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All posts by Roger Scully

The 650 | 2nd June 2017

It’s no fluke poll – Labour is heading for a landslide in Wales

Last week’s Welsh poll showing a substantial revival in Labour fortunes was, we now know, not a fluke. Nor was it as some people – including me – suspected at the time, largely down to pangs of sympathy for the party after the untimely passing of Rhodri Morgan.

Today’s latest Welsh Political Barometer poll confirms the Labour fightback in the staunchest of its bastions.

This has been an erratic election in Wales: the first two polls of the campaign showed clear Conservative leads, and indicated that the Tories were on course for an historic electoral breakthrough. But the last two polls have given Labour substantial leads. The Welsh polls have followed the broad direction of travel seen in the Britain-wide surveys, but with more exaggerated movements in both directions: going sharply further to the Tories at the start of the campaign, and strongly back to Labour in the last fortnight.

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The 650 | 22nd May 2017

Why is Labour surging in Wales?

A new poll suggests Labour will not be going gently into that good night, says Cardiff University’s Roger Scully. 

Well where did that come from? The first two Welsh opinion polls of the general election campaign had given the Conservatives all-time high levels of support, and suggested that they were on course for an historic breakthrough in Wales. For Labour, in its strongest of all heartlands where it has won every general election from 1922 onwards, this year had looked like a desperate rear-guard action to defend as much of what they held as possible.

But today’s new Welsh Political Barometer poll has shaken things up a bit. It shows Labour support up nine percentage points in a fortnight, to 44 per cent. The Conservatives are down seven points, to 34 per cent. Having been apparently on course for major losses, the new poll suggests that Labour may even be able to make ground in Wales: on a uniform swing these figures would project Labour to regain the Gower seat they narrowly lost two years ago.

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The 650 | 11th May 2017

Welsh Labour isn’t dead yet – but it must stay Welsh to survive

The Labour party in Wales experienced something strikingly close to good news last week. After the shock of the first opinion poll of the general election campaign, which put them ten points behind the Conservatives, and facing their first general election defeat in Wales for ninety-nine years, pessimists were braced for another body-blow in the local elections.

But Labour won those elections in Wales. True, they did suffer net losses of more than 100 councillors, and ceded control of three local authorities. But these setbacks were very much at the lower end of expectations. Labour remain the dominant party of local government in Wales – even after last week, neither Plaid Cymru nor the Conservatives have anywhere close to half the number of local councillors that Labour does.

Further evidence that the Labour party is not about to roll over and die in its ultimate heartland has now been supplied from the second Welsh poll of the general election, which showed Labour support to have increased five points in a fortnight. While some of that jump may be more apparent than real – sampling error, random polling variation etc – you would always rather be rising than falling in the polls.

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The 650 | 27th April 2017

Could the 2017 general election turn Wales blue?

The Conservatives have a chance to capture both the Leave Labour and the Ukip vote.

For almost a century, general elections in Wales have been about Labour victories. Labour got the most votes in Wales for the first time in the 1922 general election, and it has done so at every general election since then. But this could just be the election where that formidable run comes to an end. Yes, things really are that bad for Labour.

Labour dominance in Wales has long meant Conservative weakness – the Tories always do worse in Wales than in England. But 2015 saw jubilant Tories across Wales celebrate their best general election result since the 1983 Thatcher landslide. Now they have realistic prospects of further advances. Even Bridgend – not won by the Tories since 1983, and held for the National Assembly by Labour First Minister Carwyn Jones – looks very winnable. Not only do the Conservatives face an enfeebled and divided Labour party; Theresa May’s bold pitch for a Brexit mandate will likely win significant support in Wales. Almost the entire Welsh political establishment supported Remain here last year. But the Welsh people voted Leave, and the polling evidence suggests that they have not changed their mind. A Brexit-focused campaign could be particularly problematic for Labour in its most iconic Welsh bastions: all of the south Wales valleys voted Leave, many by substantial margins.

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