Thursday, March 12, 2015

SNP lead by 19% in richly satisfying new YouGov poll

With less than two months to go until the general election, The Times have released a new full-scale Scottish poll from YouGov...

Scottish voting intentions for the May 2015 UK general election (YouGov, 10th-12th March) :

SNP 46% (-2)
Labour 27% (n/c)
Conservatives 18% (+3)
Liberal Democrats 4% (n/c)
Greens 3% (n/c)
UKIP 2% (-2)

[UPDATE : The following analysis was written before it emerged that YouGov have made a big methodological change, which means that the poll is not directly comparable with previous ones.  You can read more about this in a fresh post HERE.]

The percentage changes are measured from the last comparable poll way back in late January/early February.  Clearly there are only two possibilities - either there has been very little movement since then, or there has been no movement at all.  But which is it?  On the face of it, YouGov are in agreement with the last Survation poll in suggesting that the humungous SNP lead has edged down just slightly.  But in fact that's a false comparison, because the Survation poll gave the SNP their lowest lead since the referendum, whereas tonight's lead of 19% falls bang in the middle of YouGov's post-referendum range.  The smallest gap they've reported since September has been 16%, and the biggest has been 21%.  The SNP's vote is actually 3% higher now than it was in the YouGov poll conducted at the same time as the famous Ipsos-Mori poll in the mid-autumn, which gave them a 29% lead.

The other recent piece of evidence we've had was from a TNS-BMRB poll which flatly contradicted the direction of travel in Survation by suggesting that the SNP's lead had shot up by 6% (albeit from a suspiciously low base).  So the explanation that best fits the pattern we've been seeing is that the state of play has remained pretty much static since October, and that any apparent small changes reported by the polls have been meaningless margin-of-error "noise".

Here's something that's slightly weird - there have been four YouGov polls since the referendum, and Labour have been on 27% in every single one.  Given the 3% margin of error, you'd expect a little bit of fluctuation, so that sequence of results speaks rather eloquently to their complete failure to achieve any lift-off at all since Jim Murphy replaced Johann Lamont.  Although we'll have to wait a while for the datasets from tonight's poll, we've already been told that Murphy's personal satisfaction rating has slumped from 33% to 26%.  In truth, that may just be the inevitable effect of him now having had sufficient time to get on people's nerves - but it certainly doesn't leave much room for optimism that Labour will be able to achieve over the next two months what they've failed to achieve over the last three or four.

The die-hard Scottish Tory "surgers", who have spent the last twenty-eight years looking for any possible portent of that elusive recovery, will doubtless feel a little frisson of excitement tonight, because this is the first post-referendum poll from any firm to suggest that they might slightly increase their share of the vote from 2010.  But one swallow does not a summer make, and this could just be a freakish effect of the margin of error. 18% is obviously within 3% of 15%, which is roughly what they've been averaging of late.

*  *  *

I was a touch bemused by the consensus among the panel on This Week that Labour should rule out a deal with the SNP.  That would be perfectly understandable if the people concerned were motivated by the racist attitudes towards Scots that we've seen in the London press over recent days, and by a sense that it's unconscionable to work constructively with a distinctively Scottish party.  But that wasn't the rationale being put forward - instead we were invited to believe that a rejection of a deal would prevent harm being done to the Union.  It's difficult to know whether to laugh or cry - have the Westminster establishment truly learned nothing over the last twenty years?  If you want to prevent Scottish self-government (although why you'd actually want to do that is anyone's guess), you have to argue the case against it, and make it less popular in Scotland.  What you can't do is say "no matter how many people in Scotland vote for Home Rule, we'll make sure we block it using English votes at Westminster".  That's what Margaret Thatcher and John Major attempted, and it was self-evidently counter-productive - by the end of those eighteen years, a slim majority in favour of a weak Scottish Assembly had been transformed into a "settled will" for a powerful Scottish Parliament.  We could be right in the midst of a similar transformation, and if Labour create a reverse 1979 legend by letting in a Tory government specifically because they couldn't bear to work with a left-wing party that Scotland had just voted for in huge numbers, a tipping-point in favour of independence could be reached very quickly.

The other line I can't quite get my head around is "Labour can't do a deal with the SNP because Scottish Labour MPs won't put up with it".  The whole point about what's happening is that the opinions of Scottish Labour MPs are about to count for much less than at any time in the last century, because there simply won't be very many of them.  It's the views of English Labour MPs that matter - and more to the point, what their views are after the election, rather than right now.    It's easy to be gung-ho about rejecting a deal until you're faced with hard, unyielding parliamentary arithmetic that forces you to make a very tough choice between being in government with the help of others, and not being in government at all.


