The latest Welsh Political Barometer findings on how people are intending to vote in May’s general election are good news for both Labour and the Conservatives, but provide rather poorer tidings for UKIP and the Liberal Democrats.
When asked by YouGov how they would vote in a general election, our respondents gave the following responses:
Labour: 39% (+2)
Conservatives: 25% (+2)
UKIP: 14% (-2)
Plaid Cymru: 10% (no change)
Greens: 6% (-2)
Liberal Democrats: 5% (-1)
Others: 1% (no change)
If we apply uniformly across Wales the swings implied by this poll from the May 2010 general election result, we see the following outcome in terms of seats:
Labour: 28 seats (holding the 26 they won in 2010, and gaining both Cardiff Central from the Liberal Democrats and Cardiff North from the Conservatives);
Conservatives: 8 seats (losing Cardiff North to Labour, but gaining Brecon & Radnor from the Liberal Democrats);
Plaid Cymru: 3 seats (no change);
Liberal Democrats: 1 seat (losing both Cardiff Central and Brecon & Radnor, and holding on only to Ceredigion).
There are a number of significant features about these findings. A notable feature of Welsh opinion polls throughout 2013 and 2014 was the steady erosion of Labour support. This is the third poll published in Wales this year, and all three have indicated clearly that this decline in Labour support for the general election has been halted – and may even, to some extent, have been reversed. Labour are now back above the vote share which they won in Wales in May 2010.
The Conservatives will also be heartened by these findings. Their poll rating is now nearly up to the level of support they won in the 2010 election, and they currently appear on course to pretty much hold their ground in Wales at this general election. That is a much better outcome for them than looked likely some 12-18 months ago, and strikingly good for the lead party of a government that has spent five years implementing a programme of austerity.
While Plaid Cymru are holding their ground in this poll, the same cannot be said for either UKIP or the Liberal Democrats. This is the second Barometer poll in a row that shows UKIP slipping two points in their general election vote intention. Taken along with the recent very disappointing poll for the party in the Vale of Glamorgan constituency, there does seem to now be evidence that the UKIP bandwagon in Wales has, for the moment at least, gone into reverse.
While the poll shows only a very modest decline for the Liberal Democrats, well within the ‘margin of error’, to be polling at only one-quarter of their 2010 vote share, and actually to be slipping back in the wake of their recent Welsh party conference, must be disappointing for the party. Five years on from Clegg-mania, the Lib-Dems are in sixth place in Wales. Indeed, further bad news for the Liberal Democrats comes from an additional question in the poll, which asked respondents to rate on a 0-10 scale (where 0 means ‘definitely will not vote’ and 10 means ‘definitely will vote’) how likely they were to vote in the general election. Among supporters of the other main parties there were no substantial differences in the proportion saying that they would definitely vote. But supporters of the Liberal Democrats were not only rather few in number; even those few who remain appear somewhat less certain to participate in the election.
I’ll be back later with more discussion of other results from the poll, including some very interesting figures on National Assembly voting intention.