One reason for UKIP's decline in Wales

I came across this letter in today's South Wales Evening Post from the one and only Gwilym Levell:

Only UKIP can help us

The solution to the present unconstitutional over-government is not to add more over-government by establishing a separate government of England. It is to get out of the EU and abolish the Welsh Assembly.

Only the policies of UKIP can get us out of the recession.

Gwilym Levell
Whittington Street, Tonna

I think it's fair to say that a large percentage of UKIP's support in Wales comes from people who think the same way. With all the other parties in Wales now firmly committed to further devolution to Wales, UKIP was the only hope they had of reversing it.

There's only one problem ... or, to be more precise, two. UKIP no longer wants to abolish the Welsh Assembly, and it does want to establish an English Parliament with a separate English Government.

UKIP now supports devolution

The big thing to come out of UKIP's conference in Eastbourne this weekend for me was the release of a policy paper entitled "A Union for the Future".
 

     

The policy paper, written by Paul Nuttall MEP, is a complete rewrite of UKIP's badly written, unworkable devolution policy which basically involved abolishing the devolved governments in Scotland and Wales (but not NI) and replacing them with Grand Committees of British MPs.

This new policy paper has no such retrograde suggestions in it. The current British House of Commons would be replaced with an English Parliament with English MPs, an English Executive and an English First Minister.

Bloggers4UKIP, 12 September 2011

So those in Wales who supported UKIP at the last election because they they wanted to see devolution either reversed or halted no longer have that reason to vote for them; and this explains why UKIP's support is falling in Wales, even though it is rising in England.

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15 comments:

BoiCymraeg said...

You're probably right in that UKIP's historic opposition to devolution costs them votes in Wales, although that said, I wonder how many people actually knew what their position on devolution is? At a hustings I attended in Arfon for the 2010 election it was obvious that UKIP's own candidate didn't know what their policy was. A lot of people vote for UKIP simply "to send a message" and not only do they not know what a lot of their policies are - beyond the obvious anti-EU anti-immigrant stuff - I suspect that lots of people don't care.

I think UKIP's little-Englander mentality simply doesn't appeal to most Welsh people. Part of that is purely demographic (Wales contains a lot of poor areas which vote overwhelmingly for left-leaning parties; UKIP are never going to do well in these areas) but I suspect there is an impression that it's an English party too (which it is).

Another factor, which might be uncomfortable for Plaid supporters, is that those who want to "send a message to the main parties" in Wales already have an alternative repository for their votes - Plaid Cymru. This particular voter group is a big part of UKIP's support (it's been noted that while the main source of UKIP votes is former Conservatives, lots of UKIP support is coming either from former Lib-Dems or from people who don't usually vote. Doubtless in Wales at least some of this "anything but Lab or Tory" demographic votes for Plaid. "Little Welshlanders" if you like.)

Hogyn o Rachub said...

Just out of interest, on what basis are you saying that UKIP's support is declining in Wales? Have there been any onion polls on it, or are you basing it on the council elections in Ynys Môn (which really wouldn't tell us anything)

glynbeddau said...

Interesting. It seems that Ukip seem to have policies based on populism and that they realise that Devolution largely supported by most Welsh voters.

A Prty without Ideology who base policy on thier perception on how much the public at large support it. No wonder they are the natural replacement for the Lib Dems.

MH said...

I'm actually saying the opposite, BC. I think UKIP's previous opposition to devolution gained them votes in Wales ... largely from the 20% or so hard-core element who will oppose devolution and anything related to Wales establishing itself as a nation until the day they die.

Maybe some, like Gwilym Levell, are slower on the uptake than others. But, as they realize that UKIP actually wants more devolution to Wales (for if there's a devolved English Parliament, this is bound to have at least the same powers as the Scottish Parliament will have under the new Scotland Act, and therefore Wales and Northern Ireland will have to have the same too) they will have one less reason to vote for UKIP. The only reason to vote for them will be because of the EU, but as Wales is a net beneficiary from the EU, the economic argument that the EU costs more than it's worth (which is dubious, but that's what they believe) cannot apply in Wales in the same way as it can in England.

