Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Despair for Jim Murphy as early straws in the wind suggest his coronation has failed to dent the SNP's enormous opinion poll lead

Jackanory Jim's investiture as the High Priest of Patriotism was, according to his most devoted admirers (many of them southern Tories), supposed to produce some kind of "honeymoon effect" for Scottish Labour in the opinion polls.  To be fair, the jury is still out on whether that will prove to be the case, because we only have very limited evidence to go on so far.  But, for what it's worth, that early evidence provides no encouragement at all for followers of the Church of the Crate.

The first GB-wide poll to have been entirely conducted in the Murphy Era has just been published by YouGov, and the Scottish subsample shows the SNP ahead of Labour by 43% to 26%.  If anything, that's a tad higher than the type of lead that has been typical over the last three months.

We also have two subsamples from polls that were partly conducted after the Coming of the Crate-Meister.  Populus have the SNP ahead by 36% to 28%, which as you'll remember from the song-and-dance Mike Smithson made about the Populus aggregate for the month of November, is significantly higher than the average SNP lead shown by that firm of late.  ComRes also have the SNP on 36% - but they have Labour on an abysmally low 21%.

Things may yet get better for the Irn-Bru Icon - but then they sure as hell can't get much worse.

On a Britain-wide basis, the YouGov poll puts the SNP and Plaid Cymru just 1% behind the Liberal Democrats for the fourth time in the last couple of weeks.  The Greens have opened up a 2% lead over the Lib Dems for the first time in a YouGov poll, and are now just 6% behind UKIP. 

Britain-wide voting intentions (YouGov, 14th-15th December) :

Labour 34% (+2)
Conservatives 32% (n/c)
UKIP 14% (-2)
Greens 8% (+1)
Liberal Democrats 6% (-1)
SNP/Plaid Cymru 5% (+1)
BNP 1% (+1)

Nicola Sturgeon, Leanne Wood and Natalie Bennett certainly couldn't have chosen a better moment to join forces to demand inclusion in the TV leaders' debates.


  1. Murphy is good on political tactics but we know too much now to be easily fooled. The five things he trumpeted he was going to do for Scotland is one such tactic.
    It's designed to get people talking about would he won't he, could he couldn't he do these things.
    This is irrelevant and diverts from the simple answer about Murphy and Labour intentions for Scotland. They voted against all powers for Scotland, and with a No vote, voted for the absolute minimum financial powers for Scotland.
    Everything boils down to getting control of Scotland, and they didn't care what happened to the voters along the way.

  2. I don't think Labour will gain much more, if they do, it'll be at the expense of tory party in scotland

    We had one such person on here the other day, speaking about how he will now vote Labour to keep the SNP out....but he is a Tory.

    I can't see how any self-confessed SNP voter would go back to Labour after what they've been through in order to get to the SNP...Labour voters are loyal, but once you've scorned them, well, there is no way back, the only way for Labour to gain votes is to get them from the sizeable Conservative vote in Scotland.

    As Wendy says, bring it on.

  3. "Nicola Sturgeon, Leanne Wood and Natalie Bennett certainly couldn't have chosen a better moment to join forces to demand inclusion in the TV leaders' debates."

    I would certainly welcome Natalie Bennett getting more exposure in debates. She has on a number of occasions recently made the completely bizzare claim that uncontrolled that immigration has no impact on public services such as health, education, housing, etc.

    People need to be aware of her loony views!

    1. Are those views so loony? I don't think so.

      It is only the British Media that make these claims. Where is the proof? Sorry, but anecdotes of single cases don't cut it! And so often when you read the detail its only what someone has claimed they are going to do!

    2. Well if you live in an area affected, which I do, you do not need media stories to convince you as you see it every day. Schools over-subscribed, problems getting into the GP surgery, pressure on housing, etc.

      It is not some great right-wing conspiracy. Last year there was net immigration of 247,000. When Blair allowed free movement from the accession countries without any interim controls (which were imposed in virtually every other EU country) the Government said that only 10,000 would come whereas over 1 million did.

