Polls and Donkeys

That nice man from ITV Wales, you know, the one who’s on Sharp End, Adrian Masters, well he tweeted yesterday that the results of a recent poll were available over on the ITV website, so I went to check on the findings. Some of them are, quite frankly, difficult to believe. Others, disturbing for the lack of engagement displayed by respondents.

One part of the survey asked people for their views on the performance of the current Labour Government down Cardiff docks. On the NHS, schools and the economy Labour’s approval rating was 24 and 25 per cent for non-Labour voters, but not much higher, only 36 – 41 per cent, among their own supporters. Perhaps more worrying from a neutral perspective was that the Don’t Know / Don’t Care / Ew Wha’? response ranged from 31 to 44 per cent!

Despite this lack of support for, or interest in, the Labour Party the YouGov poll nevertheless predicted that in the 2015 UK general election Labour will gain eight seats, five from the Conservatives, two from Plaid Cymru and one from the Liberal Democrats. Seeing as the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats are the parties of the current UK coalition government, this is not entirely surprising, but why should Plaid Cymru also suffer? The seats the poll suggests Plaid will lose are Arfon and Carmarthen East and Dinefwr.

While the Arfon prediction is difficult to fathom, but plausible, the prediction for Carmarthen East and Dinefwr seems impossible. Let us consider the facts. Plaid Cymru had a majority in 2010 of 3,481. The seat lies wholly within the county run by the most dysfunctional council in Wales. A council in which Labour is in coalition with a gang of so-called ‘Independents’, many of whom are Tories, others just in it for themselves, SI Exifplus a few flakes. Yet the council is actually run (or was until very recently) by the chief executive. The poll was conducted 10 – 12 of February, two weeks after the publication of the damning Wales Audit Office report into spectacular and expensive wrongdoing at the council. A resident of Carmarthenshire would have had to have been abducted by aliens not to have known about this report. (Though I bet even aliens would have been talking about it.) So does anyone seriously believe that Labour is going to take this seat next year?

The predictions for Plaid are questionable, but what about the Tories, tipped to lose five Welsh seats in next year’s UK general election? They can surely expect wipeout in the Welsh Assembly elections of 2016. Well, no . . . because according to respondents to YouGov Conservative support at Assembly elections is up two points to 21 per cent! With Labour, predicted to almost sweep the board in 2015 remember, down one point for the Assembly elections in 2016!

So how do we make sense of all this? We could of course be dealing with a very sophisticated electorate, able to make subtle distinctions and different judgements for different contexts. Or, we could be dealing with people who know little and care less; an increasingly apathetic electorate that has given up on politics, which for me would be a more plausible explanation for the inconsistencies.

People who no longer give enough thought to politics and politicians to hold coherent views, so they’re confused, or they revert to the comforting default position of the traditional ‘Donkey Labour’ voter: ‘Don’t understand politics? – Vote Labour!’ Because even when pressed on specific subjects for a simple Yes or No over a third could still only offer ‘Dunno’, suggesting they knew absolutely nothing about Labour’s policies and performance in Wales. Did I say ‘disengagement’? I guarantee that some of those questioned could not have known less about Hungary’s agricultural policies.

The only caveat, and it’s a big one, is that I am suspicious of opinion polls in general, and YouGov in particular. I believe that many people – shall I say, the more ‘suggestible’ among us – can be influenced by opinion polls into joining the ‘winning’ side . . . which of course means abandoning (what the polls suggest is) the ‘losing’ side. In Wales, in order to promote a certain constitutional outlook, the winning side has to be Labour for the ploy to be credible.

Then again, I could be entirely wrong, and this is an authentic and accurate vox populii. In which case, Wales is in more trouble than even I had feared.

33 thoughts on “Polls and Donkeys

  1. daffy2012

    This guy is interesting. He talks of the UK and Scotland. You could also ask……”Can Wales afford to remain a part of the UK?” Labour in Wales may one day get more poverty than they ever hoped for. How will the people react?

