LABOUR leader Kevin Madge is backing Calum Higgins to reclaim the Carmarthenshire East and Dinefwr seat for the party at the 2015 General Election – and claims Plaid Cymru are "petrified" of the Tycroes-based trainee barrister.

Mr Higgins, 24, the party's prospective parliamentary candidate, will be looking to end a 14-year Plaid streak reaching back to Adam Price's win over Labour's Alan Williams in 2001.

"Calum is like a breath of fresh air – a real man of the future," Cllr Madge told the Guardian. "I have every confidence in him and believe that over the next 18 months he will prove himself to be the man to take our county forward.

"Plaid are petrified of Calum and will do anything to undermine him, he has already made his presence felt as a Carmarthenshire county councillor.

"We need a four per cent swing in 2015 – the same as what Plaid managed when Adam Price won in 2001.

"With opinion polls showing Labour are heading for an 85-seat majority I believe we're on course to win this seat for the first time since 2001."

Cllr Madge made his comments after Mr Higgins came under attack after it emerged he was still being paid from public funds to work as AM Keith Davies's assistant while attending a university course.

Plaid also slammed his attendance record in the current council year – 29 per cent and 33 per cent on each of two committees.

Despite being a member of the Mid and West Wales Fire Authority, Mr Higgins has not attended a meeting since June.

On October 19 he announced on Facebook that he had moved to Cardiff.

Alun Davies, Plaid's councillor for Saron, said: "Serious questions need to be asked about how a student can undertake an intensive full-time course, be paid to work for an Assembly Member and continue his duties as an elected county councillor in a ward 60 miles away from where he lives.

“Whatever the rights and wrongs of his ‘Jack of all trades, master of none’ lifestyle, the fact is that Carmarthenshire ratepayers’ money is subsidising a councillor’s full-time student lifestyle and is being wasted on an elected member who doesn’t show up to committee meetings.”

A Welsh Labour spokesman said: “This is desperate stuff from Plaid and shows just how worried they are about haemorrhaging support in their core areas in Carmarthenshire.

"Calum is a fierce campaigner and has championed locally Labour’s campaign to freeze energy bills while the local Plaid MP Jonathan Edwards didn’t even bother to turn up and vote.

“Calum lives in Carmarthenshire and works part-time for a local AM. He spends up to two days a week in Cardiff as part of his post graduate university course which will be finishing early next year.

“The most revealing thing about the misinformed dossier on Calum that has been presented to the press is that the document properties show that it was created by Mr Edwards’ staff member on a Parliamentary computer.

“Jonathan Edwards should apologise for this flagrant abuse of public resources.”