Sunday, January 4, 2015

First Britain-wide poll of 2015 suggests that the SNP are probably still ahead in Scotland

This is always a scary time of year for followers of the polls.  There are rarely any polls published over the Christmas/New Year period, and there's no reason to automatically assume that nothing will have changed by the time that drought is broken.  The very fact that people switch off completely from the news for a few days can sometimes, ironically, shift their voting intentions quite markedly.  The parties that have the most to worry about that phenomenon this year are the SNP, who built up such an enormous lead in Scotland over the closing months of 2014, and Labour at GB-wide level, who pulled a few points clear of the Tories in most of the polls conducted just before Christmas.

The first GB-wide poll of the New Year has just been published by Opinium...

Britain-wide voting intentions (Opinium, 30th December - 2nd January) :

Labour 33% (-3)
Conservatives 32% (+3)
UKIP 17% (+1)
Liberal Democrats 8% (+2)
SNP 4% (-1)
Greens 4% (-1)
Plaid Cymru 1% (+1)
BNP 1% (n/c)

So it seems, on the face of it, that Labour's worst fears have been confirmed - their 7-point pre-Christmas lead has essentially evaporated, although only time will tell whether that is a real shift of opinion or simply an extreme example of margin of error "noise".

With the SNP it's even harder to say anything definite, because (irritatingly) Opinium are the only firm that don't publish the results of their Scottish subsamples.  The slippage from 5% to 4% certainly isn't anything to worry about, because the figure has consistently been either 4% or 5% in every Opinium poll since the referendum.  However, the unrounded figure in this poll is 3.62%, which is a touch lower than in other post-referendum Opinium polls - albeit we're obviously talking about tiny fractions here, given that this is a GB-wide poll.

If you assume that all respondents who said they would vote SNP are resident in Scotland, and if you assume that Scotland's share of the Opinium sample was equivalent to our actual share of the GB population, that would suggest the SNP are on 41.3% of the vote in Scotland, which would almost certainly mean a commanding lead over Labour.  Unfortunately it doesn't necessarily work like that, because Opinium (unlike YouGov) filter their results by likelihood to vote, so it's possible that Scotland makes up more than a proportionate share of the filtered sample.  It's also likely that at least one or two people who said they would vote SNP don't actually live in Scotland.

The most logical conclusion to draw is that the SNP are probably ahead in the Scottish subsample, but maybe not by quite as wide a margin as in other post-referendum Opinium subsamples.  But the margin of error for any individual subsample is huge, so we'll have to await the findings of other pollsters to discover whether this is just a statistical blip.


  1. Looks like a ConUKIP Government for the UK.
    The saddest thing is that Labour in Scotland still can't move beyond party interests, the voters and constituents still don't come into their calculations, except as fodder.
    To them just voting Labour will make all things right. We must ignore a Labour Government presided over the financial and Libor chaos, the Iraq and Afghan wars and is steeped in hypocrisy by claiming to be anti-nuclear weapons but supporting Trident, for 'reforming' the House of Lords, but are quick to be on those benches, and never have reformed when they had all the power and time to do it.
    The press, Labour politicians and activists focus only on anti-SNP rhetoric.

  2. Could be labour/tory coalition. Ever more papers purporting so.

    1. The Brit.Nats. clutching at straws.
      The idea of Scotland dictating policy to England is unthinkable to the London based press.

  3. Bearing in mind the qualification on a single small sub sample, the likely to vote figure for Scotland looks to suggest a 73% turnout based on your calculations of these results. Would you agree with that and how does this compare with other turnout predictions for Scotland?

  4. This is just groping in the dark in all honesty. It's hard enough to draw serious conclusions from a small Scottish subsample, but drawing conclusions when we don't even have that data is completely impossible. This poll says something about the national picture, but what it says about Scotland is anybody's guess.

    1. Scotland is the national picture as far as this blog is concerned! The Opinium poll is the first straw in the wind of 2015, and is all we have to go on at the moment.