  2. Llew

    Labour has clearly gone “more Welsh” in the way it presents itself. Theyve moved closer to Plaid and there are fewer dividing lines. There’s only independence and the language but they’re not seen as “good” dividing lines outside the areas that already vote for Plaid. Wales’ future though isn’t in Plaid’s hands. It depends a lot on Scotland’s vote (as we did in 1997) and the next two UK General elections (which largely determine the subsequent Assembly results).

    We have to accept though, whether we are Plaid or non-Plaid, devolution at least partly reflects what Welsh people actually want. Only partly because most don’t vote/don’t care, but those that do vote are the most patriotic and they do tend to be Labour. That makes things harder for PC or for any other nationalist party. But that’s where we are. It is apathetic and bland I agree.

    1. Jac

      At the moment, in Wales, we have an uninformed or disinterested electorate, due to a political system that is discredited in the eyes of most people. These are perfect conditions for extra-parliamentary opposition, and single-issue groups, to be influential. The biggest changes we’ve seen in recent decades have not come from grassroots opinion or party members but have been virtually forced on politicians by pressure groups.

        1. Jac

          What I meant was that the public, political, social and legal attitudes to a whole host of subjects have changed in recent decades and these changes began with protest and campaign groups. Just think race, sexuality, environment.

          1. Daley Gleephart

            Oh, things like human rights that UKIP and at least 92 Tory MPs want to get rid of e.g.
            Four weeks paid leave.
            Equal treatment for agency workers.
            Limits on the number of hours children can work.
            Tea and lunch breaks during the working day.
            A day off a week.
            Requirements for employers to protect the health and safety of employees.
            Time off for ante-natal appointments.

            I think that the biggest changes have come from, and for the benefit of, Bilderberg Group attendees e.g.
            Widening the gap between the rich and the poor.
            Tax havens, tax breaks and loopholes for billionaires and multinationals.
            The outsourcing of production to third world countries.
            Casino banking.
            Bad employers having the pittance they pay to workers topped up by the benefits system.
            Call centres (some of which are in the third world).
            Raising the retirement age.
            Withdrawal of State-funded professional legal representation.
            Ignoring doctor diagnosis of long term illness/disability.
            Spying on everyone.

  3. Llew

    I’ve always said in my comments on this blog that Jac is wrong to blame “socialism” for Wales’ ills. We haven’t had a socialist society. We’ve had intense industrial capitalism and then been abandoned (ish). We do have some powers to organise our own public sector (and most Welsh people including almost all nationalists want that done on social democratic lines) but we don’t control our own economic destiny or have any financial devolution.

    But Jac comes from his own independent viewpoint and he is consistent about that and about criticising Plaid and the left.

    I think it’s easy to criticise the nationalist party when the problems lie with the nation itself. We’re actually legally part of England. A conquest happened here that never did in Scotland. An amalgamation happened here. What we have to do is unpick that. But to do that you need voters and the public on your side and sometimes you have to meet them in the middle. Bus passes are popular. People value them and the prescriptions and the plastic bag charge.

    Just my views anyway. Jac is right about Wigley by the way. He was a great politician.

    1. Jac

      To achieve anything a national party must be different. It must offer something different. Plaid is too close to Labour and admits that – so why vote Plaid? Especially when, additionally, Plaid is also perceived as the ‘Language Party’. For Plaid to have any hope of future success it needs to a) promote a stronger, more distinct identity and b) get out there campaigning on the countless ‘open goals’ Labour and the colonial establishment offer.

      “I think it’s easy to criticise the nationalist party when the problems lie with the nation itself. We’re actually legally part of England. A conquest happened here that never did in Scotland. An amalgamation happened here.” The constitutional arrangement and how it came about is irrelevant, it’s the mindset of the people that matters and who is allowed to influence that mindset.

