Archive for April, 2014

The rise of UKIP

photoUKIP could hold balance of power in Westminster after next year’s general election, according to Leanne Wood, the leader of Plaid Cymru in a press conference today.

She also expressed her worry that the UKIP phenomena in the UK was part of the rise of the extreme right throughout Europe.

Simultaneously the Guardian newspaper was reporting that the Westminster political parties were getting together to condemn Nigel Farage’s party as “racist.”

Their response follows opinion polls showing UKIP coming first in England in the European elections later this month.

According to Barbara Roche, the former Labour immigration minister, Ukip need to be exposed as conducting a racist campaign. She said “The party is practising what is in effect a form of ‘Euracism’. They are deploying the same language and tactics used by openly racist parties like the BNP, but instead of targeting migrants from Africa and Asia they are targeting migrants from within the EU.”

In Wales Labour (39%) are way ahead of UKIP(20%) this is not so in England. were one poll showed UKIP ahead of all other parties and another one showing Labour and UKIP running neck and neck.

The Welsh poll shows Plaid Cymru losing its only European seat hence the concern of Leanne Wood about UKIP. If what the polls are predicting comes to pass Wales would elect two Labour MEPs, one UKIP representative and one Conservative, with Plaid Cymru’s Jill Evans losing her seat.

Despite two prominent UKIP members, making  racist statements and been condemned and exposed in the press. It doesn’t seem to bother Farage. Their remarks are shrugged off by him and clearly its not denting the popularity of the party he leads. The question is why?

Whilst membership of the European Union might be the reason why UKIP mops up the Conservative voter. The signs are that the party are now harvesting Labour votes as well.

According to two academics Robert Ford and Matthew Goodwin in their book “Revolt on the Right”  the party has a particular appeal to what they describe as “left behind” working class voters.

In Britain governments are formed by a few seats changing hands. The main parties aim to win over the marginal seats that win them elections.  How is this done? By appealing to the aspirational swing middle class voters. Both parties frame their policies with these groups in mind.

However traditional working class voters feel that both parties have turned their back on them. They are forgotten and their concerns and insecurities are not part of political discourse.

Gordon Brown’s gaffe in the 2010 election underlined the gap between the  culture of the political class and the views of ordinary working class supporters.  He described a Labour supporting woman voter as a “bigot’ because of her view on immigration.

It’s at these frustrated and insecure potential and actual Labour voters that UKIP’s poster campaign seems to be successfully targeting. Targeting the deep-seated unease about immigration and the large and growing distrust of the political class.

In Wales, the Labour party has had to keep its working class base happy, hence Rhodri Morgan’s clear red water speech. When the voters have a downer with Welsh Labour they have tended to move their vote to Plaid Cymru.

The worry for Plaid Cymru now is that UKIP will replace them as the alternative to Labour in the valleys. Clearly Plaid Cymru strategists are aware of the danger, hence Wood’s attack on UKIP in her conference speech.

UKIP’s main appeal is in England indeed it would be more accurate to describe it as the English independence party, but polls do indicate it is also likely to have a limited appeal in Wales.

The polling shows UKIP’s with 29% support in England, in Scotland 10%, and in Wales, 20%.

Should the  votes in the European election reflect the poll  then England will have a large number of MEPs that want out of Europe. The Scots clearly don’t see it this way.

How ironic then that the “United Kingdom” Independence Party success might just be enough to push more in Scotland into the ‘yes’ camp and break up the UK.

 

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A week in politics

Week 20  to 25 April

Wales

The Silk Commission recommended that teachers’ pay and conditions should be devolved to the Welsh Government they are currently made by the UK Government despite education being a devolved matter. Education Minister Huw Lewis said in the Senedd earlier this month that he broadly welcomed the recommendation. Previously Carwyn Jones’s cabinet opposed any move in this direction. Maybe the  decision of the NUT to  take strike action might make the Welsh Government more proactive on the matter.

The European election campaign  of the parties are underway. Voting for the four MEPs that Wales is allowed will take place on 22 May. In 2009  David Cameron turned up outside the Senedd to celebrate because the Tories had topped the poll at Labour’s expense. The result last time -Conservative, Labour, Plaid Cymru and UKIP each won a seat. (see http://welshpolitics.co.uk/results/european-parliament-election-results-2009/) But if the polls are to be believed its doubtful that we’ll see the PM outside the Senedd this May.

