Voting against austerity

The latest YouGov poll for ITV Cymru Wales provides, as always, some very useful information about the state of the parties in Wales. This time round, it was quite startling to see that Plaid Cymru's overall support for the upcoming Westminster election has fallen to 10%, but that support for the Greens in Wales has risen by 3% points to 8%, putting them within touching distance of Plaid.

Plaid Cymru's response to this was to launch into an unabashed love-bombing campaign aimed at Green Party supporters in Wales, and what better person to do it than Dafydd Wigley. This is what he said to Adrian Masters.


Unsurprisingly, I agree entirely with the idea that the Green Party is the best party to support in England, after all, I've been advocating that for years. But, as Adrian noted, the second part of Plaid's agenda is to ask people in Wales who might be inclined to vote for the Greens to vote for Plaid Cymru instead ... and, as Dafydd admitted, he would be delighted if they did.

The problem is that neither he nor the other leaders of Plaid Cymru have thought things through clearly enough.


Plaid's biggest electoral problem is that their support in Wales is disproportionately concentrated in just some parts of Wales. Yes, given the unfair nature of the first-past-the-post voting system, Dafydd is right to say that it would make sense for Green voters in the parts of Wales where Plaid is strong to consider voting for Plaid. But, by that same logic, the opposite is true in those parts of Wales where Plaid has now become weaker than the Greens.

For although the headline voting intention in the YouGov poll for Wales as a whole puts Plaid marginally ahead of the Greens, we just need to look at the regional breakdown to see that in some parts of Wales Plaid is now a very poor second behind the Greens. In South Wales Central (which includes Cardiff) support for the Greens is now double the support for Plaid Cymru.

Westminster Voting Intention

All Wales ... Plaid 10% ... Greens 8%

North Wales ... Plaid 9% ... Greens 6%
Mid and West Wales ... Plaid 19% ... Greens 6%
South Wales West ... Plaid 10% ... Greens 6%
South Wales Central ... Plaid 6% ... Greens 12%
South Wales East ... Plaid 5% ... Greens 8%

YouGov Poll for ITV Cymru Wales, 27 January 2015

Obviously things will vary on a constituency by constituency basis. But in general terms, if the Greens, the SNP and Plaid Cymru are to make any inroads in May as a group of parties working together to oppose the austerity agenda that the Tories, Labour and LibDems have each signed up to, then it is better for those who would normally be inclined to vote for Plaid in South Wales Central and South Wales East to vote Green instead. The same is probably true for those in the eastern half of the North Wales electoral region.

The logic of what Dafydd was saying is perfectly valid. He and the rest of the Plaid leadership just hadn't looked carefully enough at the detail.

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Mahomet, il est Charlie

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Charlie Hebdo

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Watching the results come in

The voting is over, and now it's time to watch the results come in.

There will be separate counts in each of Scotland's 32 local authorities, and the anticipated timetable (here) for each count is below. Three of the largest authorities—Glasgow, Edinburgh and Aberdeen—will be among the last to come in, and together account for a about a quarter of the overall result. So those of you that aren't planning to stay up all night could set your alarms for 5am to catch the big declarations that are likely to swing it one way or the other.

Fairly obviously, there are some areas where the Yes vote will be relatively strong, and others where it will be weaker. So I've asked myself about the best yardstick to measure the individual declarations against. It's not very helpful to use the 1997 referendum results because there were two main factors driving the Yes vote: the first was those who wanted more autonomy for Scotland; but the second was those who might not have been sure about a Scottish Parliament, but who voted Yes out of loyalty to Labour. It had been one of New Labour's keystone pledges, Tony Blair had only just been swept into power on a wave of optimism, and people trusted him. The highest Yes/Yes vote was in the (then) Labour fortress of Glasgow, at 75%, with West Dunbartonshire, North Lanarkshire, and East Ayrshire also above 70%. But Labour voters will be much more divided this time round.

Unsurprisingly the polls show a strong correlation between voting SNP and voting Yes to independence. So the best yardstick I can think of is to compare the Yes vote against the percentage of first preference vote for the SNP in the 2012 local elections. However this doesn't work well for Orkney, Shetland and Na h-Eileanan Siar, because these councils are dominated by independent councillors, so I've taken a guess based on the SNP vote in the 2011 election, shown in brackets. It probably won't make much difference if I've got these wrong, because they account for very little of Scotland's overall population.

My basic assumption is that the "spread" of votes will probably be no more than a third. So to achieve a 50/50 overall result, the Yes vote would be up towards 67% in places where the SNP polled well in 2012 such East Ayrshire and Clackmannanshire; but would be down towards 33% in areas with little SNP support such as Dumfries and Galloway. On this basis I've worked out a "Yes target" for each council area. If the Yes vote consistently comes in higher than these targets, especially in the more populous council areas, Yes are on course for an overall victory.

