Friday, November 7, 2014

SNP lead by 18% in new Scot Goes Pop Poll of Polls

You might remember I said the other day that the SNP's lead in the next Poll of Polls update was almost certainly going to be down, simply as a result of the Ipsos-Mori poll dropping out of the sample.  Well, that's happened, but the extent of the change is much less than I anticipated - the lead has only slipped from 20.6% to 18.2%.  The most noticeable change is actually to be found among the smaller parties - UKIP and the Greens have swapped over to take up fourth and sixth place respectively, with the Lib Dems sandwiched between them in fifth, on a truly dismal 4.3% of the vote.  Don't take the Greens' apparent plight too seriously - it only comes about because the new Panelbase poll puts them on an unusually low 1%, and that poll now makes up two-thirds of the sample.

Apart from the Panelbase/Wings poll, five Scottish subsamples from GB-wide polls are also taken into account - three from YouGov, one from Ashcroft and one from Populus.

Scottish voting intentions for the May 2015 UK general election :

SNP 45.2% (-0.8)
Labour 27.0% (+1.6)
Conservatives 15.6% (+1.7)
UKIP 5.9% (+2.0)
Liberal Democrats 4.3% (-1.0)
Greens 2.0% (-2.6)

(The Poll of Polls uses the Scottish subsamples from all GB-wide polls that have been conducted entirely within the last seven days and for which datasets have been provided, and also all full-scale Scottish polls that have been conducted at least partly within the last seven days. Full-scale polls are given ten times the weighting of subsamples.)

*  *  *

A few days ago, a member of the Panelbase panel ("the Panelbase panel" sounds faintly silly but I can't think of a better way of phrasing it) gave me a sneak preview of the questions that had been asked in the firm's latest poll, which had obviously been commissioned by a pro-independence client.  There were some real crackers in there, and I was excited to see the outcome - but I was also a bit nervous, because it could have backfired if the questions on Europe had gone the "wrong" way.  As it turns out, the results were very close, but in both cases they went the way we would have hoped.

There may be a referendum in 2017 on the UK’s membership of the European Union. If there is, which way do you currently think you’d vote?

Stay in the EU : 41%
Leave the EU : 38%

Imagine that Scotland voted to stay in the EU, but was outvoted by the rest of the UK choosing to leave. In those circumstances, would a second Scottish independence referendum be justified, so that Scotland wasn’t forced out of the EU against its will?

Yes, it would be justified : 45%
No, we should accept the UK-wide result : 41%

The closeness on the latter question probably shouldn't be of too much concern, because one of the most fascinating findings of the Ipsos-Mori poll was that people were even more likely to support an early second referendum for its own sake than they were for any specific reason that was suggested.  If that's correct, it may be that some of the 41% of people who told Panelbase that they wouldn't support a second referendum in the event of an EU exit were not actually opposed to another referendum, but simply thought that an enforced EU exit was not a good enough reason in itself.

In any case, we know how bad people are at answering hypothetical questions, and I suspect the shock of the impending loss of EU citizenship and freedom of movement would be much greater than people imagine when they fill in online surveys right now.

As for the first question, the Murdo Frasers and Kenny Farquharsons of this world might be tempted to leap on the results and claim them as "proof" that Scottish opinion on the EU isn't all that different from opinion in the rest of the UK - and they'd be fools to do so.  The more pro-European slant in Scottish opinion is pretty well established across the polling industry, and what this poll says to me is that if Panelbase had run the same question throughout the whole of Great Britain on the same dates, they'd have found a solid majority for leaving the EU.  That may have come about because of the recent spat over the bill of £1.7 billion that David "Colonel Mustard" Cameron was presented with by Brussels.

So if anything, the state of play indicated by this poll increases the chances of Scotland being ejected from the EU against its will, together with all of the interesting potential side-effects that may flow from that.

The finding that Yes voters in the independence referendum are solidly pro-EU, while No voters break the other way, shouldn't be a surprise to anyone.  And yet it still blows an enormous hole in one of the No campaign's most treasured fictions - namely that British unionism is all about nations coming together in a vague, fuzzy, feel-good, happy-clappy "why build another wall?" sort of way.  It turns out that the isolationists were mostly to be found in the anti-independence camp.  With UKIP and the BNP firmly inside Alistair Darling's big tent, who'd ever have thunk it?


  1. There's a new UK survation out. Surely you want to include the crossbreak from that James?

    Still no sign of the Daily Records 'continuing monthly polling' for October. Wonder why.

    As for the EU panelbase results... Like the iref, polls UK wide at least seem to have huge variance (not enough from Scotland to form a good picture other than on average, Scotland is firmly 'in'). Only the other week MORI were reporting the strongest support for 'in' for many years while yougov then got a narrow 'out'.

