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A POTTED HISTORY OF NEWPORT PARLIAMENTARY ELECTIONS

Newport was originally part of a constituency known as Monmouth Boroughs. From 1832 until the end of the 19th century the constituency was generally a marginal one, finely balanced between the Conservatives and Whigs or Liberals when it was contested (although Crawshay Bailey was returned unopposed four times after he was first elected). The constituency moved steadily towards the Liberals, however, as Newport grew in size, by the turn of the century 90% of the electorate was in the town, and it was a much more working class and industrial town than areas such Monmouth or Usk. In 1918 the Representation of the People Act created a Newport parliamentary constituency.

Lewis Haslam, a Liberal, who had previously represented Monmouth Boroughs since 1906 was elected first MP for Newport in December 1918. He died in 1922 and was replaced by Reginald Clarry from Stroud who became a long standing Conservative MP for Newport and he was active in the House of Commons on issues in the town. However his inception at the notorious by-election in 1922 was perhaps his most significant impact when it is felt the electors of Newport played their part in changing the Government. See our feature - Coalition Breaker.

Clarry was unseated briefly by Labour between 1929 and 1931. Newport's first Labour MP James Walker was elected as they swept to power in May 1929. He lost his seat in the Labour electoral disaster of 1931 and subsequently became Motherwell MP in 1935. As Newport MP he made 14 speeches on the Glasgow Corporation Bill! He was previously a Glasgow councillor. Clarry was back in at the 1931 election and remained in situ until his death in early 1945. Cardiffian Ronald McMillan Bell elected briefly in 1945 before being swept out in Labour landslide in the election of July 1945. He was succeeded by Peter Freeman MP from the Labour Party, a unique and learned MP, there is more detail about him here.

Frank Soskice won the 1956 by-election caused by the death of Freeman. Soskice was a prominent figure in the Labour Party and when they returned to Government in 1964 was initially made Home Secretary only to be replaced a year later after a poor performance in the role. At the subsequent election in 1966 Roy Hughes, the Labour nominee, was elected to what had become a safe Labour seat following the opening of the Spencer Works steel plant. Hughes was a former miner and trade union rep. His unremarkable tenure carried on until the reorganisation of the seat in 1983. Newport East including the southern area of the M4 and the steelworks at Llanwern, Newport West encompassing the centre of Newport as well as areas such as Bassaleg and Rogerstone were formed. Unsurprisingly, the Tory landslide brought them an MP in Newport West, Mark Robinson, with Hughes retaining Newport East. In 1992 Paul Flynn took Newport East from the Tories with Hughes holding Newport East. Hughes made way for a former Tory MP Alan Howarth who crossed the floor to join Labour in 1996. Howarth held Newport East until 2005 where he was replaced by Jessica Morden. Flynn has retained Newport West throughout.

The political composition of the two seats still favours Labour but the party's vote has fallen back significantly in Newport East. Newport East was fertile territory for the Lib Dems in 2010 with Labour's vote - 37 per cent - the lowest recorded by the Party in a Newport seat since 1922. The Conservative vote in Newport East is normally between 20 and 23 per cent, underlining their huge fall in support too. In Newport West where the seat is a more typical Labour-Tory struggle Labour's vote has held up, in part due to the personal following for Flynn and a more active party organisation.

NEWPORT MEMBERS OF PARLIAMENT

First elected 14 Dec 1918 Lewis Haslam (Liberal) b25 Apr 1856 d.12 Sep 1922

18 Oct 1922 Reginald George Clarry (Conservative] see below

30 May 1929 James Walker (Labour) b.1883 d. 5 Jan 1945

27 Oct 1931 Reginald George Clarry [Conservative] b. 24 Jul 1882 d. 17 Jan 1945

17 May 1945 Ronald McMillan Bell [Conservative] b. 14 Apr 1914 d. 27 Feb 1982

26 Jul 1945 Peter Freeman (Labour) b. 19 Oct 1888 d. 19 May 1956

6 Jul 1956 Sir Frank Soskice, (Labour) later [1966] Baron Stow Hill b. 23 Jul 1902 d. 1 Jan 1979

31 Mar 1966 Royston John Hughes (Labour) [1997] Baron Islwyn

CONSTITUENCY SPLIT INTO EAST & WEST DIVISIONS 1983

NEWPORT EAST

9 Jun 1983 Royston John Hughes (Labour),later [1997] Baron Islwyn [L] b.9 Jun 1925 d 19 Dec 2003

1 May 1997 Alan Thomas Howarth (Labour),later [2005] Baron Howarth of Newport b. 11 Jun 1944

5 May 2005 Jessica Elizabeth Morden (Labour) b 29 May 1968

NEWPORT WEST

9 Jun 1983 Mark Noel Foster Robinson (Conservative) b 26 Dec 1946

11 Jun 1987 Paul Phillip Flynn (Labour) b 9 Feb 1935

SIGNIFICANT RESULTS