Wales politics

General election 2017: What influences voters' decisions

Rosettes of the main parties Image copyright Getty Images

As well as electing a local MP, the general election is also about choosing the prime minister. This campaign, more than most, has focussed on the party leaders. So will it be the personalities or policies that determine where voters put their cross on polling day?

The Conservatives want this election to be about leadership - the "strong and stable" kind as their mantra goes.

So far their campaign has focused relentlessly on Prime Minister Theresa May.

Labour in Wales have chosen to focus on their Welsh leader rather than UK party leader Jeremy Corbyn.

And set-piece televised interviews could provide a publicity boost for other leaders such as Plaid Cymru's Leanne Wood and the Liberal Democrats' Tim Farron.

Broadcasters' current plans would also give a platform for UKIP's Paul Nuttall and the Green Party's co-leader Caroline Lucas.

In an election which decides who will be prime minister, it is inevitable the leaders are front and centre during the campaign and have a major influence on their parties' electoral fortunes.

I went to Dinas Powys Cricket Club in Vale of Glamorgan to watch an early season mid-week match against Penarth.

Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionDo the skills that make a good sporting leader also apply to politics?

I asked the man in charge, Dinas' captain Gareth Storey, whether the skills that make a good sporting leader also apply to politics.

"I think they are very similar," he said.

"I think earning the respect of your team mates, getting everyone to come together - to gel together as a single unit is really, really crucial."

And some of the Penarth team waiting to bat told me what appealed to them in a party leader.

"A certain amount of charisma is needed, somebody who's a very articulate speaker," one said.

"It's all about resilience - it's very easy to be a great leader when everything's going well and you're riding that wave of success, but it's about when you get those knockbacks, it's about how you respond to those," said another.

Labour in Wales have opted to put the Welsh leader Carwyn Jones at the forefront of their campaign.

It's a sensible strategy and "no surprise", said Jo Kiernan, his former chief of staff in the Welsh Government.

"There are very good reasons for that - it partly takes away from the unpopularity of Jeremy Corbyn but there is a Labour government here, there's a record," she said.

While the profile of other party leaders, particularly Plaid's Ms Wood, has been boosted by televised debates in the past, political commentator Valerie Livingston said they face a particular challenge this time round.

"There's been a real trend towards presidential style general elections over recent election cycles. It has become less about which party has the best policies and increasingly about which party has the best leader to lead the UK," she said.

"The focus on Theresa May versus Jeremy Corbyn does make it incredibly hard for Plaid Cymru, the Liberal Democrats and UKIP to get their message across in this election - quite simply the story is not about them," she added.

There is certainly intense scrutiny of those at the helm.

Lord Bourne led the Welsh Conservatives through assembly election campaigns.

"It's relentless," he said.

"You've got not just the media but also the door-knocking, the visiting, the listening to people, the handling of presentations and so on - all of that is crucially important.

"But with Theresa May as prime minister, of course it's a thousand-fold that because she's got all the international obligations to carry out as prime minister while the campaign is going on, her own constituency to nurse at the same time as she's going to all parts of the country."

Back in Dinas Powys I asked one of the players how the party leaders will impact on how he votes?

"The figurehead is what you look at, it's the news that you listen to," he said.

"It's everything you hear and see, so they are totally integral certainly to my vote, and to pretty much everyone else's vote."

Related Topics

More on this story