Labour increases poll lead but seats still at risk in election

Labour has opened a six point lead in Wales over the Conservatives, an exclusive poll for ITV Wales has shown.

The latest results reveal both parties have gained ground since the last poll earlier this month, but it is Labour that has advanced the furthest.

Labour is still short of the 15-point advantage it had over the Tories in 2017, but the findings are likely to give the party hope that a turnaround is possible.

The Conservatives however are still on course to gain seats in Wales and are nearly back to the 34% they got under Theresa May.

Labour's six point lead is still well short of the 15 percentage point advantage the party had over the Conservatives in 2017

Reporter James Crichton-Smith discusses some of the key questions raised from the poll, including three most important issues for voters at the next general election.

Brexit remains the top issue with voters, chosen by 57% of the sample, but it has actually fallen by three points since our previous poll. The one issue that has clearly risen in voters' minds is health, now chosen by 45% of voters compared to 37% just three weeks ago - an area seen as the Labour party's strongest issue.

Political analyst Professor Roger Awan-Scully said Labour now appear to be "resisting the strong Conservative challenge to their dominance".

Welsh Labour Leader Mark Drakeford AM, and Deputy Leader Carolyn Harris MP Credit: PA

The poll also shows that it is looking less likely that the Brexit Party will win any seats in Wales.

As has been seen in the Britain-wide polls in recent weeks, the two largest parties seem to be squeezing the support of the other main parties: Plaid Cymru, the Liberal Democrats, the Brexit Party, and the Greens all see their reported support moving downwards since three weeks ago. That squeeze seems to be particularly strong with regard to the Brexit Party: having emerged from nowhere to win the European Parliament election in Wales in May, they now see their support almost halving in three weeks, pushing them back into fifth place. It looks ever less plausible that the Brexit Party might actually win a seat in Wales in the election.

Prof Roger Awan-Scully, Cardiff University

Here are the voting intention figures that the poll produced (with changes on our last Barometer poll, conducted in early November, in brackets):

  • Labour: 38% (+9)

  • Conservatives: 32% (+4)

  • Plaid Cymru: 11% (-1)

  • Liberal Democrats: 9% (-3)

  • Brexit Party: 8% (-7)

  • Greens: 1% (-2)

  • Others: 1 (no change)

Professor Roger Awan-Scully estimates that if the swing between the parties was applied evenly across Wales, this would be the result in terms of seats:

  • Labour: 24 (-4)

  • Conservatives: 12 (+4)

  • Plaid Cymru: 3 (-1)

  • Liberal Democrats: 1 (+1)

Brexit is still seen as the most important political issue with 57% saying so Credit: PA Images

The seats to change hands from Labour to the Conservatives are projected to be Cardiff North, Gower, Vale of Clwyd and Wrexham.

They are also projected to recapture Brecon and Radnor from the Liberal Democrats which they lost in the recent by-election in August.

The Liberal Democrats are projected to gain Ceredigion from Plaid Cymru.

Prof Awan-Scully said losing four seats to the Conservatives is "hardly a good result", but this compares with nine seat losses in the previous poll.

Moreover, those seats still projected to be gained by the Conservatives from Labour are all very much on a knife-edge: with just a tiny further swing-back to Labour, all of them would be projected to be retained rather than lost. At the same time, this poll would still suggest the Welsh Conservatives making a major contribution to delivering a parliamentary majority for Boris Johnson, delivering the highest number of Welsh Tory MPs since the 1983 Margaret Thatcher landslide. And several further seats might go to them with only marginally greater swings.

Prof Roger Awan-Scully, Cardiff University

One of the main reasons why Labour may be fighting back in Wales is that, just as happened in 2017, Jeremy Corbyn's personal ratings are improving markedly.

He is notably less unpopular than he was just a few weeks ago, and has substantially reduced the popularity gap between himself and Boris Johnson.

Just three weeks ago, there was a fifteen-point gap between the two men on a ‘best Prime Minister’ question. Now, that gap has shrunk to just five points.

With less than three weeks to go in the general election, things are very much in the balance. Labour appear to be fighting back hard against the Conservative challenge, just as they did in 2017. The blundering Welsh Conservative campaign cannot have helped either. But it is still all to play for: significant Conservative gains in Wales are still very much within sight. These next two-and-a-half weeks will determine whether or not they are delivered.

Prof Roger Awan-Scully, Cardiff University
  • The poll, for ITV Cymru Wales and Cardiff University, had a sample of 1,116 Welsh adults and was carried out by YouGov from 22 to 25 November 2019.