Archive for March, 2011

Plaid Cymru: Drop in the polls

The latest ITV Wales/YouGov survey shows a further drop in the poll for Plaid Cymru. They drop another 2 percentage points in the polls.

The fieldwork for the poll was done after Plaid’s conference. It is usual for parties to have a bounce immediately after their conferences this doesn’t seem to have happened for Plaid Cymru.

A downward trend is the last thing a party wants as they approach a general election. They have fallen 4 percentage points since January and 5 percentage points since the last Assembly election.

A similar drop is also shown in the regional list.These figures make some of their existing seats very vulnerable.

Their senior partners in Government continue to do well. Labour are on 47 pre cent. They have been in the high 40′s most of the year and is a considerable improvement on the last Assembly election were they only got 32 percent. These figures point to them gaining a majority of members and opens up the prospect of them being able to govern alone after May.

The Conservatives continue to hover around the lower 20s, a figure that broadly reflects their traditional vote in Wales. But on these figures they are likely to overtake Plaid Cymru as the second largest party and would give them the status of their leader being Leader of the Opposition.

Liberal Democrats continue to be in single figures and if these figures were replicated on election day they can expect a drop from their current six Assembly Members. It even makes their leader Kirsty Williams vulnerable in her Brecon and Radnor heartland.

Comment

It is likely that this poll reflects more the voters reaction to what is happening in Westminster than any action or non-action by the parties in Wales. Consequently, Labour are seen as the alternative to the Conservative led coalition in Westminster and have benefited from the current antipathy to the UK government. The Liberal Democrats have been particularly punished by the Welsh electorate for what is seen as a betrayal of their radical tradition in propping up the Tories.

Plaid Cymru must be particularly worried because they always do well when Labour form the government in Westminster and the converse is also true – a situation likely to be the case for the next five years at least.

Of course, election campaigns can shift opinions. But In Wales parties suffer the disadvantage that many people receive their news from a media that give little or no coverage to Welsh politics. So undoubtedly, the campaign that is about to be embarked on, suffers from this disadvantage. The effect will probably mean the campaign will only have a marginal influence if at all on many Welsh voters, so they will vote if vote they do on their attitudes to the Westminster Parliament rather than the Assembly and its work.

The poll results are published below.

ITV Wales/YouGov The sample was 1117, the fieldwork 28th to 30th March. We released the figures on our 13.55 news bulletin.

May 2007 Jan 2011 4-8 March 2011 28-30 March 2011

Constituency vote

Labour 32% 45% 48% 47%

Conservative 22% 21% 20% 21%

Plaid Cymru 22% 21% 19% 17%

Lib Dem 15% 7% 7% 8%

Others 8% 6% 7% 6%

Regional vote

Labour 30% 41% 45% 45%

Conservative 22% 20% 20% 20%

Plaid Cymru 21% 21% 18% 16%

Lib Dem 12% 8% 5% 8%

UKIP 4% 4% 5% 6%

Green 4% 2% 4% 2%

Others 8% 4% 2% 2%

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Who do you want as top dog?

In the latest ITVWales/Yougov survey on which of the current party leaders would make the best first minister Carwyn Jones for Labour topped the poll. He scored 28 per cent.

His current partner in the coalition government Ieuan Wyn Jones, the leader of Plaid Cymru had a score of 8 per cent.

Nick Bourne the Conservative Leader of the Opposition in the Assembly got 5 per cent and bottom of the scoring table was Kirsty Williams with a miserable 3 per cent.

But what must cause some worry to them all is the fact that 55 per cent of those surveyed just didn’t know. Not a great confidence boost to any of our ‘leading’ politicians.

Perhaps the figures might change after a month of them pressing the flesh leading up to the May election.

Whether they change for the better who knows, for as the old saying goes familiarity breeds ….

Or should we read from the polls anybody but these.

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The Budget 2011

George Osborne in introducing his budget said that last year’s budget was ‘about rescuing the nation’s finances, and paying for the mistakes of the past.’ But this one was about reforming the nation’s economy or as he put it ‘on the route from rescue to reform.’

But as predicted in yesterday’s blog the economic conditions did not provide him with a launchpad for anything but a neutral budget.

The Office for Budget Responsibility predicted that the annual growth forecast for 2011 has been revised downwards to 1.7% from 2.1%. and it is this low growth rate that is causing the Chancellor difficulties. But he clutched onto the fig leaf that ‘the OBR point out that the effect, in their words, ’˜creates scope for slightly stronger growth in later years’ than previously forecast.’

But as Ed Milliband was quick to point out the growth target in the UK is predicted downwards for the next three years.

The other problem pinpointed yesterday was the problem on inflation.The OBR now expect inflation to remain between 4 and 5% for most of this year before dropping next year.

And whilst the Bank of England again decided today to not change interest rates by a vote of 6 to 3 this situation is not likeIy to be maintained for to long.

Although the Chancellor again confirmed that the inflation target for the Monetary Policy Committee will remain at 2%, as measured by the Consumer Prices Index. So for a while yet,we can expect many more letters from Merv to George apologising for not meeting this particular target.

On taxation, he said ‘They should be simple to understand and easy to comply with. And our tax system should be fair, reward work, support aspiration and ask the most from those who can most afford it.’

He announced that the Government would consult on merging the operation of National Insurance and Income Tax. But he reassured pensioners that he was not proposing to extend National Insurance to them. ‘Our purpose is not to increase taxes, it is to simplify them.’

But in order to encourage enterprise he announced corporation tax would be reducedby 2%. And that it will continue to fall by 1% in each of the following three years ’“ taking the corporate tax rate right down to 23%.

He promised help to first time buyers in England, ‘So I can announce that ’“ from the proceeds of this year’s bank levy ’“ we will fund a £250 million commitment to first-time buyers.A new shared equity scheme, First Buy, will be available for first-time buyers who want to purchase a newly built property, but who cannot afford the high deposits.’ This will not apply to Wales. But there is already a similar scheme in place and of course there will be an increase in the Welsh budget under the Barnett formula.

He also announced 21 new Enterprise Zones in England, where businesses ‘will get up to 100% discount on rates, new superfast broadband and the potential to use enhanced capital allowances in zones where there is a strong focus on manufacturing.’

As these matters are devolved he will open discussions with the Assembly to see how Wales can similarly benefit from such schemes.

He also confirmed ‘that from April next year the personal tax allowance will increase by a further £630, to £8,105. That’s another real increase of £48 extra per year, or £126 in cash .’

Smokers will again face an increase in tobacco duty. Rates will increase by 2 per cent above inflation.

But like all Chancellor’s he kept back a little nugget for the tail end of his speech. And this year’s special offer was on petrol prices. He cancelled the 4p fuel duty rise that was due and ’ I am today cutting fuel duty by 1 penny per litre.This will take effect in petrol stations from 6pm tonight.’

Cheryl Gillan, the Welsh Secretary flagged up that Wales would receive an additional £65 million as a result of the Budget.

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