The latest YouGov poll shows a politically fragmented Wales

Vote Labour sign. Picture by Rossographer (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Ifan Morgan Jones

A new edition of the quarterly Welsh barometer poll has been published, and you can read Professor Roger Scully’s full psephological analysis here. So what does it show?

October 2019’s Welsh Barometer Poll

At Westminster, the Conservatives capture Alyn and Deeside, Bridgend, Cardiff North, Clwyd South, Delyn, Gower, Newport West, Vale of Clwyd, and Wrexham from Labour. Plaid Cymru are projected to win Ynys Môn but lose Ceredigion.

At the Senedd, the Conservatives are projected to gain Cardiff North, Gower, the Vale of Clwyd, the Vale of Glamorgan, and Wrexham; Plaid Cymru are projected to gain Blaenau Gwent, Caerphilly, Cardiff West and Llanelli; while the Liberal Democrats are projected to gain Cardiff Central.

However, Professor Scully does warn that “in these unprecedented political times […]all attempts to use opinion poll numbers to project outcome in term of parliamentary seats should be viewed with very considerable caution.”

One of the paradoxes in Wales is that a few of the areas where the Remain parties are expected to taste success, such as the valleys, tend towards being pro-Brexit, and the pro-Brexit Conservatives are expected to do well in quite pro-Remain areas such as Cardiff North!

It would be rather difficult therefore to tell how these projections would actually play out in individual seats across Wales.

Struggle

So what can we make of this poll?

Not much, you could argue. As a Westminster General Election approaches and the European elections recede, what we’re now seeing – the receding of support for almost single-issue pro-Remain/No Deal parties who would struggle in individual FPTP seats and a bump for the two main parties – seems inevitable.

The headline grabber will, of course, be that the Conservatives are ahead in Wales on the Westminster vote for the second poll in succession, and have doubled their lead from 2 to 4%.

No one has pulled out into a commanding lead, however. The Conservatives’ lead may mostly be because the Leave vote being split two ways and the pro-second referendum vote split two and a half ways between Labour, Plaid and the Liberal Democrats.

The changes here seem to be as a direct result of Boris Johnson’s ability to squeeze the Brexit Party slightly more effectively than Labour, who are at sixes and sevens on Brexit, have managed to squeeze the Remain parties, Plaid Cymru and the Liberal Democrats.

The main difficulty in extrapolating anything from this data, however, is that everything here is subject to change very quickly depending on what happens in the next two weeks regarding Boris Johnson’s negotiations with the EU.

If Wales is taken out of the EU on October 31st with a deal, you would imagine that the appeal of the Brexit Party would become rather more niche than it is at the moment, unless of course the deal is objectively terrible. However, if Boris Johnson fails to leave on October 31st then the Brexit Party could capitalise on that.

If the UK does Leave, one would imagine that the Lib Dems would continue pushing for another referendum, and Plaid Cymru would push for an independence referendum in order to join the EU, so their polling may not be quite as dependent on what happens at the end of the month.

Perhaps the only certainty we can take from this poll, therefore, is that it’s further confirmation that Labour’s vote in Wales is softer than it’s been at any time in 100 years.

That doesn’t mean they won’t bounce back of course. A poll showed the Conservatives ahead in Wales by 10% two months before the 2017 election and Labour eventually won it in Wales by 48.9% to the Conservatives’ 33.6%.

However, the days of being able to stick a red rosette on a donkey are clearly over. Voters are now happy to shop around.

Disappointed

Plaid Cymru won’t be happy to drop a few percentage points, which takes them almost back to their average over the last two decades of devolution.

Despite being the only pro-independence party, they don’t seem to have capitalised at all on the apparent growing support for independence, which would suggest that they are still having trouble convincing people that they are the party for all of Wales and not just Y Fro Gymraeg.

However, this could simply be down to the relentless focus on Westminster over the past three months. General Elections are always tricky for a party that struggle to demonstrate their relevance there.

