Monday, June 1, 2015

YouGov's first post-election Scottish subsample hints at increasing support for the SNP

The dearth of polling data since the general election has been almost unbelievable.  YouGov's daily polls ground to a complete halt from May 8th onwards, and as far as I can see Survation's poll immediately after election day is the only voting intention poll we've had from any firm until today.  OK, I know the pollsters have been feeling chastened after their second "Waterloo" in twenty years, but this is getting ridiculous - it's no exaggeration to say that we're moving into the period where the next general election could be won and lost (look at what happened to the Tories in the months after the 1992 election), and public opinion is barely being tested.

As far as the state of play in Scotland is concerned, all we've had to go on is the Survation subsample, and a full-scale Scottish YouGov poll that only probed voting intentions in a very indirect way.  Both seemed to indicate that the SNP may have further increased its support.  That impression is bolstered today by YouGov, who have finally broken their drought by publishing a Britain-wide voting intention poll.  The Scottish subsample shows -

SNP 56% (+6)
Labour 20% (-4)
Conservatives 15% (n/c)
Liberal Democrats 5% (-3)
UKIP 3% (+1)
Greens 1% (n/c)

Percentage changes are from the actual result of the general election.  Of course individual subsamples are not especially reliable, and I wouldn't normally highlight one on its own, but as it's literally all we have to go on at the moment, it's probably worth making an exception.

YouGov have naturally changed their methodology to introduce weighting by 2015 recalled vote, but I'm not clear whether they're still taking special care to make the Scottish subsample representative in its own right, as they were in the months leading up to the election.  Annoyingly (and inexplicably given the circumstances), the SNP are suddenly being lumped in with 'others' in the part of the datasets which show whether each party's 2015 voters have been upweighted or downweighted.  It certainly looks as if the SNP are being upweighted - although perhaps that isn't surprising, given that most of YouGov's pre-election subsamples underestimated Nicola Sturgeon's party, something that now has to be corrected for.

There are two particularly fascinating supplementary questions in the poll.  A grand total of 65% of respondents in Scotland think that it is either "almost certain" or "more likely than not" that Scotland will become an independent country within the next TEN YEARS.  Even in England and Wales, 51% of respondents take the same view.  But there is a much sharper divergence between Scotland and the rest of Britain on the question of how Labour should position itself in future - by a margin of 41% to 24%, respondents in Scotland think that Labour should move to the left rather than "the centre" (the latter is presumably code for the right, as in many ways Labour's current positioning is already centre-right).  In England and Wales, there is a more than 2-1 majority in favour of Labour moving to "the centre".

How do Labour square that circle, if they decide to go down a Blairite path to pursue "aspirational" English voters?  I can only think of two ways - either a) give up on the idea of recovering in Scotland and accept the inevitability of any Labour government being reliant on the SNP, or b) make the Scottish Labour party a totally independent entity.

23 comments:

  1. I think SLAB need to become an independent party. They can still be sister parties with Labour in England, but they need to be able to create and develop their own policies and organisation. They probably have to support Home Rule/Devo max as well. Their devotion to unionism/British nationalism is going to kill them off if they do not radically change course. A real Scottish Labour Party, which strongly supports Home Rule, and is aligned with the STUC and other trade unions, would be a really welcome development in Scottish politics. Arguably we have not had a real Scottish Labour Party since the sad demise of the ILP here.

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    1. "They can still be sister parties with Labour in England, "

      there lies the problem....

      as a sister party .... in return for support from the rUK Labour party they will accept the rUK Labour Party whip and end up no different from the Branch office

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    2. george m clarksonJune 3, 2015 at 5:42 PM

      the problem is that they cannot afford to "go it alone" they probably do not have enough members to support the party in Scotland by themselves and rely on handouts from London

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  2. Having taken part in this survey, it was quite detailed and took more notice of a Scottish viewpoint than previous surveys. YouGov is changing. Still does not refer to The National though so I always have to put down that I read a 'regional' paper - which gets on my nerves.

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  3. I'm not sure of the value of Scottish Labour as a totally independent party. Consider a Scottish Lab in Holyrood trying to take on a hostile Tory Government in Westminster.
    Their time in Holyrood had Blair in No 10.
    They forget there will always be Tory Governments.

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    1. @Brian Powell

      Presumably a breakaway Scottish Labour would support Home Rule. In those circumstances they would be expected to campaign with the SNP and others for Devo max. If you add the SNP's vote to Scottish Labour's at the general election you get about 75 per cent of the total vote in Scotland. In those circumstances it would be very difficult for Westminster to ignore demands for Home Rule\Devo max. It would also open the way to the SNP to put a pledge for a Home Rule referendum in their manifesto for next year. If Scottish Labour want to survive then they will need to become an independent party. That much is fairly obvious.

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  4. As I said in an earlier post - labour cannot sit astride two political viewpoints. If it veers to the right, its Scottish branch is finished for good. It's Scottish branch is faced with becoming irrelevant like the Scottish Conservatives or it breaks with UK labour, shifts to the left and tries to make amends. I just don't think the party has the stomach for a fight like that. But I would add, that if it did break away and re-engage with the left it would find itself at odds with its UK counterpart and come under similar idiotic attacks that the SNP had to endure during the GE.

