ISLWYN is a traditionally-Labour constituency, and Chris Evans, who was first elected as MP in 2010, is running again next month.

Although Mr Evans' share of the vote dropped by just 0.2 per cent when he was re-elected in 2015, this year he faces competition from the Conservatives, Plaid Cymru, the Liberal Democrats and Ukip.

The consistency was formed in 1983 and was represented for the first 12 years by Labour leader Neil Kinnock. He was succeeded by Don Touhig, also Labour in 1995, who served as MP for 15 years.

Islwyn also saw one of the most famously colourful, if off-beat, politicians campaign to represent the constituency, with Monster Raving Loony Party founder Screaming Lord Such running in 1992 and 1995.

Although he came last in 1992, in 1995 he came out ahead of candidates for Ukip and the left-wing Natural Law Party, and only 408 votes behind Conservative Robert Buckland, who went on to win Swindon South in 2010 and was made solicitor general for England and Wales in 2014.

Labour’s Rhiannon Passmore represents the area in the Senedd last year.

The constituency encompasses the towns of Blackwood, Newbridge, Cross Keys and Risca and suffered greatly from the closure of the coal mines in the 1980s.

The constituency falls entirely within the county borough of Caerphilly, which, as with every other area in Gwent apart from Monmouth, voted to leave the European Union in last year’s referendum, with 57.63 per cent of voters backing Brexit.

As with the majority of the rest of Gwent unemployment in Islwyn is higher than average at 3.5 per cent. Average weekly pay is also £50 lower than the national average at £480.

Child poverty is also high at 23.3 per cent, while 8.9 per cent of working-age people in the constituency are on disability benefits.

But house prices are more than £100,000 cheaper than the national average, with homes in the constituency costing on average just £110,000.

Blackwood was the centre of the Chartist movement in the 1830s, with leaders John Frost, Zephaniah Williams and Williams Jones said to meet regularly in the Coach and Horses pub ahead of the march on Newport in 1839 in which 22 demonstrators were killed. Today a 26ft-tall statue honouring the movement, depicting a protestor striding towards Newport, stands on the Chartist Bridge.

The area was also the site of one of the worst disasters in the history of mining in South Wales, when an explosion at the Prince of Wales Colliery in Abercarn on September 11 1878 killed 268 men and boys.

The constituency also has the dubious distinction of containing the most highly-polluted road in the UK outside London, with figures released last year showing the A472 Hafondyrynys Road in Crumlin had the highest pollution levels of any road outside the capital.

The issue is believed to be caused by heavy traffic, particularly during rush hours.

Islwyn is also home to Cwmcarn Forest Drive, which has been closed since 2015 after an operation to fell more than 160,000 infected larch trees began.

In 1912, distress signals from the Titanic were first received in Blackwood by amateur wireless enthusiast Arthur Moore.

Other notable people from the area include world champion boxer Joe Calzaghe, who was born in Newbridge, and all four members of the Manic Street Preachers, who grew up in Blackwood and went to Oakdale Comprehensive School.


Population: 75,858

Number of these aged 65 or older: 14,343 (18.9 per cent)

Average weekly pay: £480

(UK average £530)

Average house price: £110,000

(UK average £215,000)

Number of people on disability benefits: 4,240 (8.9 per cent)

(UK average 6.2 per cent)

Unemployment: 3.5 per cent

(UK average 2.6 per cent)

Child poverty: 23.3 per cent

(UK average 20 per cent)

Number of businesses: 1,190


Chris Evans (Labour)

Darren Jones (Plaid Cymru)

Matthew Kidner (Lib Dem)

Joe Smyth (Ukip)

Dan Thomas (Conservative)