    Personally, being a fan of Norway, I'm open to in/out. I'm a europhile eurosceptic if you like. I'm 'in' but that depends on future developments, e.g. the TTIP with the USA greatly concerns me. If I ever became 'out', it would be from a left perspective. I also don't see too much federalisation as a workable nor sensible idea. I believe in governments being close to the people. When you go too far down the federal superstate route, you typically end up with those at the top being very far away with too much power.

    1. What possible benefit does the Norwegian option have beyond opting out of fishing? They're essentially a part of the single market but have no say over how it's run. They're one of the richest countries in the world and have less influence over their own economic regulations than Malta does. It's a ridiculous situation that most Norwegian politicians want to get rid of, but their hands are tied by public opinion - Norway being extremely Eurosceptic (far more so than we are).

    2. SS : In my defence, it looks like the Survation datasets weren't released until a few minutes after I started doing the calculation! Today's YouGov isn't included either, because the datasets for that didn't come out until 6am.

  2. Oh and James, I know panelbase used 2011 weighting, but did they also use 2014 EU weighting? The latter would likely hurt the SNP / pro-indy parties and up Tory/UKIP/out due to the differential turnout in favour of these two.

  3. I'm in favour of changes being required by the EU....but not the UKIP/Tory style changes, I am happy with the migration rules and we know from the indyref that we require immigrants if we wish to sustain pension levels and encourage companies/local business to open up.

    The poll findings are interesting, if I was asked, I'd probably say I'm a leave the EU, BUT it is mainly to do with TTIP......there is also the fact that whatever way England votes or looks like voting, I'll be going the opposite way. Wonder how many other people are like that.

    It's a complete role reversal and I'll take great pleasure in telling my english mates what way I am voting, with the caveat - 'because I'm Scottish' after some of them voting no 'because I'm english'

  4. SS: No. The poll weighted by 2011 recalled vote and indyref vote.

  5. Of course, it is no more ironic that many unionists favour leaving the EU, than it is many nationalists favour remaining in a union the stated purpose of which is ever closer integration and gradual transfer of sovereignty to Brussels. The two positions are equally inconsistent. Many EU supporting nationalists will find themselves in the rather odd position of supporting both devolution of powers from London to Scotland and handing the same powers over to Europe.

    For the record, because posters on here are bound to misinterpret the above, I do not support us leaving the EU as it stands. I do believe the democratic deficit is such that transfer of powers to the EU in many areas is unwise, and in particular I do not suport monetary or fiscal integration. But there are other areas, including in justice and policing where I see the logic of further integration. I also believe that the principles of subsidiarity and self-determination should be fully respected, and that the EU needs reform to respond to that.

    1. There's nothing inconsistent about e.g. wanting to devolve power upwards to Brussels rather than begging for powers to be devolved down from London. If some people want that it isn't inconsistent at all.

      I imagine the Danes thinking it worthwhile to devolve some power to the EU but not become a province of a greater Germany isn't seen as inconsistent there.

    2. I'll also add I find the whole unionist 'Surely you prefer being in a union with British people over being in one with European foreigners' argument rather xenophobic. The undertones of this when it comes to London vs Brussels are all too evident.

    3. The inconsistency lies in the explanation. The whole independence campaign is based on the principles of self determination and subsidiarity - the devolution of powers to the lowest level of administrative competence, and closest to the demos. "These decisions affect the Scottish people, so the Scottish people must decide". If Scotland became independent the same decisions would affect the Scottish people equally, but ever-closer union in the EU would mean they would be made by a body in which Scotland has very little representation - much less than the UK. You can try to justify that on the basis that it is the will of the Scottish people to cede those powers (just as it is the will of the Scottish people to be part of the Union) but it is none the less inconsistent.

      Put it another way: if an independent Scotland became part of the EU, took the Euro and ceded powers over its budget and tax policies, I rather suspect that decades from now Scottish_Skier's great grandchildren would be campaigning for Scottish independence anew. And what arguments would they be using? The ones we have just heard in the Indyref campaign.

    4. The "Surely you prefer being in a union with British people over being in one with European foreigners" argument is not one I've made and I don't agree with it. I do think however that many on the pro-European left have a rather short memory and myopic view of what life would be like under a more powerful EU. The left view it as a rather genteel, social democratic and statist (in the interventionalist sense) institution, which is rather attractive if your world view is genteel, social democratic and statist. But the conditions that fostered the EU were a product of the post-war consensus and prevailing views of the 1950-70s, which represented an abnormal state of affairs. It is far from certain those conditions will continue. While the fascists and communists remain largely confined to the margins in European politics, there is no certainty that will remain the case. Of course, the UK is not wholly immune either, but its more liberal form of social decmocracy is probably a more stable bet in the long term.

    5. Britain isn't a liberal social democracy - it's a centre-right authoritarian pseudo-democracy (FPTP and unelected upper chamber).

