Today's much-hyped Welsh poll from YouGov didn't disappoint: it shows Plaid Cymru taking the lead for the first time, and they've done it on both the constituency and the regional list ballots. That said, as you can see from the percentage changes below, they weren't far off the lead in the previous poll, so perhaps the fact that this historic moment has arrived shouldn't be such a surprise. In fact, on the regional list vote it's the Brexit Party they've overtaken and not Labour!
Welsh Assembly constituency ballot:
Plaid Cymru 24% (n/c)
Labour 21% (-4)
Brexit Party 19% (+2)
Conservatives 19% (+2)
Liberal Democrats 12% (+3)
Welsh Assembly regional list ballot:
Plaid Cymru 23% (+1)
Labour 19% (-2)
Conservatives 18% (+6)
Brexit Party 17% (-6)
Liberal Democrats 12% (+5)
Greens 4% (-4)
Although the Welsh Assembly uses the same Additional Member System that we use to elect the Scottish Parliament, the ratio between constituency and list members is slanted much more towards constituency members, and that of course was done deliberately by Labour to make the system less proportional and to give themselves more seats than they would otherwise be entitled to. It's certainly doing the trick in this instance: the seats projection shows that Labour would remain the biggest party despite losing the popular vote. However, they would only have a little more than a quarter of the seats, leaving Plaid Cymru with scope to lead a coalition that freezes out Labour. On past form, though, Adam Price might actually prefer a coalition with Labour, which would leave Plaid as the junior partner in a government still led by Mark Drakeford.
Predictably, London commentators (and Duncan Hothersall) are missing the point entirely by focussing on the Westminster results from the poll, which show a narrow Tory lead. As I pointed out last night, that isn't actually unprecedented - the Tories have led in Wales before, and as it's a slim lead it wouldn't be surprising if it disappears once the Boris honeymoon is over.
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I want to say something about all the chatter on social media (and indeed in the comments section of this blog) about how Jo Swinson will "have to look for an English seat" because she's "on course to lose East Dunbartonshire". I really do think this is making us look a bit silly. Jo Swinson will not be looking for a new seat in England or anywhere else for the simple reason that she already has a safe one. Yes, I know that the SNP won it in 2015, but there are three crucial differences between then and now: 1) the SNP were on an insanely high 50% of the national vote, 2) the Lib Dems were at a historically low ebb, and 3) Swinson didn't have the traditional leader's bonus that she can now expect. Even with all those factors working against the Lib Dems in 2015, they only lost the seat very narrowly.
I'm sure the SNP will throw the kitchen sink at East Dunbartonshire when the election is called, but that will not really be with a view to winning the seat. They'll be looking for a respectable result in a high profile contest, and to demonstrate that even the constituency of the Lib Dem leader is not a no go area.