02:00 – Na h-Eileanan Siar (0.5%) ... SNP 23.8% (65.3%) ... Yes target 67%
02:00 – North Lanarkshire (6.3%) ... SNP 34.6% ... Yes target 52%
02:00 – Inverclyde (1.4%) ... SNP 25.4% ... Yes target 40%
02:00 – Orkney (0.4%) ... SNP 3.0% (25.1%) ... Yes target 40%
02:00 – East Lothian (1.9%) ... SNP 30.4% ... Yes target 47%
02:00 – Perth and Kinross (2.8%) ... SNP 40.3% ... Yes target 59%
02:00 – Moray (1.8%) ... SNP 39.5% ... Yes target 58%

02:30 – Clackmannanshire (0.9%) ... SNP 46.1% ... Yes target 66%

03:00 – West Dunbartonshire (1.7%) ... SNP 30.3% ... Yes target 46%
03:00 – Dumfries and Galloway (2.8%) ... SNP 19.5% ... Yes target 33%
03:00 – Angus (2.2%) ... SNP 44.4% ... Yes target 64%
03:00 – South Lanarkshire (6.1%) ... SNP 36.4% ... Yes target 52%
03:00 – East Renfrewshire (1.7%) ... SNP 19.8% ... Yes target 33%
03:00 – Dundee (2.7%) ... SNP 43.4% ... Yes target 63%
03:00 – Falkirk (2.9%) ... SNP 40.5% ... Yes target 59%
03:00 – Renfrewshire (3.1%) ... SNP 35.3% ... Yes target 53%
03:00 – East Ayrshire (2.3%) ... SNP 46.9% ... Yes target 67%
03:00 – Aberdeenshire (4.9%) ... SNP 41.2% ... Yes target 60%
03:00 – Stirling (1.7%) ... SNP 37.2% ... Yes target 55%

03:30 – Midlothian (1.6%) ... SNP 39.5% ... Yes target 58%
03:30 – Argyll and Bute (1.7%) ... SNP 29.7% ... Yes target 46%
03:30 – West Lothian (3.2%) ... SNP 40.4% ... Yes target 59%
03:30 – South Ayrshire (2.2%) ... SNP 29.3% ... Yes target 45%
03:30 – Shetland (0.4%) ... SNP 1.9% (12.1%) ... Yes target 33%
03:30 – East Dunbartonshire (2.0%) ... SNP 25.4% ... Yes target 40%

04:00 – Fife (7.1%) ... SNP 31.1% ... Yes target 47%
04:00 – Highland (4.4%) ... SNP 25.8% ... Yes target 41%

04:30 – North Ayrshire (2.7%) ... SNP 35.6% ... Yes target 53%

05:00 – Scottish Borders (2.2%) ... SNP 20.8% ... Yes target 35%
05:00 – Edinburgh (8.7%) ... SNP 26.9% ... Yes target 46%
05:00 – Glasgow (11.5%) ... SNP 32.6% ... Yes target 49%

06:00 – Aberdeen (4.2%) ... SNP 31.3% ... Yes target 48%

This graphic from the Telegraph is quite useful, too.


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Not the first ... nor the last

Taking the step to independence is nothing unusual. This is the list of countries which have gained their independence from Westminster rule over the years.

United States of America ... 4 July 1776
Afghanistan ... 19 August 1919
Ireland (in part) ... 24 April 1922
Canada ... 11 December 1931
South Africa ... 11 December 1931
Australia ... 9 October 1942 (backdated to 3 September 1939)
Jordan ... 25 May 1946
Pakistan ...14 August 1947
India ... 15 August 1947
New Zealand ... 25 November 1947
Myanmar (Burma) ... 4 January 1948
Sri Lanka ... 4 February 1948
Israel ... 14 May 1948
Sudan ... 1 January 1956
Ghana ... 6 March 1957
Malaysia ... 31 August 1957
Cyprus ... 1 October 1960
Nigeria ... 1 October 1960
Kuwait ... 25 February 1961
Sierra Leone ... 27 April 1961
Tanzania ... 9 December 1961
Jamaica ... 6 August 1962
Trinidad and Tobago ... 31 August 1962
Uganda ... 9 October 1962
Kenya ... 12 December 1963
Malawi ... 6 July 1964
Malta ... 21 September 1964
Zambia ... 24 October 1964
The Gambia ... 18 February 1965
Maldives ... 26 July 1965
Guyana ... 26 May 1966
Botswana ... 30 September 1966
Lesotho .... 4 October 1966
Barbados ... 30 November 1966
Yemen ... 30 November 1967
Mauritius ... 12 March 1968
Swaziland ... 6 September 1968
Fiji ... 10 October 1970
United Arab Emirates ... 2 December 1971
Bahrain ... 16 December 1971
Bahamas ... 10 July 1973
Grenada ... 7 February 1974
Seychelles ... 29 June 1976
Solomon Islands ... 7 July 1978
Tuvalu ... 1 October 1978
Dominica ... 3 November 1978
Saint Lucia ... 22 February 1979
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines ... 27 October 1979
Zimbabwe ... 18 April 1980
Vanuatu ... 30 July 1980 (and from France too)
Belize ... 21 September 1981
Antigua and Barbuda ... 1 November 1981
Saint Kitts and Nevis ... 19 September 1983
Brunei ... 1 January 1984

