Battleground North Wales: region poised for general election quake


North Wales is set for major political upheaval next month when voters choose change in as many as six of the region’s constituencies, an exclusive Daily Post poll has revealed.

And Ukip are set to be all but annihilated as a force in North Wales with more than one in three former supporters migrating to the Tories at the General Election.

The poll of the region appears to confirm that Paul Nuttall’s party would be poised to lose its deposit in all but one of the 10 constituencies on June 8, if it fielded candidates.

If the survey’s results were replicated it will mean Ukip, which secured 200,000 votes in 2015, will be pushed into fifth place in half of the seats.

The poll of more than 2,000 voters also appeared to confirm earlier polls that showed Plaid Cymru was set to snatch Ynys Môn from Labour. In a further blow to sitting MP Albert Owen, who has held the seat since 2001, he could be pushed into third place behind the Conservatives.

But with four weeks still to go some one in five voters have still to make their minds up.

The non-weighed poll was conducted by Google Surveys, from randomly selected Daily Post website readers. Similar surveys carried out during the Mayor elections predicted a close run race in the West Midlands and Cambridgeshire. Although it should be noted that ultimately the findings proved incorrect.

Other main findings from the poll show that across North Wales:

  • As many as six of the region’s seats could change hands
  • Plaid Cymru will see an increase in support across most of the region
  • Labour’s struggle is clear with nearly 10% wiped off its North Wales vote
  • Conservatives could lose in Vale of Clwyd and Clwyd West to Labour
  • Lib Dem hopes are unfounded with the party losing deposits in eight seats
  • The state of the NHS and Brexit are the biggest concerns of local voters
  • Voters who voted Conservative in 2015 are the most loyal
  • Delyn could change hands after a huge drop in support for Labour

How the parties look set to fare

Conservatives

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Theresa May looks set to have held on to the Conservative support won under David Cameron two years ago.

Eight out of 10 people who voted Tory in 2015 say they will continue to back the party – the strongest of Wales’s five biggest parties.

Only 12% said that they would vote for a rival party with Labour (5%) and Lib Dems (3.37%) being the biggest beneficiaries.

A tiny 1.5% said they would switch to Ukip.

The biggest shock thrown up by the survey is in Clwyd West where Labour are set to topple sitting Conservative David Jones. If true it would mean the former Labour MP Gareth Thomas overturning a massive 17.7% majority.

They could also face a tough fight to hold onto the Vale of Clwyd, which covers Rhyl, Prestatyn and Denbigh, where James Davies holds one of the most slender majorities in Parliament.

He first won the seat with 237 votes overturning the long-standing Labour MP Chris Ruane, whose 2,509 majority was wiped out after he became embroiled in the 2014 expenses scandal.

Labour

Gareth Thomas, Labour Party candidate for Clwyd West
Gareth Thomas, Labour Party candidate for Clwyd West

If true, then a Labour win in Clwyd West would be one of the undoubted highlights in an otherwise grim night for the party – but it is a very big if.

David Jones, the Minister of State for Exiting the European Union, holds a commanding 6,730 majority. Labour’s candidate is Gareth Thomas, the seat’s former MP and lawyer.

One of the closest political scraps in the region is likely to be in Delyn where our poll suggests that the Labour vote has plummeted bringing it with a 1% grasp of a Tory win.

Expect huge resources from both parties to be ploughed in as veteran Labour politician David Hanson fights to hold on to the seat he held against Flintshire councillor Matt Wright.

But according to those quizzed the Conservatives have not benefited from Labour’s demise – and have themselves seen support ebbing away. The main winners are Plaid Cymru who could take as much as 10% of the vote.

A tenth of 2015 Labour voters say they will now back Theresa May.

Plaid Cymru

Protest at HSBC Bank Blaenau Ffestiniog with Liz Saville Roberts MP
Protest at HSBC Bank Blaenau Ffestiniog with Liz Saville Roberts MP

The Welsh nationalists will be the runaway winners on the night, according to survey.

Not only are Plaid Cymru set to take Anglesey back for the first time in 16 years but they have seen their support holding up across most of the region.

Liz Saville-Roberts, the party’s first woman MP first entered Parliament at the last General Election, is poised to increase her lead over the Conservatives in Dwyfor Meirionnydd.

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The electorate in the area, which covers Pwllheli and Blaenau Ffestiniog, are expected to give her a sizeable increase in her share of the vote by as much as 5%.

Hywel Williams the Plaid MP who represents Bangor and Caernarfon in his Arfon constituency will also comfortably hold onto his seat aided by a 12% fall in Labour support.

Elsewhere the party will see an increase in support across most of the region, with only slight falls in Clwyd South.

Ukip

Nigel Farage at a UKIP Spring Conference at Venue Cymru, Llandudno
Nigel Farage at a UKIP Spring Conference at Venue Cymru, Llandudno

The anti-EU party are paying a heavy price for success. Having achieved Brexit, the party would appear to be in meltdown in line with its UK polling at the local elections.

Paul Nuttall’s party is hemorrhaging support. Just 27.46% who voted for the UK Independence Party in 2015 intend to do the same in June.

