Skip to 0 minutes and 4 seconds The Welsh Liberal Democrats, a party with a great and proud tradition here in Wales absolutely dominated Welsh politics in the late 19th century, early 20th century. Have been a significant presence in the assembly since it was established, but facing their most difficult election ever. Yeah, and keep saying that about the Welsh Liberal Democrats. Every election is looking very difficult, and it’s been that way obviously since 2010, when they went into coalition government in London. And the first assembly election was the year there after. Wales was actually a relative success stories for the Lib Dems.
Skip to 0 minutes and 53 seconds And on a night where they were losing 2/3 of their seats in the Scottish Parliament, and 45% of the council seats they were defending, they actually just about escaped with only a net loss of one seats in the Welsh Assembly, going down from six to five. Now, that was by the skin of their teeth. They saved one regional seat by just over 50 votes. But Wales was a relative successful one. But since then, actually, things have been getting progressively worse. In the 2014 European elections, and in last year’s general election, Lib Dems share of the vote has actually been lower in Wales than in either England or Scotland. And the polls right now are looking really pretty bad for them.
Skip to 1 minute and 41 seconds They won about 4% or 5% of the vote. Unless they can turn things around in the campaign period, they may be struggling even to obtain a presence the assembly. So the current rules mean that you need three assembly seats to form a group in the assembly. It looks extremely difficult for– I mean, a group would be a fantastic result for them given where they are at the moment. Yes. I– And plausibly, as you say, they could actually disappear from the assembly. Unless they see a major improvement of their position during the campaign, it’s looking likely that three seats would be the absolute limits of their ambitions, and it’s far from inconceivable that they could face wipe out.
Skip to 2 minutes and 24 seconds And that’s despite the fact that by having Kirsty Williams, I think a widely admired Welsh leader. Somebody who is held in high regard, not just in her own party, by many people outside, in other parties, and in the media, and elsewhere. So, in a sense, you mean she’s clearly, I guess, the only real asset that you can point to electorally for the Welsh Lib Dems at the moment. I mean, they don’t have a strong UK– well, their UK leader doesn’t have a strong kind of profile here in Wales, or anywhere else at the moment. There’s no cutthroat UK level. Kirsty Williams is the only kind of game in town in terms of the Welsh Liberal Democrats.
Skip to 3 minutes and 5 seconds Well, yeah, I mean, Tim Farron has not yet made any sort of major impact on the Welsh electorate. Kirsty Williams is a determined and effective leader. I’m sure will be leading the campaign from the front, as best she can, but she’s under a major struggle to prevent her own Brecon and Radnorshire seat, which the Lib Dems lost quite decisively against the conservatives in the general election. We look at several of the other Lib Dem AMs, and they were all elected on a regional list last time.
Skip to 3 minutes and 31 seconds I mean, a number of them have make admirable contributions, have been effective members of the assembly, but not in ways that have had a real sort of major cut through to the public, in ways that are likely to attract large numbers of votes. So it is looking very difficult for the party. And as we said, wipe out is by no means inconceivable. Or if Kirsty Williams does hold onto her seat, it could be as leader of a party of one.
The Welsh Liberal Democrats
Richard Wyn Jones and Roger Scully of Cardiff University discuss the Welsh Liberal Democrat’s leadership, history and future.
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