Wednesday, March 25, 2015

See Ya Later, Alligator

One of the great mysteries of modern life is how the self-styled hot-shot "risk assessor" Neil Edward Lovatt ever gets any actual work done for his employer Scottish Friendly, given that he seems to spend his entire waking existence on Twitter making the same five or six tedious points over and over and over again.  Yesterday afternoon, he was banging the rest of humanity over the head with the following claims -

1) The SNP will be powerless after the general election no matter how many seats they win, because they will have nowhere else to go but to vote for a Queen's Speech put forward by Miliband, even in the absence of concessions.  If they did anything else, they would be crucified in the subsequent general election.

2) Every vote for the SNP makes a Cameron government more likely.

Those two claims are, of course, utterly irreconcilable.  If we already know for a fact that the SNP will back a Queen's Speech put forward by Labour, there is no way that replacing any Scottish Labour MP with an SNP MP can possibly make a Tory government more likely, because either way you would still have an MP who will vote in favour of Miliband becoming PM.  Unless of course...

That's right.  Unless of course we never get to the point of having a vote on a Labour Queen's Speech, because Labour are so terrified of being seen to "work with the SNP" that they would abstain on a Tory Queen's Speech, and allow Cameron to remain in power.

Alex Salmond moved things on yesterday by making explicit what was already implicit - namely that the SNP would vote against a Tory Queen's Speech, regardless of whether the Tories are the largest or second largest party in the Commons.  Labour have signally failed to give the same commitment, and indeed the inescapable logic of their constant claims that "the largest party gets to form a government" is that they would let Cameron stay in power if the Tories were the largest single party.  Anything else just wouldn't be cricket, what?

Until Labour make an unequivocal pledge to vote down a Tory Queen's Speech regardless of circumstances, the conclusion is obvious - a vote for the SNP is definitely a vote against Tory rule, but a vote for Labour might not be.  Is it worth the risk?  Perhaps a "risk assessor" could tell us...


  1. I'll save my namesake the trouble this morning by giving the YouGov subsample : SNP 34%, Labour 32%. That's the smallest lead this year, but it's not what it appears - the downweight of SNP and Plaid identifiers in the sample is absolutely enormous (65 to 38).

  2. Closest YouGov sub-sample score for a long time: SNP 34, Lab 32, Con 23, Others <3. That's the lowest SNP score since 16 January and the highest Lab score since 4 March. Also the joint-highest Con score this year.

    One thing this poll though is that SNP / PC have been very strongly down-weighted, from 65 to 38. This is despite the fact that Scotland has been up-weighted from 141 to 175. Plaid may account for some of the SNP / PC down-weighting, but the combination of those two weightings seems really odd.

    1. It's a new record down-weighting. Highest since the referendum and that's with the Scottish sample weighted up due to being too small in number as you say. I get 53% down-weighted accounting for the Scottish sample adjustment.

      Helps put the overall running average of SNP down-weighting back on an growing trend after it stabilised recently. Down-weighting was about 5% at the referendum, is now 33% on average.

    2. Basically (for the benefit of readers in general), the number of people 'identifying' as SNP (not VI, but the party they seem themselves most as) has shot up since the iref, with Labour collapsing. You see it in Comres where they ask this question. Yougov is weighting these new identifiers heavily downwards. It's actually more of an issue that 2010 past vote weighting in terms of depressing SNP share, hence Yougov crossbreaks have lower average SNP than others polls such has Comres, Ashcroft, Survation... Populus are now using a 'Current party ID' which fixes the problem of the big ID switch we've seen in Scotland (the 75k new SNP members being one manifestation of this!).

    3. Why do they down weight people? Do they not believe them?
      Sorry for being stupid.

    4. To make the SNP results poorer.

      We are all supposed to vote Labour as we did in the past.

      You gov boss Kellner's wife is a Labour Peer in HOL. That might explain it.
      Helps to downplay the indy vote and also give Slab a boost.

      Its called making it up to suit themselves and their own unionist purposes.

    5. Well, technically it's not that (don't believe them), but instead it's assumed the sample is skewed so being corrected based on a past reference case. However, a pollster should really question what is going on if a particular group needs constant heavy weighting in one direction (sometimes up, sometimes down is fine / normal, but not always up or always down). In UK polls though, playing with SNP makes only fractions of a point changes for UK-wide results, so seems unimportant.

