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Almost half pro-independence voters chose Labour at Senedd election

09 Jun 2021 3 minutes Read
Mark Drakeford. Picture by CPMR – Conference of Peripheral Maritime Regions (CC BY-SA 2.0).

Almost half of pro-independence voters chose Labour in the recent Senedd elections, according to the findings of a new study.

A team of academics including, Professor Richard Wyn Jones, Dr Jac Larner and Paula Surridge, revealed data from a major study into voter attitudes during the devolved elections in May, at a webinar hosted by Cardiff University’s Wales Governance Centre.

The research from the Welsh Election Study 2021 found that out of voters who said they would vote ‘Yes’ in an independence referendum, which is 28% of the sample, 45.8% voted for Plaid Cymru, and 41.7% voted for Welsh Labour.

The numbers of pro-independence voters opting for the Welsh Conservatives, the Green Party and the Liberal Democrats were negligible.

According to Dr Jac Larner, record levels of support for Welsh independence are being driven mostly by voters who are opting for Welsh Labour at Senedd elections. At previous elections Plaid Cymru has attracted a far higher percentage of independence voters.

A wordcloud analysis of themes associated by voters with the campaigns of specific parties shows that independence did cut through in Plaid Cymru’s messaging, but the wider data also reveal that independence was not a priority issue for voters.

Dr Jac Larner said: “Support for Welsh independence is at record levels thanks to Welsh Labour voters, rather than because of Plaid Cymru converting new voters to their cause. Despite favouring a unionist party, a growing share of Labour voters are saying they would vote Yes in a referendum.

“This is linked to those Labour voters feeling more politically Welsh, trusting the Welsh Government ahead of Westminster, and supporting Mark Drakeford’s leadership.

‘Counter-intuitive’

He added: “It might seem counter-intuitive for independence supporters to vote for a unionist party, but the answer to this lies in the fact that independence is not in itself a priority issue for those voters compared to supporting a party that is seen as standing up for Wales more generally.

“Plaid Cymru did emphasise independence at this campaign and voters recognised that.

“This did not lead to any growth in the party’s vote, and had the effect of rearranging support for the party. It might partly explain why Plaid bulked up their support in their existing heartland areas, but went backwards in some more traditionally Labour areas.

“This might leave some room for Plaid Cymru to target pro-independence Labour supporters, although doing so would require an understanding that independence is not in itself the salient issue for those voters.

“Even though independence isn’t a priority in Wales, it is now firmly part of the landscape and is linked to questions around national identity and social values.”

Further data from the Welsh Election Study remains to be published, with the Wales Governance Centre saying that more events will be held during the year. The Centre added that a video of today’s webinar will be published by Cardiff University next week.

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Shan Morgain
5 months ago

Yes that’s me . –  Labour voters feeling more politically Welsh, trusting the Welsh Government ahead of Westminster, and supporting Mark Drakeford’s leadership. Drakeford speaks of Home Rule, which is excellent; internal Welsh government on all domestic matters. This could serve as a transition stage to full independence. I dream of a Celtic Federation but am too old to see it happen.

Stephen Owen
Stephen Owen
5 months ago
Reply to  Shan Morgain

Da iawn 😊

Dafydd Evans
Dafydd Evans
5 months ago

Yes would love to see a celtic federation – had enough of being ignored, bullied, forgotten by Westminster.

j humphrys
j humphrys
5 months ago

One of my brothers has always been a Labour militant, and a couple of months ago mailed “just joined Yes Cymru” (few words as per usual). You could have knocked me down with a Labour pamphlet!

Ernie The Smallholder
Ernie The Smallholder
5 months ago

Dafydd Wigley, former leader of Plaid Cymru made a good analysis of the way the Welsh election voted. It was a covid election and since Wales came through the pandemic better than the other British nations the Welsh government at Cardiff Bay took the credit, even though Plaid Cymru contributed to the success of the Welsh NHS throughout. Mark Drakeford appeared as a defender of Welsh interests, although he admits to being an unionist. With recovery Labour’s fortune will depend on how much Mr Drakeford and since he indicated that he will retire from FM during this new term, how… Read more »

R W
R W
5 months ago

Some excellent analysis which I completely agree with. The true test may well come at the next Senedd elections.

paul
paul
5 months ago

Why didn’t they Vote for Plaid then? They must have dropped a very strong Stupid Bomb in Wales. We now know the epicentre of the bomb drop was in Merthyr. But maybe more bombs were dropped that we don’t yet know about. If you want independence then Vote for the Independence Party, which is Plaid Cymru !! For F-cks Sake a child of 5 would tell you that. Aaaaaargh. Drakeford is a Unionist and will never support Independence.

Charles Evans
Charles Evans
5 months ago
Reply to  paul

Classic response from a fundamentalist Welsh separatist here. “They didn’t vote for my favourite Independence party – they must all be stupid!”.

It’s always amazed by how much contempt the rabid Welsh Nationalists have for their fellow Welsh citizens. Why be an independent country if you’ll be stuck in it with people you feel nothing but hatred for?

Wrexhamian
Wrexhamian
5 months ago
Reply to  Charles Evans

1/ What exactly was the “classic response”?

2/ There was no reference to Welsh people being “stupid” for not voting for Plaid Cymru. It wouldn’t really be a vote winner, would it?

Last edited 5 months ago by Wrexhamian
Charles Evans
Charles Evans
5 months ago
Reply to  Wrexhamian

Why didn’t they Vote for Plaid then? They must have dropped a very strong Stupid Bomb in Wales. We now know the epicentre of the bomb drop was in Merthyr First three lines of the comment I’m replying to. Can’t you read? “paul” is calling the people of Wales (particularly Merthyr) stupid for not voting Plaid. It’s a classic response, because it’s a common refrain of some of the hardcore Independence fanatics – calling anyone who doesn’t want Welsh Independence stupid. You only need to browse the comments on this website to see that. Look, there’s nothing wrong with wanting… Read more »

Wrexhamian
Wrexhamian
5 months ago
Reply to  Charles Evans

Ah, you were commenting on a comment, not on the article; in which case your quote is accurate. Certainly there are many factors at play that denied Plaid Cymru electoral success in May, but the stupidity of the electorate is not one of them. I think, however, that the use of the ‘S’ word to explain the party’s relatively poor performance in the election is nowhere near as common, or “classic”, as you allege. In fact, I’m hard pressed to think of another instance of it. Also, there is no reference to the English in the comment in question. I… Read more »

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