      The biggest problem today – especially when compared to the ’60s – is that no one is stirring people up, giving them hope, making them realise things could be so much better. This nation is in danger of dying of apathy, but it needn’t be this way. There are hundreds of thousands of Welsh people desperately seeking inspiration and leadership. They have been betrayed.

  4. daffy2012

    So, the Labour Party get to run Wales perpetually with all that means regarding jobs for the boys, nepotism and patronage; and the powers that be in London get to milk us of our resources and maintain their faltering Union at the expense of some minor ‘gifts’ or should that be ‘bribes’ to donkey Labour voters….

    1. Daley Gleephart

      Don’t worry, there’s an environmental, ecological and economic catastrophe just round the corner.

  5. daffy2012

    And of course, ‘Welsh’ Labour are allowed to introduce their little pet policies such as free bus passes and prescriptions and subsidized education or should that be ‘brain drain’…..enough to buy the the votes. But change very little else.

  6. I was one of the respondents to the YouGov survey, so excuse me for not agreeing that all surveyed were Donkeys!

    From my prospective (and I suspect a number of other Welsh nationalists) it is difficult to express an opinion that distinguishes between criticising the Labour Welsh government and criticising the concept of Welsh self determination. The current Welsh government is shit on education, shit on health, shit on employment and shit on the economy, but if I express that opinion I know that it will be reported as a criticism of “devolution” rather than a criticism of the Labour Government of Wales.

    So what can I do? Lie and say that the Assembly Government is great, be truthful knowing that my opinion will be manipulated by the anti Welsh, or jib out with a “don’t know”? – All of which will be the wrong thing to do!

    1. Jac

      Obviously not all respondents were ‘donkeys’, Alwyn, but then, I don’t suppose you said you were going to vote Labour. Though I agree entirely that too many, either through laziness or a desire to undermine devolution, tend to confuse criticism of Labour with attacks on devolution itself.

  7. Geraint

    You have fairly consistently argued throughout this blog that the ‘Welsh’ Government (your inverted commas) is simply a facade, and that we are in fact governed by a English-dominated civil service accountable to Whitehall. How then can you argue that ‘Labour rule’ has run Wales into the ground, when Tory, not Socialist thinking has dominated the last hundred years in Westminster, which is in your understanding the real seat of power?

    1. Jac

      I stand by my theory that Wales is in reality run by civil servants answering to London rather than to the ‘Welsh’ Government. But this situation exists only because ‘Welsh’ Labour has never challenged it, and that’s because ‘Welsh’ Labour has no real interest in running Wales well . . . only in stopping anyone else from running Wales. Making this a dog in the manger ‘government’. This sham serves both the interests of the London establishment and the vanity of ‘Welsh’ Labour.

  8. Robert

    “Under Thatcher they had a decent Welsh vote,”
    Impossible to quantify exactly, but it can be reasonable asserted that between one third and one half of the Tory vote in Wales comes from those across the border. Without these votes, Wales would be a Tory MP free zone. Not that voting Labour has done any good, mind.

  9. Llew

    It “makes sense” sadly. There is massive apathy and disengagement. There is some knowledge of Labour poor performance but those voters are hardly going to let the Tories govern Wales. And Plaid is seen as a small party and not competent or serious.

    The Tory vote itself will hold up. Under Thatcher they had a decent Welsh vote, but the caveat is that the people that don’t like them, absolutely hate them. They also get in-migrant votes.

    Some plaid protest vote types may well go UKIP.

    1. Jac

      Ultimately, I think the blame lies with Plaid Cymru for not being a more credible alternative to Labour, as the SNP was in Scotland.

