BBC News: Election 2010 BBC News

Page last updated at 12:09 GMT, Friday, 7 May 2010 13:09 UK

All change in Carmarthen and Pembrokeshire

Simon Hart
Simon Hart won 41.1% of the vote in the constituency

The Conservatives have taken Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire, bringing to an end Nick Ainger's 18 years as a Labour MP.

Simon Hart's victory was the only big change in south west Wales although the Liberal Democrats closed the gap on Labour to around 500 votes following a determined effort to take Swansea West.

Plaid Cymru failed to make significant inroads into Labour's hold on Llanelli but it did fight off a Labour challenge in neighbouring Carmarthen East and Dinefwr where Jonathan Edwards replaces Adam Price who stepped down.

Mr Hart secured 41.1% of the vote on a turnout of over 70% to join fellow Conservative Stephen Crabb, who held Preseli Pembrokeshire, in Parliament.

Many suggestions were put forward by shoppers in Carmarthen on Friday morning on why the town had gone blue, but most seemed to agree the economy played a big part.

Captain Beany celebrated coming second from last in Aberavon

Conservative voter Alwyn Davies said: "I'm happy in Carmarthen but not overall in the country - the issues were more national really.

"Immigration really does not play a big part in this part of the world so for us, as pensioners, it was the economy."

As well as taking in the bulk of Carmarthen town centre the constituency also includes the golden beaches of the south Pembrokeshire coast, tourist hotspots such as Tenby, large swathes of agricultural pasture inland and the oil refineries and gas stations that surround the port of Milford Haven.

St Catherine's Walk
There have been some big changes in Carmarthen town centre

Some of those waiting for Carmarthen's new Debenhams store to open its doors, part of the £74m St Catherine's Walk development launched just two weeks ago, felt it was the rural vote that swung it for the Tories.

"Nick Ainger was a good man - he brought a lot of industry," said one.

"Let's be honest - it's a farming community here really - and it's never been short of money."

Michael Gibb, who was out shopping with his wife, said: "For the working man I don't think it matters - we're all going to have to pay extra because of the state the country's in."

St Catherine's Walk is near the middle of the town centre and closely surrounded by mainly terraced and social housing.

Walking those residential streets there was not a sign of a poster or placard in any window or garden.

Indeed despite the impressive turnout the only visible evidence there had been a general election the previous day was one shop window in the older part of town.

Scrawled in white letters across the main front glass was the owner's thoughts on the cause of the global financial crisis.

Shop window in Carmarthen
One shop owner made it clear they had not voted for the main parties

It ended: "Hang Parliament. Vote against Tory, Labour, Lib Dems."

Roger Phillips, retired deputy editor of the Carmarthen Journal who has lived in the town most of his life, said he felt the campaign had largely past the town centre by.

"I suppose there was general Labour malaise," he explained.

"Simon Hart is a Pembrokeshire boy and ex-Countryside Alliance and that was always going to pull a lot of votes for him outside of the town.

"I'm just wondering did Nick Ainger do enough to get his core support to vote."

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