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Conservatives need to ‘appeal to Welsh national sentiment’ to win in Wales, academic study finds

14 May 2022 3 minute read
Andrew RT Davies in the Senedd

The Welsh Conservatives can’t win in Wales unless they begin to “appeal to Welsh national sentiment” an academic study has argued.

The study published in Parliamentary Affairs found that the Conservatives appealed primarily to those with a strong British identity at the 2021 Senedd election, but these voters did not make up a large enough share of the population to win the election.

The study said that the “Conservatives do very poorly among strong Welsh/weak British identifiers and far better among strong British/weak Welsh voters”.

“The Conservatives in Wales cannot currently win the support of voters who consider themselves primarily or exclusively Welsh,” it said.

As a result “national identity attachments act as a ceiling that drastically limits the gains that the opposition parties can expect to make at devolved elections”.

The study was carried out by Jac M Larner, Richard Wyn Jones, Daniel Wincott and Ed Gareth Poole of Cardiff University, and Paula Surridge of the University of Bristol.

‘Attrition’

The study said that the Conservatives had found itself appealing mainly to strong British identifiers partly by its “withering criticism” of any deviation by the Welsh Government from the UK Government’s Covid-19 response.

This perception had been strengthened by the Welsh Conservatives’ support for the UK government’s efforts to bypass the Welsh Government with the ‘levelling up’ fund.

“Wrapping themselves both metaphorically and literally in the Union Jack flag while presenting themselves as the only party that genuinely cares about the Union; claiming throughout the pandemic that everything was being better managed in England: the current crop of Welsh Conservatives have abandoned both the symbolism and the substance of the party’s previous efforts to appear more wholeheartedly Welsh,” the paper says.

“There’s clearly an audience for this. The problem for the Welsh Conservatives is that, given the demographics that underpin voting behaviour in Wales, that audience is unlikely ever to be large enough to allow the party to come anywhere close to being able to govern alone.

“Moreover, by cheering on the UK Government efforts to undermine devolution, the party also ensures that it is unacceptable as a coalition partner.

“The question for the party is, therefore, does it continue in the same vein, hoping that some combination of attrition and demographic change will serve to fundamentally alter its electoral prospect? Or can it yet conceive of another approach?”


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32 Comments
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GW Atkinson
GW Atkinson
4 months ago

English nationalists will never change.

Y Cymro
Y Cymro
4 months ago

There is nothing Welsh about the Welsh Conservatives. Yes,
a contradiction seeing they have Welsh in their name. But it’s true. Their loyalty is with England not Wales. End of.

Welsh_Siôn
Welsh_Siôn
4 months ago
Reply to  Y Cymro

The clues are even more apparent in the Welsh version of their name: ‘Ceidwadwyr Cymreig’.

They are neither ‘Ceidwadwyr Cymraeg’ nor ‘Ceidwadwyr Cymru’.

The other parties, at least do acknowledge the nation: Llafur Cymru, Democratiaid Rhyddfrydol Cymru, and of course, Plaid Cymru.

Being only ‘Welsh in nature’ (‘Cymreig’) the ‘Welsh Tories’ (Branch Office of London HQ) effectively ignore our country and our language. Par for the course.

Is it any wonder that people like me won’t vote for them? And I’m only considering this from a linguistic viewpoint. Don’t get me started on their policies and certain individuals!

Y Cymro
Y Cymro
4 months ago
Reply to  Welsh_Siôn

Yes. And if the Welsh Conservatives were a stick of rock they’d have England running through it not Wales.

I.Humphrys
I.Humphrys
4 months ago
Reply to  Y Cymro

Very good one! Others please file that.
Someone get that pink rock printed.

Last edited 4 months ago by I.Humphrys
Richard
Richard
4 months ago
Reply to  Y Cymro

You will find ( with some difficulty currently ) that there is a long historical strand of Conservatives in Wales who in their way love Wales and our language. To paint them with the same brush may be a easy take currently due to the rightward brexit rush to fend off UKIP etc….however the tradition of Peter Thomas, David Hunt through to Wyn Roberts, Johnathan Evans, David Melding and Glyn Davies etc continues to this day. Their trench fight to develop their Wales brand and structure against the likes of David Jones on the northern coast and David Davies in… Read more »

Last edited 4 months ago by Richard
John
John
4 months ago
Reply to  Richard

Dim gobaith i RT – syth mewn i’r tân poeth!

Richard
Richard
4 months ago
Reply to  John

Ha Ha 😂

Owain Morgan
Owain Morgan
4 months ago
Reply to  Richard

The problem fundamentally is that they were or are individuals, but the corporate body that is the Tories is pro English and anti devolution. They cannot conceive of even a Federal United Kingdom, let alone a Coalition of Nation states in these Islands. They have and always will feel that a minority has the right to dictate to a majority, while ignoring all other minorities.

Kerry Davies
Kerry Davies
4 months ago

With over 20% of the electorate, up to 40% in parts of Powys and Monmouthshire, who are English born, the Tories have their very own “British” constituency. Moving to a more Welsh culture could very well lose them as much as they could possibly gain.

