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History in Labour's favour.

THURSDAY'S by-election is being billed as a straight fight between Labour's Huw IrrancaDavies and Plaid Cymru's Bleddyn Hancock.

While Labour enjoys a 14,000-plus majority in a seat it has held since 1918, Plaid has fielded a high-profile candidate well-known to the South Wales mining community.

As general secretary of the pit deputies' union Nacods, Mr Hancock, 48, led the campaign for compensation for miners with chronic work-related diseases such as emphysema and vibration white finger.

A court ruling four years ago marked the biggest compensation claim in British legal history.

Labour's candidate, Mr Irranca-Davies, is a senior lecturer at Swansea Institute of Higher Education.

He is bidding to succeed veteran MP Sir Raymond Powell, who held the seat for 22 years.

Thursday's poll is the second by-election of the current Parliamentary term.

Labour held the first, in Ipswich, last November.
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Publication:South Wales Echo (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Feb 11, 2002
Words:141
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