Boris Johnson has suffered a humiliating blow as a new opinion poll shows people in Wales trust his government’s handling of the coronavirus crisis far less than they trust its handling by the Welsh Government.
The poll, commissioned from YouGov by the pro-Welsh independence group Yes Cymru, also showed that in general terms the Welsh Parliament is trusted far more to look after the interests of the people of Wales than the UK Parliament at Westminster.
Asked how well or badly the UK Government has handled the coronavirus pandemic, just 5% said very well and a further 31% said fairly well.
Some 34% said very badly and a further 27% said fairly badly, while 4% said they didn’t know.
By contrast, 20% said the Welsh Government had handled the pandemic very well, with a further 54% saying fairly well.
Just 6% said the Welsh Government had handled the crisis very badly, with a further 14% saying fairly badly and 6% saying they didn’t know.
There were variations according to how people voted in the 2019 General Election, the 2016 referendum on EU membership, gender, age, social grade and region.
While 64% of Conservative voters thought the UK Government had handled the pandemic well, only 14% of Labour voters, 22% of Liberal Democrat voters and 26% of Plaid Cymru voters agreed.
Only 18% of Remain voters thought the UK Government had handled coronavirus well, against 49% of Leave voters.
Men and women were quite close in their assessments of how the UK Government had handled the crisis, with 37% of men saying well and 33% of women.
The older people are, the more likely they are to say that the UK Government has handled the pandemic well, although every age group had a majority for those who thought the crisis had been handled badly by the Westminster administration.
There is little to choose between the responses of affluent and less affluent people, with 35% of people in the higher ABC1 social grades and the same proportion in the lower C2DE grades both saying the UK Government had handled the pandemic well.
All five Welsh regions had a majority for those who thought the pandemic had been handled badly by the UK Government. The proportions holding that view varied from 67% in Cardiff and South Central Wales to 54% in Mid and West Wales.
As many as 86% of Labour, Lib Dem and Plaid Cymru voters think the Welsh Government has handled the pandemic well – a view shared by 63% of Conservative voters.
Remain voters (82%) were more likely than Leave voters (69%) to think the Welsh Government had handled the crisis well.
Women (81%) were more likely than men (66%) to believe the Welsh Government had handled the crisis well.
Those aged 25 to 49 (18%) were least likely to think the Welsh Government had handled the pandemic badly, while those aged 18 to 24 (28%) were most likely to take such a view.
Those in higher social grades (73%) and those in less affluent ones (74%) were barely distinguishable in their belief that the Welsh Government had handled the crisis well.
Some 76% of those living in three regions – North Wales, Cardiff and South Central and South East Wales – thought the Welsh Government had handled the pandemic well.
Wales Education Minister Kirsty Williams says Wales is ready to go back to school:
In South West Wales the equivalent figure was 72% and in Mid and West Wales 67%.
Another question asked voters how much they trusted the Welsh and UK parliaments to look after the interests of the people of Wales.
Overall 59% trusted the Welsh Parliament with 32% saying they didn’t trust it, while just 26% trusted the UK Parliament and 66% didn’t.
Plaid Cymru voters (79%) were most likely to trust the Welsh Parliament against 76% of Labour voters, 74% of Lib Dem voters and 47% of Tory voters.
By contrast, 55% of Tory voters trusted the UK Parliament to look after the interests of Wales, in comparison with 16% of Plaid and Lib Dem voters and 8% of Labour voters.
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While Remain voters (75%) overwhelmingly trusted the Welsh Parliament to look after the interests of Wales, Leave voters had only a small majority (49% to 47%) for those who trusted the Welsh Parliament to do so as opposed to those who didn’t trust it.
Meanwhile just 15% of Remain voters trust the UK Parliament to look after the interests of Wales against 37% of Leave voters.
Both groups (Remain 65 percentage points and Leave 23 percentage points) had strong majorities for those who do not trust the UK Parliament to look after the interests of Wales.
Women (64%) were more likely than men (55%) to trust the Welsh Parliament to look after the interests of the people of Wales, and less likely (21%) than men (30%) to trust the UK Parliament to do so.
The Welsh Parliament is trusted most by those aged between 18 and 24 (63%) and least by those aged 50 to 64 (54%), while the UK Parliament is trusted most by those aged over 65 (33%) and least by those aged 25 to 49 (21%).
Some 61% of more affluent voters have trust in the Welsh Parliament against 57% of less affluent voters, while 68% of more affluent voters and 64% of less affluent voters don’t trust the UK Parliament to stand up for Welsh interests.
Perhaps surprisingly, North Wales (66%) was the region with the highest amount of support for the view that the Welsh Parliament looks after the interests of the people of Wales, while South East Wales (55%) had the lowest level of support for that view.
North Wales also had the greatest amount of trust in the UK Parliament (31%) while South East Wales (21%) had the lowest.
Yes Cymru chair Sion Jobbins said: “Trust in politics in general is very low, but nearly 60% trust the Welsh Parliament to look after the interests of the people of Wales. On the other hand only 26% trust the UK Parliament. People in Wales are aghast at the shockingly inept British government and their callous incompetence.
“It is clear that this crisis has really revealed the flaws in the British political system, Westminster governments don’t care about Wales. Why should they? No matter how we vote in Wales we end up with a government we didn’t vote for.
“People are more aware than ever of the benefits of having the people of Wales run their own affairs. We have seen with Covid-19 that small independent nations, such as New Zealand, and also our neighbours the Republic of Ireland, can react quickly and efficiently to an international crisis. It’s proven that being a small independent country isn’t a disadvantage at all. Wales has done well, but people are starting to think, how much better could we have done as an independent nation?
“Since the start of the Covid-19 crisis, membership of Yes Cymru has tripled. People have seen that the Senedd – the Welsh Parliament – dealt with the crisis better once they stopped deferring to Westminster, and many people are starting to ask themselves, what else could Wales have done better had it not bowed down and faithfully followed Westminster? Support for independence is on the rise, and Boris Johnson’s disastrous government in London is a big force in driving that.”
Leading Welsh political scientist Dr Dafydd Trystan said: “There are two striking aspects of the data released today from the YouGov poll. The Welsh Government is seen to have responded well to the coronavirus pandemic by supporters of all parties. The contrast couldn’t be starker with the UK Government that is rated poorly generally, including by a significant minority of Conservative supporters.
“We also find that voters of all parties trust the Welsh Parliament generally to look after the interests of Wales – the same is far from true of the UK Parliament with Labour voters taking a particularly dim view of Westminster’s trustworthiness.”
The Welsh Government did not wish to comment, but a UK Government spokeswoman said: “The strength of the UK has been crucial to responding to the coronavirus in Wales. The huge scale of the UK Government’s economic support has only been possible because we are one United Kingdom.
“From the very start we have been tackling the pandemic as a four-nation UK, following the best scientific advice and guidance of the four chief medical officers, who have been working closely together.
“The UK Government is providing a comprehensive £330m package of support to help businesses across all of our nations weather this economic storm. The UK Government has also guaranteed £4bn for the Welsh Government for 2020/21 on top of their Spring Budget funding, enabling it to tackle the coronavirus in Wales.
“We entered this fight together and we will come out of it equally united.”