Marc
Marc
4 months ago

“ The Welsh Conservatives can’t win in Wales unless they begin to “appeal to Welsh national sentiment” an academic study has argued”. In other words the Welsh Conservatives will never, ever win in Wales

Welsh_Siôn
Welsh_Siôn
4 months ago
Reply to  Marc

Last time they did was 1878, I seem to remember.

I was knee high to a grasshopper, then.

Arwyn
4 months ago

The Nick Bourne project has long since been abandoned. The Andrew RTD2 project is mindless. A case of huffing and puffing until he falls over. A man of no political merit whatsoever leading a cohort of headbanging British Nationalist zealots. Worse than useless.

John Williams
John Williams
4 months ago
Reply to  Arwyn

Nick Bourne was a realist. He accepted that the Tories had to start buying into Welsh society, culture and so forth. That was abandoned as the post-Bourne Tories wrapped themselves with the Union flag and objected to any positive initiatives designed to assist our people. This attitude is personified by Andrew RT Davies and Simon Hart.

Welsh_Siôn
Welsh_Siôn
4 months ago
Reply to  John Williams

Glad everyone seems to have forgotten Rod Richards … 😀

Richard
Richard
4 months ago
Reply to  Welsh_Siôn

Who ..? Pwy..?

John
John
4 months ago
Reply to  Welsh_Siôn

Gwared da ar ei ôl.

Gareth
Gareth
4 months ago

Judging by the statements the Tory’s here have made this last 18 months, they would be better advised to pack up and move to England, where, if you are to believe what they have said, is the land of milk and honey, with the best of everything, while we here live in misery in a Marxist state ruled by a dictator. A look at some of their tweets will confirm this eg @ Soviet Wales etc. Poor dabs.

John Davies
John Davies
4 months ago

Welsh Conservatives owe their primary loyalty to the union with England, a nation which over the years has not been very kind to us and still tries to look down on us, though heaven knows what basis they imagine they have for doing so. They are an odd political entity. In a way their mere existence surprises me.

Quornby
Quornby
4 months ago

Why has Davies got a ventriloquist dummy in the photo?

SundanceKid
SundanceKid
4 months ago
Reply to  Quornby

Maybe the dummy is the one controlling RT Davies…

Welsh_Siôn
Welsh_Siôn
4 months ago
Reply to  Quornby

Dummy and Dummier.

SundanceKid
SundanceKid
4 months ago

They can’t do that. Their loyalty is to the union and they have their established “fan base” here. They will remain a political outlier in Wales.

Julie Jones
Julie Jones
4 months ago

As Wales becomes more Anglo-Brit, which it will do through the influx of retirees, good lifers, eco-opportunists, second home owners, etc., then the Tory votes will invariably increase. Dampening down Welsh identity is crucial for the Conservatives, as they seek to preserve their lopsided Union (or, at the very least, ensure that Wales clings on to London, when Belfast and Edinburgh say goodbye).

SundanceKid
SundanceKid
4 months ago
Reply to  Julie Jones

It may become harder to do that now with more councils willing to implement harsher council tax premiums on second homes etc and we are already seeing a rebellion against the influx in the form of Plaid and Labour strongholds becoming more entrenched as a result.

So, while Tory votes may increase, I’m not so pessimistic anymore that Wales is going to become Tory or relinquish its’ identity anytime soon.

Last edited 4 months ago by SundanceKid
hdavies15
hdavies15
4 months ago

“The Welsh Conservatives can’t win in Wales unless they begin to “appeal to Welsh national sentiment” an academic study has argued.” That horse has long since bolted so no point shutting the stable. More likely the Tory Party in Wales will work to bring in as many colonists as possible, tilt the balance further away from anything remotely native and work towards total assimilation thus annihilating our identity. Now I know that many if not most modern day separatists are very wary of the identity word but it has to play a part in what differentiates us. That doesn’t exclude… Read more »

Steve Duggan
Steve Duggan
4 months ago

Hmmm, it looks like they have a big problem then as they hate anything Welsh.

Cathy Hill
Cathy Hill
4 months ago

Hilarious, because it’s one of the things they can never do. Conservatism is about conserving the hierarchy in England and leeching off that power for personal enrichment. A fact which has been brought into stark and very sharp focus by the Westminster mob and the way RTD-Toop carry on….. The Ukipification of Boris Johnson’s Conservatives, Muscular Unionism, RT Davis’s political ineffectiveness, the handling of the pandemic in Cymru compared to England are all factors that have made many at least less disagreeable to independence in Cymru…. I hope to see the Welsh Tories go the same way they did in… Read more »

I.Humphrys
I.Humphrys
4 months ago

We need a genuine Welsh conservative party of our own. This one, and their support, is like an arrogant army of occupation really.

Kurt C
Kurt C
4 months ago

No chance, we don’t want English Imperialism and b******s. We are traditionally Liberal.

arthur owen
4 months ago

Don’t the authors think that Welsh conservatism is amply served by the Labour Party and the Party of Wales?

Gareth Thomas
Gareth Thomas
4 months ago

After the 1955 election a report by Enoch Powell into disappointing Tory results concluded that they were perceived as ‘the English party in Wales’. Nothing has changed

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