In these troubled times, what could lift the spirits of the nation more than a new Welsh Political Barometer poll? Well, a few things possibly. Nonetheless, along with YouGov and ITV Wales, we have a new poll coming out on Thursday.
The poll will cover a number of matters. Some of them are things we have long covered in our Barometer polls, while others reflect current circumstances.
The poll will therefore include our standard voting intention questions for both Westminster and the Senedd (both questions), with the final vote intention figures also reflecting respondents’ reported likelihood to vote. We will also include our standard 0-10 rating scale for party leaders – both the two main party leaders at Westminster and the three main parties in the Senedd.
Reflecting the current crisis, we also have a series of questions about Covid-19. Some of these will be about respondents’ own experience of the current crisis, and their level of concern about the potential consequences of Covid-19. There will also be some questions asking respondents to assess the performance of the UK and Welsh governments, and leading figures within those governments, in handling the crisis. There have been some very interesting findings published in recent times from Britain-wide polls, and also some evidence from Scotland; our Barometer poll will provide the latest reading of the public mood in Wales.
Finally, the poll results will also include some evidence about public attitudes towards devolution and the constitutional position of Wales. These are things that we have asked about in many Barometer polls in recent years; however, under pressure of the current crisis, we have not been able to include such questions in any Welsh poll since January. Our new poll asked our standard multi-option constitutional preference question, and also straight yes/no questions about both Welsh independence and about the abolition of the Senedd. There is also a new question, which we have tried for the first time in this poll – but I will explain more about that when the results are published.
It will be fascinating to see if public attitudes towards how Wales is governed have shifted over the last few months. The current crisis has brought into sharper relief some of the realities of Wales’ semi-sovereign position as a devolved nation within the UK. There have been some very vocal critics of the Welsh government in recent weeks: both for the effectiveness and competence of their handling of the crisis, and also for at times taking a distinct policy line from that of the UK government. And for some people, that has strengthened the argument for questioning the very existence of devolved government. Other voices have taken a strongly contrary view: for instance, as the UK government’s handling of various aspects of the crisis has come under growing criticism of late, some have taken failings of government in London to bolster the argument for full Welsh autonomy. Since the Dominic Cummings story broke at the weekend, Yes Cymru (who campaign for Welsh independence) have apparently recruited several hundred more members. But is this about more than just a tiny minority of people talking to each other (and arguing with each other on Twitter)? Have recent events had any impact on the opinions of most ordinary people across Wales about how Wales should be governed? Our new poll will seek to provide some evidence on this.
A final word – about a wording change. Since our last Barometer poll, the official change of name of the devolved institution in Cardiff Bay has come into force. Therefore, a number of questions that previously referred to the National Assembly have been re-worded to reflect the new reality, now talking about the ‘Senedd (Welsh Parliament)’.