Opik defeat heads Conservative revival

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The Conservatives won their top five target seats in Wales, heralding a revival for the party in a traditional Labour stronghold. Labour lost four seats, but remained the largest party by some distance with 28 Welsh seats and 36 per cent of the vote, compared to the Tories' 26 per cent and eight seats.

Nevertheless, the Conservative gains of Montgomeryshire, Cardiff North, Vale of Glamorgan, Aberconwy, and Carmarthen West and Pembrokeshire South were a significant coup for a party that was wiped out of Wales in 1997 and 2001. All turned blue on considerable swings to the Tories, an average of 5.6 per cent across the region.

The Conservatives' banner achievement was defeating popular Liberal Democrat MP Lembit Opik in the supposedly safe border seat of Montgomeryshire with a majority of 1,184. Tory Glyn Davies achieved a remarkable and unexpected swing of 13.2 per cent.

The Liberal Democrats were left disappointed after their buoyant polling figures in Wales failed to become a gain in seats, as in the rest of Britain. They lost one seat, leaving them with three in the region.

Unseating Labour's Julie Morgan in Cardiff North was further cause for Tory celebration. Their candidate Jonathan Evans scraped victory by 194 votes after a recount. Cardiff North's new MP could be a major electoral asset in David Cameron's negotiations with the Liberal Democrats. Mr Evans is an outspoken proponent of electoral reform.