      Positions of main political parties at the last GE (an update for 2015 would be interesting given the movement of the main UK parties more to the right and authoritarian / totalitarian).

      Yawn for the 'Denmark, Germany, France, Sweden etc are not independent counties, only North Korea is so there no point being like the former' argument.

  6. There is an obvious difference between the EU and the UK as multinational states. The nations of the EU voluntarily pool and share (to use a Brown-ism) sovereignty in some fields of policy, the central EU bodies cannot demand anything without the permission of its members. The UK retains all sovereignty centrally and only devolves powers to its nations as and when the WM parliament sees fit, usually under democratic duress. There is less pressure from Wales than Scotland so less is devolved to Wales than Scotland.

    1. We're also voluntarily pooling sovereignty with the rest of the UK - at least as of the 19th of September 2014.

  7. I'm a bit tired of this "From my point of view what you want is inconsistent, therefore I deny you the right to want that" attitude.

    I see no inconsistency. I do not wish my country to be locked in a box labelled "region of Greater England, identity extinguished in 1707", forced to hand over all sovereignty and all resources to Westminster, and then forced to go begging to get even a small amount back. I'm perfectly happy to behave like other grown-up countries in the 21st century and participate voluntarily in an international agreement, sitting alongside Germany and France and other independent countries closer to our own size.

    1. You really think that an independent Scotland will genuinely be standing alongside the likes of France and Germany? Maybe in theory they will, but all the clout lies with the big countries. Very few people would have any interest in what an independent Scotland would have to say about anything. EU relations (Just like relations between any other countries) are all about power.

    2. The lead item of the BBC News last night was the opinions of the Prime Ministers of Finland, Norway and Sweden.

    3. Only in a roundabout way. But surely you don't think that any of those three countries will have any kind of clout? Even all three of them put together could be comfortably ignored by the Germans. It's the Germans who pull the strings in Europe and everybody knows it. An independent Scotland in the EU would be patted on the head and assured we're seen as equals, but the reality would be very different. We'd be milked in very much the same way the UK is now.

    4. Not buying that, the European Commission has more clout than any big country and they are unelected bureaucrats. There is also the fact that smaller countries have more votes than Scotland, we would double our votes if we were independent and many smaller countries team up against the bigger boys in order to gain concessions etc.

      I'd love to know just how the UK is milked by the EU? From what I have observed the EU and the UK are only to happy to negotiate deals bringing rebates down, e.g. Common Fisheries Policy, EU not forcing Westminster to give Scottish farmers its rightful amount of money as per Common Agricultural Policy, appointing a british person to oversee financial regulation and markets....this £1.7 billion payment is entirely the fault of a tory government intent on turning a luke-warm economy into a hot one, utilising the drug trade, prostitution and the charitable sector as key components of uk gross national income figures order to beef them up!!!....the EU called their bluff.

      It's more to do with Westminster trying to be clever than the EU 'milking' them. The UK retained many opt-outs more than other's funny though, I don't hear UKIP or the Tories or Labour moaning loudly about TTIP....funny that.

  8. "I'm a bit tired of this "From my point of view what you want is inconsistent, therefore I deny you the right to want that" attitude."

    Let's be fair, the Yes side does that as much as anyone. I've lost count of how many times I've been told that there's some hypocrisy in conceiving of Scotland as a distinct nation and voting No - I expect we'll be reminded of that nonsense repeatedly when we play England in a couple of weeks.

    People voted the way they did for a variety of different reasons so I don't really see the point in these "you voted Yes/No so you also believe x,y,z" style arguments.

    1. I think it was more the jaw-dropping disconnect between a No vote and the singing of "but we can still rise now and be a nation again" that was being pointed out there.

    2. It gets said on a regular basis outside of Flower of Scotland. It seems to be beyond some of us to accept that it's possible for intelligent, reasonable people to weigh up a complex political issue and come to a different opinion to our own. Whatever shape Scotland takes that's probably not the best principle to adopt in a democracy.

    3. "I think it was more the jaw-dropping disconnect between a No vote and the singing of "but we can still rise now and be a nation again" that was being pointed out there."

      It's a song. I also sing Christmas Carols despite being an Atheist, and have even been known to sing 'I'm a little Teapot' to my son even though I'm not made of pottery.

      Seriously. It's a song.

    4. Yes, but if the words of the song didn't matter, we'd all be singing 'O Canada' or whatever. The way people belt out Flower of Scotland, I get the impression that they think those words mean something.

    5. Given the lyrics of 'Swing Home Sweet Chariot' and 'Vindaloo', I'm going to go ahead and disagree with you there.

      It's a tribal chant. The lyrics could be 'ooga booga' for as much difference as it would make (let's face it, Vindaloo isn't far off).

