Once again, Wales voted Labour, got Tory

Picture: Teacher Dude. (Public Domain Mark 1.0)


Ifan Morgan Jones

Once again Wales went beyond the call of duty in ensuring that a Labour government was elected at Westminster.

Contrary to the expectations that the Conservatives could take some seats such as Wrexham and Bridgend, it was Labour who over-ran the Vale of Clwyd, Gower and Cardiff North.

They even came within a whisker of taking Conservative strongholds such as Aberconwy and Preseli Pembrokeshire.

All in all Welsh Labour won 28 seats, almost three quarters of the total. It was a fantastic result for them.

And yet who will govern Wales?

  • The Conservatives, who are in bed with big business and climate change denying chancers such as Donald Trump.
  • The DUP, a party of religious extremists from Northern Ireland who are homophobic, anti-abortion and violent.

This is because England did not agree with Wales. The country gave the Conservatives a very clear majority of 297 seats to Labour’s 227.

For all the feel good factor around Jeremy Corbyn doing better than expected, this is the cold, hard reality.

As I said before the election, there was nothing Wales could do to stop a Conservative government. Zip. Nil. Nada.

Even if every single person in Wales had voted Labour, the Conservatives would still have 310 seats to Labour’s 274.

This is nothing new of course. Wales has voted Labour and got a Tory government for the majority of the last 100 years.

And here’s the kicker – even if Labour had won more seats than the Conservatives, they would have struggled to form an UK government because of the new English Votes for English Laws rules.

These rules mean that only English MPs can vote on some issues such as health, education and the environment.

Unless England votes for a Labour government, a Corbyn-led government will continue to be an inviable prospect. And there’s no indication of that happening any time soon.

The only way Wales can implement the left-of-centre policies almost three quarters of the population voted for is greater autonomy.

Welsh Labour MPs have consistently opposed giving Wales greater autonomy, abstaining on issues such as justice and policing even when the Welsh Government requested those powers.

The only group of MPs who consistently support greater autonomy for Wales is Plaid Cymru, whose vote share fell on Thursday.

The irony is that by tactically voting for Labour MPs to ensure a left-wing government on Thursday, Welsh voters ensured that what they wanted was even further from their grasp.

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  1. The only answer is to go for independence

    • Independence, Why so insular? U.K. Is better together. Our nations’ futures have already become uncertain by narrow minded brexiteers.

      • Because you have to go to Poland to find a poorer region in Europe. Not insular Stephen, Malta hold the European Presidency, where Wales has to settle for being dictated to by the DUP – Wales deserves so much better than this.
        The Valleys have highest prescriptions rate / suicide rate in Europe – if our representatives don’t look at every single option to improving the lives of the people of Wales, then it’s more clear than ever that it’s the Union before anything else.
        Separate Legal Jurisdiction – one of the main vehicles for a prosperous society – high paid jobs and would’ve been a real boost to SME’s – as explained in the ‘Justice for Wales’ document compiled by top legal minds and the Welsh Gov. Voted down by Welsh Labour Mp’s. So now, rather than having a flourishing legal sector in places like Dolgellau and Holyhead – we have Dolgellau’s old court being turned into a bunkhouse – which will obviously provide local people with jobs’ with great terms & conditions & pensions.
        Wales is not ‘better together’ as it’s already underfunded by £300m through the Barnett Formula. A nation that has responsibility over its own finances, that can use all it’s natural resources, that has the tools to change its current predicament is the type of country I want to live in. Not one that has to rely on a begging bow formula to make do with crumbs.
        I can’t believe wLabour are happy to run a creche, when they could be fighting to create a nation that is worthy of its history.

  2. Charlie Medson

    The day will come when Wales will have to decide whether we want to become an independent nation or assimilate into ‘western England.’ I’m quite scared about what we will choose.

