Elections held mixed fortunes for farming politicians

Candidates with strong agricultural connections faced mixed fortunes in the Welsh assembly elections.

Farmer Mick Bates retained the Montgomeryshire constituency seat for the Liberal Democrats with almost the same share of the votes as he had in 2003.

But Conservative Glyn Davies, chair of the rural affairs committee in the last assembly, who farms in Powys, lost his regional seat.

Tamsin Dunwoody, the committee’s Labour high profile vice-chairwoman, lost her Preseli Pembrokeshire seat to Conservative Paul Davies by 3200 votes.

In the neighbouring Carmarthen West and Pembrokeshire constituency Christine Gwyther, the vegetarian rural affairs minister in first labour administration in Cardiff was unseated by fewer than 100 votes.

But Carwyn Jones, who held the job until the election, successfully defended Bridgend for Labour, though insiders suggested he might prefer to take on another portfolio in the new assembly.

Elin Jones, Plaid Cymru’s rural affairs spokeswoman who led opposition to cuts in Tir Mynydd payments to less favoured area farmers, was returned again for Ceredigion despite a strong challenge from John Davies, an ex NFU Cymru employee who is currently director of the Welsh Food centre.

Farmer Brynle Williams retained his north Wales regional seat for the Conservatives, but fellow Tory farmer Peter Rogers failed to beat Plaid leader Ieuan Wyn Jones in Ynys Mon.

The vote left Labour five seats short of the 31 needed for an overall majority and with little choice but to seek a possible coalition with the six Liberal Democrats.

Swearing in of new members began at 8.30am the morning after the vote and the first session will be held on Wednesday.