Blaenau Gwent is preparing for by-elections following the death of its immensely popular independent AM and MP Peter Law. Labour hopes of regaining the former stronghold were boosted by the first poll in the constituency. It shows people are considering splitting their vote – voting for Mr Law's widow Trish (who is running as an independent for the Assembly) AND Labour Westminster candidate Owen Smith (the lobbyist for pharmaceutical giant Pfizer who hopes to fill NHS founder Aneurin Bevan's old seat).
Having followed both candidates around Ebbw Vale market in the rain, I got the impression that a lot of people were considering voting both ways. But a split ticket will probably become less likely as the campaign drags on.
The election will be both an interesting test of Labour's popularity vs. the-name-of-the-Law, and an opportunity for Rhodri Morgan to regain his Cardiff Bay majority. But such lofty politics turns on the earthiest of issues. The most pressing concerns I heard up there involved the lack of “ash men” (local parlance for refuse collectors) in Aberbeeg.