I agree with you about UKIP's core mentality, and there's evidence that its support is growing specifically because it is seen as an English party standing up for the interests of England. I'll write more on that in another post.

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I was basing it on UKIP's performance in last week's local elections, HoR. After all, UKIP are the ones claiming that their support is growing based on the fact that they got a projected share of 23% in last week's local elections compared with the 17.6% share of the English vote in the 2009 European Parliament election. So, by the very same token, they must accept that their vote in Wales is falling, because they got only 7.8% in Ynys Môn last week compared with the 12.4% they got in Ynys Môn in 2009.

I agree that it's a small base, but UKIP's performance in Ynys Môn in 2009 was actually a very typical of their performance in Wales, where they got 12.8% of the vote in Wales as a whole.

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To be honest, Glyn, I don't think UKIP changed their position on devolution to Wales and Scotland because of democratic opinion in Wales and Scotland, or even because they thought they could increase their share of the vote in Wales and Scotland.

They realized that devolution to Wales and, in particular, Scotland was alienating voters in England (or at least the Mail and Telegraph readers who form UKIP's natural base) but had to acknowledge that they couldn't get rid of it, and therefore switched from being against devolution to wanting England to be treated no less favourably and have it as well. The bottom line in their thinking has always been what was best for England.

welshnotbritish said...

Your argument revolves around the premise of UKIP voters reading UKIP policies.

Is that likely?

Der said...

There is some confusion from what I can see. Didn't the Scottish UKIP leader say the other day that they wanted the Scottish Parliament to be disbanded....at least the current model?

Rhys Wynne said...

Good article (as always) in Barn this month: UKIP: Plaid Genedlaethol Lloegr - it's about the perception of voters towards parties, ond how UKIP ar seem most likely to "fight the English' corner" [my take] in the face of the raw deal they'r enw getting within current UK. Author (Richard Wyn Jones) suggests that UKIP should wake up to this and focus on England as it would guarantee them further support (in Enlgand)

Democritus said...

Interesting policy shift and well done MH for highlighting it. The Scottish vote next November is bound to lead to increased debate around the west lothian question and English devolution options (particularly if the polls continue to show Scots looking likely to vote to stay, and Labour likely to win in 2015 with a majority dependent on Welsh & Scottish MPs); and UKIP have positioned themselves well to (paraphrasing Leo Amery) 'Speak for England'.

For a pan UK Party like UKIP (which let us not forget currently has nationally elected MEPs in Scotland & Wales) to be essentially accepting that the current Union on the island of Britain has outlived its' usefulness is both bold and potentially an important step on the road to independence for all 3 nations. If the English decide they want their own devolved parliament, then there will effectively be no more nurse for the Scots and Welsh 'welfarists' to cling onto. Wales will only get full independence once the English wake up and claim theirs. Expect Tory calls to grow in the run in to 2015 for some unworkable EVEL alternative to promote as a political foil to UKIP and poisoned chalice to Labour

Bria O'Lyn said...

What is bad about the billions of Euros that Wales gets in grants from the EU?

Do the people of Tonna not realise that without those billions we would be even poorer.

It is only the EU that funds the development of underprivileged and poor areas as a central policy. The UK Government just leaves everything to the market which basically means the larger wealthier conurbations of England especially London and the SE.

Why the f*** would Wales want to lose those investments that come from Europe?

The Right are anti Europe for one reason and one reason alone; they want to stop the EU from implementing the banking transaction levy thus making the banking sector pay back the trillions of £s/€s that have been and that are still being ploughed into their coffers across the whole of Europe including the UK.

May be the poor people of Tonna think that it’s right that they should be coughing up to pay the fat bankers for their cock-up.

Wake up lads and lasses; where are your political instincts? Surely you don't think that the right are campaigning to leave Europe for your benefit?

