UKIP up and Labour continue to slide in Wales

UKIP are still on the march in Wales, according to new polling.

UKIP are still on the march in Wales, according to new polling

The figures, collected by ICM for BBC Wales, show that when questioned how they would vote in the next General Election, 14 per cent said UKIP, up from the 7 per cent the party recorded in the last BBC Wales/ICM  poll published for St David’s Day.

The findings also put Labour on 38 per cent (down 4); the Conservatives on 23 per cent (down 1); the Liberal Democrats down 2 to 7 per cent and Plaid Cymru on 13 per cent, down 1.

According to Cardiff University’s  Elections in Wales blog, if these figures were replicated universally across the country, they would find Labour picking up two seats to add to the 26 they won in Wales in 2010.

These seats would see the party take Cardiff North from the Conservatives and Cardiff Central from the Liberal Democrats.

The Conservatives would retain their current total of 8 seats, with the loss of Cardiff North compensated for by picking up Brecon and Radnor from the Liberal Democrats. The Liberal Democrats would hold just one of their current three seats in Ceredigion whilst Plaid Cymru would remain as they are on three seats.

Whilst the figures aren’t anywhere near close enough for UKIP to entertain ideas of picking up a seat in Wales, the blog nevertheless has a warning for the other parties that ‘UKIP support clearly is reaching the sort of levels where they might plausibly make a difference to who does win some seats’.

But worryingly for Ed Miliband, his Scottish problem seen during last week’s referendum seems to be being matched by an increasing problem in making the gains in Wales the party would be hoping for next year.

As Professor Roger Scully of the Wales Governance Centre at Cardiff University explains on the blog:

“ICM’s findings reinforce the point, made previously on this blog, that Labour support in Wales has slipped considerably over the past 18-24 months. In the four polls conducted in 2012, Labour’s general election vote share was always at or above 50 per cent. Both the last two have had it below 40 per cent. Indeed, it is notable that while Labour across Britain as a whole is running generally well ahead of the 29.0 per cent vote share it won at the 2010 general election….in Wales Labour’s support level is now only 2 per cent points above that gained in 2010.

“Two years ago, Ed Miliband could have confidently looked forward to Wales delivering him several seat gains at the general election; now, Welsh Labour’s seat harvest looks likely to be much smaller. That is probably the most important single message to come out of the recent polls on general election voting intention here in Wales.”

In stark contrast to YouGov findings just last week which put support for independence at 17 per cent, the BBC/ICM findings carried out after Scotland’s vote finds support for Wales going it alone sitting at just 3 per cent.

49 per cent of respondents have called for more powers for Cardiff Bay; 26 per cent said the current powers the Assembly has are sufficient as they are; 2 per cent believe the Assembly should have fewer powers whilst 12 per cent believe the Assembly should be abolished outright.

6 per cent of those who replied to the survey either didn’t know or had views that didn’t match any of the options provided.

Declaring support for independence to be the lowest he’d ever seen, Professor Scully said of this bit of the poll:

“There has been a clear move towards supporting more powers, and some of the people who may have said ‘independence’ have gone in that direction.

“We’re getting close to a majority saying they want things to go further. There are also pretty low levels of support for abolition of the assembly – the extreme positions are losing out.”

Meanwhile the pressure on the UK parties to reform the controversial Barnett Formula which they pledged to keep in their famous vow to the people of Scotland will increase as a result of the poll’s findings on attitudes to funding Wales.

With the Holtham Commission of 2009 having concluded that Wales was  under-funded using the formula to the tune of £300 million a year, the BBC ICM findings show 71 per cent of people in Wales believing that  changes are needed “because Wales loses out” to Scotland.

Responding to the poll findings, Welsh First Minister, Carwyn Jones yesterday warned that the UK government’s response to Scotland’s vote could lead to the complete break-up of the Union within ten years.

Outlining his frustrations that David Cameron had decided that the issue of future powers across the UK should be dealt with through a Cabinet sub-committee rather than a UK wide convention involving all the devolved governments, Jones told BBC Wales Week In, Week Out programme:

“If they don’t get this right in future – you can see the Scots coming back, being unhappy.

“In order to avoid all this and to keep UK together we need to have proper constitution for next centuries to come and work out where powers will be.

“If that isn’t done my great fear will be that in 10 years time in Scotland we’ll be back with another referendum and the result may well be different. That’s the lesson the establishment need to learn.”

Ed Jacobs is a contributing editor to Left Foot Forward

Like this article? Sign up to Left Foot Forward's weekday email for the latest progressive news and comment - and support campaigning journalism by making a donation today.