        1. Daley Gleephart

          “The mandatory coalition at Stormont should end and the salaries and expenses of MLAs should be halved, UKIP leader Nigel Farage has said.”
          “UKIP says Stormont is too expensive and has called for the number of MLAs to be reduced, although the party does not say by how many.”
          Source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-northern-ireland-politics-13159202

          UKIP Manifesto Scotland
          We will –
          Retain the Scottish Parliament
          Replace MSPs with Scottish Westminster MPs

          UKIP Maifesto Wales
          We will –
          Renew the Welsh Assembly, but in a far less costly form
          Remove the Assembly Members, who are overpaid and underemployed
          Replace them with Welsh Westminster MPs meeting a week a month in Wales

  10. Britnot

    Correct Jac. A truly sad indictment of the engagement of Welsh people in their governance. I cannot believe that the approval ratings of the “Welsh Government” are not in negative territory given the appalling mess they have made. Maybe the close proximity to sheep in Wales is having an effect. My only hope is that as Scotland gains its freedom somehow that will act as a catalyst to take Wales forward. We used to be a people with fire in our bellies. Now we just have apathy in our hearts. Wish I could think of a way to dispel the torper our people are afflicted by.

  11. Daley Gleephart

    You’re not trying hard enough Jac.
    Maybe you should do what the Daily Mail has done today i.e.,
    Describe the Paedophile Information Exchange as left wing.
    Describe the National Campaign for Civil Liberties as left wing.
    Describe the Labour Party as left wing.
    And, using the above, claim that Labour are paedophile apologists.

    The poll was about Parliamentary seats not Council seats.
    If you wish to take part in YouGov polls, you need to complete an extensive questionnaire and that’s something people who vote for donkeys don’t do.

    1. Jac

      Not sure what point you’re trying to make, or the connections you’re making. I don’t know much about the Paedophile Information Exchange but it has always struck me as a kind of Sun populism. NCCL I regard as lib-Left with a bit of religion thrown in.

      Psst, yes, I know the poll was about parliamentary and assembly seats but . . . Did no one make the connection between the incompetence and weakness of the Labour ‘Government’ in Cardiff and the outrageous behaviour of certain people in Caerffili, Carmarthen and Pembrokeshire? Did none of those questioned make the connection between 15 years of Labour running the assembly and standards in Wales falling in just about any area in which comparisons can be made?

      Face it – we are dealing with a very stupid electorate. That’s how Labour continues to be elected, and that’s why Wales gets poorer, our kids less well educated, people die because ambulances don’t turn up, and big fish in little pools think they’re above the law.

      Though that said, maybe the real problem is the lack of a credible alternative. Because with a record like Labour has in Wales any reasonably competent opposition party should be able to waltz into power. Though of course that’s never going to be the Tories or the Lib Dems. So the root cause of the problem is those who conspired to remove Dafydd Wigley when Plaid was within touching distance of catching Labour.

      1. Daley Gleephart

        It’s the points that the Daily Mail make. Those who buy copies of the DM are extra-special idiots.

        Regarding your points about Labour:
        Support for the Party looks unchanged so, that shouldn’t surprise anyone.

        Why aren’t you commenting on UKIP polled to take 3 seats from the Tories and 2 seats from Plaid Cymru at the Assembly?
        Win a constituency election and get your Party List total halved.
        Win 2 constituency seats in a region and see your region votes divided by 3.
        3 seats divide by 4.
        That’s the d’Hondt system for you.

        1. Jac

          Stop wriggling! This is not about the Daily Mail (which I obviously don’t read), it’s not about Ukip, it’s not about the d’Hondt system. It is about stupid fuckers still voting for the party that is running Wales into the ground. THEY deserve all they get. Unfortunately we’re all in the same boat, and we ALL suffer from Labour’s incompetence and refusal to run Wales in the interests of the Welsh people because that would be ‘a sop to nationalism’! Bastards!

          1. Daley Gleephart

            How can it be Labour’s fault that support appears to be moving away from the Tories and Plaid Cymru to UKIP?
            It is very much to do with the d’Hondt system of selecting members to the Assembly from Party Lists. Without the d’Hondt proportional system, UKIP wouldn’t figure anywhere in 2016.

    1. Jac

      It does. For it tells me that we have in Wales an unthinking electorate for whom issues, and the state of the country, are irrelevant. Wales might as well be a dictatorship.

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