Plaid Cymru needs to change tack

On Thursday, Roger Scully was kind enough to post an advance copy of the latest YouGov poll on voting intentions in Wales, based on fieldwork conducted between 11 and 22 April.

With less than a month to go before the elections to the European Parliament, I'd like to concentrate on the figures for that election.

YouGov Poll, April 2014

Labour ... 39% (no change)
UKIP ... 20% (+2%)
Conservative ... 18% (+1%)
Plaid Cymru ... 11% (-1%)
LibDems ... 7% (no change)

Wales Political Barometer, February 2014

Labour ... 39% (-2%)
UKIP ... 18% (+5%)
Conservative ... 17% (-3%)
Plaid Cymru ... 12% (-1%)
LibDems ... 7% (-5%)

Wales Political Barometer, February 2014

This is how the four Welsh seats would be distributed, based on the latest poll:

First seat ... Labour ... 39%
Second seat ... UKIP ... 20%
Third seat ... Labour ... 19.5%
Fourth seat ... Conservative ... 18%

Notional fifth seat ... Labour ... 13%
Notional sixth seat ... Plaid Cymru ... 11%
Notional seventh seat ... UKIP ... 10%
Notional eighth seat ... Labour ... 9.75%
Notional ninth seat ... Conservative ... 9%
Notional tenth seat ... Labour ... 7.8%
Notional eleventh seat ... LibDems ... 7%

I commented in some detail on the previous figures in this post last month, following Leanne Wood's attack on UKIP at the Plaid Cymru spring conference. These latest figures from YouGov simply confirm the points I made at the time: namely that if Jill Evans is to have any hope of holding on to her seat, the party that Plaid needs to beat in the election is in fact the Conservatives, not UKIP. This is because UKIP are ahead of the Tories, and the gap between them is growing. As Labour are all but certain to win two seats, it is a three-way contest between the Conservatives, UKIP and ourselves for the remaining two seats.

In tactical terms, Plaid needs to pick off the weaker of those two parties. It was therefore a mistake to concentrate our attack on UKIP. It was as if we were basing our tactics on the last European Parliament elections, when UKIP only got 12.8% of the vote and the Tories topped the poll with 21.2% ... but things have changed a lot over the past five years.

I had hoped that the party leadership would realize this and change tack (after all, that was the point of writing what I did) but I have to say that I have not seen any sign of that. Asking around within the party, it would appear that we are instead relying on getting our "core vote" out and hoping that will be enough. I wasn't convinced by that way of thinking before, and I'm even less convinced by it now that these new figures have been published. In the February poll Plaid was at 12%, 5% behind the Tories on 17%; but the latest poll shows that our support has dropped to 11% and that the gap has now widened to 7%. It should therefore be obvious that we need to change our tactics.


I am not particularly convinced by the idea that any party should primarily base its tactics on attacking other parties. But to the extent that we do (and I believe we should always be careful to attack performance and policies rather than characterize a whole party and those who vote for them as being "against Wales") we need to focus our attack on the Tories rather than UKIP. That really shouldn't be too difficult, as the performance and policies of the Tory-led govermnent at Westminster over the last four years have provided us with ample ammunition to use against them.

The second thing that we need to do is to highlight our own policies ... or, at the very least, not be ashamed of them. One thing Leanne said in her speech is that she hoped Greens and Liberal Democrats would vote for Plaid. That definitely is a good, and in fact necessary, thing to aim for; but we can only have any hope of getting them to vote for Plaid on the basis of our policies, not out of any sense of loyalty to us. However, one thing that is certainly fundamental to Green voters is our position on nuclear power, and there is probably a large percentage of LibDems who are disguntled about the way their party recently changed its policy on the issue.

In the past, I too have urged Green Party supporters in Wales to vote for Plaid—for example this is what I wrote before the last European election in 2009—but I can't, in good conscience, ask or expect anyone who votes Green to vote for Plaid Cymru now. This is because Plaid's leadership has completely turned its back on our policy of opposition to the construction of any new nuclear power stations in Wales, including Wylfa B. Our leaders have sat on their hands and done absolutely nothing to correct the lies and misinformation about our policy that have been put out by a few prominent members of the party such as Elfyn Llwyd, Bob Parry, Dafydd Elis-Thomas and, most recently, by Rhun ap Iorwerth.

