Wales (4 seats)
If Scotland in 1979 was a two party, Wales in 1979 was a one party state, and that party was Labour. Callaghan may have lost the general election (but Wales served Labour well, as they polled 48% of the Welsh vote) and winning 23 seats of the 40 that were created in 1983. However just as at the moment the Conservatives started their march and by 1983 (despite losing Montgomery to the Alliance) the Conservatives gained 3 gains (all from Labour) and closed Labour’s lead in Wales from 15% to just 7%.
However by 1987, normal service had been resumed as Labour’s share of the vote increased 8% to 45% and the Conservative vote fell to 30%, a trend that continued in 1992 (Lab 49% Con 29%) and was more than reflected in 1997 when Labour polled more than 50% of the vote for the first time since 1970.
So therefore the natural assumption was that this would continue and make the Euros of 1999 a Labour lockout. However, Plaid Cymru were about to spring a nasty surprise.
Plaid Cymru had not had much luck in the European Elections in Wales (quite unlike the SNP). In 1979, their best result was in Wales North (polling 19%), and although they did better in 1984 gaining 3% across Wales, the rise in the Alliance pushed Plaid into 4th in every seat.
The collapse of the Alliance in 1989 helped Plaid into third place in Wales North, but the Greens beat them elsewhere and the Labour landslide in the 1994 elections saw only modest growth for them in Wales North, but 1999 was a different kettle of fish. From a base of 10% at the 1997 general election, Plaid’s vote shot up nearly 20% and enabled them to poll just 2% less than Labour, win 2 MEP’s and if the constituencies had still been in existence win Wales North and Wales Mid and West!
However as in 2003’s Assembly election, their vote fell considerably in 2004 to just 17% and thanks to the allocation changes they lost an MEP. In 2005, Plaid lost their Ceredigion seat to the Lib Dems and although gaining seats in 2007, will Plaid’s alliance with Labour in the Assembly government work against them?
Wales’ European Electoral History (adjusted for d’Hondt PR)
1979: Con 2 Lab 2
1984: Lab 2 Con 1 All 1
1989: Lab 3 Con 1
1994: Lab 3 Con 1 Plaid 1
1999: Lab 2 Plaid 2 Con 1
2004: Lab 2 Con 1 Plaid 1
Wales Forecast (based on Welsh Regional List 2007)
Liberal Democrats 125,000
British National Party 75,000
United Kingdom Independence Party 50,000
Green Party 35,000
Regional Allocation: Lab 2 (n/c) Con 1 (n/c) Plaid 1 (n/c)
Harry Hayfield is an occasional guest slot writer on PB