      It's all about making yourselves feel different because someone drew an invisible line on a map. Hopefully we'll grow out of that as a species, but I doubt anyone here will live long enough to see that happen.
      I'm sure that in a few centuries we'll have 'Wings over Mars', bemoaning the plight of the plucky colonists ground under the corrupt boot-heel of Old Earth...

    6. Hmmm. I suspect that in a few centuries, our descendants will put your comments here in a file marked : "This is what the notorious 'Scottish Cringe' looked like. Embarrassing, isn't it? Luckily, we got over it eventually, and the 45% Yes vote was a big step along the way..."

    7. Ah, the 'not a real Scot' argument. Presumably the same reason I shouldn't sing Corries songs from the 60s. Not Scottish enough! Sees people as basically the same! Doesn't define himself by a line drawn on a map three centuries ago!

      If moving beyond petty tribalism is 'cringe' in your eyes, I can see why you're a Nationalist.

      I like to read things I disagree with because that's how you learn stuff. Sometimes you even learn things that change your mind. But I also shouldn't talk to fanatics. Good luck with the echo chamber.

  9. When people hold inconsistent beliefs, it makes you question whether they really believe in the principles they claim to. For example, Scottish nationalists being pro-EU makes me question whether they truly believe in independence.

    Take some standard Yesser arguments:
    "Scotland subsidises the UK"
    "Laws that Scotland doesn't vote for are forced on it by English/Welsh/NI MPs"
    "Decisions about Scotland should be made in Scotland"
    "UK is undemocratic"

    All this charges can be made about a Scottish states' relationship with the EU.

    Until the Yes side accept that for Scotland to be independent it has to be outside the EU, I can't really have much respect for them. Which is a shame as I am a supporter of genuine Scottish independence.

    1. All you've really demonstrated here is that people who engage in populist, identity driven blame politics tend to use the exact same arguments irrespective of the circumstances.

      Both issues (Scottish independence and leaving the EU) act as a convenient way for activists to mobilise people through blame. In the Scottish nationalist case (which I distinguish from your ordinary Yes voter as not all Yes voters are Scottish nationalists) the root cause of most of society's problems is Westminster. They spin a narrative about Scottish resources being exploited and posit that by simply removing this damaging foreign influence from our lives our situation will improve through addition by subtraction. UKIP do an identical thing with the EU - albeit the argument in the EU case is about 50 times more ridiculous because our EU budget contribution is less than 1% of GDP.

      Both arguments are more or less complete nonsense, built on a grain of truth and exaggerated to the point of absurdity by people who have a stake in mobilising others around populist sentiments. None of which is to say that reasonable people can't support either independence for Scotland or leaving the EU for simple practical reasons. The Greens for example have a coherent platform for supporting independence which has literally nothing to do with nationalism. There are many good reasons to establish an independent Scotland, but they're not on your list here - which is the problem with attacking straw man arguments.

    2. I think there's quiet a few who think like you, Anon. Some did vote YES, some NO. Currently, however, Scotland is in the EU as part of the UK and we have no choice either way. The SNP want to stay in the EU, but there's no reason they would be Government for the next 50 years, who knows, an anti-EU party might well have done well in the 2021 Holyrood elections after Independence, then organised their own referendum on EU membership.

      I think even the SNP would have been forced to have one, as though a vote YES would not have been a mandate to change EU membership hence "stay in", it would not have been a firm mandate for the future to stay in either.

    3. Well since I'm neither a Brit nationalist nor a Scottish nationalist, I don't fit into your categories. I support the Yes campaign because I'm a European supranationalist. The EU will only work effectively if the current big member states are broken up. Germany wasn't always united and could write easily be broken up - the federal govt doesn't actually spend that much of govt spending. The big problems are France and England.
      Well England out of the EU would help everyone to agree European English as a common language and to integrate without optouts.
      I do actually see Scotland as too wee, but then so is the UK. The international environment is moving past nation states to economic blocks like India, China, USA, Russia - we need to be part of something bigger.
      But for Scottish nationalists the EU gives two very important things: it makes Scotland more viable and it doesn't interfere as much as the UK does. Independence isn't independence but it's a hell of a lot better than servitude in the UK.

  10. On the EU, there are two extremes: integration and separation. The pace of European integration has been staggering. We are all stuck on a train. The journey has, on the whole, been a good one but it turns out that for a while now the drivers havent been paying attention. They are lounging about shaking hands, posing for photos, signing this treaty and that, watching in denial as the train insidiously picks up speed, waiting to see who blinks first. If these drivers are not given a hard kick up the arse soon, it will end badly.
    The other extreme, a fragmented Europe with various ad hoc competing alliances, well... we all know how that works, outbreaks of peace between bloody wars over the centuries. Check your history: Europeans have a particularly poor track record for loving thy neighbour. Not even Farage wants us back in 1914.
    So we need balance. And it is precisely in order to save this peace-maintaintaining, wealth-creating common market, and to keep Scotland part of it, that we need to slam the brakes on this train before this unsustainable borg-like centralisation reaches such a tipping point that it precipitates a mass populist revolt and subsequent fragmentation of Europe (and God help us all if that happens). Id vote monster raving loony if i thought it would keep Europe sustainable long term.
    But getting back to iScotland, OK so we'd benefit from twice the MEP representation we currently have going by current apportionment levels but our biggest market, IN or OUT, will always be England.