Make no mistake, Plaid's poor position in these polls means that support from the Greens and from LibDems who are unhappy with their party's U-turn on nuclear power is going to make all the difference between Jill keeping her seat and losing it. But Jill, even though I know she is against nuclear power, has been effectively silenced by those in positions of power within Plaid Cymru who will not let her, nor our spokesman on energy Llyr Gruffydd, nor even Leanne herself as our leader speak out for what we stand for. This silence is deafening and needs to be broken. Unless we as a party learn to be honest with the Welsh electorate about our policies, we cannot hope to win support from others.


But we face a more serious problem than that. As I noted above, the message that is being put out is that Plaid will be alright if we get our "core vote" out. But why on earth should we expect this "core vote" to turn out? One of Plaid Cymru's great strengths is that it is meant to be a transparent and democratic party in which policies are decided by members at conference. But how can we expect our supporters to turn out and vote for Plaid unless our leaders are prepared to stand up for these policies? Instead what we have is a group of people in positions of power in the party who seem determined to ignore policies that ordinary members have voted for and keep voting for. A party which treats its ordinary members and supporters with such contempt will, as sure as night follows day, see that contempt reflected in a loss of support in the ballot box.

We made the mistake of allowing Rhun ap Iorwerth to misrepresent our policies to the electorate, presumably because those in positions of power within the party thought that it would make it easier to win the Ynys Môn by-election last summer. I warned them at the time that it was a miscalculation: first because it was a safe seat at Assembly level anyway and therefore we didn't need to do it; but second, and more importantly, because it would cost us support across Wales as a whole in future elections. I was one of the few people in the party who stood up and said it at the time, because I realized the danger of the party being seen as two-faced. It is not a matter of nuclear power per se, as if this particular policy is somehow more important than any other. It is a matter of being honest with our supporters across Wales as a whole, rather than pandering to narrow-interest groups within the party. It is a matter of consistency, credibility and trust with the electorate ... for, without that, we have no right to expect people to turn out and vote for us.


In truth, it really didn't matter whether we won the Ynys Môn by-election last summer by a margin of 9,000 or a margin of 3,000 votes, so we threw away our reputation for honesty for nothing. The tragedy is that we have let nine months pass without doing a single thing to try and reclaim it.

But does matter very much if we lose our seat in the European Parliament. To put it bluntly, it will be a disaster for Plaid Cymru if we do. This poll from YouGov shows beyond any doubt that we are going to lose it unless we change tack. So we need to stop focusing on UKIP and turn our attention to the party that we really need to beat in this election, which is the Tories. And our leaders need to find their backbone and reaffirm support for the policies, like our opposition to building new nuclear power stations, that members across Wales have voted for time and again. Mark my words; if we don't do this we will not only alienate much of our own core vote, but will be throwing away any hope of people who would otherwise vote Green or LibDem voting for us instead.

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Welsh not British said...

Any sign of the full data for this poll, it appears no one wants to share them.

Anonymous said...

Leanne must resign, she is not a strong leader as we hoped but weak. These are Plaid's darkest days, the worst since the 50s,

Anonymous said...

The problem with Plaid is that things keep changing. I voted Plaid because I thought it was against nuclear power. The next thing I know is that I have some guy called Rhun ap Iorwerth telling everyone how much he is in favour of nuclear (because it's what the people of Anglesey want). And now he just runs around shouting about how awful nuclear waste is and how we can't store any of it on Anglesey (for heaven sake, even a dummy has to understand that if you want a nuclear power station you're going to have to accept some waste .... the days of others finding lawful uses for it are long gone).

And so now we have these Euro elections and one really does wonder what Plaid stands for and what Plaid will stick to, as a party and as a collection of individuals.

I'm well confused and so I'm voting Tory.

Llantrisant said...

Leanne Wood is never going to have the appeal to achieve anything as Plaid leader she is way out to the left and her tactics are completely wrong. Plaid Cymru is going nowhere she needs to go and Plaid needs a need direction, move towards the centre and be more like nationalists in Catalonia and the Basque country that would really shake up politics in Wales.

