Tag Archives: Roger Scully

Carwyn Jones – Mr Anonymous

There was a time when Carwyn Jones was regarded as an asset to the Labour Party in Wales. Regard the party political broadcast for the 2011 election which was basically the Carwyn show. And who could overlook the analyses by Roger Scully, which for some reason use polling data, rather than the revolutionary new method we’re about to reveal. Roger noted in December 2014 that:

Carwyn Jones remains by some way the most popular party leader in Wales

Let’s consider that Carwyn has been First Minister since December 2009, a full six years. That would be a decent length of time for someone to make their mark. But I get the feeling that Carwyn’s star has fallen a long way since its ascendency in 2011. Perhaps he’s taken everything (and everyone) for granted for so long that people just don’t care about him – or his opinion – any more. I’d be astonished if Carwyn gets the airtime in this election that he enjoyed in party political broadcasts last election. What leads to this radical conclusion?

It’s the New Year Twitter test.

As First Minister of Wales, Carwyn Jones’ new year message of good will was retweeted a grand total of 4 times (up to the end of 4 January), one of whom is a candidate in the coming election, and another Wayne David, MP for Caerffili. To be fair, his Welsh language version was retweeted 5 times. But two of these had already retweeted the English language version. Grand total? 7 retweets.

How did other First and Prime Ministers do?  Nicola Sturgeon only managed 419 retweets. Pathetic really for someone who’s been in post a shade over one year. David Cameron managed 1,300 for the cheesy ‘Happy New Year’ tweet, with a more modest 363 for his actual message.

How about the other party leaders in Wales? Kirsty Williams didn’t get a single retweet for her message, Andrew RT Davies netted 12 retweets, Alice Hooker Stroud got 7 (not bad for a month’s tenure!) and Leanne Wood achieved 34.

But we’re not really comparing like with like. It’s hardly a fair contest to pit opposition leaders – of varying tenure – against the profile of someone who until recently was Wales’ most popular party leader. Nor is it fair to pit the leaders of England and Scotland – both much bigger countries – against that of Wales. So here goes, with a quick look at some equivalent leaders.

  • Panama – population 3.8 million – President Juan Carlos Varela 158 retweets
  • Jamaica – population 2.7 million – Prime Minister Portia Simpson-Miller 11 retweets (great message, by the way… “May 2016 see your dreams come true. May you shine as never before, believe as never before and soar as never before”)
  • Macedonia – population 2.1 million – Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski 19 retweets

To be fair, there are plenty of mid-size countries whose leaders aren’t on twitter or didn’t bother with a new year’s greeting. My personal favourite is the Prime Minister of Lebanon, who clearly hasn’t managed his settings to avoid every post he makes on Facebook appearing in his twitter feed.

But there’s a bit more of a serious point here. If the First Minister of Wales can’t get a single elected politician in Wales other than Wayne David to retweet his new year message, maybe it’s not just the plebs who are losing faith in Carwyn. Perhaps the rot has set in within his own party.

By the time 2016’s out, there’s going to be another leader of the Labour Party in Wales, which of course means a new First Minister.

3 Sylw

Filed under Conservatives, Democracy, Labour, Liberal Democrats, Plaid Cymru, Welsh Government

The Plaid-Lib Dem Minority Administration

Forgive me for mining this seam to its very end. Because there is at least this one more interpretation to Adam Price’s contention that Plaid and the Lib Dems could form the next government: the Minority Administration.

It’s currently unthinkable that Labour would band together with the Conservatives to frustrate a potential Plaid-Lib Dem coalition – despite amusing reference to at least one local authority configuration as a ‘Nazi-Soviet pact’.

So in order to form a minority administration, the maths tells us that:

  • Total seats under consideration = 60 – Conservatives
  • And Plaid + Lib Dem = Labour +1

For simplicity’s sake, let’s assume that the Conservatives gain an identical number of seats in 2016 as in 2011: 14. That’s unlikely, and we’ll examine the implications below. But were that the case, it would leave 46 seats up for grabs. And that would mean the Plaid-Lib Dem coalition would need 24 seats between them. Perhaps we’re starting to enter the realm of possibility rather than fantasy?

I’m going to make the same assumption as in the previous post for the Lib Dems, namely that they’ll bag six seats. That means that Plaid would need 18.