According to our sample nine of the 10 constituencies are likely to see any Ukip candidates losing their deposits – winning less than 5% of the vote. However the party has said it will only be contesting two seats.

Nigel Farage had high hopes for Alyn and Deeside in 2015 and won a respectable 17.6% – the poll indicates that could now be down to a rump of 3.3% putting them behind Plaid.

In the neighbouring Clwyd South constituency the poll will lose all its 15.6% of the vote.

The biggest winners will be the Conservatives who can expect to pick up more than 38% of former Ukip voters, Labour can hope for 10%.

The most pro-EU parties are likely to benefit the least with Plaid Cymru collecting 7% and the Liberal Democrats 3.5%.

Lib Dem

Sarah Lesiter-Burgess - Welsh Liberal Democrats is standing in Aberconwy
Sarah Lesiter-Burgess – Welsh Liberal Democrats is standing in Aberconwy

Having been the big losers of 2015 the Lib Dems may have hoped they had seen the worst in Wales – they will be disappointed.

Of those who filled in the survey just under a third of its 2015 voters said they would vote for them again. Just under two in 10 said they planned to migrate to the Conservatives, with 13% going to Labour; 4% to Plaid Cymru.

One in four said they would vote for another party. It’s major consolation will be that in half the seats it will overtake Ukip.

To CAP or not?

The vast majority of voters agreed some form of subsidy was needed for farmers
The vast majority of voters agreed some form of subsidy was needed for farmers

Just over one in five voters (22.79%) questioned agreed that protecting farmers’ subsidies was an important election issue across North Wales.

The strongest support coming from the North West where one in four (25%) agreed it was important because the rural economy needs the Common Agricultural Policy subsidy.

Unsurprisingly the most built up areas of Alyn and Deeside, where 184 people answered questions and which includes Rhyl, were least likely support the CAP with just 21.7% saying it was important.

They were however the most supportive that the government should provide the funding, suggesting they are the most Eurosceptic.

An overwhelming number believed that regardless of who pays, farmers do need some form of subsidy. Around a third of those questioned across all constituencies did not answer.

Of those that did, fewer than two in 10 (around 16%) believed farmers did not need the money.

Local issues

The NHS was the No.1 local issue for voters
The NHS was the No.1 local issue for voters

The state of the NHS in Wales was by far the biggest driver for how people will vote, it was the top priority in every one of the constituencies.

However as the NHS is a devolved area of responsibility – falling within the remit of the Welsh Assembly – it is remains unclear which of the parties is most likely to benefit.

Across the border the Conservatives are saying more money will be pumped into the service. In its manifesto published last week they are pledging to increase NHS spending by a minimum of £8 billion in real terms over the next five years.

Labour said that the figure should be £18 billion – or £350m a week, as stated by Brexit supporters during the referendum campaign.

The NHS was least important for Ynys Môn on 49.7% and the most important among the 374 people polled from the Vale of Clwyd.

A decision of the third Menai crossing predictably vexed people on Anglesey more than anywhere else – with one five (21.7%) saying it would play a part in their decision. People in Arfon, which incorporates Bangor, were the only other constituency to show significant interest.

Government policy on nuclear power was the lowest scoring of the six local issues – despite the prospect of Wylfa Newydd Power Station bringing thousands of new jobs to Anglesey and the surrounding region.

An aerial view of the Menai Strait
An aerial view of the Menai Strait

For most North Wales constituencies Britain’s Article 50 negotiations are second only to the NHS. With North Wales largely voting in favour of Brexit it would appear that people want to ensure that the country does not backtrack. Only Anglesey, Arfon and Aberconwy did not make it the second most important issue.

Of the 286 respondents from in Ynys Môn only one in four – the fewest of all the areas – saw Brexit as a concern, despite the importance of the Holyhead Harbour to Ireland.

Road and rail links remain a concern for many with more than one in four respondents stating that the region’s transport arteries, the A55 and the trains, as a factor.

As expected the importance of the Welsh language was more prominent in the North West of the country then the North East. Aberconwy (19.2%) being on the fault line.

The mother tongue is an issue for one and three in Dwyfor Meirionnydd, Ynys Môn and Arfon – making its the third most important.

UK-wide issues

As with local issues it is the NHS that is the biggest concern for people when asked about issues affecting the whole of the UK.

But the picture becomes somewhat blurred after that. Given their obvious link the economy and Brexit make up the second and third when asked what is their biggest concern.

The terms of Article 50 would appear to be the biggest worry for voters in Clwyd South, Clwyd West and Delyn – which polled more than 42%, making it the second biggest issue.

In Deeside and Wrexham where many workers at the Toyota plant and Airbus factory live, jobs are a big concern. So too in Anglesey where well paid manufacturing jobs in firms, such as Anglesey Aluminium, were lost in the last recession.

Since then many have found work in the seasonal tourism industry which tends to pay considerably less.

Education is the third biggest concern for voters in Dwyfor Meirionnydd and Arfon – most likely because of Bangor University.

And despite being perhaps one of the most talked about issues in the election, immigration was the least important among those who took part in the survey.

It proved to be the least important concern of eight of the ten seats. And the fifth most important – out of six – in only Alyn and Deeside and Delyn, where 120 people responded.

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