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Senedd Election 2021: Pre-Election Round Up

Lara Stace
Lara Stace

With just one day until the election, politicians, campaigners and activists under all banners will be making a last-ditch attempt to reach through to voters before they make their way to village halls, primary schools and leisure centres across the country on Thursday. This year’s election will also see results come through in a trickle over several days, due to counting limitations put in place as a result of the pandemic, rather than at the end of a long shift through the night.

Thanks to the pandemic, public awareness about the Senedd and Welsh Government, and what powers are held in Wales, has increased. This means that this year’s Senedd Election offers the chance to beat the previous 48% turnout record, set in the first Assembly election in 1999. The extension of the franchise to 16 and 17 year-olds may also change the picture in some very marginal seats, although the numbers of those newly eligible to vote won’t cause a seismic shift in the electoral landscape.

After some disappointing predictions for the Welsh Conservatives, the latest YouGov poll for ITV Wales has offered some heartening results for the party – it suggests a 5% gain compared to previous polls, with 29% of the constituency vote share. Welsh Labour still leads with 36%, although it has improved just 1% on previous polls, and risks losing seats due to the Conservatives’ stronger performance. A 4% fall, to 20%, for Plaid Cymru will not be welcome news for leader Adam Price, although it may mobilise ambivalent voters.

The final long weekend of campaigning saw Prime Minister Boris Johnson make a visit to Barry, during which he criticised the Welsh Labour Government’s performance on health, and claimed Labour and Plaid Cymru are “obsessed with the constitutional issues”. Conservative Secretary of State for Wales, Simon Hart, also penned an article in The Times, claiming that Welsh Labour’s sheer length of time in government is case enough for change and sought to mobilise reluctant Conservative voters to seize the ‘historic chance for change’.

UK Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer yesterday visited North Wales, in an attempt to shore up support in former ‘Red Wall’ seats that were lost to the Conservatives in the 2019 General Election. Whilst there, he focused on First Minister Mark Drakeford’s record during the pandemic, and some of Welsh Labour’s campaign messages – jobs, NHS recovery, the National Forest, and community police officers. Although Welsh Labour isn’t expecting any significant gains, battleground seats such as Wrexham in North Wales and Llanelli in the South West will be held up as a barometer for the party’s performance.

Plaid Cymru leader Adam Price has also been on the road, recently in South West Wales, and has promised to adopt a “jobs, jobs, jobs” mantra if Plaid is elected to government. Throughout the campaign, Adam Price has accused Welsh Labour of economic incompetence and has criticised the party’s “woeful economic legacy” after 22 years in power. In its place, Plaid has promised a raft of measures, including a £6 billion programme of investment and the creation of up to 60,000 jobs in key sectors such as public services, infrastructure and energy.

The pandemic has had a severe impact on the economy in Wales and the main parties have all made pledges to promote recovery. As well as Plaid’s commitment to create thousands of jobs, the Welsh Conservatives have pledged to create 65,000 jobs over the next Senedd term, including 15,000 green jobs. Although Welsh Labour has said it will create thousands of jobs in a low carbon house building drive, it has not made an outright promise. Instead, it has pledged 125,000 apprenticeships as well as a work, education or training offer all under-25s.

On election day itself, campaigners will be rushed off their feet as they try and ensure their supporters get out to vote, but it will also offer some pause for those folk who will be watching for the results over the next few days. The team at Deryn will be on hand for live updates and analysis, as we find out who will represent Wales in the Sixth Senedd. With no outright majority predicted, it will take yet a few more weeks until we know what form the Welsh Government will take.

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

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