    1. We need the EU to break up. It's a confederation and as the USA experience shows us, federations are more stable. When the EU is gone, a new core federal European state will quickly be created (probably northern European) and it's gravity will bring back those members of the old EU.
      As the saying goes, you don't know what you've got till it's gone.

  11. A lot of commentators write off UKIP's chances in Scotland but I wouldn't be too sure. I think they may well take one seat, perhaps even two. They may of course also help to split both the conservative and the labour vote, helping the chances of the SNP.

    1. UKIP are polling 5% at best in Scotland. That won't win any seats unless it is weirdly concentrated in any one constituency (and there's no evidence to say it is). With that sort of support they will be struggling to win a list seat in the 2016 Scottish election, never mind 2015.

    2. UKIP could take 1 seat or perhaps 2 where?! Please feel free to point out a constituency in Scotland that you feel could vote in a UKIP MP.

    3. Agree, there is essentially zero chance of UKIP getting an MP in Scotland unless there's a massive swing. Even the Tories struggle to get MPs in Scotland because of first past the post.

    4. That hit a nerve! The thing is that with UKIP having opposed Indy, I think there's a natural antipathy to the UKIP amongst us. But having seen postings from UKIP supporters against Indy, a fair few would have liked to scrap Holyrood completely, or at least reduce it to "Devo-Simple".

      I've talked to a good few people who are against Holyrood, but their main reason is too many politicians - a view I saw expressed by people asked their view about regionalisation in England too. This means by the way that YES in future could suggest to them that to get rid of too many politicians vote YES, but meanwhile it's a body of people to draw on for support, as is EU not really opposed by any other party in Scotland, and immigration.

      They did say they would target Tory seats and heartland Labour seats in Scotland so not too much threat to the SNP. Who knows, in the event they might hit the spot, as people turn against Labour and Conservative in these heartland Labour ' Conservative seats, don't want the SNP, so vote UKIP?

      That would be UKIP's campaign strategy anyway.

    5. Just to add, UKIP clearly want to get as many seats in the UK as possible. But they want to have the balance of power, and they know the SNP won't go into coalition, probably not even with Labour. Their secondary strategy therefore is to reduce the number of seats both Labour and the Conservatives have all over the UK, to deny either party an overall majority.

      For this purpose they may well be happy if their efforts actually help the SNP to get seats that otherwise would go to Labour (or less likely, Tory).

      That would be my Farage-like strategy!

    6. Hit a nerve?!

      Suggesting UKIP won't win a seat in Scotland is just common sense. I notice you couldn't mention a constituency they have a chance in.
      Their target seats are all in England, and oddly enough are predominantly Tory.
      If they put ALL their effort in, they could perhaps raise their 1.7% of the vote in the one Tory seat in Scotland to around 10%, which MIGHT see them sneak into 4th spot.
      The Tories are non-existent and Labour are in meltdown, and UKIP are taking advantage of this by attracting around 4% of the vote.

      Name a constituency seat where they pose a credible threat, and we might start taking your claim seriously.

  12. Great work James.

    Great news for the SNP and more dire news for the laughably Scottish liebour .


  13. Boab, my posting(s) were long enough as it is. As for constituencies they were thinking of targetting in Scotland, they were mostly listed in the Scotsman a month back, I checked them through electoral calculus on the then current poll ratings for SNP v Labour / Tory, and most of them were possibles.

    Mundell's seat is one, to find out the others just put the current standings into EC and you can see for yourself where the Conservative vote is closer to the Labour than the SNP one is. I think Newton Mearns is one. Murphy's another. They were also going to target Aberdeenshire, but that would have been more for publicity than any chance.

    People write off UKIP at their peril. They're becoming more sensible these days.

    1. UKIP won all of 637 votes (or 1.4% of the vote) in the Mundell constituency in 2010. It's absolute fantasy to suggest they could win that in 2015. The best they could do is to eat into Mundell's vote enough to give one of the other parties (most likely Labour) a chance.

    2. Sensible you say? You cite the Electoral Calculus site, which gives UKIP a 0.1% chance of winning Mundell's seat. So I have no earthly idea where you looked at the site and considered it a 'possible'.
      Actually I do, but it's pretty stupid.
      Newton Mearns isn't even a constituency seat. Newton Mearns is within another you mention; Murphy's one funnily enough, Renfrewshire East. EC predicts with current polls UKIP will come a distant 5th there.
      Good work!

