Saturday, November 29, 2014

What impact (if any) will the Smith report have on the SNP's enormous opinion poll lead?

Since it became clear in the immediate post-referendum period that the SNP had racked up a huge and unprecedented lead in Westminster voting intentions, there have been two future events we've been looking ahead to which have the potential to change things.  One is the TV leaders' debates (if they go ahead, and especially if they go ahead in the proposed rigged format).  And the other is the moment we've just arrived at - the publication of the Smith recommendations.  Predictably, the last 48 hours have seen a determined and coordinated effort between unionist parties and the media to use Smith to change the public's perception that they were conned by the No campaign.  We've been treated to a glossy Hollywood production which has taken the pathetic re-hash of the Calman proposals and somehow presented it as "radical" and "far-reaching". Will this gain any traction?  There were one or two worrying signs in the vox pops on Scotland 2014 the other night that people had indeed been hoodwinked - in particular, there was one young woman who was almost word-perfect as she unwittingly read from the planned script of "oh, we're so grateful for these SURPRISE new powers, now let's all get back in our box".  I almost expected her to say "I never thought in my wildest dreams that we'd get control of ROAD SIGNS!"

However, we all know that vox pops can be unrepresentative, so what we really need is hard polling evidence.  As of this moment (late afternoon on Saturday), all we have to go on is subsample information from two GB-wide polls, both of which were conducted on Wednesday and Thursday, meaning that only part of the fieldwork took place after the Smith announcement (although of course quite a bit had been leaked even by Wednesday morning).  One was a YouGov poll, in which the Scottish subsample had the SNP in a 44% to 23% lead over Labour.  That's within the normal range of the last few weeks, albeit with a slightly higher-than-average SNP lead.  By complete contrast, the Scottish subsample from the poll conducted by Populus had Labour ahead of the SNP by a wafer-thin 32% to 30% margin.  But again, that's within the normal range for Populus, who are the one and only firm to have produced subsamples putting Labour ahead of the SNP since the referendum.  I'm losing track, but I think this may be the fifth time they've done it (it's at least the fourth).  To put in perspective just how far out of line Populus are with the others, YouGov conduct five polls every week, and yet in the two-and-a-bit months since the referendum they've failed to produce a single Scottish subsample showing anything other than an SNP lead.

So as things stand there's no evidence of any change in public opinion yet, but we'll have to see if that still holds true when the Sunday polls (in particular the regular YouGov poll for the Sunday Times) are published.

*  *  *

Two more hammerblows for the Kenny Farquharson/Murdo Fraser worldview of "Scottish public opinion is more or less the same as public opinion in the rest of the UK".  Firstly, a ComRes poll reveals a huge disparity between Scottish and UK voting intentions for David Cameron's proposed in/out referendum on Europe -

If a referendum were held tomorrow on whether or not the UK should stay in or leave the European Union, how would you vote?

Respondents in Scotland -

Remain in the EU : 55%
Leave the EU : 45%

Respondents throughout Britain -

Remain in the EU : 40%
Leave the EU : 60%

The scenario of Scotland becoming independent over the next few years in order to avoid being forced out of the EU against its will becomes ever more plausible.

Secondly, a bombshell YouGov poll reveals that Scottish respondents are considerably more likely to believe that Jesus would want the railways to be taken back into public ownership...

Percentage who think Jesus would support the renationalisation of the railways :

London : 35%
South excluding London : 38%
Wales and English Midlands : 38%
North of England : 37%
Scotland : 44%

You see, Murdo?  Even Jesus is more left-wing in Scotland.

*  *  *


Today's update of the Poll of Polls is based on just five Scottish subsamples from GB-wide polls (four from YouGov and one from Populus), and therefore should be treated with even more caution than usual.

Scottish voting intentions for the May 2015 UK general election :

SNP 38.6% (-4.0)
Labour 27.6% (+0.8)
Conservatives 19.6% (+1.6)
Liberal Democrats 5.2% (-0.3)
Greens 4.4% (+0.8)
UKIP 3.6% (+0.6)

(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.)


