Welsh Westminster, Senedd & Independence Referendum Voting Intention (14-15 May 2023)

May 17, 2023
R&WS Research Team
Approval Rating | GB Politics | GB Public Figures | UK Elections | UK Politics | Voting Intention

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As one of the four nations that comprise the United Kingdom and with its own devolved Government, Wales holds a unique and important place in British politics. With the next General Election likely to be about a year away, we at Redfield & Wilton Strategies last month launched our Welsh tracker poll.

Wales has been a political stronghold for the Labour Party, which has won a plurality of the vote in Wales in every General or Senedd Election for the last hundred years (since the 1922 General Election). In the 2019 General Election, the Conservative Party did manage to come just 5% behind Labour in Wales, but Labour’s historically strong performance in Wales looks set to continue at the next election.

In our second Welsh Westminster Voting Intention Poll, we find Labour leading the Conservatives in Wales by 20%, unchanged from last month. Altogether, the results (with changes from 15-17 April in parentheses) are as follows:

Labour 43% (-1)
Conservatives 23% (-1)
Plaid Cymru 11% (-1)
Reform UK 9% (–)
Liberal Democrat 8% (+1)
Green 4% (–)
Other 1% (+1)

65% of Welsh voters cite the NHS as one of the three most important issues that would determine how they would vote in a General Election, with the economy (63%) the second most common choice. Other frequently selected issues include immigration (27%), housing (21%), and benefits/welfare (20%). 

Only 6% of respondents cite Welsh Independence/The Union as one of the three issues that would most determine their vote if a General Election was held tomorrow.

Overall, the Labour Party is the most favourably viewed party in Wales, with 40% of Welsh voters holding a favourable view of the party against 32% who have an unfavourable view (+8%).

Plaid Cymru is the second most favourably viewed party in Wales, although its rating falls three points from last month to -2%. All other parties also hold negative net favourability ratings, while 50% of Welsh voters have an unfavourable view of the Conservative Party. 

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak receives a net approval rating of -19%, down four points from his rating last month. Our poll finds 45% (+2) of Welsh voters disapprove of his overall job performance against 26% (-2) who approve. 

Sunak’s Chancellor of the Exchequer, Jeremy Hunt, sees his approval rating improve four points from last month to now stand at -17%. 37% (-4) disapprove of Hunt’s performance as Chancellor, compared to 20% (–) who approve. 

Asked their view on the UK Government, a majority of Welsh voters (56%, -5) say the current UK Government is incompetent. Only 16% (-1) view the UK Government as competent, resulting in an overall net competency rating of -40% (+4).

On its policy performance, Welsh voters give the UK Government negative net approval ratings on every policy issue listed, including on the key issues of the NHS (-53%), immigration (-44%), and the economy (-41%).

When asked which would be a better Prime Minister between Rishi Sunak and Keir Starmer, 35% (-4) of Welsh voters say Keir Starmer against 30% (+1) who say Rishi Sunak. 34% (+3) say they don’t know.

Labour leader Keir Starmer’s net approval rating in Wales stands at -8% (-1). 35% (-3) of Welsh voters disapprove of Starmer’s job performance, against 27% (-4) who approve. 

The next Welsh Senedd Election is currently a distant prospect, not being due until May 2026. Nevertheless, when voters are asked how they would vote if a Senedd Election were held tomorrow, the Labour Party leads in both our constituency and regional list voting intention polls, although in both cases the party’s leads are narrower than they were a month ago. 

Altogether the results of our Senedd Constituency Voting Intention poll (with changes from 15-17 April in parentheses) are as follows:

Labour 38% (-3)
Conservative 23% (+2)
Plaid Cymru 20% (–)
Reform UK 7% (-1)
Liberal Democrat 7% (+2)
Green 3% (-1)
Other 2% (–)

The Labour Party also leads when voters are asked who they would vote for on their regional list ballot. Labour is on 30% (-2), with Plaid Cymru in second on 24% (+1), and the Conservatives in third on 21% (-1).