  5. I am an SNP supporter and member have been for years.I wish that the polls were or are correct for the vote in May,I know that some folk say different to pollsters to what they will do and how they will vote.I think it is too soon to be to be certain that we will win the majority of Scottish seats at the GE,a lot of people fall for the Labour lies because they want to,they cant stomach having been fooled by them all of their lives so they will still vote for them,and they also realise that their parents fell for the same lies,and even the grandparents fell for the Labour lies.This is why they will vote for Labour to admit that they and their parents and grandparents were all fooled by them is too much for them the shame of realising their stupidity is inherited.

  6. Meanwhile on another planet far far away somebody can post this drivel. A man famous for taking large quantities of heroin, although he claims to be a reformed character.

    I can - just about - see a logic for this,when the time comes. Unite the party at all costs, etc. Were SNP Cabinet Ministers allowed to campaign for NO? If UKIP were in power, would they let senior members campaign for IN?

    How would anybody have achieved the position of Cabinet Minister in an SNP Government while opposing the fundamental reason for the existence of said party?

    Don't do drugs children! You'll turn into a PB Zombie!

  7. Under what circumstances would the SNP vote with the Tories to bring down a minority Labour government in Westminster?

    1. I doubt if there are any such circumstances, although as you know it's not really possible for the SNP or any other party to "bring down" a Labour government anyway - at most a fresh election could be called. Of course, Labour might lose that election, but hey, that's what you guys voted No for, isn't it? So Scotland could have a Tory government chosen for it by the votes of another country?

      Now, I've answered your question, so answer mine. In what circumstances would Labour enter into a grand coalition with the Tories?

    2. Plenty of Scotch Labour comments so far and still not one of them has expressed disgust or even disapproval at a coalition with the Blue Tories.

      This subject has dominated the entire weekend and still not a peep of denial from London Labour.

      It's started to look like this may be on, and the Red Tory commenters are just fine with that.

  8. I don't think that there are any circumstances under which a Tory/Labour coalition would happen short of world war.

    I agree that the SNP would not vote with the Tories to bring down a Labour government. Thus, I do not see how the SNP will have any leverage should Labour win most seats in May. So, it is hard to envisage any kind of Labour/SNP deal - instead Labour would run a minority government knowing that the SNP, Plaid Cymru, the Greens, the SDLP and Sinn Fein will never do more than abstain on votes that may trigger a GE - and this would be especially the case should the polls indicate the outcome of such an election would be a Tory victory.

    1. "Thus, I do not see how the SNP will have any leverage should Labour win most seats in May."

      If you seriously think Labour would be content to just sit in office. powerless to do anything at all for five years, you might have a point. As it clearly isn't sustainable to do that in the real world, the SNP's leverage would be enormous. Labour would either have to do a deal or look for an escape route, while constrained by the Fixed Terms Parliament Act.

      You're guilty of wishful thinking on an industrial scale, I'm afraid. There's a lot of it going around in Labour circles.

  9. The SNP does not vote on English only matters. It is not going to vote to bring down a Labour government. If Labour has most MPs and the SNP has won in Scotland it will mean Labour has won in England. Thus on English (and Welsh) only matters Labour will be fine. UK-wide, will Labour need a formal alliance with the SNP to get rid of the Bedroom tax or to raise the top rate of tax to 50 pence? With more MPs than anyone else, the only way that the SNP can influence a Labour government or render it powerless is to vote with the Tories. I don't see that happening very often.

    1. The SNP reserves the right to vote on English matters, so you can forget about that comfort blanket. You're making some truly heroic assumptions here - even if Labour is the largest single party, and even if the SNP conveniently abstain on most issues (though every piece of logic suggests they won't), how can you be sure that will leave the government with a working majority?

    2. Oh, and by the way, it's not the token left-wing stuff like abolishing the Bedroom Tax you need to worry about - the SNP will vote for that anyway. It's the less palatable stuff you won't get through without allies.

  10. If the SNP want to vote with the Tories on English only matters that is a decision that they will have to make and then defend. Of course, we may have English votes for English laws and if we do the SNP won't have the chance. The nature of a minority government is that it will have to do one-off deals, moderate its programme and accept that some stuff will not get through.

