In the 1997 Westminster election the Conservative Party won 161 thousand votes in Wales. It was such a poor result for them that they were wiped off the Welsh political map returning no Welsh Conservative MPs.
In the recent European Election the Conservatives had the most votes of all of the parties throughout Wales and they toped the poll in a whopping 18 Welsh constituencies. But they actually gained 15,837 fewer votes in Wales in 2009 than they did in 1997.
If the Conservatives can win 18 more constituencies in Wales on a smaller vote than that which gave them no constituencies 12 years ago, then the Conservatives are not doing well in Wales. They are doing better than the others, but it is apathy that is doing well.
There was a time when the apathetic voter, the "a plague on both your houses" voter was grist to the mill for Plaid Cymru and the Liberal Democrats, but neither party seems to be picking up votes at the moment from those who are fed up with Labour but can't stomach voting Conservative. Darren Hill noted the reason for this in an article on Wales Home last month at the moment Plaid and the Lib Dems seem to reserve their harshest phrases for one another.
A visitor from outer space landing in Wales and reading the Welsh blogs and the Welsh press would believe that the battle for World domination was a fight to the death between Plaid Cymru and the Lib Dems, such is the vitriol that the parties throw at each other. The problem is that this attitude is feeding the feeling of apathy and makes Plaid and the Lib Dems look just as unsavory as the Labour and Conservative parties.
I am not suggesting that Plaid and the Lib Dems should coalesce, or work together, or form any sort of alliance, just that they should agree to differ amicably. Both parties have too much to lose from being seen as part of the Labour / Conservative problem rather than as a possible alternative to the apathy to politics created by the big two.
Whilst there is so much antipathy towards both Labour and the Conservatives, both Plaid and the Liberal Democrats have a positive alternative to offer the electorate, both parties could gain from promoting the positive and both parties will be pray to the the same voter apathy if they are just seen as junior versions of the big boys bun fight!