So the first task is to assume that all 18 would need to come from constituencies. That feat would see them ripping seats such as Swansea West, Wrexham, Cynon Valley and, yes, Rhondda, from Labour. Perhaps Plaid could more realistically expect seats such as Islwyn and Torfaen to fall than Wrexham and Clwyd South. And if we were to delve into the detail, we’d realise that Plaid would have to take seats almost exclusively from Labour, rather than the Conservatives in Clwyd West and Preseli Pembrokeshire. That’s the result of each seat lost by Conservatives ironically making it more difficult to form a minority administration, because according to the formula, the Conservative bloc reduces the number of seats required by Plaid-Lib Dem.

On that assumption, Plaid would need the following 18 constituencies:

  1. Ynys Môn – held with 42.3% majority
  2. Arfon – held with 30.5% majority
  3. Dwyfor Meirionnydd – held with 26.1% majority
  4. Carmarthen East & Dinefwr – held with 14.9% majority
  5. Ceredigion – held with 6.1% majority
  6. Llanelli – 0.3% behind 1st place
  7. Carmarthen West & South Pembrokeshire – 6.2% behind
  8. Caerphilly – 19.3% behind
  9. Aberconwy – 7.7% behind
  10. Neath – 26.8% behind
  11. Clwyd South – 23.8% behind
  12. Cardiff West – 27.1% behind
  13. Rhondda – 33.7% behind
  14. Cynon Valley – 34.8% behind
  15. Swansea West – 31.4% behind
  16. Islwyn – 36.2% behind
  17. Torfaen – 34.0% behind
  18. Pontypridd – 37.3% behind

The eagle-eyed amongst you will have noticed that in this scenario Plaid are scooping two constituencies each in South Wales East and South Wales West, which at a stretch could permit a regional seat in one or both. However, Plaid have also reduced the Conservatives’ constituencies by two, which means the total needed for the minority administration will be 25, which in turn brings one seat from the following into the mix: Montgomeryshire, Cardiff Central, Vale of Glamorgan, Gower, Ogmore or Penarth & Cardiff Central. Who said this was going to be easy?!

This minority administration is the only vaguely feasible scenario in which Labour will not be forming the next government. And ‘vaguely feasible’, in this analysis, has ignored the increasing likelihood of UKIP reaping list seats (five, according to Roger Scully). Although it’s too early to be making space for UKIP in these analyses, any new formula would look like this:

  • Total seats under consideration = 60 – (Conservatives + UKIP)
  • And Plaid + Lib Dem = Labour +1

The minority report for Adam Price and his team just got harder.

Rhowch sylw

Filed under Democracy, Elections, Liberal Democrats, Plaid Cymru, Welsh Government

Seizing Power in Cardiff Bay: Plaid

And so to the final post in this series. How will Plaid manage to do what their sister party did in Scotland – bearing in mind that the proportional representation element of elections in Wales provides a less fair allocation of seats than it does up north?

This list 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 – and you’ll see why from the complexion of the seats they need to win. Plaid’s worst-performing electoral region is South Wales East, but they still need to pick up three seats here in order to get a majority. It’s difficult to imagine that they’ll get list seats in this or any other region under those circumstances.

  1. Ynys Môn – held with 42.3% majority
  2. Arfon – held with 30.5% majority
  3. Dwyfor Meirionnydd – held with 26.1% majority
  4. Carmarthen East & Dinefwr – held with 14.9% majority
  5. Ceredigion – held with 6.1% majority
  6. Llanelli – 0.3% behind 1st place
  7. Carmarthen West & South Pembrokeshire – 6.2% behind
  8. Caerphilly – 19.3% behind
  9. Aberconwy – 7.7% behind
  10. Clwyd West – 20.3% behind
  11. Neath – 26.8% behind
  12. Clwyd South – 23.8% behind
  13. Cardiff West – 27.1% behind
  14. Rhondda – 33.7% behind
  15. Preseli Pembrokeshire – 26.9% behind
  16. Cynon Valley – 34.8% behind
  17. Wrexham – 30.9% behind
  18. Swansea West – 31.4% behind
  19. Islwyn – 36.2% behind
  20. Delyn – 33.5% behind
  21. Torfaen – 34.0% behind
  22. Montgomeryshire – 32.4% behind
  23. Pontypridd – 37.3% behind
  24. Cardiff Central – 30.5% behind
  25. Vale of Glamorgan – 35.3% behind
  26. Gower – 36.0% behind
  27. Penarth & Cardiff South – 38.2% behind
  28. Ogmore – 47.3% behind
  29. Aberavon – 49.3% behind
  30. Vale of Clwyd – 39.4% behind
  31. Swansea East – 46.0% behind