  3. Gwylon Phillips

    Labour should become a legal entity in CYMRU. It would give them more freedom. Had the Tories won more seats here, Labour would have to demand more Devolution. As it is Labour Cymru is dominated by anti-Cymru MPs who don’t give two hoots for our Nation. All they want is London-Labour dominance. You know who they are. If Labour really put Cymru first it could be a success. There wouldn’t necessarily be any obstructive opposition. One can only surmise that Labour is more pro-London than pro-CYMRU. Tactical voting doesn’t work FOR Cymru. We will continue to be treated as lepers being ruled by 83% Saxon MPs.

  4. Well, Welsh affairs were airbrushed out of the national election campaign coverage and social media, focussing as they did on Lab vs Tory. Each side had its own little Project Fear, resulting in high turnout and lots of tactical voting, which stole voters from other parties. Despite that, Plaid Cymru gained a seat. And funnily enough, in the aftermath of the election that has been ignored too.

    The campaigning, reporting and social media commenting of the election has been overwhelmingly like this. It doesn’t have to be. The Scottish independence referendum and subsequent General Elecrtion put the SNP on the map even in Westminster. The Prime Minister’s announcement of a coalition with the Northern Irish DUP has woken up the London-based media to the fact that Northern Ireland exists and may have a deal of clout over here for now.

    Wales, though? Dim byd. Nada. Zilch. Wales will continue to be non-news until we strike at the heart of Westminster politics. And that means independence. And that in turn won’t be a live issue until we make it so. So after that election let’s pick up the Indy conversation and not let it drop.

  5. Thanks for setting out the facts in such a handily quotable form. Typo bach – “English Votes for English Laws” dylai hi fod dwi’n meddwl.

  6. Meleri Davies

    DUP religious extremists? Hardly. They may be hardline protestant but they’re not blowing up children in pop concerts are they? Yet the left gets into bed with Islam and no one complains.

    Plaid is going back to being a party for Welsh speakers which it should be. Leanne Wood has lost the plot and needs to stand down.

    Now can we please have a return to three mountains and a dragon and Dafydd Wigley?

    • The DUP have very strong links to the protestant paramilitary groups like the Ulster Defence Association and the UVF, UFF, et cetera, who until very recent times were murdering innocent people in Northern Ireland on a regular basis, just because they were Catholics. (Google “Shankhill Butchers” if you want to understand the bloodshed they have been involved in in the quite recent past). So yes, religious extremists is exactly what the DUP are. They are also very anti-science: to them, climate change is a just a con, and they advocate creationism being taught in schools instead of evolution, they oppose women having access to abortion clinics, and have frankly bizarre, bigoted and unscientific views about HIV.

      The fact that the Good Friday Agreement has led to armed groups on both sides of the sectarian divide putting aside their weapons is the most hopeful thing to happen in relation to Northern Ireland in the last seventy or eighty years. That peace is now threatened by Teresa May inviting the DUP to prop up her minority government. That is because under the Good Friday Agreement, the British and Irish governments are supposed to act as guarantors of fair play for each community. If the Tories invite one side of the conflict to join their government, and in fact they will will be dependant on the support of the DUP to survive as a government, that drives a coach and horses through the Good Friday Agreement. Sinn Féin has already warned that the DUP joining the British government actually breaks the Good Friday Agreement which led to the last 19 years of peace.

      So the Tories inviting the DUP to prop up their minority government may actually result in the troubles starting all over again. Should Plaid Cymru oppose this prospect and work with others to stop it? Of course we should.

    • Um with reference to your claims about the ‘left’ i think you might have been reading the daily blackshirt a bit too often recently Meleri While it’s hard to see how Leanne could have ‘lost the plot’ when under her leadership plaid has just equaled its best result in a UK general election in terms of seats won.

      Agree with you about the Triban incidentally – and yes whoever manoeuvred Dafydd Wigley out of the plaid leadership 17 years ago has a lot to answer for.

    • Haha. Mad! Dafydd Wigley is not remotely anti-Islam or racist. Incidentally I met him once many years ago.