    1. I'm sorry, but this really isn't making any sense. Why would there be English votes for English Laws if there is a Labour minority government?

      As for all this "vote with the Tories" stuff, what would happen is that the SNP would vote against legislation for left-wing reasons, while the Tories would find themselves in the same lobby for tactical reasons. Think foundation hospitals, detention without trial, tuition fees. Did the SNP get hammered for "voting with the Tories" on those matters? No, they did not.

      You're desperately trying to convince yourself that everything will be OK for Labour, but it won't. The one point on which you might be right is that ad hoc, issue-by-issue deals may get a Labour minority government through - but the problem is that many of those deals will have to be with the SNP, and they will required concrete concessions to be made on issues like Scottish self-government and on Trident (as opposed to simply the "moderating" of Labour's own programme).

  11. The Tories support English votes for English laws. My guess is that if Labour wins most seats in England in May we might find there is a miraculous Labour conversion to the cause. That looks to me a far more likely scenario than a deal with the SNP. With regards to UK-wide issues, in the last parliament no-one was really watching the SNP and the party thus had a lot more operational flexibility. Next time around a big block of SNP MPs going through the same lobbies as the Tories may be more of an issue. We both seem to agree that the SNP will not side with the Tories to bring a Labour government down, so everything else is just detail. The SNP may vote against some Labour policies and Labour may lose some votes as a result. On the big ones, though - the ones that really matter - Labour can be pretty confident that the SNP will sit on their hands.

    1. This is hilarious - you honestly seem to think that Labour can spurn a deal with the SNP, and then expect the SNP to render their own voting power redundant by abstaining on every vote of any consequence. I can promise you that isn't going to happen. Just how stupid do you think Nicola Sturgeon is?

      On your point about "bringing the government down", I've already explained to you why that's a red herring. A government can't survive indefinitely if it can't carry its programme, and at some point it would have to start looking for an escape route. With the Fixed Term Parliaments Act in force, that would leave Labour in a right old pickle.

  12. That's not what I think. What I think is that politically it will be a lot more difficult for the SNP to walk through the lobbies with the Tories than you do. And I think that Labour understands this and that this alone - putting aside all the other stuff that could get in the way - makes a deal with the SNP very unlikely.

    I also think that if Labour wins most seats in England in May - and that looks to me to be the only way it can win most seats in the Commons given the SNP's strength in Scotland - it will miraculously decide that, actually, English votes for English laws is a pretty good idea. Given the powers that are likely to be devolved to Holyrood at the start of the next Parliament, that will mean most of the time in Westminster, SNP and other Scottish MPs will not be doing much voting. When they do vote it will be on big ticket issues which could lead to the government falling (where we both agree the SNP is likely to sit on its hands), or it will be on politically insignificant stuff where the SNP might vote against and help defeat. On that basis, I believe a minority Labour government can survive for five years.

    A minority Tory government, on the other hand, will give the SNP a whole heap of leverage.

    1. " it will miraculously decide that, actually, English votes for English laws is a pretty good idea"

      If only. You clearly have no idea how much chaos that would throw the Labour party into as it would cause a split in Labour approaching the ferocity of the inevitable split in the tory party over IN/OUT of Europe. It would be the Brown Blair wars all over again. Something that has even managed to filter through to little Ed as he has already rejected EV4EL and boycotted talks on them. So he would look hilariously incompetent trying to u-turn on that after May with a sizable chunk of his own party implacably and vehemently opposed to it.

    2. There is a reason why Labour is not that keen on EV4EL right now. That reason may no longer exist after the next GE.

    3. There are no circumstances in which EVEL would not harm Labour relative to the Tories - even under the Armageddon scenario, Labour would retain four seats in Scotland, compared to zero or one for the Tories.

      In any case, whatever happens Labour will be deluding themselves that it's only a blip, and that Scotland will revert to being a solid heartland in future elections. Therefore, they'll always see EVEL as contrary to their interests.

      As I've already noted, there's a lot of delusion about in Labour at the moment.