Anonymous said...

She'll be gone after the Assembly elections don't worry. Can't see her beating Leighton in Rhondda.

MH said...

The best bet for the full data would probably be to ask Roger, Stu. They may not want to publish it because it is part of a larger study which is going to be published later.


We'll be able to call these "dark days" if we lose the Euro seat, 16:24. But my purpose in writing this is to try and get people in positions of power in the party to realize the danger and do the things that are necessary in order for us to avoid that catastrophe.

As I've said before, I think Leanne's position is rather like a Democratic US president whose hands are tied by a Republican congress. True, these's not a lot she can do about the composition of the National Executive, but I think she has underestimated her ability to change things by speaking out directly. She would do well to remember that she is directly elected by the membership, and that she is accountable to that membership more than she is to the NEC.

As my recent dealings with certain people in Plaid have shown, there is a rottenness in certain parts of the party and, if this is not dealt with, things will only get worse. The future of the party is very definitely in the balance.


Don't confuse Plaid's policies with the lies that people like Rhun have told about them, 16:49. But it certainly is a problem that nobody in the leadership is prepared to put the record straight.

However you must be very, very confused if you think the solution is to vote Tory.

Anonymous said...

Plaid's problem is that it has failed to promote a nationalist line in 15 years. It advocates nationalist/regionalist policies but these can be advocated by Labour.

During the Iraq war Plaid should have said an independent Wales would not have fought the war but instead went to for the safe soft-left, soft-pacifist line.

It's 'Putting Wales First' slogan is dripping wet. Being both parochial sounding but not nationalist.

I can't see the core vote going out to vote. What for? Its not even advocating 'Independence in Europe' which would at least galvinise the core vote, give Plaid a clear identity and give something the press can get their teeth into. Instead we're stuck with some pacifistic, leftist, boring campaign.

Plaid is right to attack UKIP - but not with the soft left, smug 'ukip are racist' but with the nationalists line which is UKIP is full of people who complain about foreigner but can't promounce the name of the Welsh towns in which they live.

There is no votes on the Left Wing. People don't like the left. The only left wing parties who win votes are those who are nationalists (SNP, Bildu, ERC) but who actively promote a strong clear independence line. Plaid doesn't do that. It is neither nationalist enought to create a new agenda for the media and too nationalist for others.

Unfortunately, can't see Plaid keeping the seat.

Very sad.

Anonymous said...

People will use Plaid's lack of success to support their own long-held opinions about the party- i.e some people think the party is not nationalist enough, some people think it is too left-wing/too right-wing, some think nuclear power is to blame, etc. The Plaid vote will be strong in the "core" areas like Ynys Mon (where the party's vote has grown solidly), Carmarthenshire, Gwynedd and Ceredigion. The problem will be in Plaid's non-core areas where they do not get enough votes and where they will actually lose votes to UKIP. The core Plaid vote is about 11-12% and they will definitely come out. They're on 11% for Westminster so its probably the same voters. It's nationalists and Welsh speakers. Plaid's limitation has been in failing to
win over non-nationalists in sufficient numbers, except for brief moments. Casting it as a left/centre/right issue is a political obsession and not that relevant to people.

Anonymous said...

11-12% is also the figure that currently supports Welsh independence.

Anonymous said...

11-12% supporting independence is a bit dubious. 12% is the highest figure and 5% the lowest...both recent and there was a different question/context in each case.

I would put core support for independence at no more than 9% and I think that Roger Scully pointed out that only 44% of Plaid voters supported independence for Wales (at this time).

Anonymous said...

I think Leanne is doing a good job. But Plaid hasn't sorted out its narrative. It also needs to say and do things which will get publicity.That's what SNP and UKIP did and it gave them a platform to promote their policies. Plaid is maybe too sensible. The policies are fine, people like the policies if they're given the option but people never hear them. Plaid needs to say something radical just to get onto the radar.

Anonymous said...

