More bad news for our Health Minister, seven hospitals in Wales are ranked among the 20 worst performing in the UK as a whole for stroke care. That’s according to an audit by the Royal College of Physicians, who demand more investment in stroke services in Wales. The Welsh government say significant improvements in stroke care have occurred in recent years.
Meanwhile the latest Welsh Health Survey show Wales as being a nation of lardies. Why? Our lifestyles. A survey of 15,000 adults and 3,000 children showed that 58% of adults were overweight or obese, including 22% obese. A fifth of all adults still smoke and over four out of every ten drinking above the guidelines and over a quarter binge drink. Seven out of ten take little exercise and two thirds don’t eat their five-a-day. All of which results in half the adults being treated for an illness such as high blood pressure (20%), respiratory illness (14%), arthritis (12%), mental illness (12%), heart condition (8%), or diabetes (7%). Little wonder then that the Health Minister wants us to change our ways, it’s costing the NHS a lot of money.
A Labour government would set a statutory minimum wage target linked to average earnings, but will not announce the exact figure until nearer the general election. Both the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats have already said they want a rise in the minimum wage. Predictably, the move is criticised by business groups who say it would drive up costs and damage competitiveness. Never known them not say this. The minimum wage is due to increase by 19p an hour to £6.50 from October.
Local government elections in England result in gains for Labour and UKIP at the expense of Conservatives and Liberal Democrats. If the results were repeated at the general election Labour would be the largest party but would fall short of a majority.
YouGov/Sun CON 34%, LAB 34%, LD 9%, UKIP 14%.
Final European voting intention Poll
Opinium/Daily Mail CON 21%, LAB 25%, LD 6%, UKIP 32%, GRN 6%
YouGov/Sun/Times CON 22%, LAB 26%, LD 9%, UKIP 27%, Green 10%
If the polls are right it looks like a done deal for Ukip to top the polls in the European elections in England. In Wales they’ll retain a seat and come second to Labour in the polls.
Farage is talking of his party holding the balance of power in Westminster after the next general election. Unlikely, but with the way a significant number of the electorate scorn the traditional political parties, it’s not out of the question.
Despite Labour and the Conservative’s attacking UKIP for its racism. The tactics seems to have failed.
Private polling of the other parties indicate that such attacks have backfired and rather than shrink the UKIP vote the reverse has happened it has consolidated support for the party.
It seems that the attacks have raised Farage’s profile and confirmed him as the anti-establishment candidate. Joe Public do not regard him as racist and see the assaults as the main parties simply bullying an anti-establishment character.
The fact is Farage is connecting with the British public in a way other party leaders are not. It seems that the voters have ticked, the none of the above box when it comes to the main Westminster parties
It’s well documented that his party has made in-roads into the Tory vote, but what the latest polls show, the party is now winning votes from Labour.
Labour’s response has been inept. They seem like rabbits caught in the headlights, not knowing how to respond. Their campaign to date has been conducted as if the European election was not taking place.
Miliband used the campaign to launch policies that had nothing to do with Europe, effectively fighting the next general election rather than the election in hand. Other elements have half heartedly attacked UKIP. Confusion reigns.
Indeed ‘that’ notorious party political broadcast attacking Nick Clegg being surrounded by the toffs, but not a word about UKIP, perhaps says it all about their campaign.
A step too far, even for the Welsh Labour party. They decided, at the last minute, to pull a Labour party broadcast and repeat one of their own broadcasts instead. They didn’t want to risk another piece of nonsense from party HQ. And who can blame them.
It’s a fact that once a voter has broken the allegiance to a party once, they find it easier to do it in future elections. By ignoring UKIP the risk is that traditional Labour voters may not return to the party when the keys of Number Ten are up for grabs.
Ed Miliband, by focusing on the bust flush that is Nick Clegg and ignoring UKIP is making what might prove to be a fatal error of judgement. If the party don’t get a grip, they’re going to sleepwalk into general election defeat.
Labour’s grip on Wales is loosening according to the third Welsh Political Barometer – a poll conducted by YouGov for ITV Cymru Wales and the Wales Governance Centre.
The poll shows Labour still topping the Welsh poll with 33% but are down 6 points from last February’s poll. UKIP are a firm second with 23% up 5 points. Conservative are down 1 point with 16%. Plaid Cymru are up 3 points on 15% and the Liberal Democrats see no change in their fortune still languishing on 7%. The Others which include the Greens are up one point up to 8%.
But the poll show the electorate underwhelmed by the process. Only slightly over half the electorate are going to even bother to vote next Thursday. There are four Welsh European parliament seats up for grab.
When account is taken of those that say they’re definitely going to vote Plaid Cymru (17%) leapfrog the Conservatives (16%). This fact could make a real difference to the outcome. With previous polls virtually writing off Plaid Cymru’s chances of keeping a seat, it’s the existing Tory MEP that now looks in trouble.
Having topped the poll last time the Conservative MEP has a fight on to retain her seat. If true Labour, UKIP and Plaid Cymru would each win one MEP. But the fourth seat according to the poll is a dead heat between Labour and the Conservatives.
A very big health warning, the poll has a margin of error of 4%. Effectively meaning that the final two seats are a three-cornered fight between Labour, the Tories and Plaid Cymru.
But with the Labour vote looking a bit soft my hunch is that that second seat may be beyond the party’s grasp. No change in Wales would be my advice to those that want a flutter on the results.
What does the poll tell us about what will happen in the other elections?
If the general election was held tomorrow Labour on 43% would gain 5 seats, gaining 3 from the Tories (22%) and 1 each from Plaid Cymru (11%) and the Liberal Democrats (7%). UKIP would gain no seats despite polling 13%. But of course the election is not being held tomorrow and a lot can happen within an year.
Even more so the Assembly elections which are in 2016, but in the unlikely event of this poll being replicated then Labour would be short of a majority with 29 seats, down 1 on now. The Conservatives would still be the official Opposition with 12 down 2. Plaid Cymru would be down 1 on 10. The big gain would be UKIP who will arrive at the Assembly with eight Assembly Members and there would only be Kirsty Williams as the sole Liberal Democrat.
But there’s an awful lot of politics between now and then and many more polls to entertain us all.
And what do the parties say about the poll.
Labour think that “All polling needs to be treated with caution, but these figures do suggest that Wales has a good chance of kicking out the Tory MEP by voting for Welsh Labour on Thursday.
“There was always going to be a real tussle for that fourth seat and this shows how important it is for all progressive voters to get behind Labour’s candidates.
“Our hardworking campaign teams will keep going until the last minute on polling day, reminding people about the importance of having strong, positive voices in the European Parliament.”
Plaid Cymru say that they “are only party that will always put Wales first and the only party which can be trusted to provide a voice for Wales in Europe. People are clearly responding positively to this message on the doorstep and we will continue to build on this momentum until voting ends on Thursday. What this poll says is that it’s neck and neck between Plaid Cymru and the right wing parties who want to isolate Wales regardless of what that means for jobs and the economy. We appeal to everyone who wants to see Wales flourish and grow as a strong, confident nation to vote for Plaid Cymru on Thursday in order to make your voice count. “
A Welsh Conservative Party spokesman said: “One analysis of this poll shows the Welsh Conservatives retaining their seat. There is clearly all to play for in the last few days of the campaign. People need to remember that if they want real change in Europe and a referendum on Europe only the Conservatives can deliver it.”