Why the latest poll on support for Wales’ lockdown may give Conservatives pause
Considerable attention has been devoted to the findings of the latest YouGov/ITV Wales poll on Welsh independence, here at Nation.Cymru and elsewhere. There is little doubt that the historic highs in support for independence have focused attention on the poll’s findings.
However, the poll also looks in some depth at the politics of Covid-19.
The poll asked respondents about their feeling about the impact of Covid-19 and how worried or not they were about different aspects.
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Respondents who replied don’t know are removed from this table and subsequent tables and graphs.
It isn’t particularly surprising that the majority of the population remain worried about Covid-19 and its impact, but concern is at its highest in relation to the health of family members, while the concern about financial impacts – whether on housing or employment – is considerably lower.
The poll also probes in some depth the response of the respective Governments of the UK and Wales and their leaders to the crisis. Here we find a striking pattern that has been quite transformed over two months.
In late April the poll found that while the performance of both Governments was rated positively, the UK Government was seen to have responded best. But by the first week in June the picture was transformed with a negative shift of almost 50 points in evaluations of the UK Government performance, while the positive views of the Welsh Government were further reinforced.
This pattern was reflected in the polling on the extent to which people trust the UK Government and the Welsh Government to take the right decisions. In the Welsh case over 60% of respondents trust the Welsh Government – the converse is true in the case of the UK Government – over 60% of respondents do not trust the UK Government.
We can also delve a little deeper into these data and compare the views of supporters of different parties. Here we find that though trust in the Welsh Government differs across party, there are substantial numbers of supporters of all parties (including the Conservatives) that trust the Welsh Government to do the right thing.
The picture relating to the UK Government, on the other hand, is highly polarised and partisan, with Conservative supporters trusting the Government, but very few supporters of any other party.
These data can also be explored by looking at the relative ratings of leading Welsh and UK politicians and their handling of the crisis.
In Wales we find that both Drakeford and Gething are rated positively, with Drakeford’s stature having been significantly enhanced during the crisis. The precise opposite is the case in relation to Boris Johnson where his exceptionally positive ratings have seen a significant and negative turnaround. The same pattern is true, albeit a little less dramatically for Matt Hancock.
And finally, the poll asks respondents about the different lockdown regulations in Wales and England, and which regulations voters would prefer to see in place in Wales. The verdict is clear and unambiguous with the Welsh regulations being preferred clearly. The pattern is clear across all groups the Welsh regulations are preferred by Conservative and Labour voters, young and old, leave and remain.
This poll suggests that the politics of Covid-19 is shifting political views and opinions in Wales. One might think given the very clear picture revealed here that the Conservatives would fare poorly in the poll. On the contrary, some 35% of respondents say they would vote Conservative in a Westminster election.
These findings may well give Conservative strategists pause for thought, that while their electoral support remains at a relatively high level historically, the woeful performance of the UK Government must surely be a cause for concern.