Election 97

VRML animation
Wales of protest

Robert Waller sums up the situation in Wales. VRML by Fin Fahey

VRML South East

Wales, one of the three constituent countries of Great Britain, is itself firmly subdivided. Most of the population resides in the southern coastal zone containing the three great cities of Cardiff, Swansea and Newport. Traditionally dominated by coal-mining and the steel industry, this area is solidly Labour. Things are different in the mountainous and agrarian centre and north. To the north west, Plaid Cymru, the Welsh Nationalists, always enjoy their strongest support - the area is strongly Welsh speaking, unlike the South.

In the last election, Wales was a disaster zone for the Liberal Democrats, who were reduced to just one seat - Montgomery - they lost Brecon and Radnor to the Tories and Ceredigion to Plaid Cymru.

This time, the Tories will be looking over their shoulders. Wales is almost as antagonistic to Conservative party rule from distant London as is Scotland, and there isn't really a safe Tory seat in the region. North Cardiff, the last Tory seat in the city, is on Labour's target list, the Lib Dems are within spitting distance of taking Conwy, and Brecon and Radnor, which changed hands last time, could easily do so again. Such new seats as have been created by the Boundary Commission, Clwyd West, Vale of Clwyd and Preseli, Pembrokeshire are really vulnerable Tory-Labour marginals. The Conservatives' one real hope of retaining a seat lies in Monmouth and Vale of Glamorgan.

Plaid Cymru look very safe in their four Welsh-speaking redoubts, and may be in with a chance in the only majority Welsh-speaking seat they do not hold, the new Carmarthen East and Dinefwr.

Labour regional targets
Conservative regional targets
Liberal Democrat regional targets
3D Electoral density