The problem with this election is that UKIP, quite apart from their stance on Europe, are now seen by the public as change agents in UK politics. They represent the public's alienation from the political class and their disgust at the venality and sheer sense of entitlement that has completely infected Westminster. I think that UKIP are also benefiting from the change meme which is emanating from Scotland, and a growing realization that the YES campaign may well upset all the odds in September. I get the impression that these two separate streams are now conspiring to become a flood that could sweep all before them next month.

Plaid Cymru's problem is that they are not part of this change narrative- indeed in essentially going along with the other mainstream parties in arguing the European case, they are in danger of being seen as anti-change. Now, I know that PC are seeking to distinguish themselves from the other UK parties, but their narrative also seems to be predicated on a fatalistic acceptance that we are completely dependent on European beneficience to sustain ourselves economically.So it's an essentially anti-change message allied to a curious(for a nationalist party), "we're dependent on other people" narrative. As others have noted, it's not something to really enthuse the core to go out and vote. But, it's even worse than that. UKIP's basic argument that the UK is more than able to re-imagine a new future for itself is ironically threatening to out self-determine Plaid in this election. This essential self-determination element in UKIP's campiagn( even though it is on a UK level) poses a real danger that some Plaid voters will lend their votes to UKIP in this election. There was even a letter in the Welsh language magazine Golwg this week, arguing that an UKIP triumph in May could well help Wales in some ways.

MH may be right to say that the soft Conservative vote is a better target for PC over the next month, although there is a danger that this could be seen as merely imitating Labour and their "Tories War on Wales" strategy. But perhaps the best tactic would be to revert to a core message about Welsh self-determination,and linking this to what is going on in Scotland, in all communication with electors. Accept that UKIP are going to win the argument about Europe this time and fight them instead on the essential argument about Wales's right to exist as a nation.

Aled GJ

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Anonymous said...

Leanne Wood is a great and warm person one on one but Nigel Farage is now one of the most famous politicians in Britain. He is deceptive, extremely clever and is telling disenchanted people exactly what they want to hear. UKIP will win in England and come 2nd here. It's nothing to do with Welsh independence, nuclear power, or anything else really, but Plaid has been steamrollered and gets a fraction of UKIP's coverage. Plaid's basic Welsh message is also not as populist as UKIP's. Fear always wins when the electorate is cynical and pissed off.

Welsh not British said...

Perhaps the plan is not to attack UKIP in the hope that people will instead vote Plaid but to scare the people who think that UKIP are a bunch of scumbags into coming out to vote.

Anonymous said...

UKIP has one unique message to Wales which sets it apart from all the other parties; they came out against any FURTHER devolution, in particular they denounced fiscal devolution. All the other parties supported devolution of Income tax (albeit with various caveats) and the Yougov poll in February asked a question about income tax devolution. With the exception of Plaid voters all party supporters showed a majority rejecting Income tax devolution.

If you consider that the St David's day poll for the BBC had a majority either for the devolution status quo, less devolution or abolition of the Assembly you can see that UKIP is, in this respect, in tune with majority opinion.

UKIP is being denounced by the liberal Left and by the establishment right for different reasons but how much can this effect their vote? No Guardian reader is going to vote for them anyway and the baby eating wing of the Tory party is not put off by describing UKIP as swivel eyed loons and closet racists.

It would be a mistake to believe that Wales has no baby eaters within its borders.

Anonymous said...

UKIP's stance on fiscal devolution has nothing to do with their current rise. They are top of today's Yougov UK poll and top in England.

It is correct to say income tax devo is not very popular in Wales but hard to see Plaid taking any other stance. They will always be seen as the most pro-devo party even when devo is unpopular/unenthusiastically supported.

Anonymous said...

UKIP's stance on fiscal devolution has nothing to do with their popularity in the UK as a whole I grant you but to understand why they have a following in Wales you have to look at what they are saying about Wales that is unique.

I'm not suggesting that Plaid take any other stance; it would be perverse to do so, but to come up with a winning political strategy, you have to look realistically at why other parties are attractive to voters. It's a matter of emphasis and public perception.

