Home » Conservatives wiped out in Wales as Labour vote falls
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Conservatives wiped out in Wales as Labour vote falls

THE CONSERVATIVES were wiped out in Wales for the first time since 2001 in an election that poses as many questions as it answers.Labour’s percentage of the Welsh vote usually easily outstrips the Party’s in the rest of the UK. However, an unpopular Welsh Government led by an even more unpopular First Minister saw Labour’s share of the vote decline across Wales, even as it picked up seats.

Plaid Cymru did better than expected. The Party of Wales won four seats, two of them, Ceredigion & Preseli and Dwyfor Meirionydd, by huge margins that suggest it now has a pair of safe seats for the first time in the Party’s history.
Although national polls predicted a Labour win in Caerfyrddin, the parties’ canvass returns in Carmarthenshire did not lie. The Labour vote fell back in our eastern neighbour, while Plaid increased its vote share by a small proportion to retain Jonathan Edwards’ former seat.

On Ynys Mon, a surge in support for Reform UK almost certainly handed Plaid Cymru’s Llinos Medi victory by 1500 votes over former Conservative MP Virginia Crosbie. Ynys Mon also saw the Labour vote drop in one of the few three-way marginals in the UK.
Alun Cairns, Stephen Crabb, David TC Davies, and Simon Hart – all former Welsh Secretaries, lost their seats. In the case of the first two former Secretaries of State, the margin was around 1500 votes, with Reform scoring well and proving the difference between their return and a Labour gain.

Labour threw the kitchen sink in their successful effort to eject the combative David TC Davies from Monmouthshire and – on changed boundaries – succeeded by around 3,000 votes.

It would have taken a miracle for Simon Hart, who accepted the most difficult of the four challenges by standing in Carmarthenshire, to return to the Commons. The miracle didn’t come. Reform took 8,000 votes from Labour and the Conservatives, and Simon Hart’s frontline political career is almost certainly over.

The seat held by another former Conservative Secretary of State for Wales, David Jones, was divided between three new constituencies, each of which returned a Labour representative.

The Liberal Democrat vote bombed across most of Wales. However, the Party regained the redrawn Brecon & Radnor seat from the Conservatives. The margin of victory, fewer than 1500 votes, was well within the number of votes Reform gained in the new constituency.
In Montgomeryshire, the MP at the centre of a betting scandal, Craig Williams, deservedly lost his seat, being beaten into third place behind Labour’s Stephen Witherden and Reform UK’s Oliver Lewis. Mr Williams now finds himself free to spend as much time at William Hill’s as he likes.

The Welsh picture overall looks superficially good for Labour, at least in terms of seats won. However, turnout was 56.6% across the whole country, and Labour’s share of the vote fell.

The vote shares for what we must now consider Wales’s five principal parties are revealing.

Labour got 37% of the vote in Wales, Plaid around 15%, the Conservatives around 18%, Reform 17%, and the Liberal Democrats 6.5%.
However, in polling for a Senedd election in 2026, a poll conducted for Barn Cymru, Labour’s vote share is 27%, with the Conservatives comfortably outpolling their Westminster result, and Plaid’s vote share solidly increased.

First Minister Vaughan Gething has claimed Wales will have a “true partner” in Keir Starmer.

In a post published to X, he said: “After fourteen long years, today we begin a new chapter for Wales.

“Your Labour Government will have a true partner in Keir Starmer as we build the fairer, greener future Wales deserves.
“Two Labour governments working together for a stronger Wales in a fairer Britain. Change begins here.”

However, working together will mean Labour in Wales abandoning some key policy pledges. UK Labour will not return full control of structural funds to Cardiff Bay. Even overnight, Labour MPs fought shy of any suggestion the Welsh Government would get full autonomy over it, as it enjoyed pre-2017.

The Welsh Government’s loud and persistent calls for a share of HS2 funding have also gone out of the window, even at the dramatically reduced £350m (down from almost £4bn) it now claims would be due to Cardiff Bay. The long-hoped-for sweetie of more funding for public services in Wales – specifically for Education spending and Health – will likely be far less than Labour in Wales hoped and will probably not all go into those spending pots.

The Barnett Formula, which decides how much Wales gets as a percentage of what is spent in England, will be “reviewed”. However, a change to a formula based on need – if a change takes place – is years away.

Despite their Welsh wipeout, the Conservatives now have a rare opportunity to take a long look at how they organise and campaign in Wales. Like “Welsh Labour”, the “Welsh Conservatives” are little more than a branch office for Westminster.

If the Conservatives find an authentic Welsh voice, as opposed to merely parroting the attack lines from Conservative Central OfficeHQ, they could regain ground as Labour in Wales struggles with Vaughan Gething’s electorally poisonous reputation and dissatisfaction with a quarter of a century of devolution. If they don’t, Plaid and Reform will benefit.

Reform must now try to organise and professionalise itself for the next Senedd elections. It can’t afford the omnishambles that engulfed its predecessor party between 2016 and 2021 or sit back and expect voters to flock to it.

As an almost explicitly English National Party, Reform must also consider how it will build an offer to appeal to Welsh voters on issues within the Welsh Government’s control.

Meanwhile, Plaid must consider both how to extend its reach in Labour-voting areas and consolidate its position in places where it is already strong. Rhun ap Iorwerth comes out of the campaign with considerable public credit in the bank. It is vitally important to Plaid that they build on his appeal and ability to communicate with voters in a way recent Plaid leaders have not.

For Mr ap Iorwerth, the main challenge is likely to come from within his own Party’s NEC, which is more focused on internal squabbles on single issues than fighting elections on a broad platform.

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