General Election 2010 – Wales (2 of 2)

If we look at the map again (still from Wiki) I’ll try and explain how things are changing.

Election Results 2010 - Wales

One of the factors that characterised this election in Wales was Labour’s resilience. Despite a fall in vote of 6.5% to 36.2%, below the disastrous 37.5% in 1983, Labour managed to lose a net 4 seats only, retaining 26 of 40 cf. 20 of 38 in 1983….Why? – The anecdotal evidence from Labour canvassers was that the Middle Class element of their vote was holding up but the “traditional” Labour vote falling far more. We can test that by looking at the fall in seats in the mid Glamorgan Valleys cf.  the core prosperous Cardiff/Vale of Glamorgan of South Glamorgan.

Choosing Merthyr, Caerffili, the Rhondda, Cynon Valley,  Pontypridd and Ogmore you get falls of: 17%,10.5%,13%, 10.5%,15.5%,7% – that’s a simple average of 12.5%.

In Cardiff North, Central, West, South and the Vale you get falls of 2%,5.5%,3.5%,7.5% and 8% – averaging 5.3% 

As the Labour majorities in the valleys were far greater they could afford to lose more votes and still win (although LibDems within 2,800 in Pontypridd).  Thus as the first tranche of Tory targets fell Labour managed to retain the 2nd tranche of Tory and first tranche of Lib Dem targets retaining both Newports, Swansea West & Cardiff South and in the North East, Vale of Clwyd, Clwyd South, Alyn and Deeside and Delyn – (All four now Labour Tory marginals…). Along with resisting Plaid  in Ynys Môn and  in Llanelli generally an election of relief for Labour in Wales.

The dislocation of a coherent model in this part of the world is probably best illustrated by three Lib Dem losing performances with over 30% in  Pontypridd, Merthyr and Swansea West (lost by 500 votes). Each of those performances better than the best Plaid performance in Welsh Wales. It’s a strange time for the Lib Dems in Wales – they keep on just failing to make breakthroughs in Cardiff Bay or at Westminster where 3 seats was an unfortunately poor reward for 295,000 votes with a stunning Ceredigion consolidation more than offset by losing Montgomery to the Tories for a net loss of 1 seat. A commonly held view here is that sleeping with the Tories at Westminster could have dramatically severe consequences for the Lib Dems in Cardiff Bay next May – with maybe  half of their vote at risk. This poll puts them at 13-14%. I’m not so sure – and will keep a close eye on the three seats mentioned.

As for Plaid the there are other demographics hitting us. I alluded to the stunning performance of the LibDems in Ceredigion – Plaid’s top target seat. In a previous post a comment by Plaid canvasser Cardi is worth re-reading. I quote: “… there’s an ethnic English vote who will vote for the party which is least Welsh so that they don’t feel they have to make any linguistic or cultural concessions. Of course, it’s not quite as simple nor as blunt as this, and some Welsh-speakers wil vote LibDem, but it’s all there underneath.

The English migration into Ceredigion over the last 30 years is huge so much that the Welsh language is now a miniroty language in the County for the first time in its history. The English will listen to UK/English tv, radio, blogs etc and are totally unaware, and unwilling in some respects to interact with a Welsh narrative because that would question their prejudices..”
And here’s Cynog Dafis (towards bottom of page) “There has also been a demographic change in Ceredigion, to the point where up to half of the inhabitants are people who have either moved here themselves from England or are the children of people who have done so.
This demographic change has reduced the number of people who have a Welsh perspective on politics”
That’s a pretty challenging elephant in the attic.

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  • Paul

    “… there’s an ethnic Pakistani vote who will vote for the party which is least British so that they don’t feel they have to make any linguistic or cultural concessions”

    Reads like something the BNP would deliver.

    What’s the solution then to restore Plaid Cymru’s in that area then, repatriation of those whose “ethnic English” “prejuduces” are holding you back?

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    Dewi,

    The ‘National’ issue in Wales is really the language issue as far as the vast majority of even those who are pro Welsh and as the language issue meets little resistance within the main ‘British’ parties then I’m not sure what real hope of growth Plaid really has – unless the Tories bring back the Weslh knot.

