UKIP put Conservatives in Welsh shade

Gareth Hughes analyses the interstices of this week’s poll on the outlook for the five parties

All graphs and charts in this post can be enlarged by clicking on them

UKIP are on a roll in Wales. That’s what the latest YouGov poll for ITV predicts. Their success bites into the Tory vote reducing them to seven Assembly Members, half the number they have now.

The poll is also good news for Labour they regain their dominance of the Welsh political scene. In Westminster elections Labour are up 15 per cent from their general election results. According to the ITV’s poll they get 51 per cent (Graph 1).

Graph 1

But for European elections Labour goes up by an astonishing 24 per cent. If this were to be replicated in next year’s election they would get three out of the four Welsh European seats with the Tories getting the remaining one (Graph 2).

Graph 2


The poll data also show’s Labour gaining a majority over all other parties in the Assembly – albeit by one vote, but enough to prevent them having to accommodate the other parties to get their budgets through. This year they had to do a deal with Plaid, last year it was the Liberal Democrats. Labour gain four per cent in the constituency section compared with 2011 but do loose out on the regional vote (Graph 3). In the regional list they are down by 11 per cent. Unusually the pattern for regional votes differ from that of the constituencies.

Graph 3

Despite Plaid being down 2 per cent in the Assembly constituency section they are up 8 per cent on the regional list. This puts them comfortably back as the second party in the Assembly and the title of being the official opposition (Graph 4).

Graph 4

But there is a sting in the tail for them. Leanne Wood having decided to give her place up on the regional list to fight a constituency would on this poll data be out on her ear.  This would trigger a leadership election in Plaid’s ranks, as their rules say that the leader has to come from the ranks of Assembly Members.

However, whichever way you look at it, it is the Conservatives that have most to worry about in the poll. They loose their status of being official opposition in the Assembly. According to the figures they would be down to seven members, just two more than UKIP which would make a breakthrough to the Assembly with five members. That’s one more than the Welsh Liberal Democrats which would go down one to four AMs (see Graph 5). 

Graph 5


The new chamber of the Assembly would look very different to the current one. Labour would have the majority with 31. Plaid Cymru would be the Official Opposition with 13 seats. The Tories would be the third party with seven, followed by UKIP with 5 and the Welsh Liberal Democrats with four.

But there is a disappointment to all the anti European politicians. There is no appetite to leave the EU in Wales (see Graph6). This could raise a very interesting constitutional issue if England decided to vote to leave in such a referendum.

Graph 6

There is also another irony in the figures. UKIP was opposed to the Welsh Assembly for a number of years. Indeed they wanted it scrapped. However, if this poll is right, they are set to become a player in the institution they once wanted rid of. Yet, at the same time the people of Wales are rejecting their main raison d’être by voting to stay in Europe. By gum, politics is a strange business.

Gareth Hughes is a political commentator who blogs here

7 thoughts on “UKIP put Conservatives in Welsh shade

  1. It’s beginning to look like a two-horse race in Wales: vote Labour and you know what you get; vote Plaid not because it’s distinguished from the other three, but simply because you don’t vote Labour and can’t bear to vote LibDem or Conservative. The die-hards simply stay where they are.

    This seems to provide two opportunities – Labour should seize the chance to do things Wales’ way; Plaid should take a breather and get back to its roots – if it can find them. Then we might not only have a two-horse race, but a genuine choice in Welsh politics.

    As for the also rans? I’d move to England…

    Perhaps the best news is Wales’ continuing support for the EU. Again the government should build on that – push the envelope of understanding. And, like the rest of Europe, put up more flags so we know where we are, part of the future of Europe.

  2. Those list results (in particular) look highly suspect to me. The difference in Labour + Plaid votes between the constituencies and lists would seem to imply that there’s been some sudden understanding that voting Labour on the lists is pointless – and I’d guess most Lab voters would prefer to vote Plaid as second choice than anyone else. But never before has this been reflected in the assembly results – Labour have always earned thousands of votes on the lists despite the fact there is little to be gained for Labour by voting thus. Why should this suddenly have changed?

    I suspect that something in the wording of this poll indicated that the List choice was a “second choice”, or that in some other respect you weren’t allowed to vote for the same party in both.

  3. I would be very interested to find out why, it seems, Welsh voters are abandoning the Conservatives when it comes to the Assembly. If I remember rightly, last year’s poll also showed a simular trend. What is going wrong for the Welsh Conservatives?

  4. The growth of support for UKIP in Wales probably mirrors the ‘reasons’ found in England as the voters are very similar in both countries, however much the nationalist’s try to ‘Welshify’ us out of history. Besides the European issue, there is the seemingly continual scepticism about the practical results of devolution amongst centre-right people I know and respect. The Conservatives in Wales seem to have joined the Welsh ‘chattering classes’, and with Mr. Melding have someone who has climbed to the heady heights of Deputy Presing Officer no less, and writing about a FEDERAL UK, which is unnacceptable to conservative leaning people. We are quite a way from elections and much can change in that time, and particularly the Welsh NHS changes/education and general standard of public services which will affect public perception of devolution and voting patterns. Clearly to reduce the impact of PC the centre right parties must ‘get their act together’, and form a unified front against nationalist/socialism. The aim of the later group is to eventually marginalise us from economic reality, whilst feathering their own nest very nicely!

  5. Howell Morgan must live in Cloud Cookoo land. England I believe it’s called.

    It’s Nationalist to “Anglicise” the Welsh (real name British) out of history. But you seem to thing that is acceptable. Unionism is the most narrow minded and intollerant Nationalism there is.

    As for UKIP they are just the BNP in blazers. The Conservatives are the BNP in suits; Labour are the BNP in flat caps and the Lib Dems are the BNP in sandels.

  6. The Plaid regional surge has happened in two polls now. The only feasible explanation is that it’s a positive reaction from soft Labour voters to Leanne Wood. What makes me sceptical is how have enough voters heard of her yet to make that decision? With no disrespect to Wood, that’s not how politics works in Wales, and the BBC ICM poll presumably shows she’s still quite unknown. Clearly she is an asset to Plaid but a rising Labour tide still puts Plaid seats at risk, even where the Plaid vote increases or stays still. It’s also surely not a coincidence that Carwyn Jones is considered plaid-lite (in a good way). Remember that BBC clip of a nice old lady in Llanelli market thinking he was Plaid? I just think that “Welsh” Labour understands now that becoming a softer version of Plaid is a better tactic than becoming a rejection of Plaid. Scottish Labour infamously never came to the same conclusion.

  7. Interesting figures, but I wouldn’t make too many predictions about the result of the next elections (either to Westminster or Cardiff Bay). Remember the last time we were in this position – 1980/81/82, a first term Tory government and a new party picking up protest votes and polls predicting a landslide SDP victory in 1983.

    The political landscape may have changed dramatically by the next Assembly elections. For all we know Scotland could have voted to leave the UK in 2014 and could be on the verge of independence; Labour could be in power in London making all the unpopular austerity decisions meaning that Welsh labour won’t be able to run on a ‘Standing Up For Wales’ platform. We could even be in the middle of a referendum campaign on leaving the EU.

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