Sunday, June 3, 2012

The No campaign's poll backfires : full figures show commanding SNP lead on Holyrood constituency vote

Many thanks to Marcia on the previous thread for alerting me to the proper publication of the notorious "Alistair Darling poll", the full details of which were kept secret for several days, and weren't exactly shouted from the rooftops even when they were published - we can now see why. Here are the full figures for Holyrood and Westminster voting intention...

Holyrood constituency vote :

SNP 43% (+3)
Labour 35% (-1)
Conservatives 12% (-)
Liberal Democrats 4% (-4)
Others 5% (+1)

Holyrood regional list vote :

SNP 36% (-2)
Labour 34% (+2)
Conservatives 13% (-)
Greens 6% (-)
Liberal Democrats 4% (-3)
Others 6% (+2)

Westminster vote :

Labour 40% (-2)
SNP 35% (+5)
Conservatives 14% (-3)
Liberal Democrats 5% (-2)
Others 6% (+2)

The most important thing to say is that the fieldwork took place well after the local elections, so the SNP's significant advance on two out of the three counts (and solid result on the other) postdates the rather desperate attempt of certain sections of the media to portray the SNP's historic victory in the local elections as some kind of 'setback'. Evidently that coordinated effort has gained absolutely zero traction with the public - back to the drawing-board for Cochrane and his ilk. Probably the most impressive showing for the SNP is on the Westminster figures - 35% is a full five points higher than their all-time best result in a UK general election in October 1974.

The other thing that leaps out is that the Scottish Lib Dems are in (as Labour's high heid yin on Glasgow City Council might put it) a dehhhh-sperate, dehhhh-sperate position. Heaven only knows how bad things would be if they didn't have such a popular leader.

You might be thinking to yourself - these figures for the SNP are great, but isn't the only thing that matters for now the level of support for independence? Not quite true, actually - it hasn't been mentioned much, but there is still one more test of public opinion to go before the expected referendum date of autumn 2014. The European elections will be held in June of that year.

While I'm thinking of it, one other thing that I noticed when browsing through the YouGov archives was this highly encouraging finding on public attitudes to capital punishment...

The death penalty for murder :

Would like to see return - 46%
Would not like to see return - 43%

I've never believed that majority opinion can overrule the most fundamental of individual human rights (ie. the right to life). But it just goes to show that if a referendum was ever held, it wouldn't be the foregone conclusion that some people assume.


  1. James,

    This is good news all round. Of course, there’s still a long way to go but not quite as far as Alistair Darling would have us believe. Looking at the figure for Westminster intentions, on the surface it’s depressing to see Scottish Labour on 40%. But adding together the SNP and ‘others’ in this poll – comprising mostly Greens, SSP, Solidarity – provides a level of support of 41% for parties that support independence. Of course, this doesn’t account for that proportion of voters of independence-supporting parties who might vote No in the referendum but neither does it account for the proportion of voters of unionist parties who might vote Yes.

    What this means, is that if we assume that those who support independence parties who will vote No and those who support unionist parties who will vote Yes are similar, as proportions of the electorate, then, taking these intentions as a proxy for the referendum vote – of course, it’s not quite as simple as that - it breaks down, approximately, Yes 41%, No 59%, which is very different from the Yes 33%, No 67% that Darling was touting and which the MSM seized on in its reporting.

    But to return to this 40% for Labour. It’s clear that Scottish Labour is still capturing much of the anti-Tory vote in Scotland. But I wonder how this might change once Scottish Labour voters start to see senior Labour party politicians sharing a platform with Tories, promoting the same agenda as the Tories, and once the Yes campaign starts to draw more attention to this as part of its campaign strategy. A strategy that can only be enhanced by giving greater prominence to people like Denis Canavan, Tommy Brennan, Brian Cox and other Labour converts to the cause of independence?

    The other point worth noting here is that it may be that Labour’s share of the vote in Scotland is inflated by the improved performance of Labour in British polls. South of the border, Labour has, at least in opinion polls, clearly attracted the support of a number of disaffected Lib Dem and Tory voters and voters in Scotland are aware of this. But this may only be a temporary phenomenon.

    Many disaffected Lib Dem and Tory voters, south of the border, may be enjoying the luxury, in opinion polls, of venting their protest at the coalition. Let’s face it, the Westminster government is at the height of its unpopularity at the moment, they’ve had their worst two months since they came into power. And while Labour does have a healthy lead in the polls at present, that could disappear if this coalition starts to recover in the eyes of middle England sometime in the next 6-12 months. In which case, taking the other Scottish factors into account, this could feed in to very different poll results for the referendum long before 2014. Once the Yes vote starts to look like a winning coalition, its momentum could carry us over the winning line. We’ll see.

  2. I have always felt that if support for no more MAJORITY WESTMINSTER RULE was over 40%, and YES people (except NO support in Govan...) were more likely to turn out as they were passionate, then on a 70%turnout a YES would be achieved.