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    1. Well if Scottish Labour did break away and become independent of the main UK party, then why would they be attacked like the SNP during the GE? An independent Scottish Labour Party would in that scenario have the same relationship as the Scottish Greens have with the Greens in England.

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    2. The simpleton logic of Mr Cameron and the frothing mouthed idiocy of the UK media, led to a narrative that Scotland would seek unwarranted influence by propping up labour. An independent Scottish labour party that was well to the left of the UK labour party would find itself in the same position. Even if we all voted Green, it would have been seen as seeking unwarranted influence. A line was crossed during that election, the full ramifications of which we are still to see played out.

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  5. There's a few questions around Scottish Labour becoming independent in the near future. 1st and foremost what exactly do they call themselves? 2nd, did Murphy not just spend the last 6 months trying to cover up Lamonts daming exposure of the truth? 3rd, how do they respond to point 3? 4, will people ever believe/trust they are not under the thumb of UK Labour:how do they ever make that distinction? 5. Where will they get their funding from? UK Labour can't donate because of point 4.

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    1. How about the "Independent, Totally Financially Autonomous from Power-Mad Union Overlords, Definitely Not A Scottish Branch Office Like What That Wee Besom Lamont Said, Party"? Or the ITFAPUODNASBOLWTWBLSP for short? It's not that bad once you get your tongue round it, as the actress said to the bishop.

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  6. Lovely it could be better 100% but mustn't be greedy 56% is better 55%. Well done Jame your a wiz kid keep it coming.

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  7. A lot of those not inside Labour can see plainly what they need to do, but it won't be so obvious to those inside the camp. Like in love, or in devotion to sports teams fallen on harder times, it takes a long, long time to go from knowing you have to change to actually doing it.

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  8. What would be the actual point of an "independent Scottish sister party" to rUK Labour?
    Is there a belief that this will create a unionist option for "soft" nationalist voters?

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    1. The point would be that an independent Scottish Labour Party would be able to develop their own policies in relation to the situation here. They would also be able to be closer to the trade unions in Scotland than they are at present.

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    2. Sounds like SNP lite to me. Admittedly my experience growing up in a west of Scotland community lorded over by labour councillors and their cronies leaves me ill disposed to anything that might revive labours fortunes

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  9. Best wishes for an independent Scotland sooner rather than later. I have just returned from hearing Alex Salmond at the Hay Festival - a terrific performance and (perhaps surprisingly) a supportive audience.

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  10. the saltire flag makers will be on overtime

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  11. I can't shake the feeling that we didn't lose last September at all. I never felt we'd lost, even as the results were coming in and I was being patronised by Tory councillors.

    Weird.

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  12. The Labour Party north of the border are quite frankly far too gutless to snip the apron strings of London Rule in any way. The same sheepish behaviour is being displayed at the Brit Nat Brainwashing Corp at Atlantic Quay. They have the choice of two right wing Labourites in McIntosh and Dugdale for their leadership contest north of the border, that is no choice at all. Meanwhile the presence of Murphy will continue to cause division. Labour are nothing more or less than mental and financial subsidy junkies on the Party south of the border. Consign them to history.

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    1. I hope you're right. They've had a severe blow, and it's going to get worse as they feel the lack of that short money which the SNP will now be getting. They have very few activists. They're internally divided.

      But they still have 25% of the vote. One in every four people is prepared to put a cross against Labour, still. They're wounded, but wounded beasts can be dangerous. I hope they don't turn round and maul us.

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    2. The Libdems should simply shut up shop, there is no way back for them now. Labour should add the word Democrats to their name, because they are now basically the LibDems in all but name. Some 'centre' party with viewpoints that neither they nor the public really seem to understand. The Green party, need to change there name to the Green Socialist Party, as they are the only real anti-austerity party besides the SNP that the English can vote for. The political scene has changed, the names just need to match the new reality.

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  13. The problems for Scottish Labour

    1. No obvious place for them in Scotland. The Socialist Left is crowded, the SNP cover the Social Democratic Left and the Tories the Right. Where does Labour position itself?
    A unionist SNP: there are not enough left wing unionists 25% will be the ceiling.
    A Tory-lite as in rUK more or less how they were perceived in GE 15 and got 25%.
    A socialist left party - possible if they assumed leadership of the Scottish Left Project and brought all the smaller parties together - this could work but they would have to support independence. People forget that devo-max leaves defence & foreign affairs at UK level - Trident, EU. So Devo-Max is not enough.


    2. We can assume that the Tories and Lib Dems in GE15 are at their floor, so competition for unionism votes will be harder.

    3. No charismatic leader waiting in the wings - all the best folk joined the SNP as independence is a logical choice for left of centre people.

    4. An independent Labour party means no funding from London, ironically it is the Scottish Labour Party that relies on subsidies Not Scotland. The MSM can use the demonising tactic south of the border.

    In summary their best hope - cut ties with London, lead the Scottish Left Project, get the Trade Unions on board, support independence. Are you listening Neil Findlay

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