2006 Blaenau Gwent by-elections

Two by-elections were held for the constituency of Blaenau Gwent in Wales following the death of Member of Parliament and Assembly Member Peter Law on 25 April 2006. As Law was the MP and Assembly Member (AM), his death required by-elections in both the parliamentary seat and the equivalent Welsh Assembly constituency. The two elections polled on the same day, 29 June, as a by-election in Bromley and Chislehurst. A win by the Labour Party in the AM by-election would have restored their majority in the Welsh Assembly, which was lost when Law was expelled from the party.[1]

2006 Blaenau Gwent by-election

← 2005 29 June 2006 2010 →

The Blaenau Gwent seat in the UK House of Commons.
Triggered by death of incumbent
Turnout50.5% (Decrease15.6%)
  First party Second party
  David Davies c215f5bacb.jpg Blank
Candidate Dai Davies Owen Smith
Party Blaenau Gwent PV Labour
Popular vote 12,543 10,055
Percentage 46.7 37.0
Swing Decrease11.5%* Increase4.7%

  Third party Fourth party
  Steffan Lewis AM (27555190473).jpg Blank
Candidate Steffan Lewis Amy Kitcher
Party Plaid Cymru Liberal Democrats
Popular vote 1,755 1,477
Percentage 6.5 5.4
Swing Increase4.1% Increase1.1%

Map showing the Blaenau Gwent constituency within Wales.

*Compared to Peter Law's result in 2005.

MP before election

Peter Law

Subsequent MP

Dai Davies

2006 Blaenau Gwent by-election

← 2003 29 June 2006 2007 →

The Blaenau Gwent seat in the National Assembly for Wales.
Triggered by death of incumbent
Turnout49.6% (Increase12.2%)
  First party Second party Third party
  Blank Blank Blank
Candidate Trish Law John Hopkins Steve Bard
Party Independent Labour Liberal Democrats
Popular vote 13,785 9,321 2,054
Percentage 50.3 34.0 6.5
Swing N/A Decrease36.2% Decrease3.4%

Map showing the Blaenau Gwent constituency within Wales.

AM before election

Peter Law

Subsequent AM

Trish Law

Law's successors won both seats: the independent Dai Davies, Law's former election agent, won the Westminster seat with a majority of about two and a half thousand. He was the first independent to hold a seat previously occupied by an independent since Sir Charles Vere Ferrers Townshend held The Wrekin in 1920. Meanwhile, Law's widow, Trish Law, was elected to her husband's former seat in the Welsh Assembly.

Westminster by-electionEdit

The writ for the UK Parliament by-election was moved on 6 June so that it would be held on the same date as the Assembly by-election, (29 June 2006).[2] Labour whips had reportedly pressed for the election to be held on 25 May. The movement of the writ was more complicated because Law sat as an Independent, and therefore the convention that the party of the former member moves the writ cannot apply.[3] According to the precedent (when Dennis Canavan resigned his Parliamentary seat at Westminster as an Independent), the whip of the governing party moves the writ.


Maggie Jones, the Labour candidate who had been defeated by Law at the 2005 general election, was not able to stand, because she had been elevated to the House of Lords.[4] There had been speculation about an independent candidate running with the backing of the Conservatives, Liberal Democrats and Plaid Cymru, but all three parties decided to contest the election.[1]

It had been reported that prior to Law's death that the Labour Party had decided against selecting their candidate for the next general election with an all-women shortlist.[5] It was the use of such a shortlist for the 2005 general election that led to Law standing as an independent. Labour instead left the selection to the local party.[6] The Labour candidate, Owen Smith, was chosen on 8 May.[7][8] He was a former special adviser and BBC producer who worked for a pharmaceutical company.[9] After losing this by-election, Smith went on to become MP for Pontypridd at the 2010 general election, and in 2016 launched an unsuccessful campaign to lead the Labour party, remaining in Parliament until the 2019 general election.