If Plaid attack UKIP because they are anti-Europe they have to be sure that their own core support isn't anti-European union to a degree. If they play up and denounce the anti-immigrant message from UKIP they have to be sure that an anti-immigrant stance isn't actually attractive to many of Plaid's voters.

I have a feeling that the European elections mean little to most voters, few will turn out and of course Plaid voters DO turn out. What I wonder though is if people will use an election that means little to them to revolt against the party they usually support.

Anonymous said...

These lefty policies are atrocious, The greens are not going anywhere, Plaid purporting themselves as a greeny, warm, wonderful, hug-tree family will not win votes. they need a sprinkling of policies of the right, have a clear yes vote on nuclear power, be pro business and pro developments.

Plaid need to change their left wing values.

MH said...

Before making any other comments, I'd like to remind people that while you are free to express opinions, you need to back up any purported statements of fact with links to evidence.

9:30 is close to being deleted, unless the claim that UKIP came out against any further devolution for Wales is substantiated.

It is also unacceptable to attack people for things they did not say. 21:49 has been deleted for that reason.

Here are the some links that should have been provided to back up other comments. YouGov's poll today showing UKIP ahead is here. The BBC St David's Day poll is here.

9:30's assertions about constitution preferences in the St David's Day poll are somewhat deflated when the actual wording of the options is examined, see this post by Roger Scully for an explanation of why the figure for abolition of the Assembly is so high. That is why it's always important to provide links to sources rather than just paraphase.

MH said...

I'm not going to respond to every comment, but I'd like to pick up on the discussion about approaching things from a "nationalist" versus "left-wing" direction.

To reiterate, my position in this post and the earlier one on attacking UKIP has primarily been that it has been a tactical mistake to focus an attack on UKIP, because the party we need to finish ahead of in this election is the Tories. I've only touched on the the manner of Plaid's attack on UKIP, but I think it is clear that I have been far from happy about the way we have done this. It's not often that I'll side with Dafydd Elis-Thomas, but I have a lot of sympathy for what he said about it being a mistake to to call UKIP anti-Welsh.

It strikes me that Plaid's attack on UKIP, and to a large extent only UKIP, is almost entirely based on nationalistic arguments and, equally, that the way Plaid is positioning itself is equally nationalistic. Leanne has called a vote for UKIP "a vote against Wales" without really explaining in what way it is a vote against Wales, nor why a vote for other parties such as Labour or the Tories is not equally a vote against Wales. And if UKIP's values "are not the values of Wales", as she said in her conference speech, then why isn't that also true of Labour and Tory values? On top of that, the main "narrative" that is being put out by Plaid is that it is the only party that puts Wales first. In other words, it strikes me that the way Plaid has approached these elections is almost entirely "nationalistic" and almost completely devoid of anything that is particularly "left-wing" ... in fact, it strikes me as an approach that is light on concrete policies of any sort, and instead based almost entirely on the line of, to paraphrase, "Trust us, because only we have the best interests of Wales at heart."

I have to say that, in pushing this line of argument, Leanne seems to me to be like a fish out of water, and that she'd be much more effective if she were back on her solid ground of being more left-wing, and pressing for more economically, socially and environmentally just policies. I would also say that, if she were fighting on these grounds, the effect would be to focus our campaign more against the policies of the Tories, who are the party that we actually need to beat in order to hold onto our Euro seat. The same would be every bit as true for Jill Evans.

These two women are the people, probably the only people, who could now turn this campaign around for Plaid. And I feel that they would be far more effective if they were given free rein on these issues, rather than getting bogged down in the entirely fruitless matter of Plaid being "for Wales" and UKIP being "against Wales".

Anonymous said...

Some good analysis from MH.

Plaid isn't perceived as being that left-wing. It is perceived as being Welsh.

People making a huge issue out of left-right positioning are really speaking from a perspective that isn't out there in public life. Other people have mentioned UKIP's specific policy for Wales, something which even academics are not sure of! People are not even sure of UKIP's stance on the Welsh Assembly. Their current appeal is as rebels and outsiders, allegedly opposing the establishment- media, political and European, led by a well-known and infamous leader.

Anonymous said...

