Tuesday, January 17, 2012

YouGov poll : SNP retain lead in Westminster voting intentions

Although it's the headline figures on independence and Devo Max that have caught most attention, one extraordinary finding from last night's Channel 4 News/YouGov poll shouldn't be overlooked - that the SNP still lead Labour in Westminster voting intentions. The percentage changes listed below may be slightly surprising, but bear in mind that they relate to the last YouGov poll of Westminster voting intentions way back in August, when the SNP were still very much enjoying their initial honeymoon period.

SNP 37% (-5)
Labour 35% (+2)
Conservatives 16% (+1)
Liberal Democrats 7% (+1)

To put these numbers in perspective, YouGov were showing a sixteen-point lead for Labour over the SNP in Westminster voting intentions during the very week of the SNP's Holyrood landslide last year.

On the referendum questions, 'No' leads 'Yes' by 61%-39% on full independence. The difference with ICM's figures can probably be mostly (and perhaps entirely) explained by methodology, because the fieldwork dates overlap to some extent. In fact, from memory 39% looks pretty high for 'Yes' by YouGov standards, although that's perhaps due to 'don't knows' being excluded from the headline figures.

As you'd expect, good news on the Devo Max question - 58% say 'Yes', 42% say 'No', again with don't knows excluded. So on this poll, the clear preference of the electorate is for the one option the UK government wants to legislate to ban from being on the ballot paper. Good luck with that one, guys - especially in the light of the following...

Regardless of how you would vote, do you think the referendum should...

Be a straight choice over independence - 43%
Include a third option to extend the powers of the Scottish parliament - 46%

The question on the timing of the referendum can perhaps be seen as marginally more favourable to the UK government's stance, with 38% thinking it should be held earlier than 2014, and 37% thinking it should be held in 2014 or 2015. But if the UK government are trying to credibly claim that it's self-evident that they "need" to interfere to have the matter settled earlier than the SNP want, they'd require overwhelming backing on the issue of the date, not a dead heat.


  1. Every poll suggests that the option of devo-max is more popular than either independence or status quo.

    It is odd that the Liberal Democrats whose stated aim is federalism, with almost all powers devolved to the Celtic capitals (and of course London, as England's capital) seem so determined not to have their choice on the ballot paper.

    Labour too seem to agree that the status quo is not good enough, so you would think that they would prefer a second question with an option of THEIR choice.

    I'm strongly for independence. Anything else seems to me to be an insult, and foreign policy and military matters, which under devo-max, would remain in the hands of London (and effectively because of it's sheer size, England), are two of the points with which I have most issues.

    However, if the Scots want devo-max, surely that should be what they have. After all, we can look at it as another stepping stone on the route to independence.

    We would never be in the position we are in today of even discussing a referendum, had some had their way and refused to take part in the current devolution settlement.

  2. And we have this spurious "vote no and then we'll think up some more devolution for you" argument from Labour. You can't ask about devolution in an independence referendum because they're completely opposed concepts. Like we have, say, 20 powers devolved and 10 retained and that's devolution within the Union. And then we get 25 powers devolved and 5 retained and that's still devolution within the Union. Then 29 devolved and one retained and that's..... And then 30 devolved and.....

    Not a continuum. Not at all. Totally opposed concepts. Obviously.

  3. "And we have this spurious "vote no and then we'll think up some more devolution for you" argument from Labour."

    Call me cynical, but the words 'Sir Alec Douglas-Home' are springing to mind...

  4. You don't need to go back as far as 1979 James. Up until the AV referendum votes were cast there were voices on the No side saying that a vote against AV wasn't a vote against reform. After the votes were in - what a surprise! - a vote against AV was a vote for FPTP and no reform ever.