Tuesday, September 30, 2014

SNP open up 9.6% lead in Scot Goes Pop Poll of Polls

I've been mulling over how I can best keep track of Scottish voting intentions for next year's Westminster general election.  Full-scale Scottish polls are likely to be thin on the ground, so any method is inevitably going to rely heavily on Scottish subsamples from GB-wide polls.  That's far from ideal, but an even bigger problem is the distortion caused by the fact that YouGov produce far more polls than anyone else (five per week), and that they tend to be much less favourable to the SNP than any other firm.  However, I don't really see any way round that if I want to keep the figures as up-to-date as possible.  So this is what I've come up with for the new version of the Scot Goes Pop Poll of Polls -

1) All polls entirely conducted within the last seven days will be included, as long as the datasets have been published.

2) Any newly-published full-scale Scottish poll will be included even if the fieldwork falls partly outside the seven-day period, and will be given ten times the weighting of a subsample.

Putting that into practice for the first time, this is what it produces...

Scottish voting intentions for the May 2015 UK general election :

SNP 39.9%
Labour 30.3%
Conservatives 15.6%
Liberal Democrats 6.8%
UKIP 4.4%
Greens 2.4%

That's based on eight subsamples - four from YouGov, two from Populus, one from Ashcroft and one from ComRes.  Incredibly, every single one of those subsamples has the SNP in the lead.  However, it's worth bearing in mind that the only full-scale Scottish poll to have been conducted since the referendum (from Survation) actually had the SNP behind in Westminster voting intentions, albeit narrowly and within the margin of error.  That poll isn't included in the above figures because the fieldwork ended more than seven days ago.

There should also be an Opinium poll in the mix, but unfortunately I can't include that because the datasets haven't been published yet.

The million dollar question is whether the SNP can possibly maintain this extraordinary level of support as we move further away from the referendum.  But for the time being at least, the state of play is causing a rather amusing degree of concern among the Nat-bashing usual suspects in London.  This is perhaps the most intensely satisfying tweet I've read over the last two weeks -

John Rentoul : "Alarming analysis by Peter Kellner suggesting SNP might win 26 of 59 Scottish seats, up from 6"

It's incredible, isn't it?  Before the referendum, all Rentoul cared about was keeping Scotland within his beloved country, come hell or high water.  Well, he got what he wanted, but he's still scared witless, because he's suddenly realised that the Scotland he "kept" is Scotland as it actually is (a "region" that votes in large numbers for the SNP and for self-government), rather than the "British" Scotland of his imagination.

Alex Salmond always used to say that independence would lead to England losing a surly lodger and gaining a good neighbour.  Well, it became abundantly clear during the campaign that the London establishment wanted to keep their surly lodger at all costs - they lied, bribed and bullied to achieve that objective, and now they're going to get exactly what they asked for.  If the SNP end up holding the balance of power at Westminster for the next five years as a direct result of the anti-independence terror campaign, it would be one of the most delicious ironies in human history.  More pertinently, it would also take us a big step closer to Devo Max.

That's the prize, if we can all keep our focus for the next seven months.


  1. Exciting news for SNP, lets hope they can keep the momentum up for the 2015 election and knock Labour off their pedestal.

  2. This sort of lead before any proper campaigning and before proper Green and SSP support to vote SNP for Scotland. I think 26 seats may be a low estimate.

    There is a very real chance of Balance of Power being held by a Scottish block.

    Would still like a "Scotland Alliance" banner so 4 or 5 Greens and maybe an SSP candidate can run against the Red Tories in a few seats.

  3. Alasdair, the problem is that the campaign is likely to harm the SNP, rather than help - as per usual they'll be frozen out of coverage from the London-based media.

  4. Seat calculator on UK Polling report translates this into : SNP 35; LAB 20; LD 3; Tory 1.

    If can coordinate Indy party votes in alliance then get : Alliance 38; Lab 17 (and most of those LAB seats are in strong Yes areas so many of those also at risk).

  5. The narrative from Labour will be "the only way to stop the Tories UK-wide, is to vote Labour everywhere, including Scotland". Scotland is good at tactical voting for Westminster elections; we did it last time, voting en masse to try to keep out Cameron. Bear in mind that there is nobody out there that can credibly deny that Labour are the media establishment favourites in Scotland, so be wary of extrapolating this sort of data now and be even more wary of party memberships as a guide to outcomes.