The Liberal Democrat candidate was Amy Kitcher. The Conservatives stood Margrit Williams, who worked for Sir Malcolm Rifkind.[9] Dai Davies, Peter Law's former agent, stood as an independent with the support of the Blaenau Gwent People's Voice Group.[10]

Despite contesting both the previous Assembly and Parliamentary elections, the United Kingdom Independence Party decided not to stand a candidate, instead calling for a vote for the Blaenau Gwent People's Voice Group - even though the Group does not support withdrawal from the European Union, nor the abolition of the Welsh Assembly, key UKIP policies.[11]

The Conservative fifth place was their worst position in a UK mainland by-election since at least 1945.


Blaenau Gwent by-election, 2006[12]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Blaenau Gwent PV Dai Davies 12,543 46.7 -11.5
Labour Owen Smith 10,055 37.0 +4.7
Plaid Cymru Steffan Lewis 1,755 6.5 +4.1
Liberal Democrats Amy Kitcher 1,477 5.4 +1.1
Conservative Margrit Williams 1,013 3.7 +1.3
Monster Raving Loony Alan "Howling Laud" Hope 318 1.2 N/A
Majority 2,488 9.7 -16.2
Turnout 27,161 50.5 -15.6
Registered electors 52,512
Independent hold Swing −8.4

Welsh Assembly by-electionEdit

The Assembly by-election had to be held within twelve weeks of the vacancy arising.[3] It was announced on 11 May 2006 that the Assembly by-election would be held on 29 June.[2]


Labour chose John Hopkins, who had already been selected as their 2007 Assembly election candidate, to contest the seat. John Price stood for Plaid Cymru.[1] The Liberal Democrats fielded Steve Bard, a councillor in Abertillery.[7] The Conservative candidate was Jonathan Burns, a Cardiff councillor.[9] Peter Law's widow, Trish Law, stood as an independent backed by the Blaenau Gwent People's Voice Group.[10]

The Green Party fought the Assembly election but did not stand at Westminster.[13]


Blaenau Gwent Welsh Assembly by-election[14]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Independent Trish Law 13,785 50.3 N/A
Labour John Hopkins 9,321 34.0 -36.2
Liberal Democrats Steve Bard 2,054 7.5 -3.4
Plaid Cymru John Price 1,109 4.0 -5.6
Conservative Jonathan Burns 816 3.0 -2.7
Green John Matthews 302 1.1 N/A
Majority 4,464 16.3 -43.1
Turnout 27,387 49.6 +12.2
Registered electors 52,900
Independent gain from Labour Swing +43.3

Electorate and campaign timetablesEdit

The electorate for the constituency was 52,900 as quoted by the Returning Officer's Department of Blaenau Gwent Borough Council on 14 May 2006 (-0.75% on the Westminster election and -0.05% on the Assembly election). The close of nominations for the Assembly constituency was on 2 June and for the Westminster seat 14 June.


On 27 April 2006, BBC News published allegations by Peter Law's widow that Law had believed he would be in line for a peerage should he decide not to stand in the 2005 general election. The Labour Party denied that a peerage was offered.[6]

Welsh Secretary Peter Hain attempted to build bridges with Law's supporters by apologising for imposing an all-women shortlist and suggesting that those expelled from the Labour Party might be able to rejoin. This apology was rejected by Dai Davies, Peter Law's agent and putative successor, as coming too late and being a cynical ploy to try to win the by-elections.[7]

Opinion pollsEdit

An opinion poll was conducted by GfK NOP between 24 May and 28 May, which asked 1,000 voters in the constituency how they would vote. The results were:


House of Commons seat poll
Party Candidate %
Labour Owen Smith 47%
Independent Dai Davies 35%
Liberal Democrats Amy Kitcher 6%
Plaid Cymru Steffan Lewis 6%
Conservative Margrit Williams 5%


Welsh Assembly seat poll
Party Candidate %
Independent Trish Law 43%
Labour John Hopkins 40%
Plaid Cymru John Price 6%
Liberal Democrats Steve Bard 6%
Conservative Jonathan Burns 3%
Green John Matthews 2%

2005 UK Parliament resultEdit

The 2005 general election result was a gain for Peter Law as an independent candidate.

