Almost half of converts to Welsh independence voted Labour in Senedd constituencies, research shows
Almost half of those who decided to back Welsh independence since the previous Senedd election in 2016 voted Labour in the constituencies in the 2021 election, new research has shown.
Plaid Cymru leader Adam Price made appealing to independence supporters a key plank of his campaign, but 47% of those won over by the arguments for independence between 2016 and 2021 voted Labour instead.
Plaid Cymru had better luck on the regional list where 51% of those who changed their minds from opposing to backing independence between 2016 and 2021 voted for them.
According to the research by PhD student James Griffiths of the University of Manchester, recent converts to independence now make up a majority of the movement.
He said that the major difference between independence supporters and non-supporters were attitudes towards Brexit.
“There are some slight linguistic and gender differences, with a slightly higher proportion of those who have become more supportive of independence being women and fluent Welsh speakers,” he said.
“Yet, the major differences emerge in Brexit positions. Converts to independence are far more likely to have voted Remain in the 2016 EU referendum than those who continue to oppose independence.
“These results are consistent with the rise in support for independence within the EU, which suggests that Brexit is pushing some individuals in Wales away from the UK. Levels of university education are also far higher among independence converts, which probably reflects the connection between Remain voting and education.”
The report noted that whether someone felt Welsh, British or a mixture of both was also a predictor of their support for independence, but that new converts to the independence cause had a stronger British identity.
“Those who do not support independence, and those who have become less supportive of independence, tend to prioritise their British identity and report stronger English identity,” James Griffiths said.
“Converts to independence tend to prioritise their Welsh identity, but their British identity is far stronger than that of more long-standing independence supporters.
“Similarly, those who have become more supportive tend to report similar (and strong) British and Welsh identities (albeit their British identity is slightly lower than the less supportive).”
The results overall suggested that converting to independence did not mean that individuals refused a British identity or voted for pro-independence political parties.
“Understanding why these patterns occur will be crucial for analysing changing attitudes towards constitutional preference in Wales,” he added.
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