  6. Excellent. We need to keep up the work so that the inevitable media focus on London doesn't grind these figures down.

    First post-indyref SNP constituency meeting last night. Standing room only - easily double if not triple the normal turnout - and such a positive atmosphere. There was a real focus on where we go next and what we can learn from this campaign for the future. If anyone hasn't been to a party or other Yes group meeting, it's really worthwhile.

    On the alliance front: in an ideal world I'd like to see that too but there are so few seats that non-SNP candidates would have much of a look in it's hard to see how it could work fairly. I also suspect that many voters would dislike the parties trying to second-guess them. Of course, it worked to a limited extent for the Libs/SDP in the 80s, but they had much more balanced support.

  7. Alasdair, the problem is that the campaign is likely to harm the SNP, rather than help - as per usual they'll be frozen out of coverage from the London-based media.

    Indeed but this time I think the SNP need to get this issue into the courts and do so now so any potential backlash if they did it nearer the election is forgotten or at least dissipated.

  8. "On the alliance front: in an ideal world I'd like to see that too but there are so few seats that non-SNP candidates would have much of a look in it's hard to see how it could work fairly."

    I think it's pretty simple - to be fair to the Greens, you just make sure there's a Green candidate standing for the alliance in at least one very winnable seat. The prospect of a Scottish Green MP at Westminster (which is not achievable any other way) is surely something that Green members would find extremely exciting?

  9. "Scotland is good at tactical voting for Westminster elections; we did it last time, voting en masse to try to keep out Cameron"

    Actually, what that's evidence of is how catastrophically BAD we are at tactical voting!

  10. I finally succumbed to listening to GMS on the radio this morning, only to have to turn it off at the usual pro unionist interview, this time with some 'Tory activists' from the North East claiming that they were going to be taking seats from the SNP. I have to say I thought this unlikely and the activist's remarks went entirely unchallenged - as usual. However, until we get a proper Scotland wide poll, rather than relying on subsets of UK ones, it will be hard to tell if this is rubbish.

  11. Cassandra : We had a full-scale Scottish poll conducted on the day after the referendum, and it put the SNP well into the 30s, albeit slightly behind Labour. But even that doesn't answer the question, because any attempt to translate the results of a poll into seats will make the assumption of a uniform national swing.

  12. "Seat calculator on UK Polling report translates this into : SNP 35; LAB 20; LD 3; Tory 1."

    Seat calculator on Electoral Calculus translates this into : SNP 37; LAB 19; LD 1; Tory 2.
    The two Tory seats a easily winnable for SNP.

  13. "I think it's pretty simple - to be fair to the Greens, you just make sure there's a Green candidate standing for the alliance in at least one very winnable seat. The prospect of a Scottish Green MP at Westminster (which is not achievable any other way) is surely something that Green members would find extremely exciting?"

    Possibly! I guess one of the seats in Edinburgh would be a suitable target with an appropriately high-profile candidate. But from the Greens' point of view, would one MP be worth it for the loss of being able to campaign nationwide, having a mind towards the list votes for 2016? (I don't know either way)

  14. The difference this coming year, compared to other years, is the near 100,000 anti unionist activists that will be pounding the streets.

    It might not be 100k, but a vast chunk of them will be pounding the streets, appealing for people to vote for devo max.

    It's quite the argument.

  15. "But from the Greens' point of view, would one MP be worth it for the loss of being able to campaign nationwide"

    But TV coverage is what really matters - imagine what a high profile Patrick Harvie would enjoy as the de facto joint leader of a broadly-based pro-Devo Max alliance.

  16. Let's be realistic. The Greens have absolutely no chance of winning a Westminster seat. Any attempt at tactical voting will harm the SNP vote.
    Holyrood is a different matter, but if you are using your vote as an 'indy' vote, then the SNP are still the only logical choice.

    As stated earlier, British Labour will use the 'vote Labour to keep the Tories out' tactic. We have to keep replying that Labour are Tories.

  17. Juteman : There's no question of tactical voting. What we're talking about is a formal electoral pact in which the SNP would not stand candidates in certain seats, and put their support behind the Greens instead.

  18. "The narrative from Labour will be "the only way to stop the Tories UK-wide, is to vote Labour everywhere, including Scotland"

    While the reality of Labour cheek to jowl with the tories during the Indyref, poodling along with yet more bloody Iraq stupiditym while promising yet austerity for the poorest and most vulnerable in society is somewhat unlikely to help them rid themselves of the #RedTories label.

    Nor will labour and Balls support for cutting child benefits, ending the winter fuel allowance and raising the retirement age help them much when scots ask "what's the difference?" between labour and the tories.

