Over the past couple of weeks, the national opinion polls have shown a narrowing of the gap between Conservatives and Labour. This has been seized upon by Labour in a renewed push to get supporters of the Greens, Lib Dems and Plaid Cymru to vote tactically for them. In my constituency of Monmouth, that sadly seems to be Labour’s main message. But what do the facts tell us? Is a Labour victory in Monmouth possible?
In Monmouth in 2015, the Conservative’s David Davies won 23,701 votes (49.9% of the total). Ruth Jones was second with 12,719 votes for Labour. The combined votes of Labour, Lib Dems, Plaid Cymru and the Green Party was 18,719 (39.4%). So to defeat David Davies, there would need to be a very big swing away from the Conservatives towards Labour. So are the polls predicting such a swing?
The final opinion polls before the vote in 2015 showed the parties were evenly matched. MORI had the Conservatives at 36% and Labour at 35%, while YouGov had them both on 34%. The vote itself came in at Conservatives 36.8% and Labour 30.4%, with many pollsters explaining their underestimation of the Conservative vote being down to “Shy Tories” too embarrassed to admit their true intention.
Since then, the internal troubles in the Labour Party resulted in a massive swing away from Labour to the Conservatives. The recent narrowing of the gap means that Labour have recovered much of the support that they lost since the 2015 election, but at 42% Conservative to 38% Labour they are still behind the equivalent polls in 2015, although doing slightly better than the actual voting figures.
YouGov projections for Monmouth based on the latest national polling data suggest that David Davies will receive between 40% and 58% of the votes, most likely 50%. They predict a vote for Labour of 25% – 40%, most likely 34%. These wide ranges of projected vote shares do not even overlap. They also claim a 95% confidence rate in these predictions.
I am by nature an optimist, but I am also a realist. My ideal outcome would be for me to win. The next best would be for David Davies to lose and Labour win. But if you think that neither of those are going to happen, then every extra Green vote is going to have much more impact than an extra Labour vote.
I would never criticise anyone in a marginal constituency who takes the short term view and votes tactically to get the Tories out. But in a safe Conservative seat like Monmouth, a tactical vote is futile. It doesn’t represent the voter’s true beliefs. It doesn’t send a signal to the country that a change of direction (and a change of voting system) is needed. Vote for the future. Vote for what you believe in. Vote with your head and your heart.