The European elections in Wales, 2014
By Peter RowlandsThese were bad for Labour. We failed to win a second seat, needing about 18,000 more votes to do so, while the swing to UKIP was greater than anywhere else in the UK, although the UKIP vote remains lower than anywhere else except London and Scotland. The corollary is that the swing to Labour was lower in Wales than elsewhere in the UK, except for the three regions in the South and East and Scotland.
The combined hard-left vote was a derisory 1.2%, down from 3.1% in 2010, with the combined fascist vote down even more at 1.9% from 5.4% - one of the few welcome aspects of these elections. It must be assumed that much of the previous BNP vote went to UKIP. The Green vote, at 4.5%, remains low against a UK average of 7.9%. Labour won ten councils, with UKIP in second place in all and running Labour close in Newport, Torfaen and, worst of all, Merthyr, where there must have been a massive switch from Labour, as there are few Tory votes here. UKIP won in six councils, three of which (Flint, Wrexham and Vale of Glamorgan) should have been won by Labour. The Vale was the worst result, where we came third, behind the Tories.
Having said that, we shouldn’t overreact to UKIP’s success in these elections. Supporters of UKIP are strongly opposed to the EU, and therefore highly motivated to vote, whereas there is no equivalent enthusiasm FOR the EU, except to a limited degree among what is left of the Lib-Dems. I am personally a keen supporter of a federal socialist EU, but know of few other Labour members who are. Many Tory and Labour voters switched to UKIP for these elections, but polls indicate that about half of these are likely to return next year. If this happens, UKIP are worth 15% of the vote in a low turnout election - say 10% in next year’s general election, not enough to win any seats, except possibly for Farage himself. The bulk of Tory and Labour voters felt no motivation to vote, and in Labour’s case were not given any, at least in terms of European policy, but most of them will vote next year.
By then, Labour must have developed a credible policy on Europe and related issues in order to see off UKIP and win the election.