So, now that the coalition is in place and the General Election in Wales is well and truly over, I figured I’d take a look at the results from the 7 Parties who contested more than 1/4 of the seats (although I’ll only look in full detail at 4 of these). For reference, these parties are, the Labour Party (40 seats), Conservative Party (40 seats), Lib Dems (40 seats), Plaid Cymru (40 seats), UKIP (40 seats), the Green Party (12 seats) and the British National Party (19 seats). I’ll attempt to analyse a couple of different elements from the results and then posit a short conclusion on the overall results for each party at the end. For reference, the results are shown below:
The biggest swing to a party in Wales occurred in Blaenau Gwent, with a swing of 20.1% to Nick Smith & Labour. The biggest swing away from a party occurred in Merthyr Tydfil & Rhymney, with a swing of -16.8% away from the Labour Party & Dai Harvard. Labour’s average -6.5725% away from them, which is perhaps something that makes it all the more surprising that they only lost 4 seats in Wales. In only one seat in Wales, Blaenau Gwent, did the Labour Party increase their share of the vote and in 18 seats in Wales, there was a swing of more than 7% away from Labour.
Comparatively, the Tories biggest swing towards them occurred in Montgomeryshire where they gained an additional 13.8% of the vote to displace Lembit Opik. In contrast to Labour, the Tories biggest loss on the night occurred in Merthyr Tydfil & Rhymney, where they lost 1.5% of the vote. With an average swing of 4.5% to them, the Tories had a pretty good night, vote wise and will probably have been disappointed not to take more seats. Overall a much stronger showing for them than it was for Labour.
The biggest swing to the Liberal Democrats occurred in Merthyr Tydfil & Rhymney, with a swing of 17%, so congratulations go to Amy Kitcher. The biggest swing away was, unsurprisingly, Montgomeryshire, with a swing away of 12.5%. Overall, the average swing was of 1.4625% to the Liberal Democrats, but promisingly in a number of target seats, we picked up large swings and only fell slightly short of taking them, notably Swansea West, Newport East and we also had an excellent result in Pontypridd. Whilst overall we lost a seat, the picture isn’t as bad as it would appear.
The largest swing to Plaid Cymru occurred in the Cynon Valley, where they picked up 6.8%. The largest swing away from Plaid, occurred in Carmarthen East & Dinefwr, where they lost 10.1% of the vote, which is probably representative of the lack of Adam Price’s personal vote. All told, the average swing for Plaid was 0.8775% away from them. In only 16 of their seats did their vote increase.
Overall turnout was up across Wales. In just six constituencies, Blaenau Gwent, Carmarthen West & South Pembrokeshire, Ceredigion (which I actually don’t think is mostly the students fault), Pontypridd, Preseli Pembrokeshire, Rhondda and the Vale of Clwydd, did the turnout fall. In Cardiff Central, there was no real change in the turnout. Average turnout was 64.875%, the highest turnout in Wales was in Monmouth, where 74.1% turned out to vote and the lowest turnout in Wales was in Swansea East, where just 54.6% of voters turned out.
But overall a pretty healthy picture when to comes to turnout, that points to a increase in voter engagement in the election.
Three parties, Labour, the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats retained all of their deposits in this election. Plaid Cymru lost 11 of their deposits, the BNP lost all bar one (Swansea East) of their deposits. UKIP & the Greens both lost all of their deposits, with UKIPs 40 undoubtedly being the most painful, especially since UKIP didn’t make it above 3.5% of the vote (Ynys Mon). I can’t imagine that Plaid are particularly happy about losing more than a quarter of their deposits either. But all in all, that’s a fair bit of lost money.
How did each party do?
Lets be honest now, Labour didn’t have a great night. They got hammered across the board. Whilst they may have only lost 4 seats, they only increased their share of the vote in Blaenau Gwent. The lost share of the vote must surely be worrying for Labour going in to the Assembly Elections.
I imagine that there are mixed feelings for the Tories, whilst they did pick up seats, they failed to capitalise on their increased share of the vote and turn that into more seats. Overall though, I suspect the Tories can be happy with their performance in Wales, it wasn’t too bad and taking Montgomeryshire will have pleased them.
Whilst the headlines look bad, there was a generally solid performance from the Liberal Democrats, be it from Matt Smith doubling our vote in Blaenau Gwent, to Mark Williams Majority in Ceredigion or Amy Kitcher’s performance in Merthyr, there’s a lot for us to be proud of. The lesson for 2015 is perhaps not to spread ourselves so thin. With the post debate bounce we threw money into seats that previously had not been targets and diluted the resources available to other more winnable seats. Had we stayed a little more focused, we may have picked some more up, but that’s something to work on for next time. And in a lot of seats we’ve got 5 years to work on building up our local activists to a better position.
Plaid’s night was probably not as great as they’d hoped. From an outsider’s point of view, I’d say that Plaid didn’t really connect with the electorate this election, with most of the debate focused on the economy and them spending 90% of their time talking about the Leaders’ Debates, the electorate didn’t get much of a message through from Plaid in terms of what they actually offered. That’s, from my perspective anyway, probably what damaged Plaid more than anything at this election.
- Greg Foster
NB: Any mathematical or factual errors are entirely my own. This post took some time to write and its entirely possible that I’ve missed a fair few. If you do spot any, let me know and I’ll sort it out!