      Do you honestly think that an extra 1 million people entering the country, over twice the size of Edinburgh, has no impact on public services?

    3. Ms Bennet's statement about the effect of immigration agrees with government statistics on the subject which the loonie right press tend to bury on page 17, while front-paging a story about one Romanian immigrant who appears to have amassed enough in benefits over the last few months to build himself a mansion.

      I wish he'd tell me how to do that!

      In any case, can you imagine the utter chaos if all our immigrants went home over the next few weeks?

      And what if we got back all the elderly migrants who now make use of the medical services of Spain, France, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Malta and other (usually warmer) countries in the union?

      On Murphy, he seems to be perfectly prepared to say whatever is needed to ensure he attracts attention, even if it is demonstrably rubbish.

      And, if Stuart Campbell can research this information and shred his claims, why does the BBC not just query one of them?


    4. Do you honestly think that an extra 1 million people entering the country, over twice the size of Edinburgh, has no impact on public services?

      How do you feel about the mass immigration of English people to Scotland over the past 15 years? English born is now nearly 10% (that's the population of Edinburgh) and, added to other immigration, gives Scotland the highest immigrant population of any UK home nation.

      Do you think English immigration needs stopped / severely curtailed? After all, it must be putting intense pressure on public services as per your argument? Added to that, the Scottish government have much less freedom in terms of economic policy to deal with this compared to the UK government, and are on a fixed budget.

      Just curious.

    5. "How do you feel about the mass immigration of English people to Scotland over the past 15 years?"

      You have just made my point for me when you reference 15 years. Gradual immigration over a period that long can certainly be managed and the appropriate decisions made to ensure that public services are not put under strain.

      To compare gradual immigration over 15 years to an extra 1 million people arriving in the UK in 2-3 years with no planning for the impact on public services (because the Goverment thought only 10,000 would come) is just bizarre.

    6. @Anon "Do you honestly think that an extra 1 million people entering the country, over twice the size of Edinburgh, has no impact on public services?"

      This is the classic flawed assumption that people coming in automatically makes public services worse. We know that EU immigrants in particular make a positive contribution to the public finances (i.e. they generate more money for public spending than we have to spend on them). Getting rid of them would therefore mean less money for public services relatively speaking, not more. The problem if there is one is that we don't manage it correctly by directing public investment to where it's needed. The idea that the solution to public services and unemployment is just to have less people is more or less complete nonsense from an economic perspective.

      @ ScottishSkier "How do you feel about the mass immigration of English people to Scotland over the past 15 years?"

      That's an incredibly silly line of argument to go down, whether you're trying to be flippant or not.

    7. I have no objection in principle to immigration - the relative decline of Japan shows what can happen when you have virtually zero immigration.

      The problem that we face at the moment is essentially two-fold:

      (1) We are importing hundreds of thousands of people to do relatively low skilled jobs when we have nearly 1 million young people unemployed. We should be making them do this work - and thus saving on welfare payments - before we allow other people in to do unskilled work.

      (2) Since we have no control over EU immigration we cannot plan properly for the impact of immigration. The continuing problems in the Eurozone mean that more and more people are likely to come here for work from there but we cannot be sure whether it will be 100,000, 200,000, etc, per annum. So how can we plan properly to ensure that there are adequate public services?

    8. Crenshaw.

      I'm happy enough with levels of immigration to Scotland to date - of course I was being flippant / playing the devil's advocate re immigration from England to Scotland.

      It's our UKIP MEP that doesn't want more immigration to Scotland from England and elsewhere apparently.


      SCOTLAND’s newly-elected Ukip MEP David Coburn has said the country should breed more rather than allow increased immigration...

      ...He challenged the idea that there was any need for a population increase, saying: “Scotland is lovely because it’s not full of people. That’s why a lot of people love Scotland.”

      Coburn anti-English then?

      Anon: "To compare gradual immigration over 15 years to an extra 1 million people arriving in the UK in 2-3"

      Erm, that's the same rate as ~500k coming to Scotland over 15 years relative to population.

