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Other Welsh Political Barometer Findings, 1: Steel

I think all of the findings of the new Welsh Political Barometer poll have now been published somewhere. You can find a link to the full results here, or in the Opinion Polls section of the blog.

There are only two sets of findings that I haven’t yet discussed here. The first relates to the big news issue in Wales in the last couple of weeks – the fate of the Tata-owned steel works, particularly their huge plant in Port Talbot. Quite understandably my colleagues at ITV Wales wanted to find out about public reactions to this.

A set of questions were asked about this issue. First, the poll asked about people’s preferences regarding the plant’s future, but also their expectations about that future. Specifically, we asked:

“Tata Steel have recently announced it plans to sell its steel plant in Port Talbot. Which, if any, of the following do you think would be the best option for the future of the steel plant?”

Respondents were then given several options; these were the same as used in a GB-wide poll by YouGov conducted just before our new Barometer poll. We can therefore compare attitudes in Wales with those across the UK as a whole, on an identical question run by the same survey company at almost the same time. Below are the overall patterns of responses in Wales, and GB-wide:

Response Wales GB
Nationalising the steel plant 26% 26%
A new private owner with Government help 37% 30%
A new private owner without Government help 15% 15%
Closure of the steel plant 3% 3%
Something else 1% 1%
Don’t Know 18% 24%

 

In short, the responses in Wales are strikingly similar to those offered by the GB-wide sample; the only differences are the lower proportion of undecided people in Wales and greater numbers here wanting to see some government intervention. Very few, probably understandably, wish to see the plant close, although there is no majority about quite option would be the best way of achieving that. Looking at the party breakdowns, we unsurprisingly see Labour supporters the most supportive of nationalisation, followed by Plaid supporters; Conservatives are the most likely to wish to see no government intervention at all, but even a plurality of Conservative voters chose the option of a private owner with government help as the best option.

A second question asked: “And which of the following do you think is most likely to happen?”, with the same answer options offered to respondents. Again we can compare answers in Wales with those of the GB-wide sample:

Response Wales GB
Nationalising the steel plant 3% 3%
A new private owner with Government help 29% 26%
A new private owner without Government help 8% 9%
Closure of the steel plant 38% 36%
Something else 1% 1%
Don’t Know 21% 25%

 

Again there are very few differences, although the Welsh sample were, if anything, even more pessimistic about the future at Port Talbot.

We then asked about the behaviour of the UK and Welsh Governments during the current crisis. We first asked the following: “Do you believe the UK Government is doing all it reasonably can, doing too much, or not doing enough, to prevent the closure of Port Talbot’s steel plant?”.

This question had again been asked in the GB-wide poll conducted just prior to our Welsh Barometer, so once more we can directly compare responses. And we then followed this question up with another one (which, understandably, had not been asked to respondents across Britain):

“And do you believe the Welsh Government is doing all it reasonably can, doing too much, or not doing enough, to prevent the closure of Port Talbot’s steel plant?”.

The following table summarises three sets of responses to these questions: those of the GB-wide and Welsh samples about the behaviour of the UK Government, and that of the Welsh sample about the Welsh Government:

Response GB, UK Govt Wales, UK Govt Wales, Welsh Govt
As much as it reasonably can 18% 16% 29%
Should be doing more 55% 60% 41%
Doing too much and should be spending time and resources elsewhere 4% 3% 4%
Don’t Know 23% 20% 26%

 

As we can see, while one could hardly say that these responses constitute a ringing endorsement of the Welsh Government’s actions, it nonetheless fares much better in public reactions than does the UK Government. A clear majority in Wales – and, indeed, across Britain – think that the UK government should be doing more. Among party supporters in Wales, unsurprisingly Conservative supporters are most inclined to be more generous to the UK Government, and Labour voters are most supportive of the behaviour of the Welsh Government. Nonetheless around one-third (32%) of Conservative supporters on the Assembly constituency vote think that the UK Government should be doing more. Few take the hard-line position that both governments should be spending time and resources elsewhere, although Conservative supporters are the most likely to adopt this position – 9% of their supporters on the Assembly constituency vote chose the option that the Welsh Government should be spending time and resources elsewhere. Plaid Cymru and UKIP supporters are the most likely to take the view that the Welsh Government should be doing more in relation to the problems in Port Talbot.

I’ll be along later with a discussion of the final set of findings from the Barometer poll, namely those relating to evaluations of the party leaders in Wales.

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