Gwyn Pritchard said...

About losing the EU Investment: In the last 32 years we have given the EU £228 Billion Pounds and we have received back £143 billion pounds. That leaves on deficit of about £85 billion - we lost. Of the £11.5 billion foreign aid for growth out of poverty, in 2011, we gave India £388 million as an aid donation and they said they didn't want it. Andrew Mitchell went there and persuaded them to keep it as it would make our Great Britain look a great and kind Nation. No India admits they've lost £70 million of it and no idea where it is. India has a 22 billion Space Programme and give millions to Africa every year as aid. Just one example of lots.

Read "The great European Rip Off" by David Craig and Mathew Elliot, and this may give you a different view.

MH said...

The "we" you refer to would appear to be the UK, Gwyn. The figures for Wales are rather different, as I linked to here.

And even if your figures are right, the real question is whether the UK gets value for the net contribution it makes. Money spent isn't necessarily money "lost". Think of all the red tape that is being saved by having direct access to the EU Single Market; as opposed to having either to set up and maintain lots of separate trade agreements as Switzerland does, or to pay a lump sum as Norway does.

Gwyn Pritchard said...

Hi MH: Rambling on a bit :) To me, the real results are right in front of us: a decline in our villages, our towns and our health services, a decline in our standard of Welsh education, our mass unemployment. We were led into a Common Market in 1975 that has morphed into European Community Controlling Government.

I've been to Norway and Switzerland many times and they do enjoy better standards, a feeling of independence and a pride in being a nation that is not totally dependant on a super state.

Here there is a feeling of helplessness as bedrooms are taxed simultaneously to politicians getting a pay rise. The Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority suggesting such a rise; a department that cost £6.6million to set up and chaired by Sir Ian Kennedy who is paid £700 a day.

The power devolved to the Assembly to write laws for Wales is clouded as we know 75% of all laws are written in Brussels today and there is no way laws can be written in Wales without the Brussels final seal of approval. The EU has never made a secret of it and the EU vision is to control all the finances and budgets of all the member states and to control all lawmaking. It even goes further to state that the EU will enforce budget compliance that means what exactly?

Can we really rely on a EU top-down organisation that has not balanced its budget for the last 18 years with an unaccountable loss of between €5 and €6 Million in the last few years?

Can we really be dependant on a EU that brings in busloads of Foreign Workers to build our Power Stations (Siemens - Usk) by passing our people out of work standing on the picket line?

Can we really depend on a government and a EU policy that destroys our beautiful Welsh scenery with useless wind farms based on myths of global warming and carbon production? (David Cameron's father in law makes £1000 a day from his wind-farm and Mrs Clegg has been a Director of a Wind Turbine Manufacturing plant).

Can we really allow our local businesses to suffer due to all public service contracts over a certain value must be advertised in all the European Journal European for tenders?

I can go on but I think the case is overwhelming in favour of opting out of being a member state of the United States of Europe as soon as, 'right now'. Who cares about the EU president who is currently spending £200 million on the new presidential suite in Brussels next door to the new History of the EU Museum costing £100 Million and the new Brussels EU Multi-Media Centre at £20 million all under construction right now with out membership fees helping. It’s getting there as the EU has a flag and an anthem now.

Finally, not so much a EU thing but can we really justify sending £11.5 billion out in Foreign Aid knowing that only £500 million of it will be spent on real, emergency humanitarian aid? The remaining £11 million will be shared for international development to combat poverty but we have no control of it and loose between 20% and 80% of individual project to corruption. We have between 3 and 5 thousand ghost schools in India and Pakistan staffed with teachers and none of them exits - just on paper. Let’s freeze this £11 billion and find a better way. Maybe pay off a bit of the £113 trillion dollar debt we have.

I would never allow red tape to be a barrier stopping me from losing my country's identity, my national pride and my loyalty to our people, culture and tradition. To me it just seems so wrong.


