Support grows for Welsh Government over Covid-19 as voters lose faith in UK approach

The latest Welsh Barometer opinion poll for ITV Cymru Wales has revealed growing support for the Welsh Government's handling of the coronavirus crisis, at a time when support for the UK Government's performance has slumped markedly.

62% of those questioned now think the Welsh Government is handling the pandemic well, more than twice as many as when the question was first asked in March.

Support for the UK Government's performance has fallen to 34%.

For the UK Government, the figure is down to 34% from a peak of 59%.

Our poll also asked about how a number of individual UK and Welsh ministers were handling the coronavirus crisis. The table below summarises responses into ‘well’, ‘badly’ and ‘don’t know’ for each politician. There is also a net figure, with the change in brackets since this question was asked in early April:

When we last asked this question, public sentiment in Wales towards the UK government ministers about whom we polled were strongly positive and clearly much less positive for the Welsh First Minister and Health Minister. Vaughan Gething. Polling expert Prof Roger Awan-Scully, of Cardiff University, has been looking at how opinion has moved since then.

Public attitudes in Wales have certainly changed. Sentiments towards the handling of Covid-19 by all the UK government ministers have declined, and to a quite astonishing extent in the cases of Health Secretary Matt Hancock and Prime Minister Johnson. Support for the Prime Minister’s handling of the crisis has declined across the board: even to some extent among Conservative supporters, but particularly strongly among supporters of other parties.

Prof Roger Awan-Scully, Cardiff University

The poll asked about people's feeling toward politicians more generally -how much they liked or disliked them- by marking them out of 10. Here are the average ratings for the main UK and Welsh party leaders. (The figure in brackets is the change since early April, when the Labour leader was Jeremy Corbyn).

Prof Awan-Scully says the "brief wave of Welsh support" for the Prime Minister Johnson early in the crisis now appears to have disappeared. Meanwhile, the Labour party now has the two most popular political leaders in Wales.

Sir Keir Starmer has made a very positive first impression on Welsh voters, managing a better public rating in his first poll than Jeremy Corbyn ever did. And the current crisis appears to have brought the First Minister’s positive qualities to the fore for many people in Wales as well.

Prof Roger Awan-Scully, Cardiff University

Prof Awan-Scully points out that in the previous poll Boris Johnson was the most popular party leader in Wales - and managed what few politicians ever do, by averaging more than 5 on this 0-10 scale. The last time we saw a decline of this scale so quickly in a leader’s ratings in Wales was when it happened to Theresa May during the 2017 general election campaign.

The other striking findings in these results is the improvement in Mark Drakeford’s ratings. For his first year and more in the job, it was a consistent finding that not only did many Welsh voters not have a view on him, but those who did were generally fairly unimpressed. Now, not only have more Welsh voters begun to be aware of the First Minister, but those with views have become much more positive. Moreover, it is not only Labour supporters who are please with Mr Drakeford: indeed, Plaid Cymru Westminster supporters rate him every bit as highly as Labour voters do.

Prof Roger Awan-Scully, Cardiff University
Support grows for Welsh Government over Covid-19 as voters lose faith in UK approach Credit: ITV Cymru Wales

As we reported earlier, these shifting attitudes are also feeding through into how people say they will vote in both Westminster and Senedd elections. The Welsh Barometer Poll will continue to take the political temperature as we go through a global pandemic, a near-certain recession and the still uncertain outcome of talks to establish a post-Brexit relationship with the EU by the end of the year.

  • The poll, for ITV Cymru Wales and Cardiff University, had a sample of 1,021 Welsh adults aged 18+ and was carried out online by YouGov from 29 May to 1 June 2020.