  7. Llywelyn ap Gwilym

    From the simple fact that Wales has 40 seats to England’s 533, we will never have the destiny of who rules us in our own hands, unless we become independent. “Wales voted Labour. Got Tory … because England did not agree with Wales”. Okay but what’s the alternative scenario? It’s “Wales voted Labour and got Labour, because England happened to also vote Labour”. In the meantime, while support for and curiosity in independence grows, we in Wales need to vote for a party who puts Wales’ interests first. That currently means Plaid Cymru. It could in future also mean Welsh Labour, but not the fake-news “Welsh” Labour (a) which hardly represents the socialism of the actual Labour Party or the Welsh electorate who voted for it, (b) who for the most part can’t even be bothered to turn up to parliament when Welsh interests are debated, and (c) who, when push-comes-to-whip will vote in whatever way the PLP tells them to. For the time being Plaid is the only party pushing Wales’ agenda. The sooner the Welsh electorate, and in particular the floating voters who “lent” their vote to Labour, realise this the better.

  8. It is an utter, total mystery to me why Labour aren’t leading the IndyWales charge, it really is. I mean they’d be in a consistently strong position for government in an independent Wales, that seems obvious. So what is it? Is it ego? They’d rather lose in a big pond than win in a small one? What exactly is their problem?

    Welsh Labour only seemed to remember the existence of the actual UK Labour leade after the results came in. They consistently vote in the Senedd against things which are in UK labour’s manifesto.

    One solution might be Gwylon’s. A new party from “Welsh Labour” which could work out what it actually wants to be.

  9. Robert Llewellyn Tyler

    “The only way Wales can implement the left-of-centre policies almost three quarters of the population voted for is greater autonomy.”
    Less than two thirds, I’m afraid.

  10. Am no mathematician or constitutional expert, but based on what you’ve said above, then it would have made no bloody difference if everyone in Wales had voted Plaid either. Or am I missing something?

    ‘Jeremy Corbyn was just 2,227 votes away from chance to be Prime Minister’ of ‘progressive alliance’: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/corbyn-election-results-votes-away-prime-minister-theresa-may-hung-parliament-a7782581.html

    As to: ‘a Corbyn-led government will continue to be an inviable prospect. And there’s no indication of that happening any time soon.’ Really? You think this DUP deal is likely to last, If an? I’m not even sure it will properly get off the ground. What about a vote of no confidence?

  11. One of Wales’ parties need to come out for Indy at some point. I have a lot of sympathy with the greens, but I can’t vote for them because of their ‘EnglandandWales’ BS. They could massively wrong-foot Plaid by campaigning on IndyWales which would also force them to confront their constitutional dogpile.

  12. If Plaid are serious about becoming an election force, it needs to look beyond its West Wales bubble. There is some good work being done by Leanne Wood and by the party in parts of Cardiff. However, if Plaid in the North can’t even win Mon, how on earth does it expect to be contenders in places like Clwyd West or the Vale of Clwyd, let alone Delyn or Wrexham.

    Perhaps if the party was serious about putting up a challenge in these seats it would put forward good candidates that can actually connect with voters in these places. Articles like this ignore the fact that people in other parts of Wales (not NW Wales) were faced with a simple choice, Labour or Tory.

  13. Rhys – I have previously expressed confusion about why Plaid won’t run a more viable candidate in, and throw some money at Cardiff North. There’s a large community of urban welsh speakers, and a large community of english-speaking people who send kids to welsh schools. It is also the constituency of Siop y Felin, and a number of businesses that buy and sell Welsh-only produce. I know many people who would be inclined to go with Plaid in Cardiff North, but they go over to Labour because, in my living memory, it has always been Tory v Labour swing seat. Winning a Cardiff seat would be huge for Plaid.

