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Page last updated at 07:42 GMT, Friday, 7 May 2010 08:42 UK

Swings, roundabouts and see-saws in Wales?

By Toby Mason
BBC Wales political unit

Peter Hain
Peter Hain has called for a Labour-Lib Dem coalition government

In a night of swings and roundabouts in Wales, the Conservatives are the only party to have made substantial gains, Labour are breathing a sigh of relief, and both Plaid Cymru and the Liberal Democrats are licking their wounds.

The Conservatives secured most of their targets in Wales including the key marginal of the Vale of Glamorgan, the Aberconwy seat in the north, Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire, Cardiff North and, against expectations, the prize of Montgomeryshire for former AM Glyn Davies.

The swing to them was around 5% across Wales.

While some in the Conservative party will have been disappointed not to have reached double figures, an increase of five seats to eight represents a healthy return and their best showing in terms of seats in Wales since 1987.

Welsh Labour will be significantly relieved to have hung on in several seats which had been heavily targeted by the other parties.

Although they saw reduced majorities in seats like Wrexham, Gower, and Alyn and Deeside, they fought off Liberal Democrat challenges in Newport East and Swansea West, as well as Plaid Cymru on Ynys Mon.

They came close to hanging on to Julie Morgan's Cardiff North seat, but were pipped by the Tories, for whom this was a "must win" seat.

Ieuan Wyn Jones
Ieuan Wyn Jones said Plaid was hit by exclusion from the TV debates

But it is the emphatic return of Blaenau Gwent to the Labour fold from independent Dai Davies which will give the party the most satisfaction, despite an overall fall in the party's share of the vote of around 7% - their worst showing since 1918.

However, it does appear that the party managed to get its vote out where it counted in order to defeat what were well organised campaigns by other parties in different areas of Wales.

Both Plaid Cymru and the Liberal Democrats had difficult nights, missing out on seats that they had targeted intensively during the campaign.

The one bright spot for the Liberal Democrats was a substantial increase in their majority in Ceredigion, at Plaid Cymru's expense, but there was bitter disappointment in key targets including Swansea West and Newport East, as well as the loss of Lembit Opik's seat in Montgomeryshire.

Plaid Cymru representatives expressed disappointment at the party's performance in terms of gaining seats.

Lib Dem Lembit Opik lost out to Tory candidate Glyn Davies in Montgomeryshire
Lib Dem Lembit Opik lost out to Tory candidate Glyn Davies in Montgomeryshire

Although their share of the vote held up compared to 2005, they failed to take either Ynys Mon or Llanelli where they had hoped for gains at Labour's expense, and went backwards in terms of trying to reclaim Ceredigion from the Lib Dems.

They also came fourth in Aberconwy, a seat they hold in the assembly.

The party leader Ieuan Wyn Jones said the primary reason for the party's poor showing had to be its exclusion from the television debates, but other party sources said they had also picked up evidence on the doorstep in many areas that many of their voters had moved to Labour to try to keep the Tories out.

For the Liberal Democrats, who had pinned their hopes on riding the wave of party leader Nick Clegg's popularity, as well as fighting intensive local campaigns in key seats, it was a deflating night.

The huge increase in their majority in Ceredigion was little compensation for the severe blow of losing their mid-Wales stronghold of Montgomeryshire, and with it their most high profile figure Lembit Opik, and ending the night with fewer MPs than they started with.

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