Polls apart

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‘These latest polling figures make interesting reading – but the Tories and Nationalists won’t like them…’

During 23 years with the BBC, and 40 years in journalism (when he was trained to use simple language, avoiding jargon), political stories as well as looking at key events differently, have always been central for our Editor, Welshman Phil Parry, so he awaits with interest the General Election (GE) – expected later this year – as the latest figures put Labour (L) well ahead of the Conservatives (C) , but are less welcome for nationalist parties.

The local election and by-election results yesterday only serve to reinforce this message, as The Economist has put it in the days before the ballots were held: “Local elections have become referendums on national governments…”

Sir John Curtice: “disappointing for the Conservatives”

The votes will all finally be counted in the local elections tomorrow, but they already look grim for the Conservatives. One normally reserved pundit, Sir John Curtice, has called them: “disappointing for the Conservatives”.

The most dramatic result is the Blackpool South by-election: a 26 per cent swing from C to L, made it the third biggest swing from C to L in post-war by-election history.

It’s also the fifth by-election in this parliament in which the swing from C to L has been over 20 per cent.



It is good news for Sir Keir Starmer, but not so positive for Rishi Sunak, or recently the Scottish Nationl Party’s (SNP) Hamza Yousaf, or Plaid Cymru’s Rhun ap Iorweth.

For journalists like Phil covering political stories was vital

The latest opinion polls (underlined by the local election and by-election results), show that the Tories are set for a THUMPING at the General Election (GE)!

The first election I covered was the 1987 GE when I worked for Cambrian News Agency supplying stories for all the UK newspapers and broadcasters, as an extremely green 22 year old reporter.

I was stationed in the Caerphilly count, and tasked with the responsibility of phoning the results back to my office, where they were then fed on to the wires.

Ron Davies admitted to a ‘moment of madness’ on Clapham Common, but was a very good MP for Caerphilly

This was the seat of the former Secretary of State for Wales Ron Davies, who was then a Labour (L) opposition spokesman and a rising star, so that made it an important count.

Ron won his seat easily, which was always going to be the case, this, though, is likely to be on a par not with that one, but 1997 when L won a landslide victory, because the polling figures consistently put them about 20 points ahead of the Conservatives (C) which would translate into a HUGE majority.

A General Election is lots of little polls

The truth is that a GE (although it is UK-wide), is lots of little elections in constituencies all added up, and few of the polling models take account of this.

But when these are all looked at, they show that L has a near-certain chance of being the largest party in the UK Parliament, and an 87 per cent chance of having an outright majority of more than 325 seats.

Polls show Labour riding roughshod over the Tories…

One estimate is that L would win 372 seats if polling stations were to open tomorrow for a GE (though the range of possible outcomes is wide).

The mid-point estimate for C is 198 seats. L would retake many of the C 2019 ‘red wall’ gains in the North of England and the Midlands.

The Tories would be left with just 55 seats north of the Watford Gap, compared with 147 now, and the list of big-name casualties would be extensive.

‘Leave me alone to think about the future of nationalism!’

For nationalist parties the news is also not good, although perhaps not as bad as for C.

But the figures do appear to reveal that the SNP could be hammered by recent controversies, and the highly-public travails for Humza Yousaf won’t have helped matters.

Journalistic research has also disclosed  how public money was used by the SNP, to upgrade travel arrangements for then leader Nicola Sturgeon, pay for a party member’s theory driving test, fund yoga classes, and buy multiple copies of books, including a collection of her speeches.

Nicola Sturgeon’s travel was upgraded

The spree included almost £10,000 on VIP airport upgrades, and more than £32,000 on team-building exercises. Apart from the yoga classes, driving test and books, other purchases by senior staff included nail polish, and £4,182 for hospitality, as well as accommodation at the five-star Gleneagles Hotel in Perthshire.

In all £14.2 million of taxpayers’ cash was spent by Scottish civil servants in three years. Taxpayer money was also spent on wellington boots “for inspections”, as well as China crockery for a meeting room.

Controversy cannot be removed from the SNP as easily as the luxury camper van which was seized by the police during their investigation

The former Chief Executive of the SNP (and husband of Ms Sturgeon), Peter Murrell was arrested, then re-arrested and finally charged last month, by the police in Scotland during a top-level investigation into party finances.

A luxury motor home was also seized during the inquiry, and this will not have gone down at all well with the electorate!

For Plaid Cymru (Plaid) the picture is much the same in Wales as it has been for years.

The reality is that Plaid have long represented the Welsh-speaking heartlands in the West and North West of Wales, with other parties sending back MPs in the rest of the country; and smaller groups invariably get squeezed at GEs.

They yearn to break out of this stronghold (for example into the South Wales Valleys), but have NEVER done so at a GE.

One poll was trumpeted by the nationalist website Nation.Cymru (NC) (which is supported by the taxpayer unlike The Eye), because it showed that Plaid may take Ynys Môn and Carmarthen (Caerfyrddin).

Comments were made on the Nation.Cymru Facebook site about burning down holiday homes

NC says it is a national news service for the people of Wales, by the people of Wales” but backs the nationalist cause, which most in Wales do not, and it declared excitedly: A new opinion poll has indicated that Plaid Cymru is in pole position to win two of the most eagerly anticipated contests in Wales at the forthcoming general election.

“Leading market research company Survation interviewed over 1000 electors in the constituencies of Ynys Mȏn and Caerfyrddin, with the results revealing that Plaid Cymru candidates Llinos Medi and Ann Davies are leading their respective contests.”

Gwynfor Evans won Carmarthen in 1966 and only just lost it in 1974

But the facts are slightly different.

Ynys Môn is one of the very rare three-way marginals in Wales, and has in the past returned a Plaid leader (Ieuan Wyn Jones), while Carmarthen (or Caerfyrddin) has always been a target for the party, as it sits on the edge of their Welsh-speaking heartland.

Carmarthen is notable as the first constituency to elect a Plaid MP, Gwynfor Evans, at a 1966 by-election, and he was later involved in one of the closest GE results ever in February 1974, when he lost to the L candidate by only three votes.

‘I am in eager anticipation…’

So they are not exactly “two of the most eagerly anticipated contests in Wales”, in fact it is all pretty dull.

Indeed it isn’t even an “eagerly anticipated contest” between L and the Tories, because they seem certain to beat them…


Details including political stories like these by Phil, as he was gripped by the rare neurological condition Hereditary Spastic Paraplegia (HSP)have been released in a major book ‘A GOOD STORY’. Order it now!


Regrettably publication of another book, however, was refused, because it was to have included names.