    "Alasdair, the problem is that the campaign is likely to harm the SNP, rather than help - as per usual they'll be frozen out of coverage from the London-based media."

    James, I've got a feeling most scottish voters will remember all the "Better Together" rhetoric so all the westmisnter bubble media would achieve is to prove yet again precisely how 'fair' and trusted they should be.

    Add to that the fact that the cowardly Cameron has already been trying to scupper or severely downgrade them by shifting them to well before voting day and it's not hard to guess that any debates will be mired in controversy this time around what with the kippers and Farage piling in too.

    Let's also not forget the debates put a searing spotlight on little Ed, Calamity Clegg and the incompetent fop Cameron.

    Can't quite see how out of touch westminter bubble politicians (as toxic as those three are in scotland) will vastly help any of their parties fortunes TBH. Little Ed is still less popular than Cameron in scotland after all. Which is a wee bit of a hammerblow to the "keep the tories out" Labour narrative.

  19. The trouble with that is that voters often kick back and avoid the consensus candidate, not liking to have their choices restricted or to be told who to vote for.

  20. A pertinent reminder of the kind of colossal political earthquake we are talking about when it comes to the Yes parties and the SNP.

    Neil ‏@neil1pat Sep 29

    SNP membership now exceeds 70,000. Another 5k & they will outstrip combined Lib Dem & UKIP membership in UK! Join @ http://my.snp.org/join

    Well it's getting pretty fucking close to that 75,000 right now.

    Bigger than the UK totals for the lib dems and kippers combined. Just let that sink in for a moment.

    Utterly astonishing! :-D

    Let's see just how good or credible the excuses from the westminster bubble media are to keep the SNP out the debates after that.

  21. Rolfe : Even with an SNP/Green/SSP/others alliance, it's not as if the voters would be short of choices - there would still be at least four main candidates in every constituency.

    The SNP have done something like this once before - in 1987, they stood aside in the Northern Isles in favour of the Orkney and Shetland Movement. And as strange though it seems in retrospect, I believe there was serious talk in the 1960s of a formal pro-Home Rule pact between the SNP and Liberals.

  22. Peter Murrell tweeted 73,295 SNP members this morning, plus the morning post not processed yet. The photo of the pile of applications stacked from the morning post was.... impressive.

  23. Just did a Panelbase poll asking the following:

    - Who did I vote for in the previous Scottish Parliament election (Constituency and List)
    - Certainty to vote in next Scottish Parliament election.
    - Who will I vote for in the next Scottish Parliament election (Constituency and List)
    - Who did I vote for in the previous General election (Constituency and List)
    - Certainty to vote in next General election.
    - Who will I vote for in the next General election (Constituency and List)
    - Do I trust the following to look out for the interests of Scotland (Nicola Sturgeon (Referred to as DFM), Nick Clegg, Ed Milliband, Willie Rennie, Alex Salmond (Referred to as FM), Johan Lamont, Ruth Davidson) Funnily enough I don't remember David Cameron's name there
    - Various questions on whether the Scottish Parliament should control various policy areas. Included preamble about 'the Vow' as well as the definition of Devo Max being everything except Defence and Foreign Affairs.
    - Who did I vote for in the EU elections
    - Country of birth
    - Standard demographic questions

  24. I'm just trying to imagine the nightmare for Westminster if *both* of the possible ruling parties lost the election in Scotland. Getting Tory governments we didn't vote for emphasised the democratic deficit enough, getting an SNP majority in Scottish seats would make it painfully obvious for everyone.

    This will be interesting.

  25. I'd like to believe it, but this dogwhistle "only a vote for Labour can keep the Tories out" line seems to work for them every freaking time.

  26. Also, some results from a Yougov poll on Miliband.

    Scottish sample:

    Thinking about Ed Miliband's time as leader of the Labour party, do you think he...

    Has or has not provided an effective opposition to the government
    18% Has
    75% Has not

    Has or has not made it clear what he stands for?
    26% Has
    65% Has not

    Would or would not be up to the job of Prime Minister?
    23% would
    63% Would not

    Do you think Ed Miliband has changed the Labour party for the better, for the worse, or do you think he has not made any real change at all?
    16% Has changed party for the better
    16% Has changed party for the worse
    61% Has not made any real change at all


  27. Looks like a few Tories are switching to SNP for Westminster too from cross tabs.

    I presume they come from the 47% of Tories that support devo max (last ICM for the Scotsman).