  1. Regardless, I'm not liking the look of what the poll of polls has been showing recently. I'm keeping a line graph of the results running and the SNP looks like their support has been slipping away for a month now. :(

    1. Well, I don't know about the last month, but pay no attention (or very limited attention) to the trend suggested by this update. Having only five polls in the sample means that the Populus poll has a big skewing effect.

    2. To be fair the Ipsos Mori showing the SNP with a 29-point lead was bound to lead to disappointment in successive polls. But I know what you mean, I'm slightly concerned the media frenzy over these placebo powers could do real damage to the party's lead.

  2. But will that damage - if it occurs at all - be permanent? The media gloss will wear off eventually as the hard reality bites. We shall have to wait and see....

  3. Following the Smith commission, I would expect the lead between the SNP and Labour to narrow. The debate is going to move away from constitutional reform. The closer we get to the election, the more the electorate will realise that the most important thing is to kick the Tories out. This will make voters go back to their natural home and vote Labour in mass. Same as it happened in 2010 when the SNP was expecting to do well and in the end Labour won a landslide.

    Devo max or whatever further powers the SNP propose will take a back seat. In fact, Labour has a 9% lead over the Tories in marginal seats in England according to recent Ashcroft polls. As long as Labour holds up well in Scotland, Labour will win a majority. Which means the SNP will be irrelevant in Westminster.

    You folks might attach a lot of relevance to polls. However I remember the poll frenzy in the final two weeks of the referendum. Despite not a lot of polls showing a Yes lead, James insisted in calling most polls a ‘deadheat’. In the end, voters endorsed the union by a landslide. A lot of nationalists are saying that the result was close but it wasn’t, the No vote won by more than 10 points. When Labour beat the Tories in 1997 and 2001 by 10 points it was called a landslide. Sames as then, be prepared for the polls to disappoint you.

    In fact, polls are already narrowing. It wasn’t that long ago that James was posting about this unbelievable IPSOS-Mori polls where the SNP were on 52% and nearly 30 points ahead. His lpoll of polls on the 25/11 puts the SNP on 42% and Labour on 26%, that’s a 16 point gap. So effectively, the gap has halved a matter of a month. If the trend continues, Labour will be on the lead by January/February. Actually, his poll of polls today puts the SNP under 40% for the first time and Labour only 11 points away. The gap is narrowing and fast.

    Once Scottish Labour has an elected leader the trend will continue. Although I personally don’t like Jim Murphy and a lot of voters don’t – he does have a lot of charisma and is a fighter. He is a strong Labour figure and knows how to displace the SNP argument. In fact, his energy during the 100 streets campaign was a key to the No vote winning the referendum.

    The SNP has a problem which is mainly that there is not a lot of SNP/Labour or SNP/LD marginals. Under a FPTP system that means the SNP have a big mountain to climb should they want any seats. In fact, the SNP is in trouble on some of the seats it currently holds. Minus Dundee East, all of the constituencies held by the SNP voted No, some of them voted No with a massive 60% of votes. Under that scenario, Pete Wishart may be in trouble in Perth and North Perthshire. Aberdeenshire also voted No even though it's meant to be the SNPs heartland, so under that basis Banff and Buchan is also vulnerable and on both of these seats we could be looking at Tory gains. Also we’ve got to remember the No vote also won unexpectedly in the Western Isles, given that Na h-Eileanan an Iar is a Westminster SNP/Labour marginal then the SNP could also be in trouble here. So we could be looking at the SNP loosing three of the six seats they currently hold – two of them to the Tories, one of them to Labour.

    I can’t see the SNP winning many seats to the Libdems. Although the Libdems will loose a lot of seats, we have to remember the Highlands normally vote based on personality, not parties – and that makes me think they’ll hold several of their seats there. With Danny Alexander even holding his – if he doesn’t, I am confident that Labour will be their biggest challengers. (In fact, Labour finished second in that seat in 2010!). No wonder Salmond will not contest it!

