For a long time, Lord Mandelson’s famous quip that the people of south Wales ‘will always vote Labour because they have nowhere else to go’ rang true. The party dethroned the Liberals in 1922 to become Wales’s voice at Westminster and have won every general election since. In more recent times the onset of devolution presented a new opportunity for Labour to dominate in a new seat of power in Cardiff Bay. They have done just that: the party has been in government in Wales without serious challenge for over two decades.
The coronavirus crisis has been a relatively successful period for Welsh Labour too. First Minister Mark Drakeford has developed a substantial media profile over the last 12 months by putting Cardiff at odds with London on pandemic policy, taking a leading role in debates on the future of the Union, and establishing a cult status as a professorial-cheese-loving-allotment-tending grandfather to the nation.
Opinion polls have shown the public broadly supported the First Minister’s approach to the regulations and, despite an initially slow vaccine rollout, Wales now leads the way on delivering jabs across the UK as the wider public health situation looks far prettier than it did in December. With an election just six weeks away, you could forgive Labour for being complacent.
Yet all it usually takes to change the mood music is a devastating poll. And that’s exactly what we have in the latest Welsh Political Barometer.
If these results play out on May 6, it will be disastrous for Welsh Labour. YouGov put the party on course to win 22 out of 60 Welsh seats, its worst performance ever in a Senedd election, and even Mark Drakeford is forecasted to lose his Cardiff West constituency.