  4. Murphy is still an MP at Westminster. He will remain so after the general election in 2015. The comes the tricky job timing. Basically resigning that safe MP seat, triggering a byelection, then trying to obtain a safe MSP seat in 2016.

    Until then, he remains under the thumb of the UK party whip and is expected to tow the party line. he can't have a "Murhpy Bounce" because being a back bench MP means he has no power to offer anything to anyone. He can make vague promises, of course he can. But he can't & won't be able to set out his stall until the appointed day in 2016, were he arrives as leader of the opposition in Holyrood.

    What will be on that stall very much depends on how much is slashed out of the smith Commission. Miliband will do anything to stop EVEL and if that means killing the smith proposals all together, then he will do that. Murphy at this point will find himself in the same position that lamont did. Leader in name only and expected to do Westminsters bidding.

    1. It doesn't matter if he is at Westminster or Holyrood. He can promise all he likes but he has zero authority to deliver. All power lies with Ed, the party leader.
      If all the Labour party MP's and MSP's resign from the British Labour party and start their own party, then he has the authority to promise things.

  5. Yesterday's Morning Call should have been a wake up for Murphy and SLAB. It was clear from the callers that Murphy was not welcomed, they struggled to get the usual attempt at "balance" with one pro call followed by one anti so that the anti-Murphy calls outweighed the pro.

    But the most interesting outcome was where the pro-Murphy support came from, apart from a couple of Labour hacks calling in, all his support was coming from people who identified themselves as Tories. This is the problem he faces, he has no appeal to the people Labour need to attract, at best he can knock a few percent off the Tory vote but that won't lead the Unionist cause forward.

  6. Yougov had Murphy as the favoured Branch Office Leader of 49% of Tory and 37% of UKIP 2015 voters. Their preferred option by a country mile in both cases. Tells you all you need to know really.

    1. Actually that tells us absolutely nothing other than that they think Murphy is further to the right than Findlay. If you asked them whether they preferred Sturgeon or Jim Sillars as SNP leader, they'd presumably say Sturgeon.

    2. Actually, that tells us that 49% of Tory voters respect Murphy, whilst it doesn't delve into too much detail about whether they would consider voting for him or his Branch Office, he'll be looking at those figures and be smiling in the same way that Sturgeon knows a certain amount of labour voters respect her and would consider voting for her party as she is leader.

    3. Yes, that's what I was getting at. Murphy is seen by Tories as more favourable because he's strongly right of centre and unionist. Presumably why UKIP voters liked him too. Hence that's his best option for getting new votes; try to get a few% from the Tories and UKIP, much as Jerusalem Ed is doing. Problem is that will likely erode his remaining left support, just as Ed is losing to the Greens in England.

      SNP voters preferred (left) Findlay (22%), but were much more DK in terms of picking a favoured Labour candidate.

    4. The bigger problem with this idea that Murphy may win tactical (or more fully fledged) support from Tories (or the few Kippers) in Scotland is that there simply aren't that many of them. The Tories are down to their hard core and really can't go any lower. They've had good leaders and bad leaders since 1997, yet they keep bumping along between 15% and 20% and winning in very few places.

      The pool of voters he needs to attract back to Labour are the "Kellner correction" people - voted Labour in the past (including 2010), but have been voting SNP in other elections and Yes in the referendum. It was noticeable from the YouGov poll that the Yes support amongst the reduced Labour support was only 6%. which must mean that the clear majority of the Labour Yes voters have shifted to the SNP.

      The defining characteristics of this group are that they are left of centre and somewhat (Scottish) nationalistic, both of which stand in contrast to Murphy's political track record. Hence the window dressing offered by Murphy of "fairer society", 50p income tax and "patriotism". Remains to be seen if this convinces people. I would still expect some Labour uptick, if only because there will be some ex-Labour voters who are currently "don't know" who will most likely drift back to them during the campaign. Their bigger problem is that the number who have switched to the SNP and who probably won't be back for a while (if ever).

