As many of you who read my articles will already know, I generally take the view that political barometer and opinion polls should be taken with a pinch of salt, the only true barometer of public voting intentions that should be taken into consideration are the results of elections or referenda themselves. Everything else between elections or referenda is mostly educated speculation and conjecture.
However, the political barometer poll released by Professor Roger Scully of Cardiff University is quite interesting and provides a good talking point for those of us who inhabit the goldfish bowl of Welsh politics. The poll also provides us with surprising results that will get the political party spin doctors foaming at the mouth, the type of results that would be a wet dream for the Alistair Campbell’s of this world.
So, lets dive in and look at the numbers for Westminster elections.
Conservative: 24% (+7)
Labour: 22% (-3)
Brexit Party: 18% (-5)
Liberal Democrats: 16% (+4)
Plaid Cymru: 15% (+2)
Greens: 3% (-2)
Others: 1% (-4)
The list above to me at least, shows the biggest winners are the Tories as Boris Johnson’s stance on Brexit is clearly a vote winner in Wales or the “Boris Bounce” as it’s penned in the report. It also shows an increase for the Liberal Democrats who are becoming quite resilient as they refuse to die out. But then again, their cause is made easier for them when they’re being helped by the unlikeliest of political allies in the guise of Plaid Cymru, Wales’ Socialist and ‘small n’ nationalist party, who prop up the bar with a scant 2% increase.
Who would’ve thought we’d see a supposed Welsh nationalist party supporting a UK unionist party in their pursuit to gain seats in Wales? Not me that’s for sure, but I digress.
There’s not a lot of wriggle room or spin on this one, Plaid should be disappointed with a 2% increase considering their insistence at being the only pro remain party in Wales (not including the Lib Dems of course). Although, a 2% increase is an increase to be fair but in the grand scheme of things it’s largely cost neutral as the number of seats stays the same with four as the list below demonstrates.
Labour: 18 seats
Conservatives: 16 seats
Plaid Cymru: 4 seats
Liberal Democrats: 2 seats
The voting intention figures for a Welsh Assembly election in both constituency and regional ballots are also revealing in that it shows us a more accurate picture.
Plaid Cymru: 24% (no change)
Labour: 21% (-4)
Conservatives: 19% (+2)
Brexit Party: 19% (+2)
Liberal Democrats: 12% (+3)
Greens: 4% (-1)
Others: 2% (-1)
This to me is evidence that the leave vs remain divisions are still in a state of polarisation to some extent in Wales, with pro remain parties Lib Dems and Plaid Cymru consolidating or increasing their voter intention percentages respectively. On the opposite side of the coin we see the Tories and the English nationalist Brexit Party both increasing their voter intention percentages.
The biggest losers in the voter intention stakes is Labour dropping down 4%. The Labour party really are in some trouble here if this poll proves to be anywhere near accurate at the next UK Elections, which could be as early as November/December this year. Whether the UK leaves the EU without a deal is crucial to the possibility of a snap UK election.
And through what can only be described as a political fluke, these results put Plaid Cymru above Labour for the first time in any poll, ever. Not a bad result considering Plaid Cymru have done next to nothing to be worthy of its newfound position. it’s worth noting at this point that this is where flights of fancy and delusions of grandeur come into play. Plaid Cymru will milk this ‘till poor old ‘daisy’ has nothing left no doubt.
Another point worth noting for future reference is that the party spin doctors and those adept in the shadowy arts of misdirection, shadowy arts the likes of David Copperfield or Houdini would be impressed with, will be on full show over the coming weeks and months. You’ve been warned.
Results for the Assembly
Moving on to the Welsh Assembly elections and it gets even juicier. Traditional Labour seats will fall to Plaid Cymru according to the figures. Constituency seats such as Blaenau Gwent, Caerphilly, Cardiff West, Llanelli and Neath are projected to change hands to Plaid Cymru. Most surprising is the fall of Blaenau Gwent and Caerphilly.
In Neath, Plaid have been fairly strong in the town to be fair but usually come a distant second at most elections. Llanelli has been a marginal seat for a few years now with both Labour and Plaid slugging it out. Cardiff West could be seen as a surprise result but we must consider the hard work Neil McEvoy has done there recently, despite not even being a member and I honestly can’t see McEvoy loosing there now.
These are seats that I wouldn’t have thought would be susceptible to Plaid’s lure of being staunchly pro-remain, Caerphilly voted 57.6% (53,295 votes) to leave the EU, Blaenau Gwent’s leave vote was even higher at 62.0% (21,587). However, a result that would go against the grain is Aberconwy, with the Tories losing the seat to Plaid.
The Conservatives are projected to gain Cardiff North, Gower, the Vale of Clwyd, the Vale of Glamorgan, and Wrexham And the Liberal Democrats are projected to gain Cardiff Central.
Yet again the figures for the regional list vote below paints an accurate picture.