List from Wikipedia

Fifty-four so far. Each one now standing on their own feet, acting and speaking with their own voice in the world. Not one has asked to go back.

Now Scotland has the opportunity to join them. It's a big step. It's an important step. But it's not—as those who want to scare you into bottling it at the last moment would have you believe—a leap into the unknown. It's been done, successfully, many times before. You'll be number 55 on the list.


Neither will you be alone in a European context. This is a list of the countries in Europe that have gained or regained their independence:

Norway (from Sweden) ... 1905
Iceland (from Denmark) ... 1946
Belarus (from the USSR) ... 1991
Estonia (from the USSR) ... 1991
Latvia (from the USSR) ... 1991
Lithuania (from the USSR) ... 1991
Moldova (from the USSR) ... 1991
Ukraine (from the USSR) ... 1991
Slovenia (from Yugoslavia) ... 1992
Croatia (from Yugoslavia) ... 1992
Boznia Herzegovina (from Yugoslavia) ... 1992
Czech Republic and Slovakia (from each other) ... 1993
Macedonia (from Yugoslavia) ... 1993
Montenegro (from Serbia) ... 2006
Kosovo (from Serbia) ... 2008

So Scotland, it's now your turn.

Be brave. Say Yes.


Your Yes to independence will also encourage other countries to take the same step. Catalunya is set to vote on their independence from Spain in November. Euskadi and Galicia probably won't be far behind. Flanders and Wallonia are bound to split eventually.

And, which matters most to me, we in Wales will be emboldened to follow you.

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A Comfortable Yes

With only a few days to go before Scotland's big day, the time is right for me to predict what the result will be. I said this three weeks ago:

I think the polls have underestimated (because they have nothing to go on to measure it) support from the working class in Scotland and, in particular, the group of people who think "there's no point in voting because voting never changes anything".

Normally it doesn't. But this referendum provides a real chance of changing things ... and it's the people at the bottom who most need things to change. It all depends on getting them to register (still a week to go) and then turn out and vote. Groups like Radical Independence have played and will play a vital part in this.

I'll make this prediction. If the turnout is more than 85%, Yes will win. If it's less than 80%, No will win.

Scotland Yet – 26 August 2014

Bear in mind that I said this while the polls were still showing that the Yes vote was some way behind the No vote. Since then the polls have shown a dramatic narrowing in that margin, so that things are neck-and-neck. But the point I had made still stands, therefore I said this last week, in response to the polls from YouGov showing Yes at 51% to No at 49%, and from TNS-BMRB showing Yes and No at 50% each:

I'm delighted by the recent YouGov and TNS-BMRB polls. But I also think that all polls have tended to underestimate the fact that a very large percentage of those who don't normally vote, especially from more disadvantaged communities, are going to vote this time ... and are going to vote Yes.

I therefore expect the margin of the Yes vote to be much larger than these polls are predicting. Perhaps 53% to 47%. In fact if the turnout is over 85%, it might reach 55% to 45%.

I thought about flying the Union Jack – 10 September 2014

There is every indication that turnout is going to be very high. We now know that 4,285,323 people have registered to vote, which equates to 97% of the eligible population, and this is a far greater increase in registration than can be accounted for by extending the franchise to 16 and 17 year olds.

So I have very little doubt that Yes will win comfortably.

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The Charge of the Fright Brigade

In today's Scottish Sun there's a nice photo of the leaders of the three main Westminster parties as they abandon their usual ritual hostilities and instead head north in a last ditch attempt to frighten the unruly Scots into not voting for independence.


So the rumours are true. It looks like even Rupert Murdoch is convinced that Better Together has blown it and is therefore, true to form, now coming out to back the Yes campaign.

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