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BBC Wales's Simon Morris
"No-one expected anything other than a Plaid Cymru win"
 real 28k

Plaid Cymru's Simon Thomas
"This is a serious challenge to the Labour party"
 real 28k

Simon Thomas talks to Huw Edwards
"There's a huge job of work to be done in Westminster as long as tax-varying and primary legislative powers remain there."
 real 28k

Friday, 4 February, 2000, 11:27 GMT
'Fair play' won by-election say Plaid

Simon Thomas Simon Thomas celebrates his win at Ceredigion


The winner of the Ceredigion by-election, Plaid Cymru's Simon Thomas, said his party won on "fair play"policies - "fair play for the farmers, public services and, particularly, the National Health Service".

Mr Thomas enjoyed a convincing win for the Westminster seat taking 10,715 votes - a majority of 4,948.

The 36-year-old replaces Cynog Dafis and becomes the first MP to be elected in the new millennium.



This victory is a vote of confidence in the future of Wales. We go forward from here
Plaid Cymru's Simon Thomas
But the result was a shock for Labour who slumped to fourth place - attributed by some at the count to widespread dissatisfaction with the government from the farming community.

Liberal Democrat Mark Williams (5,768) beat Conservative Paul Davies (4,138) into second place.

Labour's Maria Battle trailed into fourth place with 3,162 votes.


Simon Thomas Simon Thomas gets a hug from his wife Gwen
Mr Thomas won the seat after Cynog Dafis decided to step down from Westminster to concentrate on the National Assembly.

However the new MP said Plaid still had a role to play in London.

"The job is to work in partnership with representatives in National Assembly," he said.

"There is still a great deal of argument to be had at Westminster and there are still a number of points that need to be taken forward at that level."

However he thought the manner of Plaid's win and Labour slump sent a "clear message" to Assembly leader Alun Michael - especially over the issue of European grant aid for Wales.


Alun Michael Alun Michael - threat by Plaid
"We did marvellously well here," he told BBC News 24. "We improved on our general election figure while Labour slumped horribly.

"This by-election not only sends a message to Westminster, it sends a message to the National Assembly and that message is very clear - that the Labour vote will fall drastically unless Alun Michael comes up with Objective One funding.

"I have been consistently approached on the street by people who say they are very disappointed by the way the current administration is performing and they are unhappy with the leadership.

"Well, Plaid Cymru is ready to give that leadership."

Mr Thomas also suggested that Plaid's threatened no-confidence vote in the Labour leadership over European funding was still on.

"It will happen," he told BBC Radio Wales.


Cynog Dafis AM Former MP Cynog Dafis wants to concentrate on the Assembly

"This is a serious challenge to the Labour party."

"The way the Labour government as abandoned rural areas was a very clear message in the last week of the campaign.

"This victory is a vote of confidence in the future of Wales. We go forward from here," he added.

Results

Under half (45.7%) of constituents visited polling booths compared with 73.9% in the last General Election

While that is higher than some recent by-elections, it will be regarded as low for west Wales which traditionally prides itself on a high level of political awareness.

The results for the seven candidates were:

  • Simon Thomas, 36, a rural community development manager (Plaid Cymru - 10,716)
  • Maria Battle, 42, a solicitor and director of Age Concern Ceredigion (Labour - 3,612)
  • Mark Williams, 33, a teacher, (Liberal Democrat - 5,768)
  • Paul Davies, 31, a business banking manager (Conservative - 4,138)
  • John Bufton, 37, businessman, (UK independence - 487)
  • John Berkeley Davies, 55, a teacher (Independent Green - 289)
  • Martin Shipton, 46, a journalist, standing as "Wales on Sunday": Match Funding Now - 55.

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See also:
04 Feb 00 |  UK Politics
Parties remain positive after by-election loss
04 Feb 00 |  Wales
Under half turn out for by-election
03 Feb 00 |  UK Politics
Polling to elect first MP of millennium
02 Feb 00 |  Wales
Final hustings for by-election parties
01 Feb 00 |  Wales
Double trouble for Welsh postal voters
03 Feb 00 |  Wales
Ceredigion by-election

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