  14. Billy Blagg

    I am not sure what the argument in this article is? The numbers seem wrong too. ‘The country gave the Conservatives a very clear majority of 297 seats to Labour’s 227.’ Am I missing something or have you read a completely different set of results? I get the value of showing England’s seat count, but voting for Plaid (whose ideas I would naturally support if they could make a difference under the FPTP System), will only make that situation worse. Scotland may well get just as much of a voice from the fact that their Conservative MPs under the command of Ruth Davidson will potentially vote in a tie breaking block, as they would have done with the SNP representing their interests. The SNP have no sway at all with the main Westminster parties. At least Davidson’s gang can shape policy in the party which is (for now) forming the government.

    I don’t know what the solution to this is. But, as I live in Bridgend, voting for Plaid ( even though I am a big supporter of theirs) doesn’t currently seem like one. I am a member of the electorate just as much as anyone else. The party should ignore the fact that many thousands of people in seats like Bridgend feel like me at their peril…

  15. Interesting stuff, EVEL is a constitutional nightmare, not just for Labour, the tories in alliance with the DUP and Scottish tories are also restricted by it. Westminster needs to seriously decentralise power to Wales, Scotland has some significant powers that the welsh are yet to enjoy and they make a big difference, unfortunately it isn’t in the interest of Westminster centred politics to allow this.

    Quite simply they need to learn to share or the nations of the dis-United Kingdom will go their own way.

    good luck to the welsh indy movement.

  16. The point of the article as I see it is to highlight the fact that Wales’ returning MP’s will not influence the composition of the Government, and that includes returning 40 Plaid Cymru MP’s. Based on the voting track record of Welsh MP’s it’s factually correct to say that PC are consistent in voting for more powers for Wales, and that Labour MP’s less so. It makes the logical argument that only through further devolution and ultimately a federal or independent Wales can have the flavour government its voted for. I don’t see this as a difficult argument but is one which is not made enough.

    Interesting question about why “Welsh” Labour are not making the case for independence. My feeling is that although they are interested in power, they like it on their terms without proper scrutiny, they don’t like their authority being questioned or too much attention drawn to what they do, illustrated by their reticence in pursuing devolution of broadcasting when they had the chance in 1999. Why do they like to operate under the radar, I’ll leave others ponder this question?

  17. The fear of conservatives winning seats in Wales is THE major factor in the minds of many Welsh voters, particularly in the South East that over-rides everything else – no other issue or factor has any relevance in the minds of many. So long as voting Plaid is seen as a risk, a risk that could allow a Tory candidate to succeed, then for many that is a risk too far. If the perception was that Plaid was a shoe-in in Ynys-Mon, then the tactical vote would have swung in their favour, but logic dictates that the incumbent was probably the safer bet. In many ways it is more about who you want to lose, than who you want to win.

    At the end of the day it is about belief that Plaid can and will win a particular seat, before a vote is cast. In a media vacuum, where as many have said, Plaid was airbrushed out, then getting that across is more than a bit of a challenge to put it mildly.

    In the Rhondda and many other places – Plaid and Labour are plying for the same voter – a voter who would never vote Tory – in many ways the issues and other policies are totally irrelevant – the majority would be more than happy with a Plaid victory, but don’t believe it will happen and instinctively feel that Labour is the safest tactical bet.

    Banging the drum on issues like independence might appeal to many voters, but even those strongly in favour would suspect it be a vote loser, perhaps because they know that many of their neighbours, friends or close relatives aren’t that keen on the idea. Even the most die-hard supporters and those that don’t particularly care for the Labour party or it’s candidates backgrounds and opinions might be dragged into the conclusion that the only ones to beat the Tories, which is all that really matters to most, is to back the most electable alterantive. Tactical voting won the day and Plaid has a very big hill to climb – I voted plaid and the candidate was very good, but if I ever thought the Tories might have had a chance then I might have had a lot more to think about.

    In the Rhondda, if the Tory and UKIP votes from 2015 were combined (which didn’t happen) and the Plaid and Labour votes were evenly split, then the most horrific of results was a possibility and people do know that.

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