Don’t look out the window, Theresa May. You won’t like what’s going on in Wales

Jessica Gay

Wales has traditionally been a stronghold for the Labour Party. But in recent years, the Conservative Party has developed a following, with 2015 being its best general election in decades — winning 11 of the 40 Welsh seats. But the party’s ratings have taken a nose-dive in Wales, according to recent polls. And after the release of the manifesto and other party failings, groups of campaigners are fighting back against the Tories. In more ways than one…

The polls

Recent polls have suggested a surge in popularity for the Labour Party. A recent YouGov poll revealed that Labour is currently 10 points ahead of the Conservatives in Wales, and is now at its highest vote share since 2013. YouGov said:

There has been a lot of movement in our Welsh polls following Theresa May’s decision to go to the country. In April, immediately following the announcement, the Conservatives took the lead in Wales for the first time on record. Now, a month into the campaign, Labour have regained the lead.

While polls always come with caveats, and things can change, polls across the UK are suggesting that Labour is gaining ground on the Conservatives. In a poll by Ipsos MORI published on 18 May, Labour had gained eight points on the Tories. This put the Conservatives on 49% and Labour on 34%. And this is usually among the least favourable polls for Corbyn’s party.

A recent telephone survey poll published on 22 May revealed the gap has shortened even further. That poll put the Conservatives on 43% with Labour at 34%.

Clearly, there is an urgency in Wales to retain the lead over the Tories. Many anti-Tory campaigners have been hitting Wales hard to ensure the public doesn’t fall for their austerity measures at the last minute.

The billboards

Three large billboards have been erected in Wales this week, delivering a very powerful anti-Tory message. They read “I am a threat”, accompanied by Theresa May’s face. The poster goes on to say that May and a Conservative government are a threat to “your local hospital, your child’s education, your standard of living, your job security, your pension [and] your peace and security”. It urges passers-by: “Don’t vote Conservative on June 8th”.

The billboards, which have been put up around Cardiff and Caerphilly, are part of a nationwide campaign launched by The People’s Assembly in the run-up to the election. The anti-austerity group which has funded the campaign has also launched a crowdfunding campaign to help fund further efforts. Since launching on 22 May, it has received huge support and has raised over £21,000 from public donations.

While many have shown their support for the billboards, some locals weren’t happy with the messaging. And given the horrific events in Manchester on 22 May, the meaning of the billboards took on a very different meaning for some. One user commented:

This goes way too far. It creates the climate in which the murder of Jo Cox took place. I dislike the Tories’ politics but we need to keep the debate about facts and not marking people as threats.

The Fox 

A similar campaign hit Cardiff the week earlier, on 18 May. A giant fox called Vinny took to Cardiff on behalf of the League Against Cruel Sports (LACS), to call for the hunting ban to be kept in place.

While LACS chief executive Eduardo Goncalves said “Vinny’s campaign is completely unpolitical”, the campaign was in direct response to May’s plans to legalise the hunting of foxes and her pledge to hold a free vote on overturning the ban.

While the campaigns have received mixed reactions, they have certainly grabbed the public’s attention. And while some may not agree with them, they are designed to get people talking about the implications of another Tory government – whether that’s further cuts to public services or the potential reintroduction of fox-hunting. And the recent nose-dive in popularity for the party suggests those policies aren’t going down well – in Wales at least.

Get Involved

– Vote on 8 June.

– Discuss the key policy issues with family members, colleagues and neighbours.

– Also read more Canary articles on the 2017 general election.

Featured image via 70023venus2009/10 Downing Street

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