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Labour’s Torsten Bell wins Swansea West

Swansea West's new Labour MP Torsten Bell (Pic: Richard Youle)

TORSTEN BELL has been elected as an MP for the first time in the Labour stronghold of Swansea West.

Mr Bell, known to some as the leader of economic charity the Resolution Foundation, polled 14,761 votes – more than double his closest rival, Reform UK’s Patrick Benham-Crosswell – but turnout was only 48.2%.

Mr Bell, 41, said: “Swansea West and the country has voted for change and it’s time to get on and deliver it. Diolch yn fawr.”

He thanked those who had shown their faith in him. “Thank you to the people of Swansea West for putting their trust in me,” he said.

“But whoever they voted for, it’s my job to stand up for families, businesses and the city as a whole.”

Mr Bell’s selection to run for Swansea West had appeared to ruffle some Labour feathers, with some keen to have a locally-based candidate. Liberal Democrat candidate Michael O’Carroll had cheekily offered to show Mr Bell around the constituency, which now incorporates much of what was Swansea East. There are now 32 constituencies in Wales compared to 40 in 2019 following a boundary review.

In second place in Swansea West was Reform UK’s Patrick Benham-Crosswell. Earlier in the evening he said: “The overriding thing on the doorstep for voters was very much that Labour in Wales has not delivered. They were delighted to have an alternative. I am not surprised there is an appetite for straightforward policies to address real issues. As one old school Labour guy said to me, ‘Nigel Farage is saying what we’re thinking.’”

Asked if straightforward policies might not solve messy problems, Mr Benham-Crosswell said: “That’s the difference between policy and beliefs and how you apply them. What has happened is that laws have got too complex and they get in the way of sensible decisions.”

Housing was at a premium, he said, in part due to “uncontrolled immigration”. The main objective for a Government, he said, should be making life better for taxpayers. “Walk around Townhill and other estates and life has not got better in 30 years,” he said. “That’s why people are angry.”

Meanwhile, Lib-Dem candidate Mr O’Carroll described the exit polls suggesting his party may take 61 seats as “astonishing”. He said: “If we are back to that level, very close to our best ever, the level of influence in politics, the media and the national conversation will be transformative for us.”

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Asked about sentiment on the campaign doorstep, Mr O’Caroll said: “Disillusionment with politicians, people being fed up with politics. People don’t believe politicians will do what they say.” He said people needed to see hard-working local politicians to change tack or party.

Results

  • Torsten Bell (Labour) 14,761
  • Patrick Benham-Crosswell (Reform UK) 6,246
  • Gareth William Bromhall (Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition) 337
  • Peter Kenneth Jones (Green Party) 2,305
  • Michael Ely O’Carroll (Lib Dem) 4,367
  • Tara-Jane Sutcliffe (Conservatives) 3,536
  • Gwyn Samuel Williams (Plaid Cymru) 4,105

Who is Torsten Bell?

The son of a former Swansea University teacher, Mr Bell worked as an economist in the Treasury and has led the Resolution Foundation for the past decade – a charity he described as trying to improve the lives of people through better jobs, affordable housing and a more equal country.

He is married with two children and a school governor, among other roles.

Mr Bell said stagnant wages in Wales over the past 15 years underlined the need to grow the economy. This, he said, would raised living standards. Mr Bell said it was a “disgrace” that one in five children in Swansea were growing up in poverty.

At the last General Election in Swansea West in 2019, former Labour candidate Geraint Davies polled 18,493 votes – 51.6% of the vote share – ahead the Conservatives’ James Price, who received 10,377 votes or 29%. Third, fourth and fifth respectively were the Liberal Democrats, Plaid Cymru and the Brexit Party.

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