    1. (continuation)

      There has been a lot of hype about Labour heartlands (North Lanarkshire, West Dunbartonshire and Glasgow) voting Yes but this will not matter in the general election. Labour do have a very large majority on all seats in these areas so are unlikely to loose any seats. In fact, even in Glasgow South West (which contains Govan) Labour has a 14,671 vote majority. The SNP will not win in Glasgow East either as Margaret Curran is a very popular Labour politician and is well liked by her constituents. Labour will win 55%-60% of votes in Glasgow as glaswegians vote against the Tories.

      I will admit that with the Labour and unions scandal in Falkirk, Scottish Labour might be in trouble there and also in Dundee West. In fact, the most vulnerable seat for Labour in terms of their majority was Ochil & South Perthshire (where Lab have a majority of 5,187) however given voters in Perth & Kinross overwhelmingly rejected independence, I wouldn’t expect the SNP to do well there in 2015. Ochil & South Perthshire will be Labour hold.

      The vow and home rule have been delivered and as Martin Kettle says in The Guardian ( the SNP is being negative and just risking to set themselves adrift from ordinary people.

      In the end, once the polls narrow and Labour gains a lead – Labour will only loose a couple of seats to the SNP and make some gains from LD (and SNP in the Western Isles) whilst the SNP might make a couple of gains but will loose seats in areas which voted overwhelmingly against independence.

      This is my guess for the 2015 election:
      Aberdeen North - Lab Hold
      Aberdeen South - Lab Hold
      Airdrie & Shotts - Lab Hold
      Angus - SNP Hold
      Argyll & Bute - Con Gain
      Ayr, Carrick & Cumnock - Lab Hold
      Banff & Buchan - Con Gain
      Berwickshire, Roxburgh & Selkirk - Con Gain
      Caithness, Sutherland & Easter Ross - LD Hold
      Central Ayrshire - Lab Hold
      Coatbridge, Chryston & Bellshill - Lab Hold
      Cumbernauld, Kilsyth & Kirkintilloch East - Lab Hold
      Dumfries & Galloway - Lab Hold
      Dumfriesshire, Clydesdale & Tweeddale - Con Hold
      Dundee East - SNP Hold
      Dundee West - SNP Gain
      Dunfermline & West Fife - Lab Hold
      East Dunbartonshire - Lab Gain
      East Kilbride, Strathaven & Lesmahagow - Lab Hold
      East Lothian - Lab Hold
      East Renfrewshire - Lab Hold
      Edinburgh East - Lab Hold
      Edinburgh North & Leith - Lab Hold
      Edinburgh South - Lab Hold
      Edinburgh South West - Lab Hold
      Edinburgh West - Lab Gain
      Falkirk - SNP Gain
      Glasgow Central - Lab Hold
      Glasgow East - Lab Hold
      Glasgow North - Lab Hold
      Glasgow North East - Lab Hold
      Glasgow North West - Lab Hold
      Glasgow South - Lab Hold
      Glasgow South West - Lab Hold
      Glenrothes - Lab Hold
      Gordon - SNP Gain
      Inverclyde - Lab Hold
      Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch & Strathspey - Lab Gain
      Kilmarnock & Loudoun - Lab Hold
      Kirkcaldy & Cowdenbeath - Lab Hold
      Lanark & Hamilton East - Lab Hold
      Linlithgow & East Falkirk - Lab Hold
      Livingston - Lab Hold
      Midlothian - Lab Hold
      Moray- SNP Hold
      Motherwell & Wishaw - Lab Hold
      Na h-Eileanan an Iar - Lab Gain
      North Ayrshire & Arran - Lab Hold
      North East Fife - LD Hold
      Ochil & South Perthshire - Lab Hold
      Orkney & Shetland - LD Hold
      Paisley & Renfrewshire North - Lab Hold
      Paisley & Renfrewshire South - Lab Hold
      Perth & North Perthshire - Con Gain
      Ross, Skye & Lochaber - LD Hold
      Rutherglen & Hamilton West - Lab Hold
      Stirling - Lab Hold
      West Aberdeenshire & Kincardine - Con Gain
      West Dunbartonshire - Lab Hold

      Under the above scenario, Labour would get 43 seats, the SNP would get 6 seats, the Conservatives would get 6 seats and the Liberal Democrats would get 4 seats.

