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21 May 2015

The Church – the great hustings host in Wales

The Church – the great hustings host in Wales

For the first time in Welsh history, we are able to come up with an accurate figure of the number of hustings held around Wales in the run-up to the general election and, of those, the amount that were organised by churches.

Here are some of the facts and figures:

  • In total, there were 172 hustings held in Wales, covering 37 of Wales' 40 constituencies.
  • Islwyn, Ogmore and Neath – three safe Labour seats in south Wales – were the only constituencies not to have any hustings held by anyone.
  • The Church organised the only hustings in Cynon Valley, and one of only two in both Rhondda and Bridgend. All three are safe Labour seats in south Wales.
  • The number of church-run hustings was 49 altogether, or between one in every three and one in four events.
  • The Church was not the only organisation to host multiple events – others include local citizens' group, peace groups and trade unions.
  • Of the six events organised by Evangelical Alliance Wales, five churches were taking part for the first time. Other churches that had organised events in previous elections did not do so this year.
  • The church events were held across 27 constituencies, or two out of every three. And 13 of these 27 constituencies had more than one church-run hustings. To put this statistic into context, CARE's excellent list of church hustings for the UK in the 2010 general election established that there were 300 events – and with a total of 650 constituencies across the UK, even if all these 300 events were in separate constituencies this totals less than one hustings in every two constituencies. And the number for Wales this year clearly exceeds that.
  • There were three other constituencies where the Church did not hold any events – Blaenau Gwent, Neath and Ynys Mon – here church leaders were willing to host an event, but could not organise it for different reasons. This would have taken the Church's tally to 30 constituencies.
  • Baptists were the most active in organising events.
  • Some 15-20 per cent of the 49 events did not appear on any of the lists that were drawn up by Christian organisations. They were only discovered by contacting the prospective parliamentary candidates by email a few days before the election and asking them details on hustings they had attended.
  • In the constituencies that saw the biggest shocks of the night, the Church was most active in Cardiff North, three out of six hustings, and Cardiff Central, four out of 10. The Church was least active in Gower, zero out of two, which saw the Conservatives win the seat from Labour for the first time in 100 years.