Ukip is still a threat to Labour in Wales

The Beckett Review warns that the list system could see Farage's party gaining seats in May


Ukip continues to ‘present a threat’ to Welsh Labour ahead of elections to the Assembly in May. That’s the assertion made in Margaret Beckett’s review of Labour’s defeat at last year’s election.

The report describes the party’s performance in Wales at the General Election as ‘disappointing’, noting that the party there ‘underperformed compared with other traditional Labour heartlands’.

In a sober assessment, the report notes that whilst there was a small swing of just 0.3 per cent in votes to the Conservatives from Labour, it nevertheless resulted in the loss of two seats – the Vale of Clwyd and Gower – to the Conservatives, whilst Labour picked up just one, Cardiff Central, from the Liberal Democrats.

“The Conservatives fought a campaign” in Wales, the report notes “on local issues and played down national politics, and indeed played down the word ‘Conservative’.”

In its conclusion of where the party now stands in Wales, the report notes:

“We remain the largest party by some distance, with a 10 per cent lead on the Conservatives. Ukip made large gains in votes, and, while they didn’t win any seats, are in second place in five Labour seats. They could, therefore, present a threat in the Welsh Assembly elections, because of the list system.”

But one former shadow minister has suggested that Labour’s dire position across the UK may not have the kind of impact some are concerned about ahead of May’s elections in Wales.

Speaking to the Western Mail, Cardiff South and Penarth MP Stephen Doughty, who dramatically resigned his post on TV as a shadow foreign office minister during the week of the endless reshuffle, argued:

“It is…clear in Wales that people are drawing a clear distinction between their views of Labour overall and the performance of the Welsh Labour government.

“Many people have spoken to me, for example, about the contrast between England facing a junior doctors’ strike and the absence of such action in Wales.

“And I know these are the important issues people will be focusing on in the elections in May.”

North of the border, where Labour saw some of its most dramatic and high profile defeats, the review argues bleakly that its collapse there ‘was a disaster that had been waiting to happen, perhaps for many years.’ It was, the report argues, a result of the Labour Party coming to be seen in Scotland as a party of continuity rather than one of change.

Calling for the development of a long term strategy for Labour in Scotland, the report concludes:

“The Scottish Labour party, while remaining a key part of the UK party and movement, should have significant autonomy in policy areas relevant to Scotland and its own campaign strategy.”

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

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