Plaid Cymru: 23% (+1)
Labour: 19% (-2)
Conservatives: 18% (+6)
Brexit Party: 17% (-6)
Liberal Democrats: 12% (+5)
Greens: 4% (-4)
UKIP: 2% (+1)
Others: 5% (-1)
These figures continue with the remain vs leave polarisation I mentioned earlier. Lib Dems gain 5% while the Tories pick up 6%. Plaid Cymru, despite topping the table again should really be quite alarmed by a poultry 1% increase. It seems their gamble to leave an open door for the Lib Dems to walk back into Wales is already backfiring as people are backing the Lib Dems and not them.
The regional seat allocations by this point are unsurprising when considering the information above.
North Wales: 2 Brexit, 1 Liberal Democrat, 1 Plaid
Mid & West Wales: 2 Brexit, 1 Labour, 1 Liberal Democrat
South Wales West: 2 Brexit, 1 Plaid, 1 Liberal Democrat
South Wales Central: 2 Brexit, 1 Plaid, 1 Liberal Democrat
South Wales East: 2 Brexit, 1 Conservative, 1 Liberal Democrat
Brexit party would look to win 10 regional seats, 4 for the Lib Dems, 3 for Plaid Cymru and Labour and Tories both bringing up the rear with one a piece. The overall picture looks like this.
Labour: 17 seats (16 constituency, 1 regional)
Plaid Cymru: 15 seats (12 constituency, 3 regional)
Conservatives: 11 seats (10 constituency, 1 regional)
Brexit Party: 10 seats (10 regional)
Liberal Democrats: 7 seats (2 constituency, 5 regional)
So, there it is, warts an ‘all. The biggest story within this report is the fall of the Labour party and their stranglehold on Wales. It’s been coming for a few years now and when we look back through previous polls, there’s a clear, steady downward curve for Labour.
The Corbyn Effect has almost if not completely vaporised, and the Welsh Labour leader, Mark Drakeford, who has the same amount of charisma as a wet, soggy newspaper from last week doesn’t appear to have enough about him to do anything radical enough to keep the likes of the Brexit Party or the Tories at bay.
But what this does is it opens the doors to other parties to take advantage of the power vacuum left behind. Who will be the quickest to take advantage? Sadly, if these figures even come close to becoming reality then it’s the English nationalist Brexit Party who are on course to over-throw and replace UKIP in 2021 and become a major force in Welsh politics.
How long for I don’t know as once Brexit is done and dusted the Brexit Party may well whither away just as their UKIP predecessors. I feel this will not be the case however, as the Brexit Party have recently outlined some core policies that go beyond Brexit, policies which may well be popular in leave voting areas of Wales.
The Unknown Variable
If there’s anything we in Wales should take from this report is that Wales is wide open to the Brexit Party and the Tories. I’ve talked about Plaid Cymru a few times throughout the article and it genuinely pains me to see Wales’ national flag bearers for so long struggling to find any sort of significant traction outside of their traditional heartlands. but reality will hit them hard if they don’t address the clear lack of appeal across other parts of Wales.
There’s no room for spin here. Yes. the party has topped Labour for the first time ever in a Welsh opinion poll no doubting that at all, but it’s more down to Labour being on the slide than Plaids achievements. Ask yourselves this, if the Labour party didn’t exist, how would things look for Plaid Cymru then? Pretty abysmal I think going by these numbers.
And, yes, they won the Rhondda via Leanne Wood but even that upset looks like a minor blip now, it seems such a long time ago now and serious questions must be asked of the party. Has Plaid Cymru got it in them to make enough significant gains in the south to fight of the Brexit Party, particularly with a pro remain message in mainly pro leave areas? I’m not convinced.
Both my heart and head are in tune when I say no, they don’t. If they’re struggling to gain the odd 2% here and there in conjunction with “Welsh” Labour on the slide, then what chances do they have against the insurgent Brexit Party inside the power vacuum left by Labours timely demise?
For now, I let all that sink in and leave you, the people to make your own minds up. There’s one variable that hasn’t been factored into these recent polls and that’s my party, Ein Gwlad. We’re an unknown quantity now and that’s a fair comment, we must be realistic about where we are as a party.
However, things will, and indeed are beginning to change on that front as we move on to the next phase of our preparations for the 2021 Assembly elections. Keep an eye out for us around Wales over the next few months as we significantly ramp up our efforts.
Trust me when I say that future barometer polls from now until 2021 will be different to previous ones as our party grows and becomes a major force in Welsh politics. I’m utterly convinced we have the best message, the best ideas and the focus to bring significant positive change for our nation. And it all starts on the 3rd of August 2019
Diolch yn Fawr Gyfeillion
My name is Lee Felton, I’m one of the editors on Ein GWALD’s News Portal, National Secretary and Graphics Officer. I have a Valley’s working class background and I’m not afraid to say what I think. If i’m wrong, I’m wrong, and I’ll be the first to put my hand up.