  28. Any idea if the Tories will manage to unseat Pete Wishart? He's their number one target.

    I can say as a Perthshire man myself the majority of the electorate are Tories who tactically vote SNP. Our only solid SNP base is in the Perthshire working class - they made up most of the Perthshire Yes vote that came in at around 37%.

    The real headache is all the English retirees. Some villages must be 90% English, without exaggeration. They seem to be swinging to the Tories.

  29. Anon : Don't forget it's a first-past-the-post election. Pete Wishart only needed 39.6% of the vote last time.

    I'm not quite sure why Tories would have voted tactically for the SNP in 2010? The Tories themselves were the main challengers in that seat, not Labour.

  30. Given that Wishart increased his lead over the Tories from 3.3% to 9.1% in 2010 when the UK was swinging to Tory, and the Tory vote in Scotland seems to be going down currently, I don't think he should lose sleep.

    The English Tories threatening to put up border posts to hinder Scottish Tories visiting the rUK whilst saying they'd take the £ out of Scottish Tory pockets likely didn't help.

  31. Same anon here re: tactical voting: It's a good question. I think I'm trying to say folk up here are naturally rural Conservative. They're Tories at heart - that's why they voted No. Though as a point of interest some of the working class gameys voted No because they thought they'd lose English business.

    The folk up here may have tactically voted SNP because the Tories are known to be zoomers and the SNP were simply more popular as a result of their post 07 successes. My fear is that a man like Murdo Fraser will change their mind.

  32. I live in David Mundell's sprawling constituency. He has a strong local following, and he works hard to cover the constituency.

    Given attitudes in this part of rural Dumfriesshire, defeating him will not be easy.

    He had a majority of 4,194 last time round. Labour was second with 13,000, LDs third on 9,000 and SNP fourth with just under 5,000.

    In the first election in this seat, in 2005, his majority was 1,738. The LD vote was stable between the two elections. The SNP went from 4,000 to 5,000, near enough.

    The Labour and LD votes would have to collapse in favour of the SNP for him to lose. I would love to see it happen, but it is a big ask.

  33. If they are naturally conservative, it is likely the Tories increasingly don't appeal to them for obvious reasons.

    As I said anon, Tory vote has been totally flat last year or so and indications are it is now falling post iref so no need to worry. After all, the Tories threatened their own voters in the referendum campaign; not a wise electoral tactic!

  34. @Anon at 1:15
    "The folk up here may have tactically voted SNP because the Tories are known to be zoomers"

    I don't think that quite fits the definition of a tactical vote!

  35. In 2010, the Tories managed an average of -0.7% in their four target seats with the party in first place opening up a considerably greater lead over them. That's with the UK-wide Tory swing.


  36. I'm old enough to remember back to the heady days of October, 1974 when the SNP gained 11 seats. Some of those wins were places where it was thought they didn't stand much of a chance, such as Galloway and East Dunbartonshire. And by the very slenderest of majorities. I think we should prepare ourselves for some big surprises next May. There is now no such thing as a safe Labour seat in Scotland.

  37. I remember Wishart talking on a radio programme just after the 2010GE. He said that one of the SNP's principal tactics there is to attract tactical Labour (and possibly LD) votes in Perth city. So basically it ends up being a turnout race, whether the SNP can get enough votes in Perth to outweigh the rural majority for the Tories.

    The hope for the Tories this time is that there are some SNP voters (particularly 2011 SNP voters) who voted no in the referendum. If they could be convinced that voting SNP would lead to another referendum (or worse, UDI) then the SNP may be in trouble in the seats where they are defending against Tories.

  38. In spite of the Daily Mail's best efforts, it's going to be a bit of a stretch to persuade people that UDI is seriously on the cards.

  39. Meanwhile over at the old folks home/Conservative Conference, the possible future replacements to Cameron are in full posture mode and spouting truly incredible amounts of complete and utter bullshit.

    The Independent ‏@Independent 29m

    Isis could bomb UK with nuclear and chemical weapons, Theresa May warns http://ind.pn/1pDMWcZ

    Would that be in 45 minutes you vacuous tory twit? Tony Blair must be laughing uproariously right now.

    Let's also not forget May's ultra-Blairite authoritarian streak is from the same shit for brains dimwit who made up some absurd islamophobic sub-tabloid nonsense about a cat.

