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