  1. Tories 18 (+3), LD 4, Green 3, UKIP 2 (-2).

    All margin of error noise really.

    1. Agree. MOE. Nothing really budging despite some jawdroppingly desperate and panicky attempts from the tories and Labour to stir up public opinion for their side.

  2. So all the doom and gloom over the past month with the coordinated NHS scare stories on BBC and the print media has not had much effect. Labour must be sick. If so go to A & E. (Couldn't resist that one.)

    1. look at today's Daily Record cover - savage stuff indeed

  3. Aye, that'll do.

    A good lead, but a long way to go.

    Lots of work to be done, folks to get anything like this at all.

    1. The work is being done but we are certainly going to ramp it up as polling day gets closer and closer.

      Remember folks it's basically only a few weeks left to turn this kind of polling into reality by helping out the campaign in any way you can. You certainly won't regret it. :-)

  4. Ukip supporters returning to Tory? A sign of intended tactical voting?

    1. Possibly more a function of the fact that UKIP are standing in relatively few Scottish constituencies. The list I saw posted on Monday by the Electoral Reform Society said there were only 9 UKIP candidates in Scotland (out of 59).

      The previous YouGov poll had them on 4%, which would be practically impossible with only 9 candidates. A 4% vote share would give them a 26% vote share in those 9 seats, assuming all 59 are of broadly equal size (they aren't in the two cases of the island group seats). Even a 2% national vote share is overly optimistic, but it is at least a bit more realistic.

  5. More significant is the marked drop in Jim Murphy's personal ratings, dropping off from a poor 33% 8 weeks ago down to 26% now. Looking forward to some analysis regarding leaders ratings James, very significant, perhaps more so than the poll headline figures which are virtually static (within MOE, perhaps slight nudge up for the Torys.
    Thoroughly appalling poll for my former party, the magnitude and severity of the impending oblivion has increased since September 2014.

    Absolutely unprecedented results for Labour in Scotland, unheard of in fact. Latest YouGov, IPSOS, TNS, ICM and Survation polls all painting a similar picture as we head towards the dissolution of the Westminster parliment.

    My former party- themselves and themselves alone to blame. DS.

    1. I would actually be astonished if Labour support was really as highly as 27%.

      We have to remember they polled in the low 30s in 2011 and, to me, it feels that things have got a lot more than 5 - 6% worse for them since then.

    2. "More significant is the marked drop in Jim Murphy's personal ratings,"

      Yup. :-)

      I remember all the right-wing lunatics and fawning Blairites trying to convince themselves that Murphy was a great choice because we in the SNP were all laughing so much.

      Well, surprise, surprise! Turns out that ramming through little Ed's placeman Murphy to be leader - who is quite obviously a right-wing ultra-Blairite - was a laughably bad idea after all.

      It demonstrates perfectly just how much attention should be paid to the out of touch twits and westminster chattering classes since they actually believed all the bullshit about the Eggman's campaigning 'prowess' without even checking the facts.

  6. I think people got sick of their negativity during the referendum campaign, Marcia.

    Blair McD likes to say that the negativity and doom and gloom paid off, and in a way it did, at least with old people scared of their pensions suddenly not being paid, barbed wire border posts, and their grandchildren becoming foreigners...

    I think that they forget that what really won the referendum for them was the Clunking Fist making promises he promptly broke, and the Daily Record, or whoever it was, making a vow which was also more or less immediately broken.

    Six months is too short a time for most folk to forget what rubbish they spouted. The devo-super-double-plus-max, turns out to be tax powers we can't use and social security changes re housing, that we will have to fund from the block grant. And not a great deal else.

    The negativity and talking down of everything that people in Scotland work hard to provide...NHS, schools, police social workers, just seems now to hack everyone off.

    Added to that, they chose the wrong leader. He has no charisma, no charm. He doesn't even have sex appeal, which might have helped him with some. He's not articulate, he has an irritating voice, and his protestations of being a patriotic Scottish socialist are beyond parody.

    They seem to have nothing to offer, and Murphy is Labours Mrs Thatcher.

    However, Kevin's dead right.

    We need to go on doing whatever we are doing. We couldn't wish for a more hard-working or better team at the top led by a woman who just never stops.

    The rest of us must keep on doing what we're doing and never give them a change to win back any ground.

    1. "I think that they forget that what really won the referendum for them was the Clunking Fist making promises he promptly broke, and the Daily Record, or whoever it was, making a vow which was also more or less immediately broken."

