Two to one ... well, very nearly

The latest YouGov poll for ITV Wales shows that 55% will vote Yes in the referendum on primary lawmaking powers, as opposed to 28% who will vote No ... a big increase on the previous figure.


It's excellent, though not really unexpected, news. The margin in favour has been growing steadily for several years now. The only thing that's changed in the past few months is the certainty that we will get the referendum before the next Assembly elections. With the Westminster election out of the way, minds are beginning to focus on this as the next political campaign that will be fought in Wales, and I think that explains why the Yes vote is growing stronger.


The party ratings are:

Labour ... 42%
Plaid ... 20%
Conservative ... 19%
LibDem ... 12%

Obviously Labour will be delighted at this, but I don't think they should expect this surge to carry over until next June (I'm now fairly certain that the Assembly election will be on 2 June ... it's something I've been calling for, and it seems that it now has broad cross-party support). That's because the biggest issue in politics at present is the programme of cuts being implemented by the ConDem coalition across the UK as a whole, therefore the political focus is still very much on UK matters.

It's fairly obvious that opinion in Wales is going to swing away from the Tories and LibDems as a result of the cuts in services ... and that it will hit the LibDems more than the Tories simply because Tory supporters had no illusions that their party would do anything else, whereas those that voted LibDem would not have expected their leaders to have bought into the Tory agenda with such relish.

That means that people are likely to turn instead to the parties that wanted less savage cuts and a greater emphasis on taxation as a fairer way to cut the deficit. But on the Westminster stage and in all the UK media, Labour is the only party that isn't Tory or LibDem, so they are presented as the only alternative. I think that best explains why Labour's support has soared to 42%.


But that's only a snapshot for now. For the focus is set to shift to Welsh issues, although not perhaps until the summer is over. Come September, we'll have a much clearer idea of how the cuts will affect us, and attention will focus on how we protect ourselves from them by making the best use of less money. 62% of us already think that most of the political decisions that affect our lives should be made in the Assembly rather than at Westminster (24%) or Local Authority level (7%) ... so the call for more responsibility to be devolved to the Assembly will only grow stronger. In fact I think that by the time we get to campaigning in earnest for the referendum the focus will have moved on from the administrative wastefulness of LCOs, and we will instead be asking why we do not have the same fiscal powers that are going to be given to Scotland, rather than concentrating only on why we were never given the basic lawmaking powers that the Scottish Parliament had from day one.

My advice to any Yes campaign would be to focus on that. To look to get the same devolved status within the UK as Scotland and Northern Ireland already have, and regard the hurdle that Peter Hain put in our way as something to be trampled down as we move on towards more fair and equal treatment. Why should we in Wales put up with less?


So from the Autumn onwards the focus will be on Welsh affairs, and in February and March will be at fever pitch as we work towards the poll on 31 March (trust me on this one). But in April and May the focus will continue to be on Wales, although this time on which parties offer the best programme for government in the Assembly.

The prolonged focus on Wales means that Plaid Cymru would have to run a disastrously inept campaign not to come out well. First, we will have delivered on the main reason for going into coalition with Labour ... a successful referendum. The simple fact is that we got Labour to realize that Peter Hain's Government of Wales Act was not something that would last for a generation, and that he was completely wrong to say the referendum could not be won. Second, we have demonstrated in our three years of government that our ideas work. The inventiveness and quick footedness of our policies has left Labour diehards complaining that we have "run rings around them" in government.

It will be fascinating to see how this will play out in our respective election campaigns. I'm sure Labour will want to fight the election in the same old tribal way. But they will not be able to use their traditional "it's us or the Tories" mantra. They will have to acknowledge that a lot of what has made One Wales successful has been because they worked with us. I'm happy to acknowledge that Labour have some good ideas, so I'd expect Plaid to campaign in a very different way. For us, it will be about differences of emphasis rather than fundamentally opposite views. It will be about collaboration rather than confrontation.

But more importantly, it will be about Wales ... and this is where we are certain to be on more solid ground than Labour. For our policies are designed around Wales and worked out to suit Wales ... while Labour's policies will always be designed around what will win them votes in England so that they can get back into power at Westminster. In short, the immediately preceding referendum will put the spotlight firmly on what is good for Wales; and that will sink Labour's support back down towards the 30% mark, while pushing Plaid's support up.