  13. When uk-wide polls show, for example, a drop in support for Labour by 3 points, how much of that drop is due to loss of support in Scotland? Or could it be an increase in support in Scotland is off-set by a bigger loss in England?

  14. Some jawdropping fuckwittery on show today.

    These Labour twits seem utterly clueless as to how a minority westminster administration would work and since all poling points to that they should really do their homework before making a twat of themselves.

    For example..

    Why on earth would we vote out a Labour government making a colossal mess of things??

    You seriously think it will hurt the SNP as the public watches the deeply unpopular little Ed flapping about comically trying to get tory policies and tory cuts through and failing?


    Not in a million years.

    James posits that would not be a sustainable position indefinitely and normally it wouldn't be. However, with little Ed clinging on to his job for dear life and the westminster parties comically unpopular I think you'll find little Ed would be absolutely terrified to go back to the electorate for a fresh mandate. So it would be chaos, incompetence then inept inaction indefinitely from little Ed. What a shame that would be with 2016 just around the corner. :-)

    So if we don't use the vote of confidence to bring little Ed down and put him out of his misery (and like I already said, why the fuck would we?) what votes does that leave?

    Everything else.

    Or as our amusing clueless out of touch twit put it, "just detail".


    The idiot Labour drones and westminster bubble twits who bizarrely think we will let little Ed's Red Tories off the hook on continuing tory cuts and tory policies could not be more wrong. As they and their London branch office will find to their cost soon enough.

  15. Anonymous said "A minority Tory government, on the other hand, will give the SNP a whole heap of leverage."

    I disagree. Neither the conservatives nor labour want to be in a position to have to concede anything to the SNP. They will, between them in some arrangement, agree a mutually acceptable compromise on any issues as and when they have to, to make sure the SNP get as little leverage on anything else as possible. Point is that labour would rather concede something in negotiation with the conservatives, and vice versa, than for either of them to concede anything to the SNP.

  16. Why do Labour types in Scotland think the nation automatically has to vote for them in general elections? What have they done in the last 15 years or so to warrant this? They are Tories in all but name.

  17. As far as I'm aware, Labour have yet to rule out a coalition with the Tories and vice versa.

    Given such coalitions are common at council level in Scotland, and both parties have recently emerged from a UK-wide one in the form of Better Together, it would hardly be a surprise if a new one was formed in response to a further 'threat' with the SNP at the centre of that, e.g. post May.

    The SNP have ruled out a coalition with the Tories and said they might work with Labour. We need to see if Labour will do likewise and unambiguously rule out any form of coalition with the Tories.

    Until such a time, Labour's entire electoral message - 'vote for us to stop the Tories' - is meaningless.

    1. Perhaps "Vote for us to stop the Tories" could be read as ruling out a coalition with them. Just a thought.

      How do you define the term "coalition" out of interest?

    2. Easy to just make a clear statement. A 'Vow' even; 'We will not enter into any form of coalition with the Tories'.

      Of course Labour's aim is to win power so 'stopping' the Tories from doing so. However, that does not preclude the two working together if neither party can govern alone, e.g. if the SNP hold the balance of power.

      We know Labour in principle fully support the idea of Tory governance for Scotland (and the UK); buy supporting Westminster rule this comes by default. They accept that if they don't win, then the Tories will take charge. At least by making a vow that they won't enable the Tories they could lessen the problematic stance they have here in Scotland.

      We all know what coalitions are. Either formal (such as Lab-Tory coalitions at council level in Scotland), clear general confidence and supply, or campaigns such as Better Together. Only when you get to 'bill by bill' basis (e.g. such as on budgets which are needed to keep the country functioning) is it no longer a coalition.

    3. Why would Labour need to make a Vow when only a few more excitable SNP supporters are floating the idea of a Tory/Labour coalition? Those with a wider view understand that there is absolutely no chance of a coalition because it would immediately lead to, among other things, the withdrawal of all trade union funding from Labour, the creation of a new Socialist Labour party with well over one hundred MPs and the defection of dozens (at least) of Tory MPs to UKIP. In fact, it is possible that such a coalition would not ever enjoy majority Commons support. Of course, raising the spectre of such a deal is a neat electoral trick, but I imagine that if it does get any traction labour will be very happy to issue the explicit rejection of such a pact you are after.