    Zoe Williams ‏@zoesqwilliams

    Seems like a long time ago, but I complained to Beeb about the Theresa May story & "the man who couldn't be deported because he had a cat"

    John Machin ‏@ohjohnnyoh

    Teresa May said she wasn't making up her #ECHR cat-prevented-deportation story. But she was: http://m.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-15171980 …

  40. @neilakos1
    "There is now no such thing as a safe Labour seat in Scotland."

    This has been said many times before, and always proved false. The strong Yes vote in many of their traditional constituencies is an unprecedented factor, and there will be doubt about some seats in places like Glasgow, but they have newer power bases elsewhere. It would be absolutely miraculous if, for example, East Renfrewshire was anything other than a Lab hold.

  41. I think Wishart will be fine, you have to remember the incumbent MP's are also judged on their work done, rather than what party they are aligned with.

    Wishart is high profile in his area, if not in Scotland imo.

    He should be fine, I'd imagine Mundell would be fine, as would Carmichael if he choose to stand, Alexander both of them, might be in for scares.

    NE Scotland, the rurals will undoubtedly go back to SNP after voting No, the whole EU thing may turn a few of the harder tories as well.

  42. I like your scenario James of SNP holding the balance of power in Westminster and wrangling devo max out of whoever is in charge (although it is of course out of our hands whether or not this scenario arises). The SNP have to go large on the message that in this election, a vote for them is a vote to ensure Devo Max and a not a vote for another referendum (in the next couple of years, anyway).

    Never thought I would advocate gradualism...

  43. Re the 2016 SG election.
    Each voting paper has a list of preferences, SNP, Greens, SSP etc. Actually, if I remember correctly, I have just put down my own preferences, I have never voted for a unionist party. I do know people who have voted for the SNP and put down labour ad a second preference.
    If a co ordinated effort was made to ensure people put any unionist preferences, what effect would that have on the list vote. I believe there quite a few msp's in holyrood from the list. Have to admit I don't really understand how the list vote works, or whether this could be made to work for us.

  44. So it begins then:

    Attempts by Ruth Davidson to limit the powers that can be discussed by the Smith Commission have been branded as showing ‘an extraordinary degree of bad-faith’.

    In a speech at her party’s conference today (Tuesday), Ruth Davidson stated “that means ruling out so-called Devo Max. Such a plan – which would devolve everything bar foreign affairs and the Armed Forces – is a complete non-starter.”

    Meanwhile Gordon Brown today released a statement making clear that “a vow, once written, cannot be casually re-written or revised.”

    During the referendum campaign, Gordon Brown made clear in a speech in Loanhead that “the plan for a stronger Scottish Parliament we seek agreement on is for nothing else than a modern form of Scottish Home Rule within the United Kingdom” and also wrote in a New York Times article that “the United Kingdom is moving as close to a federal state as is possible.

  45. Re Golfnut - in the SG elections, it is not first and second preference. The reason the SNP won such a majority in 2011 was the effectiveness of the campaign slogan - vote SNP twice.

  46. @ keaton
    Point taken about East Renfrewshire. Sadly, that's always going to be a tough nut to crack. There are probably another dozen or so seats which will remain resolutely Labour. However, I wouldn't rule out the likes of Glasgow NE being reduced to marginals if the tide is still running strongly in the SNP's favour come next May. I'm not all that good at making forecasts, and I absolutely agree that we've all been here before .... but we're living in changed times and I do think some of those Labour fortresses are going to start tumbling.

  47. @neilakos1

    If there is a lot of new SNP members from urban areas, particularly Glasgow, Dundee, Aberdeen then there is a chance to have a real go at SLAB seats in these cities. Unfortunately Edinburgh is a tougher nut to crack, and to a lesser extent Aberdeen. SLAB are more vulnerable in the west I would think with Sturgeon about to become leader of the SNP and FM.

    The Greens seem to think they are in with a chance in one of the Edinburgh seats. The Lib Dems are almost certainly going to be either wiped out or very nearly wiped out in Scotland. Mundell will probably keep his seat unfortunately.

  48. I think Aberdeen is ripe for a change.

    Labour have severely fk'd up with the Council, Frank Doran, the current MP is stepping down and will undoubtedly leave it open for Willie Young or Barney Crockett, who are pretty much hated in the city due to the debacle with the council.

    Anne Begg is the other Aberdeen MP, who was of course, recently campaigning with a National Front boy on the streets of Aberdeen.

    She will probably be safe, but Doran stepping down is a big chance.

  49. Do people on here rate the predictions of the Electoral Calculus site for Scottish Westminster seats?

    Doug D