Election 2015 Wales

Election 2015: Cardiff Central set for fierce fight

Jenny Willott
Image caption Lib Dem Jenny Willott defends her party's record in government

The saying goes that Cardiff Central is the only constituency in Wales without a farm.

I don't know if it's entirely true, but it's catchy nevertheless and paints the right picture of this urban constituency.

The seat has been held by the Liberal Democrats since 2005, after voters turned to them from Labour following the invasion of Iraq.

Cardiff Central is multicultural with a high proportion of students. As a result, large chunks of the population are transient by nature.

The Labour candidate Jo Stevens told me that recent changes to the voter registration system - which mean that students are no longer registered en bloc in their halls of residence - has led to a drop of around 10,000 potential voters.

Image caption Jo Stevens (right) hopes to take back the seat Labour lost in 2005

She said: "A lot of people here last time voted for the Liberal Democrats thinking they were going to get what the Liberal Democrats said they would do, and they didn't - they got the Tories.

"There has been a lot of people who switched from Labour to the Lib Dems and back to Labour. That is the nature of the seat - it is very very marginal."

The Liberal Democrat candidate Jenny Willott, who has been the MP here for the past decade, has a majority of around 5,000 over Labour.

She believes the difference this time round will be under a thousand.

When I asked her how difficult it had been after five years of being in power with the Conservatives, she said: "I quite like the fact I have a record to defend.

"Previously when I have been standing and I have been the MP I have had my own personal record.

"But this time I can say, 'this is what we said in the last election and I have delivered a lot of it in government'."

Image caption Tory Richard Hopkin hopes to benefit from unhappiness with the Lib Dems

The Conservative candidate Richard Hopkin admitted that one challenge he faces is coming across traditional Tory voters who are planning to vote tactically for the Lib Dems in order to keep Labour out.

But he said there are still opportunities.

"All the polling is showing that the Lib Dem vote is going to collapse, so what is going to happen to it?

"I am working really hard to make sure as much as possible comes back to the Conservatives because they are really conservative voters."

Image caption Martin Pollard of Plaid Cymru (centre) hopes to benefit from leader Leanne Wood's profile

Plaid Cymru polled 3% of the vote five years ago.

The candidate Martin Pollard is looking to take advantage of the increase in profile being given to the leader Leanne Wood to get that share of the vote into double digits.

He has been stressing the anti-austerity message.

"There are a lot of reasons why people vote for Plaid Cymru and social justice and wanting to redistribute wealth within society are some of the reasons I got involved in the party," Mr Pollard said.

"They are now as important to many people as the Welsh language and, ultimately, independence."

Image caption Tony Raybould of UKIP hopes to tap into concern about immigration in a multicultural city

UKIP's candidate Tony Raybould is a retired bus driver who has never been involved in politics in his life, until he joined the party last year.

He claims there are many people who share his concerns about immigration, even though there are many immigrants in the constituency.

"We try to say to them (immigrants) they are here already, they are not going to be kicked out of the EU," Mr Raybould said.

"They are already here and contributing to this country so we have no reason to want to get rid of them. All we are trying to do is to stop the volume of people coming in."

Also standing in Cardiff Central are the Green Party, The Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition, and an independent candidate - see the full list here.

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