      The potential irony is though, that it's likely the stronger the SNP support becomes, the more down-weighting could occur.

      Past vote / past party ID weighting was designed to smooth out noise. However, it is based on the assumption that people generally stick with the same party if pushed. Once a Tory, generally always a Tory...

      It wasn't designed to cope with the type of mass switches we've seen in Scotland, first in 2011 for Holyrood, now it seems for Westminster. The past large tactical votes for Lab and Lib Westminster in Scotland also throws a huge spanner in the works.

      There's a lot to be said for MORI's approach here - they don't trust past vote / party ID weighting so don't use it. Results in more 'noise' from poll to poll, but should cope much better with catching large swings. It did this well ahead of 2011, being the first to pick up the SNP swing with final polls better than others on getting the result right.

    6. Thanks. I think i understand it now. It's assumed that some ex Labour voters will switch back as happens down south. It fails to take into account the huge sea change that has happened in Scottish politics?

    7. Numbercruncher's reporting of Election Forecast (more properly) weighted Yougov subsample data is a better bet than simple straight aggregates. Latest:

      SNP 46 CON 13 LAB 28 LIB 7 UKIP 3 GRN 3 – a one-point gain for the SNP, but no other changes.

      More like Scotland-wide polls.

    8. Thanks for explaining this stuff, SS. Does this mean that rather than being guided solely by the poll of polls, we should be looking at the poll of weighted polls on the one hand, and the Mori figures on the other, and concluding that one OR the other is likely to be correct? I.e. there's a good chance the actual lead is much greater than James' latest POP. (As the comprehensive POPs haven't changed much since the autumn I'm assuming that the same would be true of any hypothetical Mori poll taken today, but is that an assumption too far?).

  3. Another aspect of this is that if Labour are the largest party but refuse to give concessions to the SNP, then the only way they can pass their more right wing policies (austerity, trident etc) would be with the support of the Tories. They have previous on this with the war in Iraq but that was more of a one off situation caused by Labour MP's rebelling. If Labour were a minority government who refused to give any concessions to the SNP then a reliance on support or abstention from the Tories might become commonplace.

    It looks at the moment like Labour aren't going to rule out working with the Tories regardless of who is in government.

  4. Has YouGov policy changed or has Labour/SNP support shifted in Scotland?

    1. See my recent above post. SNP have gained a little recently in Yougov subsamples when weighted better by Election Forecast.

    2. The two full scale polls conducted last week showed no shift, in fact one of them (Survation) showed a slight movement towards the SNP. These are much more reliable, although a lot less frequent. The sub-samples jump around because they aren't designed to be representative of Scotland in particular. e.g. Ashcroft's GB national poll on Monday gave the SNP 56%.

      YouGov poll very frequently so you can aggregate a larger number of polls (say 10) and try to draw some conclusions from that, but it's still pretty unscientific. The SNP average over 10 polls has dipped from around 43% 10 days ago to about 41% now, with both the Tory and Labour averages increasing slightly. But unless the results of the last two polls (i.e. SNP and Lab both scoring in the 30s) are sustained, it doesn't mean anything.

      The likelihood is that as you move into the campaign proper you will get more Scotland-only polls and the sub-samples will be of less significance.

    3. To put the above comment in context, in 2010 you had 14 Scotland only polls in April 2010, whereas there were only 8 in March and 6 February. Almost all of the polls were by YouGov.

      I think it's possible there will be more polls next month than in 2010 and definitely from a wider spread of companies.* On top of that it's likely that Ashcroft will poll more individual seats. Last time he was doing internal work for the Tories.

      *There might be fewer YouGov polls commissioned because The Scotsman / Scotland on Sunday published a lot of them last time. They seem to have stopped paying for polls, other than a monthly effort during the referendum.

  5. I worry we can always find reasons for doubting particular polls. Might this actually be a shift back to Labour? Let's hope not.

    1. This isn't "doubting a poll", because it's not a full scale poll. The pollsters themselves would say not to place too much stress on one or even a number of sub-samples, because of their unreliability.