For the sake of argument, let’s imagine that Plaid managed to grab a list seat in South Wales East plus 30 constituency seats. That would mean they wouldn’t need to win Swansea East, for example. But they’d still need to be winning seats where they’re nearly 50% behind first place. Is the picture hopeless for Plaid?

As with the other two opposition parties, we’re looking for a seismic shift in Welsh politics. But unlike for the Lib Dems or Conservatives, Plaid can hold out a glimmer of hope.

An opinion poll conducted by ICM on behalf of the BBC found that the proportion of people in Wales inclined towards independence would increase by 5% (from 7% to 12%) if Scotland votes for independence in 10 months’ time. And perhaps even more interestingly, if you delve into the detail of that poll, you’ll find that pro-independence sentiment is substantially stronger in younger age groups. So while the former suggests that a block shift could happen in the short term, the latter indicates that in the longer term, Plaid may be looking at a generational shift in their favour.

So what would an increase of, say 5% in Plaid’s share of the vote mean? Well, the block shift isn’t seismic. On the list above, it would mean Llanelli falling into Plaid’s lap, with Carmarthen West and Aberconwy coming within reach. But gaining Llanelli would spell the end for Simon Thomas as a regional member for mid and west Wales.

Of course, that 5% of votes has to come from somewhere. So it would also reduce some of the huge majorities currently facing Plaid. Seats such as Neath and Clwyd West and South would need in the order of a further 7-10% swing to come Plaid’s way. Doable? Possibly.

Clearly independence for Scotland, while having an influence, isn’t going to be enough on its own.

So if we’re ruling out the tectonic possibility for now, how else could it happen? The simple answer is that it couldn’t. With the best candidates in Wales grafting around the clock from now until 2016, seats like Aberavon, Swansea East and our beloved Penarth & Cardiff South are going to stay exactly where they are now: safe Labour territory.

Which brings us back to coalition government as the only viable route for Plaid to exert Ministerial influence in Wales in the foreseeable future. And that in turn means one of the following:

  • Coalition with Labour – presumably unlikely after the last such experience
  • Coalition with Lib Dems alone – highly improbable given the Lib Dems’ problems – despite what Adam Price thinks
  • The rainbow coalition with Lib Dems and Conservatives – ruled out by current Plaid leader Leanne Wood on account of the Conservatives (or as Roger Scully puts it: “Leanne Wood entering a coalition with the Conservatives currently looks about as likely as one of the Rev Ian Paisley’s daughters becoming Pope”)

So where does that leave politics in Wales?

Labour government – either minority or majority – for the foreseeable future.

2 Sylw

Filed under Democracy, Elections, Plaid Cymru, Welsh Government

The Future’s Bright, the Future’s Labour?

Roger Scully and the Wales Governance  Centre do a tremendous service to public life in Wales. But not only through Roger’s excellent blog. He’s also happy to provide a wealth of data for people to wade through in their quest for the truth.

And that’s exactly what’s grabbed my attention, with the full data (pdf) from a survey conducted on behalf of the governance centre in July this year.

Hidden down in the detail is some very interesting information about how the parties are faring in terms of garnering the support from different sections of society. The first of the two aspects of the survey I’m going to focus on relates to party fidelity. That is, how solid the support is for different parties – something that Roger alluded to in this article. A quick health warning – don’t assume you can add up the percentages I’m quoting and get 100%. The results are comparative not absolute.

