Thursday 16 October 2008

More runes to read

I'm always sceptical about placing too much faith in opinion polls, even if they contain what looks like good news. Today's poll, even though it suggests that the result in Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire might now be different – in my favour – is no exception.

The first problem we have in Wales is that there are so few Wales-only polls – or even UK polls with a sufficiently large Welsh sample to draw any sensible conclusions. The second, as Richard Wyn Jones points out, is that Welsh polls seem to have an inbuilt bias, for some reason which is not properly understood. And the third is that we have clearly seen that voting patterns for the Assembly elections and Westminster elections can be significantly different.

Given all of that, what, if anything, does the latest poll tell us? I think it suggests fundamentally that there has been very little movement overall since last May, but that what movement has occurred has been away from the opposition parties in the Assembly towards the governing parties. Given the extent to which Labour has plummeted in the polls for a Westminster election over the same period, that is quite an interesting finding in itself. And it's worth noting that the poll was conducted in September, before the latest Brown come-back.

It also suggests, even if in an exaggerated fashion, that the appeal of David Cameron's Tories is considerably weaker in Wales than elsewhere in the UK. That probably comes as a surprise to few Welsh politicians, but may mean that the General Election results will come as something of a shock to some members of the English Conservative Party in Wales.

For me, I suppose my biggest immediate challenge is how to persuade people to vote in the Westminster election in the same way that they plan to vote in the Assembly election…


Unknown said...

More runes...

Labour voting patterns in Wales are different those in England;
Labour in the Assembly is a different animal from Labour at Westminster;
Tories in Wales are surely weaker than Tories in England as they will reap votes from disillusion with the present government;
the beneficiaries in Wales and Scotland will be Plaid and the SNP
with Labour to a lesser degree in Wales and the Conservatives to a lesser degree in Scotland;
Lib Dems in both countries will be squeezed out to a great extent by the polarisation towards the Tories and Labour.

Rhetoric Innes said...

Alan the Lib Dems will come good when it matters!

Dont forget John it was Plaid who commissioned this poll!

Its going to be very very interesting between you and simon in the general election in our constituency. i cant wait. Bet you cant either!

Anonymous said...

Looking at this Poll it's good News that Plaid seems to have increased it's share of the vote up to 25.7% what's disappointing is that we're nowhere near to overtaking Labour as the Largest Party, There is a Danger that The Tories could Overtake Plaid - we Can't let that happen. I think It's strange that Plaid gets over 25% in the assembly but can't muster up 13% at Westminster.. People who vote for Plaid in the Assembly - Do NOT vote Plaid in a General Election - Although we have a great chance of Gaining Ynys Mon, Ceredigion & Llanelli which would give us our highest ever Number of MP'S EVER. But still 6 out of 40 is a pretty sorry total :(

John Dixon said...


"the Lib Dems will come good when it matters"

Your faith is clear, but it seems to be pitted against all the empirical evidence!

Yes, it was Plaid who commissioned the poll but it wasn't Plaid who conducted it. We used a reputable and independent external organisation to do that, in the same way as the other parties also do. I don't know whether the others have commissioned any polls themselves recently, but if they have, it's likely that they're showing similar results.

And, yes - I always look forward to elections.


"I think It's strange that Plaid gets over 25% in the assembly but can't muster up 13% at Westminster."

There are all sorts of factors at work; but I cannot but agree that the real challenge for Plaid in Westminster elections is to convince the people who are willing to vote for us at Assembly level to do the same at Westminster level.

Cibwr said...

The problem is that there is a lack of proper polling in Wales. It has been suggested that the BBC, ITV Wales and Trinity Mirror should each hold polls every 3 months staggered so that there is one a month. This is more or less the pattern in Scotland. It all helps build a picture of the political landscape.

Anonymous said...

John why is it that if Plaid end up HIGHER with 25.7% and The Tories end up LOWER with 18.9% - It's The TORIES who end up Gaining a seat and end up within 2 seats of Plaid - That dosen't sound Very Proportional!

John Dixon said...


Fundamentally, because the system we have is only partly proportional.

The final numbers pf seats don't depend just on the level of swing between two parties, but on the finishing position of all four.