      Labour are going to do what they do best: stand up for Scotland and deliver for Scotland.

      Happy to help,

      P Charles

    2. What's next week's lottery results Charles?

      Good to see optimism anyway. Chin up and all that!

    3. If "P Charles" bet on those predictions and won, he/she would be better off at the cumulative odds than winning the lottery!

    4. Dear P. Charles

      thanks for your comment. It is always good to hear alternative arguments.

      However, in that spirit, can I suggest the following edits ?

      "Following the Smith commission, I would expect the lead between the SNP and Labour to narrow. The MSM is going to do the establishment bidding and endeavour to force the debate away from constitutional reform. The closer we get to the election, the more the electorate will be inundated with propaganda that the most important thing is to kick the Tories out. This has worked before to dupe voters back to their Labour in mass. It happened in 2010 when the SNP was expecting to do well and in the end Labour won a landslide.

      MSM will push Devo max (or whatever further powers) the SNP propose to take a back seat. In fact, Labour has a 9% lead over the Tories in marginal seats in England according to recent Ashcroft polls. But voters must remember that although historically Scotland habitually returned 40+ Labour MPs, it also sends members to Westminster from the other parties to offset them. The last time Scotland made any difference to give Labour a majority was 1974."


      If SNP (or Yes Scotland Alliance) cannot get the facts out there - people will be duped again.

      Hope this Helps


    5. I note even my edit was duped by your careful wording and left in the phrase "their Labour" well done. You are a consummate wordsmith.


    6. "It happened in 2010 when the SNP was expecting to do well and in the end Labour won a landslide."

      I'm not sure why. Labour went into 2010 with a very comfortable lead which was present well in advance of the election. The SNP have never been ahead of Labour in Westminster polls on average; there was a brief closure in 2009 but that's it. SNP ahead only happened from 2011 onwards. They've had the edge since and the widening gap make sense given the Labour-Tory iref coalition.

      With EVEL coming in, voting for anything other than SNP makes no obvious sense as it ends the concept of 'British' parties.

    7. "The closer we get to the election, the more the electorate will realise that the most important thing is to kick the Tories out."

      Hmmm. If you want to make that one fly, Anon, first of all you'll have to convince people that Labour are actually preferable to the Tories. As things stand, polls consistently show that Scots think Ed Miliband would make an EVEN WORSE Prime Minister than David Cameron. Why on Earth would they desert the SNP for as long as they hold that view?

      "In fact, polls are already narrowing. It wasn’t that long ago that James was posting about this unbelievable IPSOS-Mori polls where the SNP were on 52% and nearly 30 points ahead."

      Rubbish. Absolute complete and utter rubbish. By all means point me to a new Ipsos-Mori poll which shows that the 29-point gap is narrowed. In the meantime, stop trying to compare apples with oranges.

      "Actually, his poll of polls today puts the SNP under 40% for the first time"

      Rubbish. They've been below 40% before, on multiple occasions.

      "Despite not a lot of polls showing a Yes lead, James insisted in calling most polls a ‘deadheat’."

      Codswallop. If a poll was a statistical tie, I pointed out it was a statistical tie. Not all polls were statistical ties - but then again not all polls had No in the lead.

      But I do hope you feel better after that lengthy piece of propaganda strewn with basic factual errors.

    8. Oh, and I've just noticed you have the Western Isles down as a Labour gain.


    9. P Charles appears to be a 'looser' :)

  4. Deliver PFI backdoor privatisation, deliver for their millionaire ALEO/ PFI millionaire oligarchies, dump nuclear weapons in Scotland, pander to the tracking and private healthcare companies their parliamentarians hold shares in and give paid after dinner speeches to?

    Your idea of delivery for Scotland is different from mine. I'm a Libertarian Socialist/Marxist.

    Labour will not be the largest party in 2015, and, further to this, all evidence points to the SNP winning 30-40 seats in Westminster. I'd hedge bets on 28-32 seats, and the largest party in Scotland at Westminster.