The ranking of parties in terms of least breadth of electoral appeal is as follows (where a 0 or 1 likelihood on a scale of 0 to 10 is considered to be highly unlikely to vote for this party):

  1. Conservatives – 52%
  2. UKIP – 50%
  3. Lib Dems – 46%
  4. Greens – 37%
  5. Plaid Cymru – 33%
  6. Labour – 26%

I was going to say ‘so far, so unsurprising’, but actually the only unsurprising stats here are that a half of the population of Wales has no intention, ever, of voting for UKIP, and that three-quarters of people would consider voting for Labour to at least a marginal degree. The figure for the Conservatives is jaw-dropping. Being the least preferred (or most-despised) party for people in Wales puts them above UKIP in that chart. The Welsh Conservatives must be thanking their lucky stars the Alternative Vote isn’t in place for Assembly elections. And the Lib Dems only just beat UKIP in the popularity stakes. The Green party will be delighted that 63% of people would to at least some degree consider voting for them, although transferring that broad electoral appeal into votes is where they need to concentrate their minds. The same goes for Plaid – hard antagonism to the Party is limited to just one-third of the population. Were one to imagine (and Plaid would contest this vigorously) that English people living in Wales might be less favourably inclined to the party, and given that 14% of the population considers themselves to be English, the result could indicate that Labour and Plaid are in a genuine two-way tussle for support amongst those people considering themselves to be Welsh.

That’s one end of the scale. Let’s have a look at how high fidelity is for the parties. This time, I’m going to take a scale of 7 to 10 to indicate a high degree of fidelity:

  1. Labour – 46%
  2. Plaid – 26%
  3. Conservative – 21%
  4. UKIP – 18%
  5. Greens – 15%
  6. Lib Dem – 14%

Labour are way out in the lead. Again, rather unsurprising. That’s what accounts for the massive dominance Labour has enjoyed in Wales since 1945. But the fidelity level of Plaid is surprisingly high. Let’s compare this voting intention with the share of the vote in 2011 (average of regional and constituency votes):

  1. Labour – fidelity 46%, share of vote 40% (-6%)
  2. Plaid – fidelity 26%, share of vote 19% (-7%)
  3. Conservative – fidelity 21%, share of vote 24% (+3%)
  4. UKIP – fidelity 18%, insufficient votes to determine
  5. Greens – fidelity 15%, insufficient votes to determine
  6. Lib Dem – fidelity 14%, share of vote 10% (-4%)

Not too much news there, other than the Conservatives having a higher share of the vote than expected. Obviously their message in 2011 helped persuade people who would not otherwise have voted for them to give them a try. Buoyed by the early successes of the UK coalition government, no doubt?! The reason the other parties have a lower share of the vote is because the fidelity scores add up to greater than 100%, whereas the share of the vote can only add up to 100%.

In passing, I’m just going to look at the gender split for the different parties. Labour support has an identifiable bias in favour of men, a pattern not replicated by any other party. The other parties (with the exception of UKIP, which shows no gender trend) have some degree of preference from women, ranging from a clear preference for the Conservatives to marginal for Plaid, the Lib Dems and the Greens.

The final point of particular interest in these stats relates to age category. There are two different aspects to this. First is that people in older age categories are more likely to vote, with pensioners the most likely of all. It stands to reason that it’s good for a political party to be scooping up the grey vote. But any organisation – and political parties are no exception – needs to think about succession. That’s why attracting young voters to a party is absolutely crucial.

The high fidelity pensioner (60+) vote is split as follows:

  1. Labour – 47%
  2. Plaid – 29%
  3. Conservative – 28%
  4. UKIP – 26%
  5. Lib Dem – 16%
  6. Greens – 13%

Conventional wisdom always taught me that people tend to get more conservative as they get older. But that effect doesn’t appear to be tremendously strong in Wales, the increase in fidelity for the Conservatives (+7%) and UKIP (+8%) in this older age category being rather more than that for Plaid (+3%) as compared to all age categories, but not massively so.

So what’s the story at the other end of the scale? Amongst the 18-24 bracket we get:

  1. Labour – 41%
  2. Conservative – 27%
  3. Plaid – 20%
  4. Greens – 19%
  5. Lib Dem – 17%
  6. UKIP – 15%

Labour have succeeded in maintaining their electoral appeal right across the age categories to a spectacular degree. The Conservatives do surprisingly well amongst younger voters (voters untainted by the Thatcher years), Plaid do rather poorly and the Greens can look to the future with some optimism.

But things aren’t quite that simple. Because if we take the fidelity as being those who rank the parties on a 6-10 scale rather than 7-10, we get the following:

  1. Labour – 51%
  2. Plaid – 38%
  3. Conservative – 32%
  4. Lib Dem – 27%
  5. Greens – 22%
  6. UKIP – 19%

As ever, it’s a question of where you define the boundaries. I’ll let you draw your own conclusions.