General election 2005: Blaenau Gwent[15]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Independent Peter Law 20,505 58.2 +58.2
Labour Maggie Jones 11,384 32.3 -39.7
Liberal Democrats Brian Thomas 1,511 4.3 -5.0
Plaid Cymru John Price 843 2.4 -8.8
Conservative Phillip Lee 816 2.4 -5.2
UKIP Peter Osborne 192 0.5 +0.5
Majority 9,121 25.9 N/A
Turnout 35,251 66.1 +6.6
Registered electors 53,301
Independent gain from Labour Swing +48.9

2003 Welsh Assembly constituency resultEdit

In 2003, Peter Law was re-elected as the Labour Assembly member for the Blaenau Gwent constituency. By announcing that he would stand as an Independent for the parliamentary constituency he expelled himself from the Labour Party (and the Labour Assembly grouping).

Welsh Assembly Election 2003: Blaenau Gwent[16]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Labour Peter Law 13,884 70.2 +9.4
Liberal Democrats Steve Bard 2,148 10.9 -0.6
Plaid Cymru Rhys Ab Elis 1,889 9.6 -11.6
Conservative Barrie O'Keefe 1,131 5.7 +0.2
UKIP Roger Thomas 719 3.6 +3.6
Majority 11,736 59.4 +18.7
Turnout 19,771 37.4 -10.7
Registered electors 52,927

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b c "Double poll looming in Law seat". BBC News. 26 April 2006. Retrieved 26 April 2006.
  2. ^ a b "Blaenau Gwent election date set". BBC. 11 May 2006. Retrieved 11 May 2006.
  3. ^ a b Shipton, Martin (26 April 2006). "Outrage at bid for early by-election". Western Mail. Retrieved 26 April 2006.
  4. ^ "Losing candidate will become peer". BBC News. 11 April 2006. Retrieved 26 April 2006.
  5. ^ "Peter Law, rebel who had a cause". BBC News. 25 April 2006. Retrieved 27 April 2006.
  6. ^ a b "MP 'offered peerage' not to stand". BBC News. 27 April 2006. Retrieved 27 April 2006.
  7. ^ a b c "All-women list apology rejected". BBC News. 8 May 2006. Retrieved 8 May 2006.
  8. ^ "Viagra-firm lobbyist to stand for Labour in Blaenau Gwent". icWales. 9 May 2006. Retrieved 9 May 2006.
  9. ^ a b c "Parties pick by-election hopefuls". BBC News. 9 May 2006. Retrieved 9 May 2006.
  10. ^ a b "Widow gets People's Voice backing". BBC News. 16 May 2006. Retrieved 16 May 2006.
  11. ^ "UKIP Annnouces [sic] that it will not stand in Blaenau Gwent by-election". United Kingdom Independence Party. 17 May 2006. Archived from the original on 16 September 2006. Retrieved 2006-06-09.
  12. ^ Boothroyd, David. "Results of Byelections in the 2005-2010 Parliament". United Kingdom Election Results. Archived from the original on 27 December 2015. Retrieved 5 October 2015.
  13. ^ "By-Elections". by_elections.blogspot.com.
  14. ^ "By-Election 2006, Result: Blaenau Gwent". Wales National Assembly. 29 June 2006. Retrieved 1 January 2020.
  15. ^ "Election 2005, Result: Blaenau Gwent". BBC. 6 May 2005. Retrieved 31 January 2015.
  16. ^ "Election 2003, Result: Blaenau Gwent". BBC. 6 May 2005. Retrieved 1 January 2020.

External linksEdit