    3. This comment has been removed by the author.

    4. James, while you're right that UKIP isn't a serious contender in Mundell's seat, you're mistaken in thinking that Labour is the challenger The current state of the parties according to Electoral Calculus gives Labour a very low chance of winning that seat, and actually puts the SNP as favourites over the Tories. It's a mistake to look at the second-placed party in 2010 for any seat and assume that party is now the credible challenger.

      We're going to give Mundell's seat our best shot. I'm torn about UKIP. If they did steal some Tory and Labour/unionist vote it would help us, but to be honest I think I'd rather see Mundell hold the seat than think I was living among people who were prepared to vote for UKIP.

      Honestly, given how FPTP works, the very idea that UKIP could take a Westminster seat in Scotland is delusional.

    5. Boab, what is pretty stupid is that you've totally ignored that UKIP got just 0.7% of the 2010 vote in Scotland, whereas the poll above I presume you read (did you ?) showed UKIP 5.9% (+2.0), and Liberal Democrats 4.3% (-1.0).

      From EC the LibDems at that % lose even Carmichael. But with just 5% they keep him. UKIP have 5.9% according to this poll, and if they poll just that and concentrate that in 1 or 2 constituencies, they could indeed take 1 or 2 seats. In fact, Mundell is one target. Yes, for publicity too, removing Scotland's last Tory.

      James says UKIP got 637 votes with 1.4%. Mathematically that's 5,000 votes with 11% from the poll. But with that level of support it would make them more credible, and they could pick up more - a protest vote if you like.

      Dismissing their chances totally in Scotland is - absolute fantasy.

    6. You can't compare the Lib Dems to UKIP. If the Lib Dems were a new party polling the numbers they're getting they wouldn't come anywhere near winning a seat. The only reason they stand to win seats is that they've built up strongholds over many years in which the local electorate trusts them and doesn't judge them on what the national party does.

      Carmichael's constituency has been Lib Dem/Liberal since 1950. You have people there in their 60s and 70s who have voted for them their entire life. The rest of the Liberal Democrats could poll 0% of the vote nationally and Carmichael would still have a reasonable chance of winning his seat. It's just a completely different local area that is effectively playing by different rules. UKIP can hardly recreate that kind of effect overnight.

    7. Yesindyref2, what is actually "pretty stupid" (since you used that term) is the idea that UKIP could somehow, magically, get all its 6% (tops) of the vote concentrated into one or two constituencies. How, for goodness sake?

      Are we to imagine that all their supporters are going to agree to some sort of house-swapping deal with supporters of other parties living in the chosen constituencies? Am I going to be approached by a kipper from over the border in Lanarkshire to switch places? Or is there some magical way UKIP can get large numbers of people in these constituencies to support them even though nobody else will? Brain transplants, maybe?

      As Hartpolzer said, concentrating a party's vote in a stronghold isn't something that happens overnight. It happens over many decades, often tied to a particularly charismatic or effective MP for that seat getting the "we always vote LibDem" habit ingrained.

      It's more likely to be a feature of a once-strong party on the decline, than a new up-and-coming party. The LibDems are a perfect example. The tide goes out, but it leaves rock pools behind. The incoming tide doesn't fill these early though.

      UKIP support in Scotland, such as it is, isn't concentrated in any particular constituency. On Electoral Calculus their best prospect has a 0.5% chance of them winning. That's Orkney and Shetland, believe it or not. Apart from that there are a couple on 0.2% chance and a handful more (including Mundell's seat) on 0.1% chance. The rest on zero. I simply can't imagine the sort of breakthrough that could see them getting a FPTP seat in Scotland.

    8. Or to put it more simply. I live in Tweeddale, in Mundell's constituency. The very idea that there is anything at all UKIP could do or say to induce perhaps a third of my friends and neighbours to vote for them is ludicrous.

      They don't have a party machine here at all. I know of precisely one person who might leaflet for them, in a geographically large constituency. But even if they bussed in activists from England (supposing they could spare them), there is nothing they could say or do that would get sufficient numbers of voters round here to vote for them. It ain't gonna happen.

    9. "Dismissing their chances totally in Scotland is - absolute fantasy."
      "But with just 5% they keep him. UKIP have 5.9% according to this poll, and if they poll just that and concentrate that in 1 or 2 constituencies..."

      You've lost the plot lad!

    10. Rolfe, "pretty stupid" was used by Boab I just quoted it back to him. a trick I've been doing a lot of years in forums, especially when replying over the last 3 years btl to Unionists who have no sensible argument, just insults.

      Anyway, I have looked at EC - a lot over the last few weeks, and just took a quick stroll again through the detail pages for Scotland. In 32 of the 59 seats there was no UKIP candidate in 2010, but with their poll % of 4.02% overall in Scotland, they still assign the likes of 2.96%, 2.8%, 3.02% and even 4% for Gordon, in seats they had no candidate in 1970. Seems wrong to me.