  6. ComRes / ITV / Daily Mail sub-sample (size <100): SNP 36, Lab 31, Con 19, Others <7

    1. Oh dear, would that tend to confirm the YouGov trend?

    2. LOL, no.

      The Yougov UK trend is a modest increase in SNP share.

      The Number Cruncher Politics aggregated model was completely unchanged, with figures of SNP 42 CON 18 LAB 26 LIB 4 UKIP 5 GRN 4. The Electionforecast weighted model shows SNP 46 CON 13 LAB 28 LIB 7 UKIP 3 GRN 3 – a one-point gain for the SNP, but no other changes.

    3. Thanks, I hope you are right. Have YouGov given any explanation why and what they are doing to the Scottish figures?

    4. Scottish Skier I'm talking about the latest YouGov sub polls that reduce the SNP lead to just a couple of points. And now this ComRes one on top of it.

    5. Erm, ~50% of Scots said 'SNP' to yougov in this morning's poll so I'm not sure what you are on about. All you are seeing is weird Yougov severe 'No, you don't support SNP' weighting effects.

      Focus on full Scottish polls, not subsets as the latter are not Scottish polls. Otherwise you'll be on a roller-coaster where the SNP are surging on 56% at breakfast time, but then a massive Labour recovery has occurred by lunch. Sturgeon then riding high again when you go to bed.

      The MoE on subsamples is at very lowest +/-10%, meaning the SNP could be on 45%, yet get 35% one day and 55% the next (just as is happening). They could get 35% every day for a week in a row but still be on 45%. It's just random probability.

  7. Poor old labour caught between a rock and a hard place. They've lost Scotland and now they have let Cameron bully them into walking away from any deal with the SNP.

    Why is he in this predicament? Like Cameron, Miliband's party cannot win an outright majority in the south. They must form a coalition with another party. Cameron knows full well that the SNP will not help him out, but he has recklessly endangered his own precious union by monstering the Scottish electorate and the SNP, raising the fear that we might "impose" a labour government on the UK.

    Cretin that he is, Miliband has conceded to this argument by more or less saying : "Why yes, it would be bad if I got into power with the support of the Scottish voter, that's why I won't do it."

    The growing consensus amongst various rUK MPs and Commentators is that the SNP mps can be safely locked out of Westminster & ignored, along with the rest of Scotland. This plan to "contain" Scotland, is so moronic we need a new category to define it. Meanwhile in Scotland, we have the absurd spectacle of a grass roots campaign trying to convince labour voters in key marginal wards to vote Tory because an SNP vote is a vote for the Tories. One does wonder how far up your own arse your head has to be to believe crap like that, let alone actually say it.

    This is what the UK parties are doing having "WON" the referendum. Don't want to imagine what they would have done had they lost.

  8. Feel the fear!

    LOL ;0)

  9. YouGov / Times mega-poll (n=8,271)

    Annoyingly, no Scottish sub-sample results given. If they were, they would likely be much better for the SNP than their last two daily (normal size) polls because SNP + PC is on 5% across GB.

    1. There is a supplementary question which asks people if they are considering voting for a party.

      Amongst the Scottish respondents, 38% will "definitely" consider SNP and 12% will possibly consider voting for them. The first figure tends to be a floor for the party's VI, while some of the second group also vote for them.

      For comparison, the poll puts Con on 34% across GB, 29% definitely consider and 13% possibly consider. Labour 33% VI, 26% definitely consider and 15% possibly consider.

      More are considering voting SNP than not (50-46), which is not true of any of the GB parties (Con 42-52, Lab 41-53). That's consistent with the SNP running at least 10 points higher in Scotland than Con or Lab are across GB.

    2. I get this using a straight linear correlation between 2010 Con + Lab + Lib transfers to SNP (which is available) and party VI in Scotland based on past polls:

      46% SNP
      25% Lab
      16% Con
      5% Lib
      4% UKIP
      4% Green

      Seems about right.

    3. Someone has posted on UK Polling Report that they were told by a Times journalist that the Scottish cross-break in this mega-poll was SNP 45, Lab 26.

  10. They just don't realise that there has been a total sea-change in Scottish politics. They won the Referendum by lying constantly and, in particular, by terrifying OAPs that they would lose their pensions, and by making that evaporating Vow, within the period of purdah. They behaved like the lying, quisling shits they are.