As with the SNP, if Plaid Cymru do have a breakthrough moment it is always going to be at the Senedd elections. The next are due in 2021, and the Senedd poll suggests that they remain on track for those.

Plaid Cymru’s only realistic aim at the coming General Elections will be not to go backwards in the number of seats, and this poll gives them some hope of doing that.

One thing the poll does show however is that, electorally, some kind of General Election deal between the Liberal Democrats and Plaid Cymru would probably be a good idea.

Unlike in England, here in Wales we have two parties gunning heavily for Remain supporters.

The ideological differences between the parties means that any electoral alliance would be a hard sell (particularly as new Lib Dem leader Jo Swinson seems intent on filling the political territory vacated by Cameron’s Conservatives).

However, under FPTP, unless there’s some accord that split could leave both parties facing disappointment at the ballot box.

With Welsh politics so fragmented, those who could find a way of working together could be on to a winner.

However, this poll shows that Welsh politics probably won’t be put back together again to anyone’s satisfaction until after Brexit is resolved – if it is resolved.

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PenderynErnie The SmallholderEos Pengwernjr humphrysRhosddu Recent comment authors
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Joanne Davies
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Joanne Davies

Business as usual then. Quite happy with seeing the Conservative Party making gains. I’d like to see Plaid and Labour losing as many seats as possible.

There’s a lot of people out there just like me who want to vote for a right-wing, Welsh nationalist party but have nowhere to turn to. Ein Gwlad is collapsing so I see no other choice but to hold my nose and vote Tory.

Eos Pengwern
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Eos Pengwern

‘Ein Gwlad is collapsing’ you say? Where on earth do you get that idea from? As you probably know, we’re officially Gwlad Gwlad now, and are in the process of a rebrand – it seems a good time to do so while Brexit is distracting everyone. We’ve recently had a change of Chair, with Siân Caiach from Llanelli now in that role, and we’re adjusting our posture a little as you’ll hopefully see in an article for this site which is currently in preparation. But if the figures in this article prove anything, it’s that we’re needed more than ever… Read more »

Dewi Evans
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Dewi Evans

Eos bach. I’m not sure that Sian is a team player you know. And we’ve known each over for years. Pretty much on the left when she was in Plaid by the way. Complained that her fellow orthopaedic surgeon was doing private work when the 2 were colleagues in Llanelli.

O.R
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O.R

If we want independence or further powers for the Senedd, the only party that will deliver this is Plaid Cymru. Whether you agree with their policies or not is irrelevant, no other party is interested. We need to decide what we want, – a free Wales or a Tory dictated Englandandwales

Joanne Davies
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Joanne Davies

There won’t really be a Wales under Plaid Cymru o’r Labour. They’re already planning to import the third world by making our country a ‘nation of sanctuary’. Dim diolch.

I read that Gwlad Gwlad West Glamorgan branch has shut down and you’re basically slowly turning into PC. You say you’re not left, not right, just Welsh, well some of us want just right.

Eos Pengwern
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Eos Pengwern

Keep your eyes peeled over the next few weeks. We’re definitely not slowly turning into PC. If anything, we’ll be simultaneously becoming more willing to cooperate with them whilst being even more sharply differentiated from them. We disagree with them on just about everything besides independence itself, but our common foe is the Labour Party. This has been by far the single most destructive influence upon Wales for the past century, yet all the evidence is that most Labour voters won’t touch PC with a bargepole, for all sorts of reasons. We believe that we can do better than them… Read more »

Joanne Davies
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Joanne Davies

I look forward to your proposals.

Dewi Evans
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Dewi Evans

But Joanne, how much to the ‘right’ do you want to go? Insurance driven health service? Tolls on motorways? In or out of EU? Abolish minimum wage? I think some examples are in order.