      So, basically, already up to (or more) double that 5.7% of the Panelbase poll over the 27 seats they actually had a candidate in before, which makes it 11.4%, and then up it a bit in some of those constituencies - even before they concentrate their efforts there.

      In 1966 the SNP got just 5.0% of the vote in Scotland, yet just one year later overturning a 72% Labour vote in a by-election, guess who won the seat?

    11. Very possibly Boab, but where's your sensible detailed rebuttal of my arguments? They appear to have just got - lost.

      Rolfe - 5.9% doubling to 11.8%.

    12. yesindyref2 : I think the main point has already been covered - it's simply not possible for any party to choose to concentrate its support in certain geographical areas by sheer force of will. It can concentrate its efforts, but that's not the same thing.

    13. James Kelly - it's pretty obvious what I meant, and that's not moving statistics incorrectly spread evenly around the map as I pointed out, all into 1 or 2 places.

      Ah well, I give up.

    14. I'm sorry, but if you didn't mean what I thought you meant, then your point is not obvious at all.

    15. Check out which is from EC's poll of 4% UKIP (not current 5.9%), and check out what they've done with that increase from 0.7% to 4%. They've spaced it fairly evenly over all 59 constituencies rather than the 28 where UKIP actually stood a candidate.

      And even there it's on an arbitrary fairly flat numeric percentage basis rather than relational, so one constituency they have going from 0.73% to 3.68% which is fine, but Orkney and Shetland they have going from 6.32% to 9.49%. Near the same flat percentage, but nothing like a relative percentage (which would have made it the "silly" figure of 36%, now 51% at 5.9% overall for Scotland).

      To make the point as clearly as I can, UKIP support has gone from 0.7% in the 2010 General Election, to 5.9% in the panelbase poll - that's 8.5 times as much, but nobody knows where that extra support is, as polling is overall clearly, not per each one of the 59 constituencies individually.

      It might have doubled in one constituency, but gone up 20 times in another. Nobody knows, and nobody should presume anything, including that support for UKIP won't go over 5.9%. In the EU elections they got 10.46% and yeah yeah I've heard it all before, that's the EU, Westminster is different.

      But is it? The whole UK potentially has new politics, and no more so, than Scotland.

    16. "In the EU elections they got 10.46% and yeah yeah I've heard it all before, that's the EU, Westminster is different.

      But is it?"

      Yup. That was only possible because of the combination of an ultra-low turnout and the election's specific focus on Europe. Neither of those factors are going to be replicated in any other contest, and even if they were, 10% of the vote STILL wouldn't be enough for UKIP to win a Scottish seat under first-past-the-post.

    17. You might want to look at this for the FPTP system history in Scotland, page 13, compare the first table with percentage votes, against the second with number of seats. 1931 was a good year for the Libs for instance, 9.4% but 7 seats:

    18. We've already covered the LibDems, and how invalid that line of reasoning is. A rising tide doesn't distribute the water in the same way as a receding tide.

      The LibDems have worked themselves into a small number of constituencies where they have strong traditional support going back many decades, a history of running the local council, and a strong bank of activists and councillors to run local campaigns. In that way they have managed to cling on to these parliamentary seats even as their support has drained away in other places. You can't take their statistics and apply them to the new kids on the block who have no such history or position in local government or activist base.

      Name any seat you think UKIP might take in Scotland and someone from that constituency will be along to explain how it's not going to happen. Starting with my own constituency, currently held by David Mundell, where it is utter fantasy to imagine that UKIP can come out ahead of all the established parties.

      We canvass, we know what's going on, and we know how strong the UKIP support isn't. There is literally nothing they cam possibly do, on the doorsteps or anywhere else, to convert that many people round here in the next six months.

    19. For example, the LibDem candidate in 2010 who came third was a local councillor, and the daughter of David Steel to boot. She had all the LibDem councillors working for her as well as the local activists - who are very loyal to the party.

      That's the way the LibDems get votes. She was a well-known local face from an extremely well-known local political dynasty, with a track record and established support. That got them 20% of the vote, enough to come third.

      There is no way UKIP can replicate even that in 2015. And realistically any party is going to need over 30% of the vote to take that seat, even with the other parties splitting the remaining vote. It's fantasy-land.

    20. Rolfe, I can argue with you all till the cows come home, at an unreported 93% of the poll, and fortunately nobody asked me a simple question: "how likely do you think it is they get one seat, let alone two?", so I can retire to a safe distance.

      In the UK as a whole I forget the figure exactly but it's something like 7 seats UKIP are expected to take, and I've even seen one projection which gives them 0 seats, yet people are still talking about UKIP being the Kingmakers which implies well over 20, serious political pundits too.

