Wales - Brexit lets Tories in
by Frieda Park
Wales voted Leave in the EU referendum and as with Leave voting areas in England Labour paid the price at this general election for its failure to honour its promise to respect that vote. Labour lost 6 seats to the Tories – the only seats to change hands. As a share of the vote Labour went down by 8%, the Tories up by 2.5% and the Brexit Party took 5.4%. It should be borne in mind that the Brexit Party did not stand everywhere and it got a much higher vote in some seats fulfilling its function of taking the Labour vote to enable the Tories to win.
Plaid Cymru failed to make any headway, retaining 4 seats with a slightly decreased vote share. The Lib Dems and the Greens both slightly increased their share by 1.5% and 0.75% respectively.
There were a few seats where the Labour vote held up well, but even where it won generally its vote was down substantially. As well as losing votes to the Leave parties Labour likely also lost some votes to Remain parties, though this was not a critical factor in its defeats. Turnout was also down which would account for some other lost votes for Labour.
What about the future for Labour in Wales? Labour is still the biggest party with 22 seats as against 14 for the Tories and 4 for Plaid Cymru. But the decline in the Labour vote and the lost seats should be a wake-up call. It would be folly to think that lost voters will be easily won back. Labour also came under sustained attack during the election for its record in power in the Welsh Assembly, especially on the NHS. Mark Drakeford the First Minister has been outspokenly pro-EU which did not help. Labour in Wales must think about how it delivers more effectively for the people of Wales and respects this second vote in favour of Leave.