Labour have retained their Cardiff South and Penarth Westminster seat, with Labour and Co-operative Party candidate Stephen Doughty claiming victory in the by-election in the early hours of this morning.
Mr Doughty, who won a 47.8% share of the vote with 9,193 votes, said the result represented a “resounding rejection” of the coalition government by voters.
But turn out for the by-election, which was triggered after veteran MP Alun Michael resigned his seat to contest the Police and Crime Commissioner poll, was even lower than the most pessimistic predictions at just 25.35%. That equated to 19,204 votes out of a possible electorate of 75,764.
Mr Doughty won with a clear majority of 5,334 over the second-place Conservatives. Tory candidate Craig Williams polled 3,859 votes, followed by Liberal Democrat Bablin Molik, who received 2,103. Plaid Cymru’s Luke Nicholas came in in third place with 1,854 – the party’s best ever Westminster result in the Cardiff South seat – followed by UKIP candidate Simon Zeigler with 1,179. Anthony Slaughter of the Green Party was sixth with 800 votes, followed by the Socialist Labour Party’s Andrew Jordan with 235, and Communist candidate Robert Griffiths found himself in eighth place with 213.
Speaking after the results were announced in Sophia Gardens at around 3am this morning, Mr Doughty said one thing had been clear to him during the course of his campaign, and that was voters’ “resounding rejection of the policies, priorities and conduct of this UK Government.”
He said people were fed up of policies that were leading to “our nurses and teachers being paid less here in Wales…cutting of front line police staff…[and] tax cuts for millionaires ahead of hard working families and pensioners across this country”. He said he wanted to work towards a vision where society’s most vulnerable are supported.
He added: “There is no greater honour than to be given the trust of the area where you were born and brought up. It’s a huge privilege, and it’s a huge privilege to be elected in an area that has been represented by two remarkable members of parliament. Jim Callaghan and Alun Michael achieved remarkable things in this area. I’m very conscious of the big shoes I’m stepping into. But this city and the Vale of Glamorgan are fantastic places to be associated with, and I will do my best for them and make a difference in the same way Jim and Alun did for so many years.”
Mr Doughty’s 5,334 majority was an increase on that of Alun Michael’s general election win two years ago, when it was 4,710. However, turn out was less than half of the 2010 figure – 25.35% yesterday, compared to 60.2% two years ago – and Mr Doughty admitted this was “obviously disappointing”.
He said: “The weather today was very cold and grey. That does affect turn out. I have got a job to do in terms of getting people re-engaged with politics. I’m a big supporter of working with community organisations and making sure Labour activists are reaching out to do that.”
Asked by yourCardiff about his stance on the controversial Splott incinerator – one of the big issues facing the constituency at a local level – Mr Doughty said he had made his opposition to the energy-from-waste project clear.
He said: “I live in Splott, so I know there’s a lot of concern about it. I have made clear my opposition to the plans, and that remains my position.”
Alun Michael, who has known Mr Doughty since he was born, said he was “absolutely delighted” about the result in the seat he has represented for the last 25 years.
He said: “The majority is enormously convincing, especially given the comparatively low turn out. I think it reflects the very hard work Stephen has put in to engage with the public in every part of the constituency, working with myself and Vaughan Gething AM, and in every ward with every one of our Labour councillors.
“That work is very important, because when people have problems they want addressed, we need to make sure they to do not have to understand the arcane differences between the different representatives – we work as a team to get things done. We have got that relationship, we’ve had it for years, and I’m sure Stephen will demonstrate it as he has in his campaign.”
We followed all of yesterday’s developments in our by-election live blog. You can look back at how the day unfolded here.