      Indeed tris and it's stretching credibility beyond breaking point to somehow believe that it's just a mere coincidence that the Ashcroft polling found the biggest swing of all to the SNP in, (surprise, surprise) Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath. Gordon Brown's seat.

      The scottish public is actually noticing this coming general election and weighing it up with every recent westminster promise, vow and platitude about being "Better Together". Be in no doubt about that. Particularly amid this new deluge of anti-scottish bile and hatred from the westminster establishment unionist parties and media.

    2. Added to that, they chose the wrong leader. He has no charisma, no charm. He doesn't even have sex appeal, which might have helped him with some. He's not articulate, he has an irritating voice, and his protestations of being a patriotic Scottish socialist are beyond parody.

      Are you saying Boyack or Findlay beat him in any of these departments (apart from the socialist one)?

      I'd say he is actually pretty articulate, and has a certain kind of homiletic charm. In the 2010 leader (or whatever) debates he did better than Salmond. His main problem is that he's too nakedly unprincipled, too willing to say anything, no matter how meaningless. The NHS stuff is the prime example. Fighting a Westminster election on an issue just about everyone now knows is devolved is pushing the public's gullibility just a bit too far.

      But who do you think would've made the best leader, from what was on offer?

  7. Jim Murphys speech party conference was laughable,slept in cupboard drawer to seeing robben Island from his house

  8. No change. How is this comparing to the 2010 and 2011 polls at this stage?

    1. IN 2010 Labour were polling in the high 30's and the SNP were polling in the low 20's.

    2. I found a poll from Yougov almost 5 years to this day.

      Strange that the Tories are at 18% 5 years ago,

    3. The YouGov poll on 3 March 2010 had Lab 39, SNP 24, Con 18, LD 14. That wasn't a million miles out from the actual result. Labour went up 4 and SNP went down 4, although the circumstances were obviously different in 2010.[%223a7d4171-9059-4c0e-9496-a1c600c4a9ed%22]#bar

      The YouGov Holyrood constituency poll at 18 March 2011 had Labour 41, SNP 38, Con 10, LD 6. Much further away from the actual result of course, but the poll indicated that the big swing was underway.[%223a7d4171-9059-4c0e-9496-a1c600c4a9ed%22]#bar

  9. 2011 Constituency results
    Votes % (+/-)
    SNP 902,915 45.39 (+12.46)
    Labour 630,461 31.69 (-0.45)
    Conservative 276,652 13.91 (-2.69)
    LibDem 157,714 7.93 (-8.25)

  10. O/T but interesting

    Those who are real anoraks would have noticed that the Greens in Scotland are only running in about half of the constituencies. That by itself is not astonishing but if you dig deeper and look at the constituencies where they currently have no candidate, you will note a pattern. They appear to be not running candidates in rural seats currently held by the LibDems, and in seats in the West of Scotland.currently projected as close seats between Labour and SNP.

    A cynical person would deduce some kind of agreement between the Greens and SNP in those seats. If this holds, one could reasonably expect that most of the Scottish Green vote ( not all) is likely to end up in the SNP column in those seats and this may make a considerable difference in the end result.

    1. I wish to hell they weren't running here, where we're neck and neck with the Tories and need every vote we can get to send Mundell packing.

    2. I would've thought it's just because they can't afford too many lost deposits. What kind of deal do you think could exist between the Greens and SNP? I mean, what could the Greens get out of it?

    3. I don't think there is a deal, but it's not hard to see how the Greens could indirectly benefit from the SNP wiping out the pro-austerity unionist parties.

  11. @tris

    "The negativity and talking down of everything that people in Scotland work hard to provide...NHS, schools, police social workers, just seems now to hack everyone off."

    Yes, and now we see the running down of Scotland because of the latest finance figures, where we had a relatively bad year.

    They seem to delight in telling Scots they are useless and need subsidised by London. Rather than needing the powers to compete with London.

    I don't see why that attitude would make people want to vote for their party.

    1. It has done for decades, so you can see why they'd keep trying it.

  12. Of course we can't take anything for granted, but I expected the lead to be quite a bit smaller by now. With only two months to go, time really is running out for Labour.

  13. I'll admit to being somewhat nervous as to what might happen to the SNP's solid lead once we get into the "official" campaign period. Then again look what happened to Labour's position during the business end of the 2011 campaign. I'm stuck between wondering whether the SNP's lead will dwindle, or that they might stick on a few more % come 7 May. I don't dare to dream.

  14. You never know. It's probably mostly political amoraks that actually realise that SNP are in the lead. This news will get even more widely known during the campaign. I think this can only help SNP - many people like to back a winner - also there can be no longer argument that an SNP vote is a wasted vote as they are competitive in every seat in the country. We just have to be wary of the same suspects from the referendum (newspapers, BBC, Westminster elite and their big business pals).