I can see why Plaid has taken a nationalist line about putting Wales first, its a mirror of sorts of UKIP's British nationalism, but British nationalism is much more potent than Welsh as it chimes with a number of tropes that are routine in the media, including Euroscepticism, hostility to migration, hostility to political correctness, climate change denial, and other themes. Welsh nationalism inhabits a different milieu around the language, Welsh heritage, questions of resources, possibly some links to labour/valleys history and industry. It isn't as potent as a weapon of protest, as British nationalism is.

Anonymous said...
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Welsh not British said...

Very interesting poll results from the youguv link in MH's comment above (1203)

Whilst Wales isn't represented on its own as it is lumped in as 'Midlandsandwales' it shows that whilst UKIP are polling as the top party the majority would also vote to remain in the EU.

My conclusion is that UKIP are just a protest vote. But youguv polls like this are meaningless for anyone in Wales. And the fact that 80% of people claim they would vote (either yes or no) is itself a joke since that is double the usual turn out for referendums.

Welsh not British said...

Also there is a further question asking how they'd vote if Cameron was able to renegotiate which shows even more people voting yes which only goes to show how soft the NO vote is.

Anonymous said...

How could anyone vote for Plaid, a party entirely lacking in substance.

The Welsh language, nuclear power, Welsh independence, Europe ......... does Plaid really have any fixed and firm policies? I think not.

Come on guys, forget it and forget Plaid!

Anonymous said...

Is it true that the pro-nuclear Rhun ap Iorwerth is in the running to replace Leanne?

Anonymous said...

Rhun is not an entirely popular man on Anglesey at the moment .......... his flip flopping on matters nuclear is doing both him and the party untold damage.

Can't say anyone is that sad given the manner in which he secured the seat.

Anonymous said...

On the polling expert Mike Smithson's twitter (@msmithsonpb) he has a graph from the Yougov poll which puts UKIP in first, specifically a graph showing that in the 60+ age group UKIP is actually on 45%, Tories on 20%, Lab on 19% and then the various others.

Perhaps though the truth people are avoiding is that while Plaid may be losing votes to UKIP, their seat is actually being taken by Labour. Labour's vote in Wales will be massively improved compared to how they did in 2009, because there is a Conservative government in London.

MH said...

I think 10:10 makes a very good point. Plaid's leadership seems to be obsessed by the idea that we might lose votes to UKIP, but in fact most of the loss from the share of the vote we got in 2009 is probably going to Labour.

The fact is that in the last Euro election in 2009, Labour did exceptionally badly.

Conservative ... 21.2%
Labour ... 20.3%
Plaid Cymru ... 18.5%
UKIP ... 12.8%
LibDems ... 10.7%
Greens ... 5.6%

2009 Results

According to the YouGov poll Labour are now on about 39% in Wales (though I suspect the actual result will be more like 35%). This huge gain must be coming partly from the 18.5% who voted Plaid last time, and is the main reason why Plaid are now only polling at 11 or 12%.

For what it's worth, I think the explanation is this: A good chunk of Labour's core vote switched to Plaid in 2009 because they were disillusioned by Gordon Brown's Labour government in Westminster (who wasn't?) and gave their vote to us because we were seen as the natural alternative party of the left in Wales. That's why I believe that putting a greater emphasis on left-of-centre policies rather than fighting a fruitless "Welsh nationalist versus UK nationalist" battle with UKIP will help keep some of those votes with Plaid.

Anonymous said...

As a nationalist, I just pray and hope that Plaid Cymru have a Plan B when it comes to Europe. It's not inconceivable that the European Elections will actually result in an European parliament full of members who are opposed to the current European Union. If so, surely the writing will be on the wall for this institution as it currently stands.

PC should be preparing a strong argument for a national future for Wales outside the current EU, as that eventuality may well be upon us sooner than we think. Otherwise, the whole future agenda will be set by UKIP.

Anonymous said...

Off topic but good to remind voters of what the blind faith in Labour has got Wales is a article from Jim Fairlie in the Spectator arguing the West of Scotland (equivalent of the South Wales Valleys) will get another kicking from Labour if it votes No in the Independence referendum, the poverty arguments apply equally to labour heartlands in Wales.