  7. Being reasonable about it, I don't expect the polling to alter much from what we've seen until the campaign starts for real in a few months. I think we saw that with the referendum - the polling barely moved at all for about a year then with a month to go it was wildly swinging all over the place. We also saw it in 2011 with the late SNP surge. We saw it in 2010 with "Clegg mania".

    Personally I think the reason for that is that a lot of people just don't care enough to follow politics as obsessively as perhaps some of the rest of us do (myself included). When the campaign really kicks in then more people start thinking about it seriously and opinions change as a result.

    I still think the UKIP vote, in particular, is going to decline quite a bit - it's one thing for people to say they'll vote UKIP in a poll months away from the election, but when you sit down and look at your constituency and realise UKIP don't have a chance of winning you'll vote strategically.

    1. "I still think the UKIP vote, in particular, is going to decline quite a bit - it's one thing for people to say they'll vote UKIP in a poll months away from the election, but when you sit down and look at your constituency and realise UKIP don't have a chance of winning you'll vote strategically."

      I would not be so sure. Alot of the UKIP vote comes from people who are disillusioned with mainstream politics, think all the parties are the same, etc.

      To the extent that there has been an economic recovry they are the least likely to have benefited from it.

      I suspect that some of the 'golf club' UKIP vote, to caricature, will go back to the Tories because they have something to lose economically from a Labour Government but I think most existing UKIP voters will stay.

  8. Yougov results by age, sex and socio-economic grouping.

    By age:

    47% SNP, 22% Lab, 13% Con, 4% Lib

    56% SNP, 21% Lab, 13% Con, 3% Lib

    46% SNP, 31% Lab, 14% Con, 2% Lib

    42% SNP, 29% Lab, 20% Con, 3% Lib

    By sex:

    49% SNP, 26% Lab, 16% Con, 3% Lib

    46% SNP, 28% Lab, 15% Con, 2% Lib

    By socio-economic group:

    47% SNP, 24% Lab, 20% Con, 4% Lib

    46% SNP, 30% Lab, 12% Con, 2% Lib

    Remarkable eh? Not just the SNP distribution, but for all parties it is roughly equal across all groups. That's truly something and shows how Scotland is voting primarily on the constitutional question with the SNP, as a moderate centre party (real centre to modest left, not UK centre which if far right), attracting all moderates.

    How on earth do you counter that if you are Labour? You can't target a particular group - you need to target all of them equally!

    From the left won't work. From the right won't work. Nope, you need to be the SNP and back independence it seems.

    1. What it shows, perhaps, is that the unionist parties are now equally unpopular among all age/sex/socio groups (with the exception of ABCs and 60+, who seem to be just a wee bit more conservative - surprise surprise)!

  9. "Nicola Sturgeon, Leanne Wood and Natalie Bennett certainly couldn't have chosen a better moment to join forces to demand inclusion in the TV leaders' debates."

    It's not number of MPs determining the BBC decision (SNP have more than ukip) and it's not polling (SNP way ahead of Libdem, ukip), now it all becomes clear: the BBC only want to televise the male leaders but not the female ones. Definitely grounds for a court case...

  10. I know this has been pointed out before, but I feel like commenting on the major and possibly permanent shift in Scottish politics in front of us. The electorate now splits along along nationalist or unionist lines instead of a tactical Tory vs the rest vote.

    Around 90% of people in both camps intend to vote for a party which backs their view on independence. Labour's collapse is due to 42% of 2010 voters supporting independence and now mostly abandoning them, with a similar thing happening to the Lib Dems. 94% of SNP supporters support independence. We live in interesting times.

    1. But of course.
      The referendum re-shaped political debate in Scotland from party politics, to Yes v No, and that isn't going to drift anytime soon. It's one of the reasons why the Yes Alliance strategy for the GE wasn't needed.
      The people who voted Yes aren't simply going to go back to voting for a Unionist party, especially when they see Tory voters saying they will vote Labour to keep the SNP out.
      The polls didn't gradually slide from Lab to SNP, they flipped from a 10 point Lab lead to a 15 point SNP within days of the referendum. We'll have a battle on our hands come April/May, but until then I expect the SNP to remain in front in the polls quite easily.