2 Sylw

Filed under Conservatives, Democracy, Elections, Greens, Labour, Liberal Democrats, Plaid Cymru, UKIP

Seizing Power in Cardiff Bay: Labour

For the other parties, this is a theoretical exercise. For Labour, it should be reality.

To get a better view on the Labour party’s grip on power in Wales, Roger Scully’s analysis is second to none. Just for the record, Labour has achieved the following number of seats in National Assembly elections:

  • 1999 – 28 seats
  • 2003 – 30 seats
  • 2007 – 26 seats
  • 2011 – 30 seats

Having half the seats isn’t enough in the power game. To truly wield power you need 50% +1 seat, or 31 seats. In 2003 and 2011 alike Labour’s failure to grab the critical additional seat meant governing in a minority administration, and therefore needing to secure a vote from at least one opposition Member in order to win crucial votes (such as approving the annual budget and votes of no confidence).

So how does Labour go about getting 31 seats? Read on.

The most straightforward way is to win 31 constituency seats. In 2003 Labour won 30 constituencies, but in 2011 they took 28 constituency seats, receiving 2 compensatory seats in mid and west Wales courtesy of d’Hondt. The missing constituencies this time around are Preseli Pembrokeshire and Carmarthen West & South Pembrokeshire. Given that they also hold Ynys Môn at Westminster, perhaps these three seats are the targets?

Almost.

In order to win absolute power, Labour must take Preseli Pembrokeshire, Carmarthen West & South Pembrokeshire, and a seat that has eluded them thus far: Carmarthen East & Dinefwr. Ok – so that’s what the stats say. What does reality think?

Angela Burns has a reasonable (5.4%) majority in Carmarthen West & South Pembrokeshire. Not unassailable by any stretch, although much less marginal than her 0.3% majority in 2007. Labour will certainly be eyeing up this seat for 2016. Paul Davies meanwhile has quite a grip on Preseli Pembrokeshire for the Conservatives (8.0%). It will be a tough task for Labour to regain. Labour’s additional problem is that both these seats are in mid and west Wales electoral region. Winning either of them will deny Rebecca Evans or Joyce Watson their seats in the Senedd.

Carmarthen East & Dinefwr would be more of a challenge under normal circumstances. Plaid have a 14.9% majority. And the circumstances are anything but normal, with the prodigal son returning in the high probability of becoming a professional politician again.

So let’s look to greener pastures. A seat in an electoral region where Labour don’t stand to lose any seats through winning a new constituency. There can only be one electoral region to target. South Wales West and Central are clean sweeps for Labour, so it’s simply a case of holding the line (no-one mention Rhondda at this point). And Monmouth is the only non-Labour seat in South Wales East. Nick Ramsay will be difficult to dislodge. The pickings are definitely richer in the north.

There are two obvious contenders here, and one less so because Clwyd West is wholly unlikely to fall to Labour. Darren Millar has made this seat his own, following Alun Pugh’s losing performance in 2007. Aberconwy, meanwhile, is the most promising seat for Labour. They’re 8.3% off the pace in a three-way tussle for supremacy. But there’s real potential here, not least because a reasonable proportion of the 14.2% share of the vote garnered by the Lib Dems in 2011 could be up for grabs with the right overtures. Put a decent UKIP performance into the mix, wresting votes from Janet Finch-Saunders, and this seat suddenly looks like a decent bet.

And the other obvious contender? Ynys Môn. How a party can hold a seat at Westminster, with a majority that has increased in each of the last 2 elections to 7.1% now, and yet be 42.3% off the pace in Cardiff Bay is beyond me. Labour should have thrown everything at the August by-election for the prize of an outright majority. They have 30 full-time politicians at the National Assembly, alongside their 28 MPs from Wales. But a glance at the twitter feed of Labour4YnysMon reveals the absence of a swathe of even local (north Wales) Labour politicians from the fray: Sandy Mewies, Carl Sargeant, David Hanson, Susan Elan Jones, Chris Ruane, Mark Tami, Lesley Griffiths…

Could it have been the Michael effect? And if so, does that have implications for Aberconwy in 2015?

Or does it reflect a lack of hunger by the party of government?

2 Sylw

Filed under Democracy, Elections, Labour, Welsh Government