An independent investigation into Ann Clwyd’s complaints about the care her late husband received whilst in hospital concluded that 20 out of 31 allegations were not upheld. But they did find he died of hospital-induced pneumonia. Now a second independent review is to take place to examine the findings. The political row stemming from Ms Clwyd’s allegations is unlikely to go away, anytime soon.

The Public Accounts Committee  wants the Welsh Government and local health boards to end the uncertainty surrounding emergency departments.  They also raised concerns about inconsistencies in the way performance-related data is collected by the NHS and recommends that information gathered on service delivery and patient experience is clear. The Committee held an inquiry following a report from the Auditor General for Wales which found that unscheduled care services in some areas were getting worse – particularly around patient waiting times. The Committee concludes that radical solutions are required and an end to uncertainty. Oh dear, a case of stating the bleeding obvious again , me thinks.

 Rest

Gordon Brown comes to the aid of the struggling Better Together campaign by trying to persuade Scottish pensioners that they will be better off staying part of the UK. Apparently staying in the UK means the Treasury will cough up for the escalating cost of retirement in Scotland.  Oh he’s such a vote winner.

It’s just not Brown that’s in Scotland making pro-union declarations, but the whole of the shadow-cabinet to listen to their leader launch Labour’s proposals on zero hour contracts of which according to Ed Miliband there are “epidemic” of such. The Labour leader will say workers with irregular shifts and pay should have rights, including a contract with fixed hours, if they work regularly for the same employer for a year. Then he astonishly says tackling the issue would be “harder” in an independent Scotland. Quite why is not clear.

 Polls

Friday

Populus                   CON 35%, LAB 35%, LDEM 9%, UKIP 13%.

YouGov/Sun          CON 32%, LAB 38%, LDEM 8%, UKIP 14%

Thursday

See the blog http://welshpolitics.co.uk/2014/04/a-new-poll/

Wednesday

European voting intentions

YouGov/Sun  CON 22%, LAB 30%, LD 10%, UKIP 27%, GREEN 6%.

Tuesday

Populus                   CON 33%, LAB 36%, LD 10%, UKIP 13%.

YouGov/Sun          CON 34%, LAB 37%, LD 10%, UKIP 12%

 Sunday

European voting intentions

ICM/Telegraph CON 22%, LAB 30%, LD 8%, UKIP 27%.

 Scottish Referendum

Sunday

ICM/Scotland on Sunday  YES 39%(nc), NO 42%(-4). Getting rid of the don’t knows YES 48%, NO 52%

Survation/Sunday Post YES 38%(+1), NO 46%(-1). Without don’t knows YES vote is at 45%.

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A new poll

Casting-vote-ballot-box5Politicians are quick to condemn polls that don’t run in their favour. So one would expect all the established parties to show some distain towards the latest Welsh poll.  But the parties ignore them at their peril.

Leanne Wood devoted a large part of her conference speech to attacking UKIP.  These polls show why.

The polls if they are unchanged by European polling day show Jill Evans the party’s sole member in Europe losing her seat. The results would give Labour two seats and UKIP and the Tories sharing the other two.

Plaid, also seem to be slipping behind in the Westminster poll.  Leanne Wood’s leadership is not giving Plaid the edge that they hoped for in the valleys of South Wales and things look a bit difficult in their Arfon seat in the next general election although the personal vote of Hywel Williams might just prove the poll wrong by election day.

It even shows them failing to win back the Ceredigion seat despite the general slump in the support for the Liberal Democrat vote. It is only in the Assembly elections that Plaid stand their ground, holding on to all eleven of their seats.

According to the poll Ceredigion will be the sole Liberal Democrat seat left in Wales after the general election. Losing Cardiff Central to Labour and Brecon & Radnor to the Tories.  Thingds look pretty grim for them in the Assembly elections too. They drop from their current 5 Members to 2. A big loss, not only in Members but also in those that are employed by the party as support staff and thus hits their ability to build them selves back up.

Labour will be more than happy with what the polls predict for the general election. Moving up from the 26 seats they hold now to 31. But in the Assembly elections, Labour lose some ground but from a high base. Whilst they lose  one seat, it brings them down to 29, two short from an overall majority. But with the opposition being  fragmented between 4 parties with the arrival of UKIP, Labour are in a more comfortable position to govern than they are now.  Labour  will hardly feel the necessity to seek  a coalition partner  to govern Wales.

It is UKIP that will be most satisfied with the poll, it shows them now being important players on the Welsh political scene with 5 Assembly Members.

For full details of the poll see the Elections in Wales web page. (http://blogs.cardiff.ac.uk/electionsinwales/2014/04/24/a-new-voting-intention-poll-in-wales/)

 

 

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