What to watch for – Wales

In the final of the mini series assessing looking at the nations, Left Foot Forward assesses the four main parties' chances across the 40 seats in Wales.

In the final of the mini series assessing what to look out for across the devolved nations on election night, Left Foot Forward assesses the chances of the four main parties across the 40 seats up for grabs in Wales.

Following the 2005 election, the results were:

Party No of seats Share of the vote
Labour 29 (-5) 42.7%
Liberal Democrat 4 (+2) 18.4%
Conservative 3 (+3) 21.4%
Plaid Cymru 3 (-1) 12.6%
Independent 1 (+1) 2.3%

Across Wales, for all the parties, there is much to play for, with polls somewhat volatile as to what the outcome on Thursday night is likely to be. In a poll for ITV Wales following the first televised leaders’ debate, Labour found themselves ahead on 33 per cent (down 4 points), the Liberal Democrats had overtaken the Conservatives into second on 29 per cent (up 12 points), the Tories were on 23 per cent (down 6 points) and Plaid registered just 9 per cent (down 5 points).

However, by this weekend, the polls had Labour on 37.5 per cent, with the Conservatives regaining second place spot on 23.5 per cent, the Lib Dems on 21 per cent and Plaid on 10.8 per cent.

For the Conservative Party, however they went into the election targeting eight seats in Wales; they will look to Thursday as an opportunity to build on the historic European election results last year, which saw the Tories polling more votes than Labour in Wales for the first time since 1918. With the Lib Dems in resurgent mood, it will be interesting to see whether any anti-Labour vote in Wales switches instead to the Liberal Democrats or Plaid.

Left Foot Forward predicts that the Conservatives will gain a few more seats, but not all eight they have been targeting – but if Cameron were to enter Downing Street on Friday, questions would remain over the future of shadow Welsh secretary Cheryl Gillan after her decision to withdraw from Sunday’s BBC Wales leaders’ debate.

For Labour, the aim will be simple: set against a resurgent Conservative Party in Wales and with Cleggmania remaining an uncertain factor in the election, it will look to consolidate on its current standing, maintain its position as the largest party in Wales, and use it as a spring broad for next May’s assembly elections. Left Foot Forward predicts that Labour may lose a few seats, but will clearly remain the largest party in Wales, and win more seats than any of its opponents, though it remains to be seen whether the country that gave the UK Nye Bevan heeds Peter Hain’s calls for a progressive alliance to keep David Cameron out of Downing Street.

Plaid Cymru’s aim in this election has been fairly modest, simply hoping to top its high water mark in the 1992 election which saw it win four seats. With a campaign that was based on Plaid’s ability to speak for Wales and gain influence for the celtic nations, together with the SNP in a potential hung parliament, Plaid will be hoping Welsh voters see them as the David standing up to the London-based Goliath parties. With boundary changes effectively meaning they go into the election with one less seat than they gained in 2005, Left Foot Forward predicts that Plaid will hold four seats in the next parliament.

For the Lib Dems, the question will be whether the Cleggmania effect stretches to Wales. According to the Western Mail, Clegg’s standing is on the decline. With all of the seats they currently hold onto having majorities of less than 7,500, Left Foot Forward predicts that the Lib Dems will pick up a couple of new seats at most, but that the Lib Dem surge will prove a soft vote on polling day.

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