As one who has had a scientific training, comparative analysis techniques are a frequent friend but you need data in order to get a statistically significant answer. There is no central site collating all the constituency european results but thanks to Golwg I found the relevant data last night!
To begin with I will concentrate on conclusions for Ceredigion;
- The Plaid Cymru share of the vote in Ceredigion (35.1%) is the 5th largest in Wales with only Caernarfon (49.3%), Meirionydd Nant Conwy (44.3%); Carmarthen East and Dinefwr (38.5%) and Monmouth (38.0%) recording higher proportions. Note that the first 3 seats listed are Plaid Cymru Seats in the Assembly and Parliament and Monmouth is Conservative;
- The % majority over the party that came second is the 9th largest in Wales at 16.1%;
- The absolute size of the majority (3082) is the 6th largest in Wales
In the context of the 2009 elections this is an above average top end performance which lines us up nicely for the General Election. The share of the vote is down on the last european election but that was probably on the high side for european results as it coincided with County Council Elections where we had candidates in all but a few seats, and followed a pretty acrimonious Mayoral Referendum which galvanized the electorate.
Where are the Liberal Democrats in all of this? Well if you read their press release they you would have thought they had won! What they fail to tell you in this release is the proportion of their vote this time around (19%) compared to Plaid on 35% and that they have only once since 1989 topped Plaid's proportion of the vote, that being the 2005 General Election. Considering that they hold the Parliamentary Seat and Mark Williams played such a prominent role in fronting the Ceredigion Campaign then 19% is a pretty low return on the invested political capital. If we put it in the context of other Lib Dem seats then
- The Liberal Democrats were 9.4% behind the Conservative victors in Montgomeryshire and 1.5% behind UKIP;
- The Liberal Democrats were 6.3% behind the Conservative victors in Brecon and Radnor (seat of Welsh Lib Dem Leader Kirsty Williams)
- The Liberal Democrats were 16.1% behind Plaid Cymru in Ceredigion.
The Lib Dem defeat in Ceredigion is a far more substantial affair than any of the other Mid Wales seats. Its true that all political parties put a spin on electoral results but when that spin concentrates on the opposition to the degree seen by the Lib Dem response in Ceredigion it is a confirmation that they have little to shout about and are way below where they should be if they are to retain Mark Williams as an MP. I would say that wouldn't I but the BBC analysts say the same
.....Plaid is that it polled well in seats it hopes to win at the next Westminster election, it picked up more votes than Labour in Llanelli and Ynys Mon and was were well ahead of the Lib Dems in Ceredigion - a key target seat.
The European election results were particularly bad for the Liberal Democrats, who were completely incapable of capitalising from Labour's failures, only mustering a minuscule 0.2% increase in their vote share on a day when the overall turnout was the lowest on record. More worrying for them is the fact that they have fallen behind to the Tories and Plaid Cymru in three out of the four seats they currently hold at Westminster and they face the prospect of having Jenny Willott in Cardiff Central as a sole Welsh Liberal Democrat MP, if current figures are repeated at the next election. On these results Lembit Opik would be convincingly beaten by the former Tory AM Glyn Davies in Montgomeryshire, Roger Williams in Brecon and Radnorshire would also lose to the Tories and Plaid Cymru would unseat Mark Williams in Ceredigion.
In the Wales context Labour are at the wrong end of a seismic whalloping. The arrogance of Labour in power, a collapsing party machine, dismay at MP behaviour over expenses all contribute not to a singular Tory victory but to Plaid Cymru which increased its vote as well. I did expect it to be much closer between UKIP and the Lib Dems for the 4th seat and must admit had mixed thoughts about the result. I agree with the Lib Dem position on Europe rather than UKIP but tactically didn't want to see the Lib Dems gaining to much to crow about either, better the second seat went to Plaid but that wasn't to be.
I'll end with a quote from Prof Richard Wyn Jones, director of the Wales Governance Centre at Cardiff University, in the Western Mail today;
“There are differential voting patterns. The context for European elections is very much linked to Westminster and the UK as a whole, and we can therefore take pointers to the coming general election.
“People in Plaid seem to be pretty depressed about their performance, but they have no reason to be. They weren’t far behind Labour and did well in the seats they hope to win at the general election. I’m sure they will do very well at the next Assembly election.”
I'm not depressed and am happy with his summary!