Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Courting Plaid Supporters: Labour or Tory?

Since becoming freelance from ITV Gareth Hughes, has provided us with a insightful and entertaining Blog which is always worth viewing.

However and perhaps when you start from a position of praise there is always a however is latest piece on the  Welsh Labour Party conference  makes a I cannot see.

It is not so much is analysis of the conference itself but is assessment of Carwyn Jones overtures to Plaid Cymru supporters

Gareth goes on to make the claim that ..
The Tories started to eat into Plaid Cymru’s vote by targeting the more conservative Plaid. The strategy was greatly helped by Plaid Cymru trying to position itself as a left wing party. Whilst Plaid were trying to out left Labour the Tories were blatantly mopping up the some of Plaid’s more traditional conservative voters. Indeed they were so successful that at the last Assembly election Plaid were pushed into third place and Tories became the Official Opposition"
Where can he say Plaid tried to   "position itself as a left wing party"as opposed to previous Assembly elections? From  where I stood, this was the most centralist campaign Plaid had fought for decades  with only a few candidates taking a progressive left stand. The Party stood in the middle of the road and was run over by the Labour /Tories juggernauts

In my view Plaids campaign last year and its poor showing in the General Election of 2010 (In which the SNP also failed to live up to expectations) was partly due to a concentration on Westminster politics

However in the Assembly despite the vote on increased powers in the previous March in which they could have spent part of the build up working on law measures to put in their 2011 manifesto. Plaid offered very little to excite the welsh voters and suffered because they had been in  coalition with Labour for a good part of the previous Assembly  found in difficult to crticise the record of that  previous government.

(First past the post)
(Additional member system)
Total seats
Votes %+/−Seats+/−Votes %+/−Seats+/−Total+/− %
Plaid Cymru182,90719.3–3.15–2169,79917.9–3.16–211–418.3
Liberal Democrats100,25910.6–4.21–276,3498.0−3.74+15–18.3

(First past the post)
(Additional member system)
Total seats
Votes %+/−Seats+/−Votes %+/−Seats+/−Total+/− %
Plaid Cymru219,12122.4+1.27+2204,75721.0+2.38+115+325.0
Liberal Democrats144,45014.8+0.630114,50011.7−1.0306010.

In the election Plaid lost  36,214 votes . The Tories gained  18,658 Labour gained 86,752 and the Libdems  lost 44,191. I suspect the majority of the 18,658 Tory voters came from those who had not voted in the 2007 election.

In individual Constituencies  there might have been a few Tories who voted Plaid previous;y as an anti Labour vote  but even in the one where it might be suspected Plaid voters switched to the Tories the figures don't add up 
Assembly Election 2011: Aberconwy[1]
ConservativeJanet Finch-Saunders6,88834+3.6
Plaid CymruIwan Huws5,32126.2-12.3
LabourEifion Wyn Williams5,20625.7+3.9
Liberal DemocratsMike Priestley2,87314.2+4.9
Assembly Election 2007: Aberconwy
Plaid CymruGareth Jones7,98338.6
ConservativeDylan Jones-Evans6,29030.4
LabourDenise Idris Jones4,50821.8
Liberal DemocratsEuron Hughes1,9189.3
From this it could be argued Plaid voters switched more to Labour or the LibDems rather than the Tories . So whilst I can't totally discount Gareth Hughes argument I suspect that in reality only a few people who voted Plaid previously switched to the Tories in 2011and even then the their support was on lukewarm.

The majority  who switched went "Home to Labour" and this was because Labour with thier "Standing up for Wales" campaign slogan presented themselves as not only a Left of Centre  party as opposed to a right of centre Westminster coalition  government  bit also as "Party of Wales".

Even those who are on the right of the majority of Plaid supporters id  not largely subscribe to Thatchers vision and I suspect very few subscribe to Cameron@s and Nick Clegg's.

It will remain to be seen if Plaid can use Independence as their  Unique selling Point (USP) but I doubt if a move to the centre or right will gain many Tory Votes. The future lies in showing Labour voters that their values can be better severed by  a Welsh Parliament inCardif rather than a the Tories in Westminster


  1. Plaid Cymru is to the left of the Labour party . But in the 2011 elections that wasn't their selling point (and why would it be?). Not sure if Welsh people think in terms of 'so and so is left' and 'so and so is right'. It's an academic question, important but not really the main thing voters are thinking about. The reasons for Plaid slipping back are to do with a reaction against the Tories and Plaid voters switching to Labour. Not 'positioning to the left' or anything as abstract as that. Indeed most people probably didn't know where Plaid was positioned, they merely wanted 'a better Wales'. Who wouldn't? BUT thats all in the past. Time to move on and have a clear message and new leader.

  2. I notice that all four main parties consistently get fewer votes on the regional ballot than on the constituency ballot. It would be interesting to knwo where those votes went to.

  3. Welsh Agenda I excluded the regional votes and other Parties for simplicity but the 4 main Parties lost an average of 28094 votes.

    Of the Others tje main winners were

    UKIP No Constituency votes 43,756 regional 4.6%
    Green 1514 Constituency votes 32,649 regional 3.4%
    Socialist Labour No Constituency votes 23,020 Regional 2.4%
    BNP Constituency 7,056 22,610 Regional 2.4%

    Quite frankly the failure of these Parties to fight every seat evenin a region would have made a mockery of the top up system.

    Why should UKIP have been given seat on the Regional Vote when they failed to fight a single constituency?