Statistics, damned statistics and independence

Earlier this month a poll, by ITV Wales/ YouGov, asked voters how Wales should be governed just 10% said Wales should become independent and only a third of Plaid Cymru voters said that they would want an independent Wales.

Interesting findings.

The Population of Wales is just shy of 3 Million (about 2.2 milion of voting age), so if this data is correct about 300,000 of us want Wales to be independent. That is a huge base on which to build the national cause.

Plaid Cymru gained about 170,000 votes in the last Assembly elections; if only one third of them support independence fewer than 60 thousand of the 300 thousand supporters of independence voted Plaid!

ITV/YouGov's finding that only one sixth of the supporters of independence vote for Plaid Cymru should be food for thought for whoever becomes the next Plaid leader!

It must also be food for thought for us non-aligned Welsh nationalists!

There is clearly a need for a non party / cross party organisation that can represent the views of close to a quarter of a million supporters of independence who didn't vote Plaid last time, for whatever reason, but might like another way of expressing their support to the national cause.


  1. :-) good analysis - yes the stats mean that there are more non Plaid voters than Plaid voters that support independence... surely one of the aims must be to switch those people to voting for Plaid?

  2. Speaking as another non-aligned nationalist I can only agree. If Leanne Wood wins the leadership of Plaid she will boost support in the Valleys, but risks losing it yn y fro. Similarly a win by Elin will just wrap up Plaid's core support while putting off new voters. Providing we can get STV voting, then we would be better off with two nationalist parties - both clearly pro-Wales but with one aimed at the cultural nationalists - primarily Welsh speaking - and the other more aimed at the constitutional nationalists - independence first.

  3. If you were a media outlet with a pro-unionist bias then you would focus on the 10% who voted for independence.

    If they had any credibility they would focus on the 32% who want more powers AND the 10% who want full autonomy. That gives you 42% of the vote.

    Which is more than the 30% who want to remain the same and the 20% who want less or no powers.

    Incidentally 42% is what Labour had as it's share of constituency votes in the 2011 asembly elections.

  4. There are many Welsh nationalists who will not vote for Plaid because of their links to the 'House of Lords' and their ever changing thoughts on independence.

    Plaid needs to be challenged by a new nationalist party or movement, at the moment Plaid Cymru has become an obstacle in the path towards independence.

  5. There are several shades of grey when it comes to Welsh nationalism. Everyone knows that Plaid is reliant on the cultural nationalist vote. As a child/young adult in Mid Glamorgan, an awful lot of Labour supporters I knew were borderline nationalists and fervent 80 minute patriots. Welshness is a powerful political weapon and Labour are the masters of playing it to their advantage without offering anything back to Wales.

    I wish we had a PR system that would allow a wider range of nationalist parties.

  6. Anon: "I wish we had a PR system that would allow a wider range of nationalist parties".

    There is no reason why we can't have another nationalist party.

  7. The InformerFeb 29, 2012 07:55 AM
    There is no reason why we can't have another nationalist party.

    There is no reason why we can't have a dozen or more nationalist parties, but without a PR system where we can elect a nationalist of choice, there is little purpose in having more than one.

    I can stand in the next Westminster election against Hywel Williams as a "better sort of nationalist", I won't win, but I might steal enough votes to cause Hywel to lose to an Unionist – how does that advance the national cause?

    Besides which some of the nationalist concerns that I wish to be raise are not well suited to a person seeking a democratic mandate.

    For example The numbers of older people who move into the Aberconwy constituency place an unfair burden on the health and social care budget of Conwy Council is something that needs saying; but because those older immigrants all have votes it isn't something that can be said honestly in an electoral context.

    Gaining a hundred votes every few years isn't as effective as gathering a hundred individuals outside the council or health board offices every week to make the same point!

  8. Although the full figures from the survey weren't published at the time, they are available now, Alwyn.

    From them, we can see that although 10% said they wanted independence, only 11% said they would vote Plaid in a Westminster election. That alone should help put things into perspective.

    If we're trying to guage raw numbers that want independence, we need to factor in the support base for each party. The relevant figures for Westminster elections are, in rough terms:

    Plaid ... 45% of 11% = 4.95%
    Labour ... 7% of 50% = 3.50%
    Tory ... 6% of 25% = 1.50%
    LibDem ... 10% of 6% = 0.60%

    For Assembly constituencies the same figures are:

    Plaid ... 33% of 17% = 5.61%
    Labour ... 6% of 49% = 2.76%
    Tory ... 6% of 20% = 1.20%
    LibDem ... 10% of 7% = 0.70%

    So it's wrong to say that only a sixth of those who want independence vote for Plaid Cymru. In Assembly election terms the figure is about 55%, in Westminster terms 47%.

    But the second factor is that, after Plaid supporters, the next biggest group of those who want independence for Wales votes Labour. So if anyone is looking to set up another party that supports independence, there would be very slim pickings for it if it positioned itself on the right or centre-right of the political spectrum. And there certainly isn't room for two left of centre parties that support independence under the current voting system.

    That said, I don't think anyone in Plaid would object to a cross-party group to support independence. The problem is going to be with the leaders of other parties, because their official policy is to be against independence.

  9. Alwyn; I agree that nationalist against nationalist will not benefit the Independence cause in the short term but if Plaid Cymru are not ‘up to the job’ then why shouldn’t they be challenged?

    Taking the nationalist vote for granted is the reason they’ve been allowed to become lethargic, maybe a nationalist movement (initially) to push them in the right direction will be the answer.

  10. The problem that I have with your argument, Informer, is your claim for the need for another party to challenge Plaid. A second national party challenging Plaid just weakens the cause. Plaid isn't as nationalist as you or I might want it to be, but it doesn't have a big enough vote to challenge either!

    What would be the point of a national party that challenges Plaid and gains half its vote or even all its vote? Hoorah! Three Plaid Glyndwr MP's in Westminster and none from Plaid – the national cause HAS moved on!

    If you can create a Nationalist Labour Party or a Nationalist Conservative Party that challenges the unionism of Labour or the Conservatives, then you are fishing! But a new anti Plaid national party is just fighting over a sprat, and not worth the hassle!

  11. Alwyn, would your opinion change if (for example) DET became leader of Plaid for the next 5–6 years?

    My view is ‘if something isn’t working then it needs to be fixed or replaced’. However, on this issue I can see we must agree to disagree; a different philosophy in politics can only be a healthy thing.

  12. I do know unless Plaid can engage with the overwhelming anglo-labour South Walians it hasn't a hope in hell of survival. The M4 connects to Cardiff/England, it doesn't connect to Mid or North Wales. It does seem Plaid have not managed to promote wales and its culture without excluding the English speakers that live here. It's suicide for any party trying to promote independence. We need a new sales pitch.

  13. Informer

    Plaid Cymru gained 19.3% of the votes cast in the last Assembly Elections, given the poor turnout that was about 8% of the total electorate.

    If we want to persuade the majority of the people of Wales to support independence fighting over that 8% is not, cannot, be the way forward!

    I am all in favour of a new political movement that wants to appeal to the 92% that didn't vote Plaid in 2011, but I can't see the point of a new political party who's aim is to "spoil" Plaids teeny bit of the vote out of some perceived sort of spite!

    Plaid is NOT the problem, the problem is the 92% who don't support any sort of Welsh Nationalism, any alternative national cause should see the 92% as the real challenge rather than seeing Plaid as the opposition!