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Wales Governance Centre: UK General Election Briefing

Lewis Davies
Lewis Davies

Labour and Wales: A history of hegemony

With the General Election campaign of all the political parties off and running, it was a pleasure to attend the Wales Governance Centre’s General Election 2019 Briefing. Professor Laura McAllister reminded us of the long history of Labour dominance in Wales with the Labour Party coming first in votes and seats at the last 26 General Elections. Conversely, the weakness of the Conservative Party is an even longer history with their last General Election win in Wales taking place in 1859. The last party to beat Labour in Wales was the Liberal Party under David Lloyd George in 1918.

The Issues: Brexit taking over from immigration and the economy

Jac Larner shared with us some interesting data from the latest Welsh Barometer Poll which asked respondents about issues they consider to be the most important at the upcoming General Election. When comparing the data with a similar poll carried out prior to the 2017 General Election, you can see two significant changes in importance of issues. The data showed that immigration and the economy have seen the biggest decrease in proportion of respondents selecting them as one of the most important issues. It was suggested that issues may have been overshadowed by Brexit, the only issue that a majority of respondents selected.

The Environment emerges as a key issue

In contrast, the environment has seen the biggest increase in respondents selecting it as one of the most important issues. This was probably a result of increased media attention of the issue through Extinction Rebellion protests and David Attenborough documentaries such as Blue Planet, Our Planet and Seven Worlds, One Planet.

Voter Votality

There’s been an increase in the level of party switching between General Elections. Between 2015 and 2017, it was estimated that 32% of voters in Wales switched parties. When you take into account the recent polling and both formal and informal pacts that have been made at the General Election, its fair to say there will be even greater voter volatility at General Election 2019.

Will Labours' Red Wall finally be breached?

Laura McAllister suggested that the Conservatives won’t win a majority by surfing a ‘blue wave’, but by chipping away at the ‘red wall’ [of Labour seats in northeast Wales]. Roger Awan-Scully highlighted the constituencies of Alyn & Deeside, Clwyd South, Vale of Clwyd, Delyn and Wrexham as being the key targets for the Conservatives. Nevertheless, its important to note some of these seats have never been Conservative, some of them haven’t been Conservative for a long while and some are seeing their incumbents standing down at this election. This in turn makes it very difficult to regard these seats a homogenous block as they have myriad of local factors which may affect who wins each seat.

For a bird's eye view.
Am olwg oddi uchod.

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