Alyn and Deeside by-election campaign trail

Nick Servini
Political editor, Wales
@NickServinion Twitter

Image source, Google
Image caption,
Connah's Quay is one of the towns in the constituency

By-elections are by their nature unusual events but there has been nothing quite like this before - a vote prompted by the death of a Welsh Government minister who is thought to have taken his own life while being investigated for misconduct allegations.

The back story of Carl Sargeant was always going to loom large, but once his son Jack decided he was going to try to continue the legacy of his father as the Labour candidate in Alyn and Deeside, it ensured it became a central feature on the doorstep as well.

I have been out with the candidates, including Jack Sargeant, and his father obviously comes up in conversation.

The 23-year-old says he is more than happy to engage with voters on family matters - how could he do anything else? The challenge for him is to forge his own identity at the same time.

In other words, Jack Sargeant has to try to emerge from the shadow of his father while presumably still coming to terms with events.

Image source, Family photo
Image caption,
Jack Sargeant is aiming to continue the legacy of his late father, Carl

Incidentally, when asked what he thinks of the first minister, he refers to the inquiries under way into his father's death in neutral fashion, while suggesting the time for comment will come later.

Close friends of the Sargeant family have called on Carwyn Jones to resign but Jack has kept his views on the matter private and he is not going to reveal them during the campaign.

It demonstrates the swirl of emotion and speculation surrounding the Labour Party that the other parties have had to work around.

Labour may be defending a big majority but the Conservatives came second last time round.

Their candidate, Sarah Atherton, used to work in army intelligence, and they know they will need a clever campaign in order to close the gap.

Plaid Cymru's Carrie Harper is a Wrexham councillor who is an experienced campaigner for the party.

I caught up with her less than a mile from the English border, a long way from Plaid heartland territory, where she said the big subject on the doorstep was the state of the NHS, although 40% of residents didn't realise it was a devolved matter.

Image source, Plaid Cymru
Image caption,
Plaid candidate Carrie Harper is aiming to highlight the problems faced by the NHS in Wales

Duncan Rees is standing for the Greens and the Liberal Democrats have been gearing up for the arrival of party leader, Vince Cable, this weekend.

Their candidate is part-time bank worker Donna Lalek who is making a big play on anti-Cardiff sentiment, particularly in relation to investment.

This is well-trodden territory for assembly campaigns in north Wales, and for a banker on the doorstep.

To varying degrees, all of the parties are trying to cash in on a sense of alienation from Cardiff Bay.

Turnout is also the challenge for everyone. It was only 35% in the 2016 assembly election and that was with a fair wind of a national campaign behind it.

There are no posters or banners anywhere indicating there is an election on and polling is also on a Tuesday, which adds to the unconventional nature of the vote.

Which takes me back to where we started - there has not been anything quite like this before.