    Although I think it unfair to suggest that those fighting to save the language in certain communities can be compared to the racist British right it is always a difficult line to follow and leaves you open to that type of charge – as the above post from Paul illustrates.

  • Dewi

    It is difficult but can’t be ignored.
    1) Stating that the ethnicity of in-migrants to Ceredigion influences their voting patterns is either true or false – either way it’s not racism.
    2) As feedback from a myriad of internal sources suggest it’s true then it’s up to Plaid to try and do something about.
    3) Words are important and Cynog’s phrasing more elegant to make the same point.

  • Seymour Major

    One of the problems of trying to develop Nationalism through Welsh culture and identity is that the Welsh Identity is so much welded to Britishness.

    Is it not the case that when a Welshman sings “Men of Harlech,” he is more likely to be thinking of the welshmen who fought at Rorke’s Drift in a British uniform, rather than a medievil seige? – OK that was just a bit of fun.

    More seriously, in relation to the Welsh Language, the problem for Plaid Cymru, is that it is ownership of it has been taken by Welsh people who support all the political parties. Even the three main national parties use the Welsh language as part of their regional motif.

    Given that there is no sporting equivalent of the GAA in Wales, what else is there left to advance Cultural Welsh Nationalism?

  • Dewi

    “More seriously, in relation to the Welsh Language, the problem for Plaid Cymru, is that it is ownership of it has been taken by Welsh people who support all the political parties. Even the three main national parties use the Welsh language as part of their regional motif.”
    I welcome that wholeheartedly even if if costs us.
    “Given that there is no sporting equivalent of the GAA in Wales, what else is there left to advance Cultural Welsh Nationalism?”
    Rugby comes pretty close but as a comparison to neighbours a real sense of local and national community, a fairly widespread abhorrence of naked capitalism, a fairly widespread religious heritage of non-conformism, some wonderful national institutions, all the normal stuff I suppose.

  • Archie Noble

    Interesting stuff Dewi. What impact do you see the Libdems coallition with the Tories having on their support in Wales?

    Your points on the language are correct and ultimatley I think will cost Plaid very little. Sometimes you have to take the long view.

  • John D

    On the issue of the Welsh language and English incomers, it’s a bit simplistic to imply that all in-migrants are hostile/indifferent to “yr hen iaith”. When I lived in Cardiff and started going to classes to learn Welsh (the language my long-dead grandmother spoke but didn’t think worth passing on to me, alas, because I was growing up in London), quite a few of my fellow learners were “outsiders”. S4C and initiatives such as Welsh Learner of the Year frequently come up with examples of ethnic-minority and English persons keen on learning the language. Compare that with the situation over here — if I said I wanted to learn Irish I would automatically be identified as a SF supporter. Or would I?

  • Dewi

    The Conventional wisdom is that their support will plummet – me I’m not so sure that strongly focussed and targeted efforts in next year’s Assembly elections might still work. We’ll see.

  • Dewi

    Excellent point John – the point in Ceredigion seems to be the scale. In Cardiff, a pretty diverse place, the language is growing very quickly. Not necessarily identified as Sinn Fein – Brid Rodgers from Gweedore I believe.

  • Greenflag

    Dewi ,

    About 2,000 years ago the neighbours on the other side of Cardigan Bay were apparently intrusive 😉 which is how Ceredigion got it’s name according to this snippet from

    http://www.britainexpress.com/wales/tour/ceredigion/index.htm

    ‘Ceredigion (Cardigan ) received its name from Prince Ceredig, son of the leader who reclaimed this area for the Welsh from the Irish invaders.

    This part of the country still retains its strong Welsh roots and language. Geographically, it consists of two different but equally scenic areas, the Cardigan coast and the countryside.’

    as a comparison to neighbours a real sense of local and national community,’

    Which neighbours ? Could the same not be said for the Republic /NI ?

    ‘a fairly widespread abhorrence of naked capitalism’

    We in the Republic have seen the naked face of capitalism and the jury is out on whether it can ever clothe it’s ugly side ever again ?

