Election 2019

General election 2019: The view from Torfaen

Big Pit mining museum, Blaenavon Image copyright Gareth James
Image caption Big Pit, a former deep mine in Blaenavon, is one of Torfaen's top tourist attractions as a museum

Torfaen is a seat in the Gwent valleys dominated by its three main towns of Blaenavon, Pontypool and Cwmbran.

While the first two were cradles of the industrial revolution in the 18th and 19th Centuries, the latter has grown as a post-war new town, famous for its shopping centre.

The area's canals and northern rural environs also form part of the Brecon Beacons National Park.

The big issue of political debate in the constituency - like many others - is Brexit. The merits of leaving the European Union have divided opinions within towns, communities, and clubs such as the Pontypool Phoenix Runners.

Kath Arnold-Hall believes voters did not have the full picture at the time of the referendum in 2016.

"If we leave, we leave on false information," she says.

But Ron Godfrey, who voted leave, retorts: "So you are bright enough to vote to stay, but I was misled by the information?"

Image caption Ron Godfrey does not share the pro-Remain views of clubmates Natasha Booth, Kath Arnold-Hall and Allan Crescenzi

Another member of the club, Natasha Booth chips in: "She's not saying you're wrong - she's saying all of us combined have got more information about it now."

Allan Crescenzi is worried about post-Brexit trade, saying: "If we want to do deals with China, with Brazil, with America, we're going to have to abide by their rules.

"We're going to have no say in what goes on. We'll just say 'yes sir, no sir, three bags full sir'."

Natasha adds: "We can't stand alone as a country any more. I know we're called 'Great' Britain but the truth of it is, we're not. We are small - we don't wield that power any more."

Image caption Torfaen general election result in 2017
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Media captionCwmbran: 70 years of Wales' first New Town

Analysis by Vaughan Roderick, BBC Welsh affairs editor

Torfaen is the easternmost seat of the old south Wales coalfield and a journey through it from north to south is a lesson in the history of industrial Wales.

The world heritage site of Blaenavon at the northernmost end was one of the cradles of the industrial revolution and, while the town's attractions draw over 100,000 visitors a year, it has many of the same social and economic problems found in many former mining and metal-working communities.

The town at the heart of the constituency is Pontypool, which gave the constituency its name from its formation in 1918 until a name change in 1983.

These days Pontypool is overshadowed by its much larger neighbour, the 1960s new town of Cwmbran, most of which lies within the constituency boundaries.

Cwmbran's growth has meant that Labour's grip on the local council isn't as secure as it once was. However, at a parliamentary level it remains a notable fact though that over the last 100 years only six MPs have represented the seat - all of them men and all of them Labour.

Image caption Lauren Morse wants to see more talk about climate change

Lauren Morse, a mother of two who owns a small business offering baby classes and runs a Facebook group campaigning against waste, says she's "as confused as I've ever been about politics".

"I've always been very sure of my beliefs and my morals, and this election has thrown everything up in the air," she says.

"I'm confused about things that are devolved to Wales - things like education and health - and the things we see on the news and how they affect us.

"I've got two young boys, seven and four. They go to our local primary schools so education is very important to me.

"I understand that Brexit is taking priority. It would be good to see the climate emergency up there as well a bit higher."

Image caption Ray Williams believes Wales is losing out to England

Ray Williams is a veteran who served in Northern Ireland and the Falklands.

"There's lots of things going wrong with the country at the moment - it only seems to be going right in England," he said.

"When it comes to the Severn Bridge, everything stops - apart from the traffic.

"People come to work and buy cheap houses and go back to Bristol, we can't afford the houses. We don't have the money like they do in England.

"There should be more done for the ex-soldier, who's given 10 or 20 years of their career to the country. They need looking after. And then after that it's pensioners."

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