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Anonymous said...

Who do You Gov Poll?
Because where I live, work and meet peoples confidence in the NAW and the WAG could not be lower and no-one would vote for these institutions to have any more powers whatsoever.
Rather the reverse - many would only vote to scrap devolution!
Wales is too small - and run by less than impressive individuals - to deal with the desperate issues that it faces.

Anonymous said...

The Yes campaign should be about the sentiment of belonging to Wales and wanting Wales to be recognised as a nation. People who want a better and stronger Assembly could be Tory as much as Labour or Plaid. I saw Paul Davies AM Tory on CF99 last night and he's in favour of a yes vote. We need people like him and many more, so, lets not fall into the Labour class jingoism anti-Tory rant. The Assembly is for all not just self-styled class warriors.

If Plaid want to gain votes then it has to make the case that the economic mess we're in now is Labour's making.

The UK is the 5th biggest economy in the World, if Labour had followed different economic policies when it was in power and not make the City and the UK the bling capital of the world it could have changed the world economic climate. After all, this is what Labour and other British nationalists have used to tell Plaid of the benefits of being part of a big, major economy and country. However, Labour decided to create ac economic housing bubble, attacked any one who questioned the effects of that - be they Welsh nationalist local councillors or others. Labour stalled the Housing ELCO for two years too.

By constantly attacking the Tory policies (who believes that Labour wouldn't also be making the same cuts now were they in power?) Plaid are letting Labour off the hook.

Plaid need a new narrative. Attacking Tories is only strengthening Labour's narrative. This is Labour's economic mess and nobody else.


Anonymous said...

"who believes that Labour wouldn't also be making the same cuts now were they in power?"

Loads of people, unfortunately, even though you're correct.

A more nationalist narrative is also what Plaid needs, to not be scared of its own purpose, but that would inevitably contain an anti-Tory message seeing as they are currently ruling over us- without a Welsh mandate.

Anonymous said...

Wales 'too small'??? you mean smaller than northern ireland which has lawmaking powers???....northern ireland in fact being considerably smaller than wales of course. No wonder the anti-devolutionists are trailing so badly in the polls if crass ignorant statements like that is the best they can come up with....

as for people in wales wanting to 'scrap the welsh assembly' other recent pols have shown this issue is well and truly 'settled' with barely more than ten percent of people in wales wanting to see the assembly abolished and wales reurned to the dark days of direct rule by westminister.

leigh richards

MH said...

Anon 08:08, I'm delighted to hear that you can't accept what the polls are consistently saying. Even if what you say about the people you live with, work with and meet were true, Wales is very much bigger than what you can see with your head buried in the sand. Leigh is right about you.


Boyo, I'd be very wary about trying to fight the Assembly election by saying, "This is Labour's economic mess and nobody else's." If you care about principle, it simply isn't that black and white. As I said in my Budget post:

Nobody doubts that we are in a financial hole. The Tory and LibDem mantra is that it is a hole of Labour's making, but that's just a soundbite. I think it's a hole that Labour could have done more to help us avoid—by less reckless spending and by better management of the economy and regulation of the banks—but the main reason for the mess is that the Western World had a banking crisis which involved governments having to bail out the banks to stop them collapsing, and then pump cheap money into them to persuade them to start trading again, most of which they pocketed. Nobody can blame Labour for all of that ... not least because the other parties would have done pretty much the same.

But if principle doesn't work, just be pragmatic. Most people in Wales do not believe that it's all Labour's fault (the point that Anon 10:56 has just made). If 43% of us already believe the ConDem cuts have gone too far, just wait until those cuts begin to bite in Wales. If we start chanting the mantra being put out by the Tories and LibDems, we will suffer for it in the same way that they will.

I think the key to doing well in the Assembly elections is not to fight the other parties, but to fight for Wales. That means working with our opponents when they have good ideas. There's a wing of the Tory Party that wants to see greater fiscal autonomy in Wales, so we should not be afraid to acknowledge it and work with people like Dylan Jones-Evans. Even though the LibDems abandoned STV for Westminster, we might still be able to work with them in Wales to implement STV for the Senedd and in local government ... and (if they still believe it) to replace Council Tax with Local Income Tax. But on many, if not most, issues we have more common ground with Labour ... or at least with Welsh Labour as opposed to Labour in Westminster. If Welsh Labour can finally find its distinctive voice to fight for Wales rather than continue to be sucked under by the values of the Labour Party of middle England, we will be able to work even more closely with them. Make no mistake, Wales is going to suffer badly under these cuts. With our communities up against the wall, this is a time to build consensus about how best to defend ourselves from their worst effects. It means making more decisions that affect Wales in Wales ... which is what Plaid Cymru is all about.