    It sort of reminds me of that scene in the film, "The Battle of the Bulge", when German army Colonel Hessler (Robert Shaw) hears that the SS have massacred unarmed American prisoners, he tells them "You fools, you have turned a beaten rabble into an avenging army." Fighting dirty backfires.

    They have energised and enraged us. Three years ago, I wasn't all that fussed, I just wanted a quiet life with my wife, our dogs, a bit of sailing and a bit of fishing. I voted, but I couldn't get all that worked up about politics. Now, like so many others, I am determined to destroy the corrupt and disgusting Labour Party and leave this joke of a "United" Kingdom.

    That's the sea-change: a hell of a lot of people who identified as Labour all their lives now regard the Labour Party as a bad smell.

    Well done "Project Fear". What you did will now bite you in the bahookie.

  11. My own way of analysing the polls may be unscientific, but is very effective:

    Since the main fight in Scotland is SNP/Labour, the drops of the odd % here and there, aren't important.

    The more important data, is the popularity of the leaders, and since the SNP have been in front since the referendum, and Labour have staked their whole General Election Campaign on Jim Murphy's leadership, it's JM's popularity, that is the more telling.

    Labours strategy has been simple: to attract the Over 65's who they identified were mostly Glaswegian males, who were previous Labour voters, but had voted yes in the referendum, and were so scunnered by Labours behaviour during the campaign, that they were now saying they would vote for the SNP.

    Jim started off in reconciliation mode, saying the referendum was over and it was time for all Scots to come together again, to defeat the Tories.

    On went his football tops, and before you could say 'phone the riot police' Jim suggested he wanted to bring drink back to football.

    The polls did not budge, but more importantly, Murphy's personal popularity ratings, began to dip.

    A couple of weeks ago he dipped into negative figures, - 2 and if I remember correctly that figure was among people who intended voting Labour!

    He has now stopped his laughable 'Patriotic Football Daft glue sniffer' campaign, and has now focused on the 'project fear' campaign strategy (see I told you Blair McD would come in handy) of ' If you don't vote Labour, you will let the Tories in'

    The problem for Jim, is while he is doing this, he has had to be mindful that the Tories and the right wing press are playing merry hell with the thought of an SNP/Labour pact, at Westminster.

    So what Jim is left with is, vote Labour or you'll let the Tories in, but if you do vote SNP, we will join with the Tories and freeze out your democratic representation, so that they are unable to represent you!

    Will his latest strategy make him more popular and hence increase the Labour vote?

    I doubt it.

    1. You could say he has have become unstuck.

    2. I would agree with this take in general. Murphy started out with a pitch that was intended to win back Lab -> SNP switchers. In the last 10 days or so (since they ruled out a full coalition) he appears to have switched tack to a core vote / negative strategy.

      It's like William Hague in 2001 - for most of the parliament he tried to win back more liberal types (e.g. attending Notting Hill carnival), but by the campaign he had basically given up on that and had gone for a core vote "keep the pound" strategy.

      If you're faced with a big defeat, this isn't such a silly idea. If you continue to appeal to people who aren't listening to you, you run the risk that your core supporters will also feel alienated and won't turn out. This makes a bad situation even worse. The Tories got thrashed in 2001, but they at least made sure that they didn't collapse completely and were able to win again in the future.

    3. That would depend on timing and how much momentum the desertion has achieved.

      I think he is too late.

  12. Another week, another policy headline, another new face for Smurfy and another clusterfuck.

    He should just come out each week in different Kabuki mask.

  13. Link to tables for the ICM poll published on Monday:

    1. Spiral of silence adjustment knocked a point off the SNP.

      Interesting that ICM ask if you plan to vote for non-existent parties:
      Scottish Labour
      Scottish Conservatives
      Scottish Liberal Democrats

      Yet not for a party that actually is Scottish:

      Survation do the complete opposite which is much more correct. It's not a Holyrood election; you are voting for UK Labour / Ed etc.

      I wonder if that has any influence.

    2. Given how dodgy Natalie Bennett has been recently it could have.
      As a Scottish Green this poll is disheartening, but also seems to be wildly out of step with the other pollsters so I won't be too put off.