    What confuses me is why Labour and Tories stand on separate platforms in Scotland, they are virtual clones. Perhaps why the SNP have over 92000 members. The Hydro held 12000 last week, double the number of Neo-Con New Labour members.

    Truth hurts, doesn't it.
    I'm an ex member of what is rapidly becoming an ex party, despite its unconditional support from the Scottish media almost in its entirety.

    People power, internet and social media are the Labour liars worst enemies.

    You are?

  5. Wow. You spent a lot of time writing all that guff. The SNP are going to get 6 MPs?

    The polls aren't narrowing at all. Whether they will now that the Smith commission is out, we'll have to wait and see. A couple of subsamples won't show that. A couple of weeks of them should do.

    Anyway, amusing to see a Labour fan optimistic for a change lol

    1. See....
      ...for a graph showing rolling average of the YouGov polls.

  6. NewLabour win the Western Isles? Dream on, your cloud catcher above your bed is obviously knackered.

  7. The Calman Commission had a huge impact on May 2011. Probably our best guide.

  8. The Sunday Herald just tweeted: "New poll shows most Scots want more powers than the Smith Commission provides" (20:58)

    We'll have to wait and see what the figures are.

    1. Quelle surprise that 'Calman returns' doesn't set the heather on fire.

  9. Since a large number of people are increasingly showing a growing disillusionment with our MSM they are accessing actual news from the ground via sources outwith ''The Establishment' control.

    'Storm is coming!' Hundreds demand independence at Scottish Parliament

    New United 45plus Rally, Edinburgh


    It's our's to support.

  11. P Charles,

    Although I'd be tempted to contest a number of those predictions, than one that I see as most unlikely is the prediction for Inverness. It seems to me that most people in the region see the SNP as the best bet to get rid of Alexander than Labour.

    As for the Western Isles, I had bet on them as the region with the highest Yes vote, and look what happened. I wouldn't completely rule out a Labour gain for fear of looking silly in six months time.

    Personally, I'd give the Tories a better chance of winning Dumfries and Galloway than Argyll and Bute, but that would depend on a sizable Labour collapse, which is clearly the opposite of what you're predicting.

  12. "As for the Western Isles, I had bet on them as the region with the highest Yes vote, and look what happened. I wouldn't completely rule out a Labour gain for fear of looking silly in six months time."

    I'm quite happy to take that risk. There isn't a cat in hell's chance of Labour gaining the Western Isles unless they can somehow dent Angus MacNeil's personal popularity.

  13. @P Charles.
    The same old narrative about defeating the Tories may not work this time.

    1. There will be a strong anti 'Red Tory' campaign by many new activists.

    2. Ed Miliband is weak and has no Scottish connection, unlike Blair or Brown.

    3. It will soon sink in 30% of taxes and 20% of benefits isn't home rule.

    4. The Tories may end up proposing further devolution, so Scotland would end up with less powers under Labour. A nice tactic to hold back Labour votes in Scotland.

    5. This would go alongside EVEL - a vote winner in England, that could see UKIP voters return to the Tories. Many are English nationalists at heart.
    If they really want to get elected again, they would propose an English Parliament and real federalism.

    Plenty of possibilities could play out .. If I was Labour I would be very nervous about assuming the Scots will just fall into line.. Nothing lasts forever.

  14. YouGov tables for today's poll are up. Scottish sub-sample is SNP 44, Labour 31, Tory 16.

    Pretty consistent with their previous findings, maybe Labour a little higher but a fairly typical gap between SNP and Labour. Nothing outside the (theoretical) margin of error.

    Is Ed Miliband doing well or badly? 13-83 in Scotland, 17-73 overall.

    Interesting question which could be taken as a VI proxy is "who do you think best represents people from your social class": Labour 28, Tory 12, UKIP 7, LD 6 - None 42 (SNP not offered as an option). Labour would consistently have been much higher for that in Scotland in the past. This despite a significantly higher % of Scots (57) describing themselves as working class than the whole sample (48).

    Scots are much more pessimistic about the economy, which can't help Tories or Lib Dems (16-54 v 24-41). Also much more sceptical about coalition economic management (28-65 v 41-48).