  15. So that's the British army now having a say on how Scotland should be 'occupied'.

    All fine though right. I mean foreign government controlled armies acting to limit democratic governance is nothing to be concerned about now is it.

  16. This poll shows the complete failure of Jim Murphys campaign.

    His approach was to target the former Labour voters, who had voted Yes in the referendum and had left Labour as a result. he reckoned they were mostly older males, from the Glasgow area.

    He has therefore looked closely at what it was that made these voters leave Labour, and he has went all out to convince them that 'Labour had Changed' and was now all the things these voters wanted from Labour.

    Patriotic, Socialist, Not beholding to London, Like a drink at the football, etc etc.

    In order for the Murphy campaign to have been shown to have worked, Labour needed to see a drop in the SNP vote, and a similar increase in Labours vote, as these older Yesers, came back into Labours fold.

    The fact that Labour hasn't saw a single percentage point increase, as well as the drop in Jim Murphys personal rating, shows clearly that his campaign has failed.

    With the pressure within Labour already causing friction, I wonder just how much grumbling will be going on among the activists today about the Murphy team, and I wonder if we will start to see some 'off the record briefings' against McTernan/McDougal/Murphy over the next few days.

    Would be nice to see the hunter become the hunted.

  17. Current support for independence is Yes: 49% No: 51%. A fall from last time, although it looks like the referendum recall figures have finally been weighted back to the actual result.

    Labour have also overtaken the SNP as who would be best to stop a Covervative Governement (37% to 36%), although that question came after several leading ones, about whether Scotland would be better off under a Labour or Conservative Goverment, and if SNP taking seats from Labour would help the Conservatives.

    SNP voters are also most decided/very likely to vote for the party they think they will (89%, compared with Labour (85%) and Conservative (87%).

    1. Link to the tables:

      Holyrood constituency VI:

      SNP 49 (-2), Lab 27 (+1), Con 14 (+2), LD 5 (+1), Others 5 (-2).

      Holyrood list VI:

      SNP 43 (-1), Lab 25 (+1), Con 15 (+3), Green 8 (=), LD 5 (+1), Others 5 (-3).

      I wonder if the changes (particularly the Tory boost) is mainly due to the recalled referendum vote adjustment. If anything that would make the poll a bit more accurate. The one thing against that is that Ashcroft had the Tories lower than in 2010 in all of his polls, yet 18% would represent a 1% increase on 2010.

    2. Also, just noticed there has been HUGE upweighting of the SNP 2011 (Lab 2010) group, from 40 to 105 respondents.

    3. Hopefully YouGov will junk that adjustment after May.

    4. Yes, will start to get ridiculous if they have a Lab 2010-SNP 2011-SNP2015 (but still deep down love Lab) grouping. For now it's just plain stupid.

  18. Populus sub-sample:

    SNP 45, Lab 26, Con 11, LD 8.

    Slightly bigger SNP down-weight than in their last few polls.

  19. But that wasn't the rationale being put forward - instead we were invited to believe that a rejection of a deal would prevent harm being done to the Union. It's difficult to know whether to laugh or cry - have the Westminster establishment truly learned nothing over the last twenty years?

    Never interrupt an enemy when they are making a mistake. What the British establishment are doing is exactly what they did with the Irish as well. Obviously, there is a different context in Scotland, but they are being as intransigent in their dealings with the Scottish electorate as they were with the Irish one. The Irish Republic may well still be part of the British state if they had been given a significant amount of autonomy. Instead, the British state arrogantly dismissed Irish demands, and the same thing is happening with Scotland.

    The fact is that the worst thing the British state could do is behave in the manner that we are witnessing at present, with their MSM cronies stirring up anti-Scottish sentiment by the bucket loads of horseshit.

  20. Would be nice to see a Populus full scale Scottish poll. Seems to be the preserve of Yougov Mori and Survation with the odd offerings from ICM and Panelbase.

    Don't imagine the red rosette wearers in the Thatcher Tribute Party would glean any comfort from Populus if they did, looking at their last 20 or so Scottish sub samples the SNP lead appears to have actually widened.
    As the iron lady was asked "what was your greatest achievement or creation as PM?"....."New Labour" were the two words she snapped almost instantaneously. And as much as I despised her politics, I found myself agreeing with her, especially post 09/14.

  21. Another great blogg from Mr.Kelly,always tempered with logic,great reading.Should save them up and make an abridged version as a book,paperback of course.