Nearly half of Welsh voters back Labour on the economy

New polling evidence shows Labour is now leading the Conservatives in Wales on the issue of handling the economy and leadership.

Just days after Welsh secretary Peter Hain warned the Welsh Labour party conference in Swansea that voters faced a choice between a Conservative and Labour government, evidence has emerged that Labour is now leading the Conservatives in Wales on the issue of handling the economy and leadership.

In a St David’s Day poll commissioned by the BBC and undertaken by ICM research, when asked about the economy, respondents put Gordon Brown and first minister Carwyn Jones 23 points ahead of David Cameron and Welsh Conservative leader Nick Bourne.

In the same poll, voters were also clear in their support for Carwyn Jones’ leadership, just three months after he replaced Rhodri Morgan as first minister.

The results show somewhat of an impressive turnaround, coming less than a year since the Welsh Conservatives gained more votes across Wales in June’s European elections, coming ahead of Labour for the first time since 1918.

Reacting to the poll, junior Welsh minister and MP for Caerphilly, Labour’s Wayne David, said:

“This finding shows that people recognise the steps we have taken to support business and families through these tough times; steps opposed by the Tories.

“Despite the obvious good news for Labour in this poll, there will be no complacency from us and we will continue to fight tooth and nail for every vote right across Wales.”

For the Conservatives, their leader in Wales, Nick Bourne reacted:

“Wales can’t afford another five years of Gordon Brown. Labour has wrecked the Welsh economy. We need change to get the country back on its feet.”

And in Scotland, too, Labour appears to be picking up support at the expenses of the SNP. A poll for Scotland on Sunday found:

Labour are now leading the SNP on voting intentions for Westminster by 17 points with Labour on 38%, the SNP on 21%, Conservatives on 20% and the Lib Dems on 15%;

• For the first time since it came to power in 2007, on voting intentions for Holyrood, the SNP have dipped below 30%, with Labour leading by 5 points, which would put them on course for a return to power in Scotland. Labour are on 33%, the SNP on 28%, and the Conservatives and Lib Dems are both on 16%; and

• 43% believe Gordon Brown is doing a good job compared to 36% who believe Alex Salmond is doing well and 28% who believe David Cameron is doing a good job.

What is more, the results in Scotland on Sunday are backed by similar polling in The Times, whose findings, if repeated at a general election with a uniform swing, would see the Tories winning just two seats in Scotland – one more than are present.

Additionally, YouGov have reported that 27% of Scots would support Scotland going independent, compared to 55% who are opposed. Faced with the prospect of a Conservative government, however, 31% of Scots would then support independence in a referendum. It lead Professor John Curtice of Strathclyde University to conclude that the SNP’s independence plans “seems to be in tatters”.

Reacting to the poll results, Labour MP for Ochil and South Perthshire, Gordon Banks, said:

“Scots are taking a long, hard look at the SNP and the Tories and are not liking what they see.”

For the Conservatives, shadow Scottish secretary David Mundell reacted by saying the polls were:

“Proof that Alex Salmond should ditch his separation plans and get on with what he was elected to do.”

These results come just days after The Sunday Times reported that Labour had closed the gap on the Conservatives to 2%, and yesterday’s poll, which Left Foot Forward reported, that showed more voters – of all persuasions – opposed David Cameron’s attempts to scupper a referendum on electoral reform.

Speaking over the weekend, shadow defence secretary Liam Fox appeared to concede that Gordon Brown could find himself still in Downing Street after the election. He said:

“There is a distinct possibility that people could wake up with Gordon Brown on the steps of Number 10 for another five years.”

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