Election 2015 Wales

Election 2015: Tight fight in marginal seat of Arfon

Hywel Williams
Image caption Hywel Williams is engaged in what has been a long campaign to retain the marginal seat for Plaid Cymru

Plaid Cymru-held Arfon has fewer constituents than any other seat on the UK mainland, and Labour says it is battling for every single vote.

Changes to electoral boundaries in north west Wales, before the last election, meant the old Caernarfon seat disappeared to make way for Arfon, which now includes the university city of Bangor.

Caernarfon Castle and Snowdon are notable landmarks in an area where tourism and the public sector are significant employers.

The boundary changes boosted Labour's chances, but Plaid Cymru held on to the seat in 2010 with a majority of 1,455.

This election sees a re-run of that closely fought contest between Plaid Cymru's Hywel Williams and Labour's Alun Pugh.

'Strapped for cash'

Hywel Williams was elected as MP for Caernarfon in 2001, replacing former Plaid Cymru leader Dafydd Wigley.

Outside his office, in the shadow of Caernarfon Castle, he revealed he started campaigning a year and a half ago.

"I'll be very glad to see the end of this campaign and have a normal life again, but our response to it being a marginal seat is to work even harder," he said.

A fair deal for north Wales - from Cardiff Bay and Westminster - is one of his main campaigning messages.

"It's a chain isn't it? The county council here is really strapped for cash and facing huge cuts. The money comes from Cardiff, and the money for Cardiff comes from London.

"We want to stand up for Wales and say that £1.2bn would make us equal with Scotland and go a very long way to curing our economic problems."

Image caption The election boils down to choosing Labour or the Conservatives, according to Alun Pugh

Former AM and Welsh Labour minister, Alun Pugh, believes the result in Arfon is on a knife-edge.

He said there were still many undecided voters "so it's incredibly difficult to call".

On the doorstep in Bangor, his message to voters is that the election is essentially a choice between a Labour or Conservative government.

"Earlier this morning, I met a 61-year-old who's working 50 hours a week. She has two jobs and she's finding it very difficult just to pay fuel and food bills."

"If you want to abolish zero-hours contracts and see a substantial rise to the national minimum wage there's only one choice available on the ballot paper, and that's Labour".

Image caption Anwen Barry is enjoying a local campaign dominated by economic matters

The Conservative candidate is standing for election for the first time and has been finding campaigning "really, really good fun".

In what is viewed as a two-horse race between Labour and Plaid Cymru in this seat, Anwen Barry said she was hoping to make inroads and build on the 4,500 votes her party polled last time.

"The main topic that is coming up on the doorstep is still the economy - people are still very, very worried about the economy. They want to keep it on track", she said.

Though health is devolved and therefore not directly affected by the election, she said voters were concerned about local NHS issues.

"There have been so many issues up in the north of Wales - with the Betsi Cadwaladr situation, the downgrading of special baby care - there's been a lot of problems with that and people are rightly concerned living in such a rural area".

Image caption Mohammed Shultan says he wants to get more well paid jobs in Arfon

The Liberal Democrats came fourth in Arfon five years ago.

The party's candidate, Mohammed Shultan, said his priority was to secure "decent living wages"

"The main issue in this constituency is that people are finding it very difficult to get jobs," he said.

"There are no jobs at all, so my aim is to create more jobs and get the unemployment down in this area."

Image caption Simon Wall believes people see UKIP as a way of shaking up politics

UKIP's Simon Wall claims his party is getting a positive response from voters in Arfon.

He said people were fed up of "the ping-pong politics" between other parties, and looked to UKIP as "a party of change".

"Our EU membership and our right to self-determination as a country is a huge issue for people on the doors," he said.

"The £56 million a day that we're sending to the EU, that's a huge issue for people."

The Socialist Labour Party is also standing in Arfon, and you can see the full list of candidates here.

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