He writes ‘West Central Scotland has been one of the most loyal parts of the UK to Labour, but has it benefited in any way from this commitment? In a recent blog "Poverty - The Curse of Scotland", I outlined the extent of poverty that still exists in Scotland and how little things have changed in many parts. In the recent TV programme which looked at the life and career of Margo McDonald, she spoke of being confronted by a London journalist when she contested Govan in November 1973. The journalist suggested that Scots were being selfish by claiming the oil was Scots, to which Margo said, "Come with me and within five minutes of this office, I will show you conditions of poverty and then you can tell me if we are being selfish." I could still show you those areas forty one years, several Labour governments and countless Labour councillors, after Margo first spoke of them. Now that the modern Labour Party in Scotland has thrown its weight behind the planned Tory reforms to public spending and has even declared war on the "something for nothing society", Scots would be foolish indeed to place their faith in Labour.

Anonymous said...

How lucky in a sense that in Scotland Labour has turned its guns on the "something for nothing" culture. The SNP is now the party of free prescriptions and social care-

In Wales that split just hasn't happened, and explains some of the current polling (though not all of it).

MH said...

There's no real chance that the next European Parliament will be full of members who are opposed to the EU, 15:39. Most member states are quite content to remain in the EU, even though they will want to improve the way it works from the inside.

But there is a real danger that the (r)UK will withdraw, and we do need to think through what might happen. There might well be a referendum in 2017 or thereabouts, but most parties (including most of the Tories) will be campaigning for the (r)UK to stay in, and it is therefore likely that we will. I don't think the Tories will secure any radically different terms of (r)UK membership no matter how hard they negotiate, but they will get one or two minor concessions and will spin them as something much bigger than they in fact are.

If the (r)UK does vote to leave (something that will be more likely if Scotland has become independent) then things do get interesting. So allow me to present this scenario: Labour will definitely be pressing hard to remain in and are likely to take their supporters with them, so Wales might well vote to stay in even though the (r)UK as a whole votes to get out. If that happens, Labour in Wales well might well find themselves arguing first that the (r)UK should stay in for the sake of Wales ... but, when that falls on deaf ears, find themselves arguing for Wales to remain in the EU and England only to leave. Under this scenario Labour find themselves committed to Wales becoming a de facto independent member state.

We should bear in mind that the picture with regard to internal enlargement will be very much clearer by then, as perhaps Scotland and certainly Catalunya will have blazed the trail for us. If it happens once, then others like Euskadi and Flanders will follow very quickly and it will therefore become "normal" and easy. The referendum on EU membership couldn't take place until before 2017 and the(r)UK is bound to need a "disengagement period" of about two years. So 2019 might become a very good date for this de facto Welsh independence (... and Irish reunification, or a confederal Ireland with both the 6 and 26 counties in the EU?)

People will note that in this scenario, Welsh independence in the EU will be driven by Labour, not by Plaid. The irony is that Plaid essentially become irrelevant in achieving Plaid's main purpose. And if there is any doubt about our viability as an independent member of the EU, we can be absolutely sure that the EU will do everything possible to help Wales become independent if it means Wales staying in the EU.


Thanks for the link, 17:37.

MH said...

And your link too, 18:16.

Leigh Richards said...

an important political lesson ive learned down the years is not to conduct any post mortems until all the votes have been counted and the results are known. admittedly things arent looking good for plaid at the moment but if - as someone once famously opined - a week is a long time in politics then a month is a very long time. ukip may yet implode as its lunatic racist fringe comes out of the woodwork.....or the tories might hemmorraghe support to ukip in the way that michael describes or following the frankly astonishing slip up by the electoral comission the right wing vote might be split as a result of britain first's presence on the ballot paper.

plaid is right to point out how wales has benifitted from european money and that wales gets more money from europe than it puts in - and just what the consequences of withdrawal from the eu would mean for jobs in wales. but thats not too say there arent things wrong with the eu and and plaid shouldnt have been afraid to point these out during this campaign - in particular its unaccountable and unelected council of ministers and europeam comissioners. while the eu's state aid and anti-competition rules force privatisation on member states and prevents the kind of progressive state intervention that has benifited ordinary working people down the years.