    ‘ a fairly widespread religious heritage of non-conformism,’

    This is a facet which Wales shares with NI although mercifully minus the political and constitutional morass within which NI seems to be immersed in perpetuity 🙁

    I’m reminded of the Welshman marooned on a desert island who occupies his time by building a bethel . Non sooner has he finished building the one than he builds another .

    Shortly after an Irishman swims ashore being the lone survivor of a shipwreck .

    He sees the Welshman sitting under a palm tree and goes over to introduce himself . Formalities over he then espies the two bethels at either end of the beach .

    ‘ ‘Why did you build two churches when the one would have done surely ‘? Why ?

    Pointing to the one the Welshman says ‘that’s the one I go to and pointing to the other he says ‘ and thats the one I don’t go to ‘ 🙂

  • Greenflag

    John D

    ‘if I said I wanted to learn Irish I would automatically be identified as a SF supporter. Or would I?’

    More so in NI than in the Republic I’d say. In the Republic you might be considered a culture vulture or perhaps even a llittle eccentric but not in a bad way . Sadly in NI the language has been politicised despite the efforts of cross community interests . It’s become a political icon /symbol of ‘republicanism ‘ which is more than ironic as the founders of Irish republicanism back in the late 18th and early 19th centuries were not at all pro Irish language but saw it as a barrier to political and economic progress .

  • Dewi

    Ceredig one of the great Cunedda’s kids from our Scottish Kingdoms..
    “as a comparison to neighbours a real sense of local and national community,”….should probably said compared to Eastern neighbours…
    ..Yeah – the old ones are still the best – a better punch line is “I go to that one and that’s the Baptists…”

  • Dewi
  • OK, Dewi, I’m here now (spurred by your comment on the other thread).

    It was your Bassett’s Allsorts map that did it for me. That nauseous blue over Pembrokeshire raised the bile. Reminded me of the worst turn-coat since Ramsay Mac: by name, Desmond Louis Donnelly. Irish ancestry, born in India, and among the most chameleon party politicians on record. Managed a seamless glissade from barking Marxist left to ranting ultra-right darling with absolutely no effort.

    * Joined Labour as a 16-year old.
    * Fought a Worcestershire seat as Commonwealth (left of Labour) in ’45. Lost and came back into the Labour fold.
    * Carpet-bagged for NILP in the Jim Little (deceased) Down by-election of 1946.
    * Selected against Gwilym Lloyd George and took Pembrokeshire in 1950 on a wafer-thin majority.
    * In the Commons Donnelly was first an out-and-out Bevanite, then switched to being a loud Gaitskellite overnight (German rearmament, I think).
    * Next, he started Lib-Lab unity talk, through a regular platform in the News of the Screws. Now just fancy that: the leopard and spots.
    * Played the Whips a merry dance in the ’64 parliament over Steel Nationalisation (anyone remember when we had a steel industry?).
    * Resigned the Labour Whip and set up his own “Democratic Party”, split the vote and lost Pembroke to the Tories in 1970.
    * With one bound our boy was free and into the Tory Party, getting raves at Monday Club meetings when he bashed trades unions.
    * To nobody’s great surprise the Tories didn’t trust the oily toad enough to give him a constituency to fight.

    Now I see that Pembroke has got itself a huntin’, shootin’ ‘n’ fishin’ Countryside Alliance type, partly financed by gun-runner and mercenary money.

    Why does such a gorgeous part of the world deserves such … [deleted on grounds of disrespect to decent sewage] … ?

  • Dewi

    Wonderful Malcolm – thank you!

  • Janet Muller

    One of the keys in the normalisation of the Welsh language in Wales has been Welsh Language legislation. It has to be recognised here that it is the denial of rights and of recognition of the Irish language that ‘politicises’ it. On 10th October 2010, it will be 4 years since the British government promised the Irish Language Act. On that day, POBAL is organising the event Rights and Revelry in St George’s Market with spectacle, music, dance and arts. Last year’s event was hugely enjoyable and all are welcome to come along. More info from POBAL on +44(0)28 90 438132