The Welsh General Election result: not what we (should have) expected?


Category: devoComment, General Election 2017, Wales

Welsh voters were equally annoyed with Mrs May as their English counterparts when this ridiculous election was called. That – and moving beyond what has felt like a Hobson’s Choice at many previous elections – led to a 3% increase in turnout in Wales, with voters coming out to say, in a very British way, that they would not put up with this needless process.

Nevertheless, this was a surprise result. Most pollsters nationally were about 8% off, and Labour candidates, agents and activists could not see it coming either. As it happens, the second YouGov Wales poll was close to the mark. But the narrative was set when Professor Roger Scully, the Cardiff University pollster, released the first YouGov Wales poll, which had the Tories ahead by some 10 percentage points. The turnaround was dramatic, and Labour went from polling in Wales suggesting 10 seat losses to ultimately taking three seats from the Tories and winning just shy of 50% of the vote.

In part, the doubt over Labour’s opinion polling was understandable. The Tories did still do very well in Wales – going from 27% to 34% of the vote. The Labour Doorstep picked up a boost for the Conservatives, dealing with a fair bit of #NeverCorbyn, but somehow managed to miss the swathes of support it was winning from former UKIP, Lib Dem and Green voters.

So let’s look at the parties. It was another extraordinary night for Labour with 49% of the vote, taking back Cardiff North, Gower and the Vale of Clwyd from the Conservatives and increasing their majorities elsewhere.

The Conservatives had a terrible night in Wales. They did significantly their vote share, but clearly misjudged where those votes would be, leading to some very squeaky moments during the night, and a net loss of 3 seats.

Plaid Cymru took Ceredigion from the Lib Dems by 104 votes, and are talking up a good result – with 4 MPs. But they really did not breakthrough elsewhere, and there are no more Lib Dems left to target. Rather than spending another election cycle reassessing their position, they should openly discuss their strategy, sales patter and policy platform.

And the Lib Dems and UKIP? Well both seem like no-legged, properly dead ducks. We’ve seen it with the Lib Dems for a while – there have been more observers like me than party members at Lib Dem conferences in Wales for the past few years. UKIP have gone from the third largest party to winning a dismissable 2% of the vote in Wales.

So it may be interesting to see how Labour and Plaid MPs now work together in whatever coalition discussions occur in Westminster. Frankly, I have no idea what is going to happen, and neither does anyone else. But I have a sneaking suspicion that though some people won last night, we may all be losers. Another General Election in the Autumn?


Read about the 2017 General Election results for every region in the UK, with analysis from our DevoIntelligence Panel here.

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