Welsh voters narrowly voted in favour of establishing the devolved Welsh Senedd in 1997, with the Yes side victorious by a margin of just 6,721 votes. Since then, a vocal minority has continued campaigning for abolishing the Senedd, with the single issue Abolish the Welsh Assembly Party winning almost 4% of the regional list vote in the 2021 Senedd Election.

Welsh voters currently remain overwhelmingly in favour of keeping a devolved Welsh Assembly, however. When asked how they would vote in a referendum with the question ‘Should there be a Welsh Parliament?’ 63% (–) of Welsh voters answer yes, 28% (+3) no, while a further 10% (-2) don’t know.

At the same time, only 19% (-4) of Welsh voters currently say devolution has so far been a success. A plurality of Welsh voters say devolution has been neither a success nor a failure (43%, +5), while just under a quarter (23%, -3) say devolution has been a failure.

First Minister of Wales Mark Drakeford receives a net approval rating of +4% (+2). Our poll finds 35% (-2) of voters approve of his overall job performance as First Minister of Wales against 31% (-4) who disapprove. 

Among other party leaders in the Senedd, the Conservatives leader, Andrew RT Davies, holds a net approval rating of -12% (+4). Meanwhile, Plaid Cymru leader Adam Price—who announced his intention to step down last week after a report found a culture of misogyny, harassment, and bullying in the party—sees his rating fall 15 points to -15%.

A plurality (32%, +2) say the current Welsh Government is incompetent, compared to 27% (-6) who say it is competent. 

While earning favourable approval ratings for its handling of coronavirus (+22%), the environment (+3%), and cultural issues (+1%), the Welsh Government earns negative ratings for its policy performance on all other policy issues listed, including for its handling of the NHS (-20%), transportation (-19%), and housing (-18%). 

Pluralities of Welsh voters say Mark Drakeford would be a better First Minister for Wales than either Andrew RT Davies (who he leads 36% to 27%) or Adam Price (who he leads 42% to 14%). 

In a hypothetical referendum on Welsh independence, our Welsh independence referendum voting intention poll finds ‘no’ leading by 26%.

Altogether, 58% (-2) of Welsh respondents say they would vote ‘no’ and 32% (+3) say they would vote ‘yes’ if there were to be a referendum tomorrow on the question ‘Should Wales be an independent country?.’ 11% (–) don’t know how they would vote. 

Notably, those who voted for Plaid Cymru (61%) in the 2019 General Election are significantly more likely than those who voted Conservative (12%) or Labour (42%) to say they would vote ‘yes.’

On the question of whether an independence referendum should take place—and if so, when—36% (-3) would oppose a referendum on Welsh independence being held in the next year, while 32% (-1) would support one being held in this timeframe.

Given a broader timeframe of between one and five years, a narrow plurality (35%, –) of Welsh voters would support—against 32% (-1) who would oppose—a referendum on Welsh independence being held in that period. 

On the possible conditions for holding an independence referendum, a plurality of Welsh voters (35%, -1) agree that such a referendum should only be held if the UK Government agrees to it. 29% (-5) disagree with this condition.

If a referendum were to be held in Wales in the next six months, 49% (-2) of Welsh voters say they would expect the ‘no, against independence’ side would win, whereas 24% (–) think the ‘yes, for independence’ side would win. 27% (+2) of respondents say they don’t know who would win if a referendum were held in the next six months. 

Pluralities of Welsh voters say adopting the Euro (47%) or creating a new currency post-independence (42%) would make them less likely to support Welsh independence. 

21% say if Rishi Sunak were Prime Minister at the time of a referendum it would make them more likely to support independence, although 49% still say it would make them neither more nor less likely either way. Likewise, 49% say if Keir Starmer was Prime Minister at the time of a referendum it would also make them neither more nor less likely to support independence, although 20% say it would make them more likely.

To find out more information about this research contact our research team. Redfield & Wilton Strategies is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules. Follow us on Twitter

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