A recent meeting of the Party’s Wales Council approved an application from Vale of Clwyd Labour AM Ann Jones to stand under the Co-op banner in the forthcoming Assembly elections, while three other prospective candidates — Crispin Jones, Eifion Williams and Nick Colbourne — were also endorsed.
This means that eight of the Co-operative Party’s 13 constituency candidates are in Labour or Labour/Co-op held seats and another — Blaenau Gwent hopeful Alun Davies AM, previously elected as a regional list representative — is the hot favourite to win the seat following the decision of the current independent AM, Trish Law, not to stand in May.
The Party currently has four AM’s in the Assembly — Christine Chapman, Huw Lewis, Lorraine Barrett and John Griffiths — but Ms Barrett is not contesting the 2011 poll.
While Eifion Williams and Nick Colbourne face tough challenges against the incumbent Plaid Cymru and Liberal Democrats in Aberconwy and Montgomeryshire respectively, the Co-operative Party could take its Assembly representation into double figures if Crispin Jones can overturn a Conservative majority of 1,596 in Clwyd West.
The revised list of Labour/Co-op candidates in the Welsh Assembly elections is Christine Chapman AM, Cynon Valley; Lynne Neagle AM, Torfaen; Huw Lewis AM, Merthyr Tydfil & Rmymney; Mick Antoniw, Pontypridd; Vaughan Gething, Cardiff South & Penarth; John Griffiths AM, Newport East; Sandy Mewies AM, Delyn; Ann Jones AM, Vale of Clwyd; Alun Davies AM, Blaenau Gwent; Crispin Jones, Clwyd West; Eifion Williams, Aberconwy; Mark Whitcutt, Monmouth; and Nick Colbourne, Montgomeryshire.
Although all 13 are now officially endorsed as Co-op candidates, each would-be AM will have to decide whether they want to appear as ‘Welsh Labour’ or ‘The Labour and Co-operative Party candidate’ on ballot papers.
Co-operative Party Deputy General Secretary Karen Wilkie said prospects of the Party having ten AMs in place after May 5th look promising — and this does not include Co-operative Party members standing as Labour candidates in the list section, which has no provision for dual membership affiliations.
However the election rules for the Scottish Parliament are different, so all 14 Co-op Party hopefuls in the constituency polls north of the border in May will be able to stand as ‘Scottish Labour Party and the Co-operative Party’ candidate.