The third in this exhilarating series of posts examines what the Lib Dems have to do to seize power in Wales. Not that this is where their attention will be focused; avoiding electoral annihilation will be top of their list in 2016:
But the Lib Dems are in a bit of a state in Wales. There are only 11 constituencies where they garnered more than 10% of the vote last time round. And to rub salt into their wounds, they scooped up less than 5% of the vote in 17 constituencies. Lost deposits in Wales alone cost them £8,500 in 2011.
No matter. How do they gain a total of 31 seats? Let’s find out.
The list below is in order of the most likely to be held/fall first (see this post for the reasoning of the target seats). I’m going to make the assumption that they’ll need to do it in the absence of any regional/list seats, because in order to get their majority of no less than one they have to pick up at least four seats in each electoral region. The maths says it’s impossible to get a regional seat under those circumstances. That’s the price you pay for being a party equally unpopular everywhere. So far, Labour is the only party that’s managed to use regional unpopularity to its advantage.
- Brecon & Radnorshire – held with 9.7% majority
- Cardiff Central – 0.2% behind 1st place
- Ceredigion – 6.1% behind
- Montgomeryshire – 10.1% behind
- Swansea West – 28.5% behind
- Newport East – 31.8% behind
- Aberconwy – 19.8% behind
- Wrexham – 30.4% behind
- Pontypridd – 32.9% behind
- Clwyd South – 32.5% behind
- Preseli Pembrokeshire – 34.7% behind
- Gower – 38.2% behind
- Penarth & Cardiff South – 40.2% behind
- Clwyd West – 36.0% behind
- Merthyr Tydfil & Rhymney – 41.5% behind
- Delyn – 38.5% behind
- Monmouth – 40.5% behind
- Cardiff West – 40.1% behind
- Carmarthen West & South Pembrokeshire – 32.0% behind
- Carmarthen East & Dinefwr – 40.1% behind
- Alyn & Deeside – 45.0% behind
- Swansea East – 49.6% behind
- Dwyfor Meirionnydd – 41.8% behind
- Ynys Môn – 38.2% behind
- Newport West – 45.3% behind
- Bridgend – 49.0% behind
- Llanelli – 37.6% behind
- Cardiff North – 43.0% behind
- Vale of Glamorgan – 42.9% behind
- Vale of Clwyd – 46.0% behind
- Torfaen – 42.4% behind
In nearly half the seats they need for an electoral majority, the Liberal Democrats are more than 40% behind the incumbent party.
To say that this is unlikely at the next election – or indeed the next few elections – is stating the blindingly obvious, especially when you consider the trauma that UKIP is likely to inflict upon the Lib Dem representation in the next election.
There are two rays of sunshine I hold out for Lib Dem supporters in Wales. Firstly, every now and then an unforeseen and seismic shift happens in politics. This is as true in Wales as it is elsewhere. In Wales, it appears to have happened three times ever. It could happen again in the Lib Dems’ favour. The ‘unforeseen’ nature of these shifts is one of the reasons I can’t imagine it happening. But happen it could.
The second is that – as the Lib Dems have proven in the past – you don’t need 31 seats to sit in the back of a Ministerial car. And perhaps holding the balance of power is as much ambition as we might reasonably permit. Only this time, do us all a favour and make the single transferable vote in local elections an immutable condition of your coalition. And then sit back and watch as the “corridors run with blood“.
PS I’ve finally found time to upload the Sunderland Commission report (in Welsh and in English) that recommended proportional representation for local elections in Wales. Presumably the Welsh Government doesn’t want this to be seen by anyone. For starters, it’s not on their website. And second, it took them 8 months and a few reminders for them to reply to my FoI request for it.