Miliband's Valentine message

It's appropriate somehow that the Labour leader Ed Miliband is travelling to Swansea on Valentine's day to address his party's Welsh conference.

Compared to Scotland where the party could be facing a massacre, he will be looking for a love-in in Wales where of course Labour has never lost its grip on power.

And yet Wales is giving him problems on a near-weekly basis as David Cameron uses Labour's record running the NHS here as a stick to beat him with.

Far from being traditional Labour territory he doesn't have to worry about, the party's performance in Wales has become a key part of the general election throughout the UK.

Expect Mr Miliband and other senior figures to rally round the message that the attack on Welsh public services is a way of masking problems in England and expect the familiar focus on what they call the cost of living crisis.

Cost of living

It will be difficult for the Labour leader to talk in any great depth about the Welsh NHS when it's a devolved matter, other than to give his support to the way it's run here.

A big unknown is the extent to which the criticism of health services will put off potential Labour voters in Welsh marginals or whether they can somehow turn the constant Tory attacks to their advantage by appealing to the instinctive dislike many people have of being criticised by outsiders.

Many business voices may have come out against the party, but Labour insist they are on the side of working people struggling to pay their taxes and bills and their response to the revelations about the HSBC Swiss bank accounts this week has been seen as an opportunity to continue with that.

One question is how much traction the so-called cost of living crisis will have at a time when fuel bills are coming down, mortgage rates are low and pay rises are beginning to outstrip inflation for the first time?

I put this to Owen Smith a few weeks ago and his response was that it's too little too late to make a difference.

Eight target seats

Nevertheless, it's one of a number of questions the party will try to answer as it looks to build on its existing tally of 26 out of the 40 Welsh seats.

On the face of it you'd have thought there's little pressure on Labour in Wales compared with Scotland but they have explicitly set out that a target of winning eight seats.

And in a way you could argue that the problems in Scotland will ramp up the pressure in Wales to build on their support base.

The eight target seats are Aberconwy, Arfon, Cardiff North, Cardiff Central, the Vale of Glamorgan, Carmarthen East and Dinefwr, Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire and Preseli Pembrokeshire.

Of those, the two Cardiff seats, the Vale of Glamorgan and Aberconwy are felt by the party to be the most winnable.

Drown out UKIP

They'll also be aware of the threat from UKIP in some of their heartland areas like Flintshire and the south Wales valleys.

Their tactic is to try to drown out any UKIP activity, as we saw last year when they got their troops out en masse at the time of the UKIP conference in Port Talbot.

It should throw up one of the more interesting side-shows of the campaign over the next few months.

I'm told Labour are expecting a full house of around 600 people at the conference in Swansea this weekend.

And to finish off where I began, it may be Valentine's weekend but there'll be plenty of old fashioned blood and thunder.