Such a strategy for the election will wrong foot our opponents, but we will be able to carry it off because we will all have to unite about what matters to Wales as we campaign in the referendum ... and that is what makes it natural for Plaid to continue in that vein in the campaign for the election to the Senedd.

Anonymous said...

MH - OK so 42% don't blame Labour, may as well go home then.

But then Plaid are also giving the story that it's the 'bad bankers' and 'nasty Tories' and 'world wide recession' about (much of which is true of course) but people go, oh, OK, we'll vote Labour again. This is Labour's recession. If Plaid can't get that truth over then it's not going to win votes. The left wing rhetoric is just water to Labour's mill.


Everytime Plaid criticise the Tories and give the impression that there need be no belt tightening, people take it as taking Labour off the hook.

Yes, be ready to work with any one. But after seeing Labour playing the 'orange card' (i.e. Welsh language scaremongering) in Cardiff I just don't trust them.

Anonymous said...

More good news on the Yes vote - but expect a lot more squabbling to break out - more so with Labour than the Tories. But I am more concerned with the LDs - although their official line is committed, many of their activists are not.


MH said...

Full data for the YouGov survey is here. The Yes / No percentages are:

Plaid ... 86% / 9%
LibDem ... 62% / 26%
Labour ... 61% / 22%
Con ... 33% / 54%

But these figures are set against Westminster voting intentions, not Assembly. So the survey does show the LibDems fairly solidly in favour, although I share Pen's concern about how flaky LibDem supporters can be.

Another remarkable thing is the very high percentage (20% and 21%) of LibDem voters for Westminster who will switch to vote Plaid at Assembly level. It would appear that those who boosted the LibDems in places like Ceredigion might well vote Plaid at Assembly level. Perhaps the logic is that they can't bring themselves to vote for either Labour or the Tories; voted LibDem for Westminster because they thought only the LibDems could make a difference there; but will vote Plaid for the Senedd because Plaid can make a difference here that the LibDems can't.

Any thoughts, anyone?

Anonymous said...

Leigh, how can you possibly call the days when Great Britain was an unitary state 'dark days'? If Britain had not been united we would have either have been conquered by Napoleon, Kaiser Bill or Hitler; we would have never created the greatest empire the world has ever known or been the fifth largest economy today. 'Dark days' - rubbish! Halcyon days!

Evan Owen - Snowdonia said...

I'm struggling to balance the arguments for and against Welsh politicians having more law making powers on two counts.

I hear what Lord Dafydd Elis Thomas told me last week which makes sense, why would a ‘devolved’ government need to go to the UK Parliament every single time it wanted to change things, strictly regulating or even preventing the sale of social housing stock for example. I also hear what those opposed to 'more powers' say which to my mind is based upon the fear of the unknown as well as the evidence of what has or has not been achieved in Wales under a devolved government over the last ten years, the "Devolution Dividend" as some describe it. This ‘dividend’ is something I personally can’t measure in any meaningful way and because I fail to see any cost benefit analysis justifying some bizarre projects and expenditure it is of increasing concern that we in Wales are falling behind the rest of the regions in the British Isles.

What bothers me is that when I ask those who want more law making powers for examples of ‘new’ laws they would like to see passed there is silence, if there isn’t anything specific they believe would improve our lives in Wales, and prove it, why do they want ‘more powers’?

I like balance, I see none.

MH said...

Evan, From what you've written elsewhere I can't imagine it's too much of a struggle. You're one of those who will vote No, and you're perfectly entitled to do so, whatever your reasons.

So don't be disingenuous.

Anonymous said...

"This is Labour's recession."

No, it isn't. It happened under a Labour government, and Labour did nothing about it. But it is actually not the truth to say the recession was *caused* by Labour. Calling it a London recession would be more accurate.

"The left wing rhetoric is just water to Labour's mill."

That's lazy. The recession was factually caused by "bad bankers".

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