Early stages of campaign in Wales

Nick Servini
Political editor, Wales

Image caption, Theresa May with activists in Bridgend

Early signs so far of the Conservative campaign in Wales is that it will be a combination of the offensive and the cautious.

Theresa May's visit to Bridgend was a case in point.

The approach is offensive in that the prime minister, on her first visit to Wales since calling the election, chose not to shore up support in a seat where there is already a Conservative MP, but instead went to a constituency which has not had an elected a Tory representative since the days of Margaret Thatcher.

And yet it was cautious in that she was surrounded by a group of the party faithful in the Brackla community centre, with limited use of cameras and an extraordinary degree of repetition of slogans like "stable and secure" and "every vote counts".

Speeches like these are designed to rally the troops for those in the room but more importantly to provide the "on message" clip for millions watching the evening television bulletins.

It was in stark contrast to Jeremy Corbyn's visit to Cardiff North in which hundreds crowded round a speech on a scratchy microphone in the middle of a common in the city.

Labour appears to be making a virtue of going face to face with the public even if it means Jeremy Corbyn having to muscle his way through the masses in Cardiff in slightly chaotic fashion, or Carwyn Jones facing anger on the doorstep in Bridgend while followed by cameras.

Image caption, Jeremy Corbyn addressing a rally on Whitchurch Common in Cardiff

Throw into the mix, the first minister's admission that Labour has a mountain to climb and you get the sense they are happy to be seen as the scrappy underdogs.

I also fully accept the irony of calling Labour the underdog in Wales, when it is clearly the establishment party, but that may be how it feels at times over the next few weeks.

Both visits also highlight this strange point in the campaign.


Theresa May was in Bridgend and Jeremy Corbyn was in Cardiff North when neither party know who their candidates are going to be in those seats.

There is a huge effort behind the scenes from all of the parties to get candidates lined up. Each day there is not a local candidate named will be considered a day wasted.

All of the parties have procedures in place to select candidates but everything is having to be fast-tracked.

For example, if you want to be a Conservative candidate you would usually have to go through a two-day vetting process but 48 hours will be considered a luxury when time is of the essence. The challenge will be quality control in such a short time-frame.

I understand Labour will have all their candidates in place by the end of the week.

Image caption, Leanne Wood launching Plaid Cymru's general election campaign in Bangor

Plaid typically got in before anyone with the first campaign launch of all the parties in Wales.

I suspect they will want to move things on after a strange start dominated by Leanne Wood's very public musings on whether she should stand in the Rhondda.

At best it was a distraction, at worst a sign of weakness to pull back.

It feels like the campaign is well underway but until we get a full slate of candidates in place it will have a slightly artificial feel.