      It's just goes to show that statistics and probability aren't everything, as the dinosaurs probably found to their cost with an extinction event. As long as strategists keep an open mind, that's the important thing.

      Good luck with Mundell, I hesitate to add that the chances are very good! :-)


    Theres that dastardly EU milking the UK again.....agreeing to offset it against the rebate....

    1. The rebate was always going to happen. I note with vast amusement Cammie and Osbrowne have tried to wriggle out answering that specific point directly.

      The incompetent fop and Osbrowne were always going to spin it as a 'victory' because as we all know by now there is NOBODY in politics more stupendously gullible than tory Eurosceptics as they get marched up the top of the hill by the twit Cameron with hilarious regularity. Doesn't matter how many times tory eurosceptics get taken for a fool by Cammie and Osbrowne's laughably transparent flounces and posturing, they just keep coming back for more. The fact is they want to be fooled as they simply cannot face up to the fact that Cameron is a pro-EU tory PM who would campaign to stay IN. All the flouncing and posturing will not change that basic truth.

      As James put it so amusingly..

      "That may have come about because of the recent spat over the bill of £1.7 billion that David "Colonel Mustard" Cameron was presented with by Brussels."

      I said at the time (and I was far from alone as it was bleeding obvious) the fact that the fop had such a hissy fit over the timing of the payment could mean only one thing. Surprise, surprise, the timing was always flexible.

      Of course Cameron and Osbrowne are still paying the £1.7bn. Spinning the timing and desperately adding in the rebate to try and fiddle the figures doesn't change that one jot. Going by past performance and their seemingly endless reserves of gullibility though it should keep most tory eurosceptics onside.

      Till the Rochester by-election.

      Then it's headless chicken mode for the tories once again and the flouncing and posturing will become even more laugh out loud funny as Cameron repises his John Major impersonation.

  15. I would suggest that it is impossible for UKIP to win a seat in Scotland in 2015. They could sap votes away from the Tory hardliners, but I don't think we have many. I'm from a Conservative heartland in Scotland and the Tories are pretty old school landowners (young and old who all love Ruth Davidson) and retired English people from the South East. No hardliners there. Scotland probably has the last bastions of "moderate" Conservatism in Britain.

    Where UKIP might take a seat is in the regional votes in 2016. Maybe in Argyll or something where all the English folk live (just being honest). I think UKIP will lose momentum by then though as they drown in an ocean of gaffs and Godfrey Bloom style disasters.

  16. After the independence vote there was a period of depression with coming so close at 45%. Got over the depression realizing that 45% of Scots stood on their own two feet proclaiming we are not too wee, we are not too poor and we are not too thick.

    I often reflect on the old phrase that the journey to China begins with a single step.

    Anyways the road to independence begins with the first few steps and on reflection the SNP and indie movement moved a long long ways in the last twenty years, maybe too fast for the Nation and the UK as a whole to catch up to and embrace.

    Having said that, at first I was deliberately skeptical of the SNP leads for Westminster because I did not want to be let down again!!!

    All I can say now is that it looks like there is going to be a major earthquake in Scotland and Westminster next May.

    Very encouraged by all these blog articles, thank you James.

    Oh, my whole family has now joined the SNP...still waiting on their member cards.....must be a long backlog.

    1. I got a routine email apologising profusely and saying it will take till 21st November to get all the new members packs out. It also said this shouldn't affect members being able to attend anything they were planning to attend. (I have about three membership cards accumulated over the years. Maybe I should put two of them on eBay...)

  17. It's absolutely essential to manage expectations for May. We don't want a breakthrough to be spun as a defeat.

    1. That's a point that worries me too. Look at the 2012 local elections. Great result, most votes, most councillors, but spun by the media as a disaster because a lot of people shouted a lot about winning Glasgow.

      If we got 20 or 25 seats in would be a fantastic result. There's a danger it too could be spun as poor if there's been a lot of talk about 40 or 50.

    2. Absolutely, I had the 2012 Local elections and the 2014 European Elections in mind when I made my comment. Some people may say I'm pessimistic but I think that can help sometimes in politics. Doubling our number of mps to beat our previous record of 11 would be a huge breakthrough under FFTP, more than 20 would be a minor miracle. We must campaign as if we have an 18 point deficit rather than an 18 point lead

    3. To be contrary yet again, I don't have the slightest problem myself with the expectation being for 54 seats, the actuality being 30 seats or even 20 seats, and the media trying to spin it as a disaster, as I'd be too busy laughing my head off to care.

      On the other hand if the other side has the expectation that the SNP could get 54 seats they'll be in such a panic in their breasties they'll make mistake after mistake and be totally demoralised. Oh, it's already started.

  18. Hey yesindyref2 would you like to bet £50 at 2-to-1 that UKIP will take any seats in Scotland?

    That is if UKIP take any number of Scottish seats I'll give you £100 and if they take 0 seats you'll give me £50?