O.R
Guest
O.R

Typical Wales, squabbling amongst ourselves, becoming ever more divided instead of focusing on the ultimate goal and coming together to achieve that goal – independence. Political allegiances can be sorted afterwards, allthough I m not holding my breath, we have this sorry tendency of cutting our noses off to spite out faces

Joanne Davies
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Joanne Davies

I’m well up for independence but the independence movement seems more concerned with tranny wannies and gender fluidity than independence.

Joanne Davies
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Joanne Davies

You can pour the entire GDP of the UK into the NHS and it still wouldn’t be enough. We should keep some things free such as maternity services and lifesaving operations but I think you should pay a moderate fee for everything else.

Ernie The Smallholder
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Ernie The Smallholder

Joanne, what is the use of any country or union of countries if it is not there to serve the people?
Taxation should be for services such as the NHS.

jr humphrys
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jr humphrys

Don’t you live in England?

Eos Pengwern
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Eos Pengwern

Unsure whether that question is addressed to Joanne or me, but in case you were asking me: yes I do. In fact I was very amused earlier this week when I saw an article claiming “it has emerged…” that I live in Shropshire. Well, whoever wrote that is slow on the uptake, since it has said exactly that on the bottom of every article I’ve posted on the old Ein Gwlad website for the last year! Also, my ffugenw is a pretty massive clue. Though I’m in Wrexham as I write this. I cross that border a dozen times a… Read more »

Ernie The Smallholder
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Ernie The Smallholder

That is why we have the European Union – to allow the all Europeans to travel and trade between member states on an equal basis. All nations are equal with the EU and their representations are based on their populations. The UK, however, is not a federal union – that is every nation within the UK are NOT equal with London government having the power to override local decisions at its will and dictate to the nations and regions of the UK. If the old UK is replaced by a fully federal system of government. Then England must have at… Read more »

Philip Hughes
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Philip Hughes

The Tories are ahead now. But, the election will be fought post Brexit. It will be interesting to see how much support Boris gets when the reality of leaving the EU is obvious.

Ben Angwin
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Ben Angwin

We’ve a fletching but no ash tree.

pete
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pete

The headline for this article on this welsh nationalist blog should be how Plaid Cymru are going nowhere.

huwdavies
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huwdavies

well pete, here’s a shock for you I tend to agree ! Now pick yerself up off the floor and just focus on one sentence from above – ” Professor Scully does warn that “in these unprecedented political times […]all attempts to use opinion poll numbers to project outcome in term of parliamentary seats should be viewed with very considerable caution.” So no-one should get overexcited about these findings. Plaid will struggle because with a few noteable exceptions they don’t talk a plain message that the ordinary people – “man and woman in the street”- can relate to. Instead of… Read more »

pete
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pete

Conservatives rarely get fewer vote in wales than seperatist Plaid

Penderyn
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Penderyn

Can we call conservatives separatists now for leaving EU?

Rhosddu
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Rhosddu

It’s not a Welsh nationalist blog, it’s a blog covering politics and society in contemporary Wales. Occasionally there are articles which discuss the problems the country faces, and for which the only sane solution appears to be independence.

By the way, no-one except the British media uses the term ‘Welsh nationalist’ any more. It’s so 20th Century.

Penderyn
Guest
Penderyn

A lot of ppl use welsh nationalist mainly in a negative way in east wales around me

Glen
Guest
Glen

Cardiff West?
Surely that ship has well and truly sailed.

Rhosddu
Guest
Rhosddu

“Despite being the only pro-independence party, [Plaid Cymru] don’t seem to have capitalised at all on the apparent growing support for independence…” That’s the most telling part of this article; and it’s nothing to do with being identified with the Bro Gymraeg. The chance to win in the East will be squandered unless Plaid ditches the toy politics of the ishoomongers and brings to people’s attention the genuine problems that have been highlighted occasionally on this and other blogs: unwanted housebuilding for commuters east of the border, the decline of the agricultural sector, the blight of tourism, the break-up of… Read more »