Labour has had a clear stronghold in Wales for decades, but recent YouGov polling puts them only 1 percent ahead of the Tories in Wales and set to lose 10 seats in what looks to be a highly unpredictable election. Professor Roger Awan-Scully from Cardiff University said: “It would be the first time post-war that Labour had not won an absolute majority of Welsh seats in a general election.” The academic added that it is these Welsh seats that could swing the election either way.
He said: “As can be seen, at present the Conservatives are on course to challenge Labour very closely not only in terms of vote-share but also in parliamentary seats.
“It would also see Wales making a major contribution to delivering a parliamentary majority for Boris Johnson.”
In Wales, 52.5 percent of people voted to leave the EU in 2016 and around 60 percent of Welsh voters think Brexit is the most important issue in December’s election, according to YouGov.
A key battleground area is in the northeast of Wales including Wrexham, which has been Labour since 1935, South Clwyd which has been Labour since its creation in 1997 and Delyn, which has been Labour since 1992.
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Professor Awan-Scully claimed Labour will be particularly vulnerable in all three of these seats and recent polling indicates they could all turn blue.
The Tories will likely be targeting all three, while the Brexit Party – who are also hoping to win over Leave Labour voters – are likely to target Delyn and South Clwyd.
In Wrexham, long-standing Labour MP Ian Lucas is standing down – he has represented the constituency since 2001 – and the wider area voted 59 percent to leave the EU in 2016.
Mr Lucas had a relatively slim majority of 1,832 in the last election, down from 9,188 when he first entered Parliament, so the Tories only need a 2.7 percent swing here.
General Election 2019: Welsh battlegrounds
This makes it a highly vulnerable seat for Labour, as many Brexiteers will be frustrated by the party’s incoherent Brexit policy and by numerous frontbencher unequivocally backing a second referendum.
ITV’s Owain Phillips said the Conservatives will “have their eye on Wrexham”, adding: “This seat was a heavy Leave area in 2016 and is the kind of seat Boris Johnson has to win if he wants a majority.”
Professor Awan-Scully added: “It would not amaze me to see, once all the votes have been cast and counted, that some seats we had long considered safe for one party or another have ended up changing hands.”
Meanwhile, Delyn and South Clwyd are also targets for the Tories and Brexit Party as they had a clear Leave vote in 2016.
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Delyn is part of the wider areas of Flintshire which voted 56.4 percent to leave, while South Clwyd is part of the wider area of Denbighshire, which voted 54 percent to leave.
Another battleground in this election that the Tories will be eyeing up is Brecon and Radnorshire, a rural Conservative-Liberal Democrat swing seat on the boundary with England.
In a by-election in August this year, the Liberal Democrats took the seat from the Tories, despite the wider area of Powys voting to leave the EU by 53.7 percent.
It appears that the Brexit Party contesting this seat split the Leave vote, as their votes combined with Tory votes was higher than that of the Liberal Democrats.
There was also a huge drop in support for Labour here – down to 5.3 percent of the vote from 17.7 percent in 2017.
The Liberal Democrats have secured a Remain Alliance with Plaid Cymru and the Green Party, meaning both will be standing down in this seat, as they did earlier in the year.
Jane Dodds, the Liberal Democrat who won the by-election, said: “From every walk of life and every political persuasion, people have chosen to believe in my positive liberal vision for something better.”
However, earlier this year Ms Dodds was standing against Christopher Davies, the Tory whose fraud scandal had triggered the by-election in the first place, whereas in December she will be facing a fresh face.
Liberal Democrats’ Jane Dodds
This area will be a likely target seat for the Tories, as the Liberal Democrats desperately try to hold on to their majority in their only Welsh seat.
Overall, the picture in Wales is looking precarious for Labour, who traditionally do not have to work hard to win seats here.
These four seats could be key in delivering a majority for Mr Johnson’s conservatives and his Brexit deal and equally could mark a significant decline for Labour in Wales.