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Bridges in Wales…

Many people in Wales were surprised by the announcement last month, by the Secretary of State Alun Cairns, that the second bridge across the River Severn was to be renamed the Prince of Wales Bridge to mark the 70th birthday of the current Prince. This announcement came rather out of the blue; there had been no public consultation on the matter.

Since the announcement there has been plenty of discussion about the matter. Plenty of people have indicated that they are unhappy about the re-naming; Mr Cairns, however, claimed that the “wider, silent majority is absolutely with us” on the idea. It was not entirely clear at the time what was the Secretary of State’s evidential basis for this statement.

However, the news website Nation.Cymru have helped fill this void by adding a question to a recent YouGov poll on the matter. Their question was phrased as follows:

 

It has been announced that the Second Severn Crossing between Wales and England will be renamed “The Prince of Wales Bridge” in order to mark the 70th birthday of Charles, Prince of Wales. To what extent do you support or oppose this name change?

 

Nation.Cymru is an entity with some political agenda. Their website describes the website as “a news service by the people of Wales, for the people of Wales. It is an attempt to answer the central question: ‘How can we become a better nation?’” However, the question that they ran on this poll appears to me to fair and balanced. It has a plain descriptive beginning, and then a standard ‘support or oppose’ question at the end of it. I can find little to criticise in this question wording.

 

So what responses did this question elicit? Here is the overall pattern across the whole sample of 1,054 adults in Wales:

 

Strongly support 7%
Tend to support 10%
No strong feelings either way 47%
Tend to oppose 11%
Strongly oppose 23%
Don’t know 3%

 

There is more detail on the results available at Nation.Cymru here.

Clearly there are lots of people who struggle to feel strongly about this issue. Fully half of the entire sample chose either the ‘No strong feelings’ option or the ‘Don’t know’ one. This issue is clearly not setting everyone ablaze with strong opinions! But of those who did have a view, the balance of opinion is clearly negative. Some 17 percent of the sample indicated that they favoured the bridge re-naming, whereas exactly twice as many, 34 percent, were opposed.

Of course, the Secretary of State may have been looking to a narrower audience than the Welsh people as a whole – such as supporters of his own party. Unfortunately, because the Nation.Cymru question was not run on a Welsh Political Barometer poll, we have no information about the current or past political support of the respondents. The main breakdowns that we have for the responses to this question are demographic ones. These tell us that the bridge re-naming is a little more popular among older age groups than younger ones (though not much more so), but no more or less popular with female than male respondents. Nor are there significant differences between social class categories – although the re-naming is notably more popular (or, at least, less unpopular) with retired and unemployed people.

Overall, the message form this data appears to be that lots of people in Wales don’t really care much about having this bridge re-named. But those who do care tend to be opposed to the idea. Contra Alun Cairns, the wider, silent majority does not appear to be in favour of his actions.

 

The poll, by YouGov, was conducted between 25th April and 1st May 2018. It had a sample of 1,054 adults in Wales, and was conducted via the internet.

Comments

  • Geraint

    Drove over the Severn and Wye bridges a few days ago. Before the government wastes money renaming the Second Severn Crossing (or the New Bridge as most people I know call it) they should resurface the old bridge. Currently full of patches and quite a rough ride. Far better to have well maintained transport links than pies and sandwiches for the elite.

  • Leo Jones

    All polls that I have ever read on the question of monarchy in Wales has been majority in favour. I also remember being slightly surprised that a poll showed that the majority of Welsh speakers were monarchist and in favour of Prince William becoming the Prince of Wales when the time comes.
    Yes there are loud republicans, particularly in Plaid and in the old Labour wing of Labour. But I doubt they represent the majority.
    When I was at school the Prince of Wales visited. Before he came there were various republican rumblings and people mainly showed little interest. But on the day the vast majority of students were very excited, and, there was a fair sized crowd of locals outside the entrance. I remember my Welsh nationalist mate who had sneered when the royal visit was announced was chosen by the Head to meet the Prince and he did so and then told me very seriously afterwards ‘it was an honour to meet the future King.’ I respected him enough not to point out his 100% change of tone!

  • J Jones

    Still waiting for the poll details to come up on YouGov’s web site….

  • oldnat

    Always disappointing when a founding member of BPC doesn’t follow the rules. While the other clients of YG may not have released the results of their questions in this poll, the tables for the Nation.Cymru question should have been published by 4 May.

    Doubtless, YG staff were busy concentrating on the local elections in their own bit of the UK, and have since forgotten all about Welsh polling. 🙁

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