MH said...

I don't mind rambling, Gwyn. And I assume you're the Gwyn Pritchard who was on Pawb a'i Farn last night. I'd just say that not many people are likely to be reading this exchange. One of the problems of a blog is that hardly anyone reads the comments after a few days.

I'll take your points one by one. You talk about decline, but decline is relative. In absolute terms, standards in education and health have probably gone up. But why is any relative decline the fault of being in the EU? You're just using it as a scapegoat. Also, I have no time for the argument that we only went into a "common market", we went into something that always had more than just an economic dimension.

The EU is not a "super state". It is a collection of member states that have chosen to pool some aspects of sovereignty. Yes, Norway and Switzerland, outside the EU, have better standards than the UK. But countries like Denmark, Sweden and the Netherlands have better standards, and they are in the EU. They also each have just as much "pride in being a nation" as Norway and Switzerland ... and I think it's probably true of every nation in the EU.

No-one in the EU has dictated that the UK government should impose a bedroom tax or give MPs a pay rise. Blame the UK government for those things, not the EU.

We don't know that "75% of all laws are written in Brussels", and laws passed in Wales do not need a final seal of approval from Brussels. EU rules are rules that the governments of member states have approved in the Council of Ministers.

You talk about "the EU vision", but there are many different visions about what the EU should be. The EU will become what its member states want it to become.

Since when has the UK government balanced its budget?

I don't have a problem with workers from other countries in the EU working in Wales. I don't have a problem with people from Wales working in other countries in the EU. Freedom to work and live in other countries in the EU is something I value very highly.

Windfarms are a very good way to produce electricity, and I don't think global warming is a myth. But leaving that to one side, why is the EU to blame? The UK government pressed for high EU CO2 targets; so even if the UK was outside the EU, it would presumably follow the same policy.

We could simply be clever and make sure that public service contracts were small enough not to require EU-wide tendering, or we could put clauses in those contract stipulating factors that it would be easy to provide locally but harder to provide from a distance.

You rail about contracts of £200m, £100m and £20m. Why pick on EU projects? Why not rail about much larger contracts for much more dubious projects undertaken by the UK government that are of little or no benefit to Wales?

I think it is right that rich countries should provide aid to poor countries, and that this should be more than just emergency humanitarian aid: it should include development aid to help countries claw their way out of poverty. However we should constantly examine what we do and seek to direct that aid more effectively if we can.

Finally, you talk about your country's identity. I've touched on the fact that people in other countries in the EU have not lost their sense of national identity. So why are you in any danger of losing yours ... whatever you consider that national identity to be?

MH said...

But returning to the subject, Gwyn, can I ask whether you agree with Paul Nuttall's paper (which seems to have become the position of Nigel Farage) or whether you are more inclined to agree with John Bufton, who appears to have been taken by surpise by it and wants UKIP to stick with the policy outlined in your May 2011 manifesto? After all, that is what this post was about.

I think that UKIP drew what little support it has in Wales primarily from those who remain opposed to devolution; and that by embracing devolution you have lost and will continue to lose that support. The evidence for this is in your much lower showing in this year's local elections in Ynys Môn (7.8%) than you got in the 2009 EU election (12.4%), while in England your vote went up from 17.6% in 2009 to 23% in May this year.

Jonny said...

Examining Wales as a trading nation all our links are basically West to East as opposed North to South. Most of North Wales trades and communicates with English cities like Liverpool, Manchester and Chester.

Mid Wales does so with Hereford, Shrewsbury and Worcester.

South Wales does with places like Bristol, Gloucester and the M4 corridor.

It would be more sensible to have THREE welsh nations (North, Mid and South) than an independent Wales.Even more sensible would be for us to abandon the Welsh assembly and ask our MPs to debate and decide on Welsh only matters. Retaining the assembly (often referred to as the 'arsembly' of Wales is simply daftness of the highest order and only supported by the mad, bad or dead!

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