I have my fears for the Polling Matters podcast, as it gradually deepens its new relationship with Stormfront Lite. It's just introduced a readers' questions feature, and it's surely now only a matter of time before Sean Thomas is presenting a regular 'Bangkok Brothels Review' slot on the show. The rot hasn't set in quite yet, though, and the latest episode is once again a good listen, with Ed Miliband's private pollster James Morris giving the inside story of the election campaign from his own point of view. As I understand it, Labour was his client and not his employer, which probably explains why there's no spin in evidence at all.
Scotland is only mentioned in passing, but three points of relevance to us are raised -
1) We're told that a Labour internal poll "last year" showed the SNP in the high 40s, with Labour way behind, vying with the Tories for second place. The figures were initially distrusted, until a poll the following day showed much the same story. This is quite a vague anecdote, but I'm wondering if it means that Labour had 24 hours' notice of the bombshell that was about to hit when Ipsos-Mori published their famous poll in late October, showing the SNP on 52% and Labour on 23%. Other than subsamples, there had been no indication prior to that of the scale of the SNP surge.
2) Morris concedes that there are some differences between public attitudes in Scotland and the rest of the UK - for example, Scots are opposed to austerity, and are somewhat more liberal on immigration. However, he insists (in line with the familiar establishment consensus) that these differences are overplayed, and that Labour's weaknesses south of the border are much the same as their weaknesses north of the border - Scots are just as sceptical as people in England about Labour's competence in managing public finances, and in protecting the UK's borders. I'm inclined to say "up to a point, Lord Copper", because you also have to take into account public attitudes to Labour's main opponent in each country. The SNP won a landslide while being explicitly positive about the benefits of immigration - it's very hard to imagine any party doing that in England in the foreseeable future.
3) We're told that Labour genuinely expected to form the new government, even though they recognised it was doubtful that they would be the largest single party. This is the most compelling evidence yet that Jim Murphy and the rest of the Scottish Labour party were directly lying to the public when they repeatedly insisted that the largest party would get to form the government (in an attempt to frighten people into voting Labour rather than SNP). In private, they not only accepted the constitutional theory that the second-largest party could form a government, they actually thought that was the most likely outcome of the election.
What was that Jim Murphy was saying the other day about Scottish politics operating within a "post-truth" environment? Well, he should know if anyone does, I suppose.