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Last Updated: Friday, 30 June 2006, 14:04 GMT 15:04 UK
Blaenau Gwent independents' day
By Ashok Ahir
BBC Wales political unit

Trish Law during the election campaign
"A very local election" said one constituent
It's market day on Friday in Ebbw Vale, a day relished by the town's late AM and MP, Peter Law.

Mr Law, who died aged 58 in April, saw himself as "one of the people" in a constituency where people matter.

Blaenau Gwent has some of the worst economic and social problems in Wales, but you wouldn't know that if you walked these streets.

The market stalls are busy, as are the neighbouring cafes and shops.

The sun is shining and there's a particular radiance about the folks popping in to say "hello" at Mr Law's old office.

The two people most visitors ask for are "Dai" and "Trish" - otherwise known as the new member of parliament and assembly member respectively.

Having defeated the giant that is the Labour Party, the independent minnows are relishing the glory that many here say they deserve.

As one of their supporters told me this lunchtime: "It's as if we took on the whole of Labour Party from our kitchen table and won."

Neither Dai Davies or Trish Law, the widow of the former AM and MP, have had much sleep.

They didn't leave the count at the town's leisure centre until gone past 0400 BST and both were back out doing the rounds for hungry radio and TV stations at breakfast time.

Ebbw Vale market on Friday
Ebbw Vale woke up to another independent political victory

Their loyal followers from the group calling itself the Blaenau Gwent People's Voice will this afternoon be taking both of them on a celebratory cavalcade tour of the towns and villages that make up this historic constituency.

The procession is being billed as a big thank-you for the thousands of voters who decided a vote for them was more important than their traditional vote for the Labour Party.

At a time of so-called "disengagement" with politics, the citizens of this constituency decided to buck the trend.

One in two of them voted yesterday, in the only other by-election in the Welsh assembly's history, that figure was one in five.

'Serve us well'

Taking a rest from the expert sellers of fruit, vegetables, meat and assorted sundries as few of them told me why.

Edwin Hyde-Dryden, a retired policeman, said he voted independent because "they were the real local candidates in what was a very local election".

Sandra Davies a factory worker, wouldn't reveal her vote, but where she'd placed her crosses became clear when she said "they've won it for Blaenau Gwent".

Even Margaret Bailey, a Labour supporter who stayed loyal to the party, told me: "Hopefully Mrs Law will have learnt from her husband's time in office and will serve us well".

There's no sign of the party of government at Westminster and at Cardiff Bay here this lunchtime.

The shutters are down on their office on their shop-front on the edge of Market Street, red and white stickers with the words "Vote Labour this Thursday" can just be made out through the gaps.


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