      I like the way that SNP deals with the Tories are not in any way to be regarded as coalitions.

    4. I didn't realise the mainstream London based media were 'a few excitable SNP supporters'.

      The proposal of a Lab-Tory coalition has been, e.g., put forward in the Guardian, FT and New Statesman. Hardly nationalist.

      Those on the left across the UK are already making calls for Labour to be clear on the matter. Again, hardly 'excited nationalists'.

      Labour must rule out coalition with Tories

      In response to a Guardian article today raising the prospect of a Labour-Tory coalition, left wing party Left Unity is calling on the Labour Party to immediately and categorically rule out the prospect...

    5. I like the way that SNP deals with the Tories are not in any way to be regarded as coalitions.

      Given the 2011 vs the 2007 result, clearly that's how the electorate saw the SNP working with various parties on a bill by bill and budget by budget basis. If the SNP had formed a formal coalition with the Tories, electorally, I'd imagine they'd have suffered a similar fate which is apparently awaiting Labour for forming coalitions with the Tories at council level and in Better Together.

      Ultimately, it is public perception which decides what is a coalition and what isn't / whether that arrangement is deemed acceptable.

      The public are now wondering whether or not Labour would enter a coalition with the Tories. They need straight answers. Public perception as I said. That seed of doubt is now sown.

    6. "The public are now wondering whether or not Labour would enter a coalition with the Tories.

      Are they? What a few newspaper commentators and bloggers/tweeters think is very different to what the public think. It's just navel gazing from the commentariat.

  18. If opinion polls remain terrifying for Labour in Scotland this year, another Daily Record Vow of some form is sure to appear on the front page, a few days before the GE.

  19. Given all the fevered imaginings of post-election scenarios we have heard across the media recently please allow me to add one more.

    In Scotland The Libdems get their expected kicking and are reduced to one MP - Carmichael in the Northern Isles. The Tories hang on to Mundell's seat while Slab staunch the collapse and hang on to 20-25 seats, the SNP take the rest.

    Meanwhile in England Ukip fizzle out, the Libdems avoid a complete collapse and Labour have a disappointing result due mainly to the sheer unelectability of Milliband. This results in the Tory/Libdem coalition with a working majority.

    As both governing parties have absolutely nothing to lose they embark on a massive program of " putting the jocks back in their box." Barnett scrapped, a new generation of nukes on the Clyde, Holyrood emasculated and marginalised, EU exit, NHS privatisation "equalised" across all areas of the UK, green light for fracking across the central belt of Scotland. You get the idea...

    In such a scenario would the surviving big beasts of Slab - Murphy, Alexander, Curran, Sarwar, Davidson etc STILL be telling us that we have the best of both worlds and protest that this is what WE voted for?

    I hope someone asks them.

  20. This doesn't look good for Ed.

    If forced to choose form the following four options, which do you prefer as the outcome of the next general election?

    35% Conservatives win absolute majority, David Cameron is PM
    12% Con-Lib coalition, Cameron is PM
    47% NET Tory/Tory-led government with Cameron as PM

    26% Labour wins absolute majority, Ed Miliband is PM
    18% Lab-Lib coalition, Ed Miliband is PM
    44% NET Lab/Lab-led Labour government with Ed Miliband as PM

    Tory majority has much more support than a Labour one. Likewise Tory-led government prefered.

    Can't see any tables so not sure what the scotland subset looks like.

    Probably a shy Tory factor keeping Labour marginally ahead in standard VI.

    Best vote SNP. A vote for Labour looks to be a vote thrown away for the above reasons alone. At least a strong SNP showing would seriously reduce the democratic mandate Westminster would have for governing Scotland no matter who wins at UK level. SNP holding the balance of power would just be icing on the cake.

  21. Populus:

    41% SNP
    28% Lab
    15% Con
    8% Lib
    5% Green
    2% UKIP

    SNP on the higher side for a populus poll.