.9
Hughes, Hugh Moelwyn UKIP 1,144 2.8
Rees, Jeff Plaid Cymru 1,122 2.8
Bartolotti, Pippa Green 450 1.1

Electorate 62,111 Turnout: 39,720 (63.95%)

 Assembly Member

Rosemary Butler (Labour) has been Presiding Officer of the National Assembly since May 2011 taking over from Lord Dafydd Elis-Thomas. She was elected as Newport West’s first Assembly Member in May 1999.She has announced that she’s to retire in 2016.

Rosemary was appointed to the first National Assembly cabinet as Minister for pre-16 Education and Children, and chaired the Culture, Welsh Language and Sport Committee and was the Assembly’s representative on the European Union’s Committee of the Regions. She has also been Deputy Presiding Officer, Chair of the Assembly’s Legislation (1) Committee (which scrutinised all backbench proposals to introduce Measures) and served on the British Council Cross-Party group.  She joined the Labour party in 1971 and two years later she was elected Labour councillor for Caerleon on Newport Borough Council, a position she held until 1999. While on the council, she chaired the Leisure Services Committee for 12 years, and served as Deputy Leader and Mayor of Newport (1989/1990).

Rosemary Butler has lived in Caerleon, part of the Newport West Constituency, for many years, and attended St Julian’s High School. Married to an artist/designer, she has two daughters and four grandchildren. Apart from her family, her interests range from museums, art galleries, concerts and opera, to foreign travel and family history.

 Member of Parliament

Paul Flynn was elected to Parliament in 1987. He joined the Labour front bench whilst Neil Kinnock was leader in 1988 when he became a spokesman on health and social security and for social security in 1989. He resigned from the front bench in 1990 he has been a backbencher since. He has served on the following committees:-Transport Select Committee 1990 -97; the Welsh Affairs Select Committee 97-98; the Environmental Audit Select Committee 2003 -05;, since when he has been a member of the Public Administration Select Committee. Prior to Parliament he was a Councillor on Newport Borough Council and on Gwent County Council.

He is twice married and has children. As an adult learnt Welsh and is now fluent. Was brought up in Cardiff and attended the local Catholic grammar school St. Illtyd’s College and from there went to Cardiff University on leaving worked as a chemist in the steel industry.