Scotland and Wales –a contrast in Labour’s fortunes

While support for the SNP continues to increase, Labour are managing to claw back some of their support in Wales


Labour’s hope of reversing its dramatic decline in the polls in Scotland is ‘very unlikely’ to be fulfilled, according to experts at the British Election survey.

Writing for the BES website, Professor Jane Green of Manchester University and Chris Prosser from Oxford University have concluded in stark language:

“It is Labour’s hope that the losses it has seen to the SNP are temporary, and that those voters will come back to Labour in six weeks’ time. Our data suggests that while not impossible, that prospect is very unlikely.”

With Labour seeking in earnest to woo back those of it previous voters who supported independence in September’s referendum, the latest BES polling indicates that this looks almost impossible to achieve.

According to the figures Scotland has been polarised like never before, with over 90 per cent of people indicating that they intend to vote SNP having voted for independence. In contrast, just over 89 per cent of Labour voters rejected independence in September.

Among all those voters north of the border that voted ‘Yes’ in the referendum, the proportion indicating that they will vote for the SNP has increased from just over 55 per cent in Feb/March 2014 to almost 79 per cent in March 2015.

In contrast, the proportion of pro-independence supporters indicating support for Labour has fallen from 21.5 per cent in Feb/March 2014 to just under six per cent in March 2015.

To make matters even worse for Labour, 94 per cent of those planning to vote SNP are certain to do so.

Meanwhile, as Labour’s Welsh leader Carwyn Jones prepares to launch the party’s election campaign there today, the party will be cheered up by the latest findings of the Welsh Political Barometer.

Conducted as a collaboration of YouGov, ITV and Cardiff University, the latest figures give Labour a commanding lead, on 40 per cent of the vote (up one percentage point since earlier in the month).

The Conservatives are unchanged on 25 per cent, UKIP remain on 14 per cent, Plaid Cymru is on 11 per cent (up one point), the Greens go down a point to five per cent, and the Lib Dems are unchanged on five per cent. Other parties are on one per cent.

According to the analysis by Professor Roger Scully, Professor of Political Science at the Wales Governance Centre, this would give Labour 28 seats (keeping the 26 they won in 2010, and picking up both Cardiff Central from the Liberal Democrats and Cardiff North from the Conservatives).

The Conservatives would retain eight seats (losing Cardiff North to Labour, whilst gaining Brecon & Radnor from the Liberal Democrats)

Plaid Cymru would remain unchanged on three seats whilst the Liberal Democrats would lose all of there seats except Ceredigion.

Scully said:

“Having seen their vote share decline steadily in the Welsh opinion polls throughout 2013 and 2014, this is the third Barometer poll of 2015 to show that Labour have halted that decline and even reversed it to a slight extent.

“This places the party in a strong position to make at least some gains in the general election. The Conservatives’ poll rating also remains robust at a level very close to that which they won in the 2010 election, while Plaid Cymru will be encouraged to be edging up marginally in support, again to more-or-less the level they won in the last election.

“However, Plaid remain in fourth place – behind UKIP, whose decline in our previous two Barometer polls appears to have levelled out for now.

“While the Liberal Democrats poll rating also remains steady, they will surely be less encouraged by stability than many of their opponents. The Lib-Dems continue to poll at only one-quarter of their 2010 vote share, and have made no ground at all since the previous Barometer poll.

“About the best thing that can be said for their performance here is that at least they are no longer in sixth place – the slight fall in support for the Greens places both of those parties in a joint, but rather distant, fifth.”

Ed Jacobs is a contributing editor to Left Foot Forward. Follow him on Twitter

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