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Last Updated: Saturday, 7 May, 2005, 10:13 GMT 11:13 UK
Valley voters relish rule of Law
Peter Law
Peter Law thanks electors in Ebbw Vale after his victory
Shock has turned into bullish optimism among voters who helped independent MP Peter Law sweep aside a 19,000 Labour majority in Blaenau Gwent.

This south Wales valley seat was once the political home of such socialist figureheads as NHS founder Aneurin Bevan and Labour leader Michael Foot.

But it overturned decades of Labour domination to send independent socialist Mr Law to Westminster.

"He's more Labour than anyone else," said voter Jeannette Webb.

Mr Law's opposition to all-women shortlists to pick the Labour candidate struck a chord in Blaenau Gwent, the seat he now represents in both the Welsh assembly and Parliament.

He's a decent man and people really objected to the way we had a woman foisted on us
Jeannette Webb
One of the smallest boroughs in Wales and one which rarely enjoys any wider publicity, it has clearly relished earning its place in history.

"It is excellent," said Mrs Webb, who works at Marshall's Newsagents in Ebbw Vale.

"I wasn't surprised, but I thought it might be closer than it was.

"People all decided to support him, he is very good for this area. He's a decent man and people really objected to the way we had a woman foisted on us."

Stephen Young
Stephen Young's shop neighbours Peter Law's office

The usual hustle and bustle of the Friday market in Ebbw Vale added to the headline-grabbing buzz around the town as the new MP went on a walkabout to thank his voters.

His victory was all the more remarkable because he underwent major surgery for a brain tumour in the week the election was announced. He learned of his condition only days before and was widely expected to pull out.

If I advertised for only a man or a woman to do a job here, I would be prosecuted
Businessman Stephen Young
"I used to work for him," said Barry Carson, sales assistant at Walters Photograph Shop.

"He pops in now and again and he is a good customer. He's a nice representative for Blaenau Gwent.

"I just think the best person won, I thought he might just pip it at the end - but 9,000 (his majority) is superb."
Jeannette Webb
Jeannette Webb says Mr Law is a decent man

"I stayed up all night to watch it."

Kathryn Noble, deputy manager at Walters, added: "After hearing he wasn't going to stand we were a bit devastated.

"I don't think it was a sympathy vote, there is genuine feeling for him."

Another businessman, Stephen Young of Country Choice, said: "I'm really glad he did stand.

"This is a message to the government. Law is the right man for the job.

"Maggie Jones (Labour candidate) might have made a good MP had she been put forward in a different manner.

Barry Carson and Kathryn Noble
Barry Carson and Kathryn Noble watched the result on the television

"But if I advertised for only a man or a woman to do a job here, I would be prosecuted."

Interest was so great that the local newsagent sold out.

Shopper Pat Pearce said: "I have already bought the Western Mail to read all about it. It makes the whole thing more interesting.

"Our previous MP stood up and said what he wanted and we have always had outspoken MPs."

In nearby Nantyglo, where Peter Law lives and once ran a general store, David Baldwin said: "I have lived here for 43 years and I know him.

He's a nice fellow and he deserves to get it. I've been a Labour voter all my life - but I changed my vote this time - and my son did too," he added.