  14. 2016 Holyrood VI (constituency):

    SNP 46, Lab 26, Con 13, LD 6, UKIP 5, Green 4.

    2016 Holyrood VI (regional list):

    SNP 42, Lab 26, Con 14, LD 6, UKIP 6, Green 5.

    1. Indyref 2:

      Yes 41, No 48, DK etc, 11.

    2. For comparison, their December poll had the following:

      Constituency: SNP 44, Lab 26, Con 12, LD 6, UKIP 6, Green 4.

      List: SNP 42, Lab 25, Con 12, LD 6, UKIP 7, Green 8.

      They didn't ask an "Indyref 2" question in that poll (that I can see).

  15. ICM sample too British.

    62% Scottish vs 31% British. Last SSAS (2014) was 65% vs 23%. Even more Scottish now (well returning to pre tense iref times where Scottish was 70%+) according to ICM's own polling as their December poll had 36% British / 58% Scottish.

    Probably to many non Scots in the sample as ICM had problems with before.

    1. I've thought this too regards ICM.

      I'm no saying that all of UKIP's very high 7% percentage is non Scots and mostly rUK citizens in Scotland, but considering every other pollster has them on average from 1-4%, it certainly most probably is.

      Would also explain the 41% Yes 48% No Indyref question when every other poll has had it either with a slight Yes lead or a dead-heat.

      I hope folk don't get too worried about the Indy question though. There is no further referendum planned, and we have a few years to gain a core support of 55% + before we give it a go again.

      Everything is going well, folks. :)

      Again, if you're SNP inclined, your local branch would love assitance. You don't need to be a member and you do not need to commit to 6 weeks/7days a week chapping doors. There's lots of wee things to do be done in the background too (if you don't fancy being in the public eye - handing out leaflets, chapping doors).

  16. The fear I had that the SNP would be frozen out of news items for the General Election was groundless.

    1. James Coleman
      I think NicolaS, AlexS and the other MPs have made sure of that. I believe that has been the main reason for the SNP regularly tweaking the English tails. And by God they are being taken in. And paraphrasing Pete Wishart, Scotland is front page news in England every day now.

  17. Can I ask a more general question about polling figures?

    All the numbers so far seem to stack up to SNP/Slab totalling 70%, Tories on 15% and the others sharing the remaining 15% of the vote.

    Do any of the poll-watchers here think the smaller parties will be squeezed as the election looms and if so, to what effect?


    1. I think they (LD, UKIP and Greens) are squeezed about as much as they can be in Scottish polling, really. It might have some effect in places where there isn't a candidate for a particular party, but that should be very marginal.

  18. Survation sub-sample: SNP 47, Lab 19, Con 17, LD 11, Others <3

    Looks like the YouGov "movement" in their daily polls (but not the "mega poll") is purely a function of their weighting.

    1. Good to see the SNP making a quick recovery from the disastrous polls this morning.

      Lets hope they can hold onto that overnight.


    2. Bad news SS, in a snap-shot poll I took from a few people waiting at a bus stop this morning, Labour had soared to a tie with the SNP with them both having 50% of the vote, each.

      The other respondent wanted the lot of them shot! so I put him down as a don't know.

      The Labour voter said his main reason for voting Labour was that he didn't like pink Salmon, so I think he's a low information voter, that could be persuaded to switch.

      This elections like a flipping rollercoaster!

  19. A bit O/T but readers should be aware of this.

    I think it is important to clarify the 1951 Westminster results and totally refute the lies being told by Jim Murphy and Labour.

    The 1951 Westminster results were as follows:

    Labour 295,
    Conservative 293,
    Liberal National Party 19,
    Ulster Unionist Party 9,
    Liberal Party 6,
    Independent Nationalist 2, and
    Irish Labour 1

    .... a hung parliament.

    The Conservative, Liberal National and Ulster Unionist Parties formed a coalition and governed with 321 seats.

    Labour actually won more of the popular vote (13,948,883) than the governing coalition
    (Conservatives 12,384,784 , Liberal National 1,58,138,and Ulster Unionist 274,928 for a total of 13,717,850)

    Now for the cherry on top, the Labour Party gained MORE seats than the Conservative Party.

    In 1951, the party with the largest number of seats in Westminster DID NOT FORM THE GOVERNMENT!