not everyone who might be thinking of voting ukip in these elections will be a rabid union jack waving bigot. some will be people who have in the past voted for or been sympathetic to plaid cymru - i know there are such people because i work with such people. sadly its probably too late for plaid to change its message for this campaign but the party's campaign managers would do well to remember that its possible to be pro european but have a progressive critique of the eu too, and that theres no reason why the electoral gains that flow from voters legitimate concerns about the eu should automatically go to those poliical forces on the right and far right. to that end plaid could have certainly have done worse for these elections than adopt the old slogan of a peoples europe and not a bosses europe.

Anonymous said...

The SNP are where they because they have campaigned for independence consistantly over the years. Plaid Cymru is where it is because it has failed to campaign for independence. If Plaid Cymru is not for independence, what is the point of It?
If you want devo-max or a federal state several unionist parties will oblige.
Plaid Cymru is going no where because of the continued feebleness of its leadership.Support will come for independence when the party campaigns for it.

Anonymous said...

Show me the unionist party that will deliver devo-max for Wales or a proper federal state? They won't even devolve criminal justice. Wecan't actually expect the unionist parties to deliver any further devolution. There is a strong argument that people in Wales would support more powers, but the unionist parties are wary of the domino effect this might have. The biggest boost for independence would be if devolution was perceived as (more) successful.

Anonymous said...

I am quitting Plaid Cymru, I am now going to vote UKIP, Ashgar was right Plaid have hidden their independence objectives, god save england

Anonymous said...


Leigh Richards said...

please close the door on your way out anon 13:26....your switch to ukip couldnt have been better timed, as i understand they have a couple of openings at present

Anonymous said...

I know it's on your list MH but this Wings Over Scotland piece on a UKIP meeting in Bath tonight needs to be a widely circulated as possible to all voters before the European elections, it sent chills down my spine

Anonymous said...

2014 is UKIP's big year. 2015 will be massive for them as everything hinges on whether they can win an MP and how that changes Tory party policy (by shifting them to the right). The only "good" news about this is that it will help Scotland go independent.

Anonymous said...

Roger scully has added some "Attitudes to Europe data" to the poll findings:

More undecided in Wales but otherwise not a whole lot of difference from England.

Anonymous said...

No, not a whole lot of difference .......... apart from the "minor" fact that England would vote to leave and Wales (and Scotland) would vote to stay in.

Anonymous said...

This is a Com Res poll tweeted yesterday General Election ‏@UKELECTIONS2015

#UKIP 29%

Leigh Richards said...

it seems rumours of plaid cymru's death may have been exaggerrated - a comres euro poll for wales puts plaid cyrmu on 21 percent and the tories down on 11 percent.....with tory support appearing to be moving to ukip who sit on 29 percent.looks like michael called it right

Anonymous said...


Remember your wise words from earlier:

"an important political lesson ive learned down the years is not to conduct any post mortems until all the votes have been counted and the results are known."


MH said...

People need to be very, very careful about quoting figures from the ComRes poll. The figures just quoted were based only on those who were 10/10 certain to vote and, for Wales, were based on a sample size of only 44 respondents. For those who were between 5/10 and 10/10 certain to vote the figures were, based on a sample size of 69:

Labour ... 39%
UKIP ... 24%
Plaid Cymru ... 18%
Conservative ... 16%
LibDems ... 3%

And for all respondents, based on a sample size of 112:

Labour ... 31%
UKIP ... 20%
Plaid Cymru ... 13%
Conservative ... 13%
LibDems ... 2%
Don't know ... 21%

The full details are here

The large variations reflect the unreliability of the small sample sizes. Even the 112 sample size is too small to draw any meaningful conclusion. In contrast, the YouGov figures quoted by Roger Scully were based on a sample size of 793 ... slightly short of the standard 1,000, but much more reliable.

But, even so, I'd stick to my main point: which is that we should not be worried about UKIP doing well in Wales in this election because, if they do, it will be largely at the expense of the Tory vote. It helps Plaid if UKIP do well, for we only need to get more votes than the Tories for Jill to hold on to her seat.

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