Wales politics

General Election 2017: Gower constituency profile

Swansea bay

When you think Gower you might think sea, spectacular scenery, and sometimes even sun.

But most people in this parliamentary constituency live north of the peninsula in a seat which includes former industrial areas up to Clydach in the Swansea Valley.

Changes to its economic profile have changed its politics too, and in 2015 it provided the shock result in Wales.

The Conservatives took the seat after a century with a Labour MP - their majority of 27 votes is the narrowest in the UK.

Theresa May's snap election means Conservative Byron Davies is back on the road in his campaign taxi much sooner than expected.

The former policeman's black London cab is adorned with slogans urging the people of Gower to back him on June the 8th.

He says he's "hopeful" of holding on to the seat rather than "confident", and does not take too much notice of the polls.

Image caption Conservative Byron Davies is taking nothing for granted

Sitting in his black cab he says: "I get my vibes off the street, and I have to say - my vibes are good".

Mr Davies admits the prime minister's difficulties over social care in England have been raised by some on the doorstep but he believes that people understand the issue has to be addressed.

The handling of Brexit - unsurprisingly - is prominent in his campaign.

Almost 5,000 people voted for UKIP in Gower in 2015 putting them third last time - votes Byron Davies thinks he can attract this time.

"Many, many, many of those that I've spoken to have said that they can only see Theresa May as the person that will now take it forward," he says.

"So I'm confident that we'll have quite a number coming over ... and maybe even actually some people who may have been Labour voters who voted Brexit."

Image caption Rugby-playing Labour candidate Tonia Antoniazzi says the key to success is teamwork

Labour candidate Tonia Antoniazzi is a Llanelli schoolteacher who used to represent Wales at rugby.

Canvassing in Gorseinon, I ask her whether there's anything she can transfer from the rugby pitch to the campaign trail.

"Stamina is one of them", she says, and "teamwork - it's a massive team effort".

Ms Antoniazzi blames the UK government for the "real poverty" she sees when knocking doors - "it really, really upsets me".

"Seven years ago when we had the Conservatives in Westminster my life changed massively," she says.

"I'm a schoolteacher and I was on my own ... I do have a good wage but I was feeling the pinch.

"I never imagined that I would be putting myself forward to be an MP but that's how angry I was."

Image caption Ross Ford claims only UKIP can ensure Brexit happens

UKIP's candidate is Dr Ross Ford, a researcher for the party in Cardiff Bay.

The party did well in Gower two years ago but the polls suggest they are struggling to hold on to support since the referendum on membership of the European Union.

"I think it's important in Gower that we have a very, very strong UKIP vote", he says.

"I think UKIP has done extremely well by winning a referendum but it is only an advisory referendum.

"All we've had since is the triggering of Article 50 - that alone is simply a useless piece of paper unless it's acted upon.

"I believe only a strong UKIP vote will actually achieve that."

Image caption Hard Brexit is not good for Gower, says Plaid Cymru's Harri Roberts

Plaid Cymru candidate Harri Roberts insists that though the Conservatives and Labour are battling to take this seat, voting for his party can send a strong message.

"What the Conservatives want with their hard Brexit is absolutely alien to what is good for Gower and for its people," he says.

"We want an open market, we want access to Europe so that our trade can succeed", he says.

"She may suit the bankers in London but it does not suit us at all and I think people are listening to that argument."

Image caption Howard Evans tells Bethan Lewis the Lib Dems are offering voters a choice on leaving the EU

Leafleting in Clydach, Liberal Democrat Howard Evans also says there's more to the election locally than the Labour-Conservative battle.

He is "offering a choice to the electorate" he says, having decided to stand for the first time since 1999 because of his concerns about the future since the referendum on Europe.

The party's central pledge is a referendum on the Brexit deal, but Mr Evans says voters are also talking about health, education and fly-tipping.

Those are council and assembly responsibilities but he says "the monies come from the UK government".

"We're pledging to put a penny on income tax to allow for more monies to go to the NHS to be given to the Welsh Government to actually allocate in that way", he says.

The sixth candidate in Gower is Jason Winstanley, standing for the Pirate Party which campaigns for civil liberties.

After such a close result last time, there will be no let-up in campaigning before polling day.

And in this constituency, more than any other, every vote really does count.

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