Page last updated at 00:19 GMT, Monday, 8 June 2009 01:19 UK

Tories hail 'historic' Welsh win


Shadow Welsh Secretary Cheryl Gillan and new Labour MEP Derek Vaughan discuss the European election result with BBC Wales political editor Betsan Powys

The Conservatives have returned the most votes in Wales in the European elections for the first time in modern political history.

They are now sending one MEP to Strasbourg, and so are Labour and Plaid Cymru.

For the first time the UK Independence Party has also returned an MEP in Wales.


Shadow Welsh Secretary Cheryl Gillan called it "an historic result".

She said: "It proves only the Conservative Party can beat Labour in Wales. Gordon Brown has gone down in history as the first Labour prime minister to have 'lost' Wales.

"Conservatives have made gains at every national election in Wales since 1999. We said we'd overtake Labour at this election, and we've done so for the first time ever. This result gives us every cause for optimism of further success in Wales at the next general election."

Nick Bourne, Tory leader in the Welsh assembly, said: "This result nails the lie that Wales will always be Labour. There can be no overstating this result.

"It is an outstanding achievement for the Welsh Conservative Party. It builds on the successes we have made year after year. It gives us every confidence for the future."


First Minister Rhodri Morgan and Welsh Secretary Peter Hain issued a joint statement admitting the election results were "very bad" for Labour.

They said: "There is a real anger about politicians;' expenses and as we have been the party in power we have caught the brunt of the public's anger.

"This is a toxic combination when taken with the economic recession.

"Low turnout has further reduced the Labour vote; Above all, we have got to listen to the message that the public is so clearly giving us. It is vital that Labour remains united and begins rebuilding trust.

Plaid Cymru MP Adam Price describes Labour's European election result as an earthquake in Welsh politics

"Our task is to clearly convey the choice that Wales now faces: between a Labour government that believes in Welsh people and helps during hard times, and the very real danger of a government led by David Cameron that would savagely cut public services."

The leaders also congratulated Derek Vaughan on his election, saying he "will be a strong voice for Welsh people in Europe".


Plaid Cymru leader Ieuan Wyn Jones said: "Our performance in this election demonstrates the ever-increasing confidence the people of Wales have in Plaid Cymru and it shows the potential that now exists for us to challenge both Labour and the Tories and win more seats during the next UK General election.

"Since 2007 it has been clear that the days of Labour's hegemony over Welsh politics are over and that the Welsh electorate trusts Plaid to put their needs and aspirations first.

Mr Evans also said he was also concerned that the UK Independence Party has won a seat in Wales.

Returning MEP Jill Evans said: "Some of the results from around Wales have shown a big increase in support for Plaid, and in crucial constituencies we have proved that we can take votes from the London parties.

"Following Labour's collapse at these elections, many of their seats will now be at risk when Gordon Brown is finally forced into calling a general election."


UKIP said it was "absolutely delighted" with John Bufton's election as an MEP for Wales.

A party spokesperson said Mr Bufton had worked extremely hard, not just for the last few weeks, but for the last two years.

"He has put an enormous amount of time and effort in and he has been rewarded.

"It's a first for us - the first time we have won in Wales.

"It's a historic breakthrough for us," added the spokesperson.

John Bufton said the result was proof it was time for Gordon Brown to go.

Addressing the prime minister, he said: "We have taken your seat, and from a place we started from so low down we have come back with vigour and fight and the people of Wales are better for it."


Kirsty Williams, leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats said: "This evening's results clearly show that where we campaign, we see a return at the ballot box, and the party continues to move forward in these parts of Wales.

"I was determined that we would run this campaign in a positive way on the issues really affecting Welsh families.

"We did that, and despite the hugely negative atmosphere this election was held in, where we worked, we were able to get that positive message across and saw good swings to us.

Ms Williams said people have seen that the Liberal Democrats have led the way on economic recovery, parliamentary reform and on the green agenda.

She added: "These local results show that in Newport East, Swansea West and other places we are poised to win seats from Labour at the general election. With a similar swing, we would win these seats, and increase our majority in Ceredigion significantly."

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