I think if I was a Liberal Democrat, I'd be distinctly underwhelmed by the findings of the first two Britain-wide voting intention polls of 2017. Both YouGov and ICM have Tim Farron's party trailing in fourth place, behind UKIP by several points. The suggestions of a few weeks ago that 'normal service' had been resumed and that the broadcast media could safely revert to treating the Lib Dems as the 'real' third force of British politics now ring even more hollow than they did at the time. The very minor boost that YouGov reported for the party after Richmond Park appears to have been largely reversed, while ICM never really showed a boost in the first place. The most that can be said now is that the Lib Dems are at the higher end of what was their 'normal range' of support prior to Richmond Park. Unless they achieve a big headline success story at the local elections in May, the momentum from their by-election triumph may end up being squandered. It's the age-old story - for every by-election sensation like Hamilton that truly changes the course of history, there are ten other sensations that turn out to be one-hit wonders in retrospect.
Meanwhile, YouGov asked a long series of supplementary questions relating to Brexit, which allow us to make some sort of comparison between British public opinion and Scottish public opinion - and there's certainly quite a sharp contrast between the two. OK, we always have to bear in mind that Scottish subsamples of Britain-wide polls are small and not necessarily reliable - but for what it's worth, the Scottish voting intention figures intuitively 'feel' pretty close to the money. The SNP are on 51%, the Tories on 20%, Labour on 16% and the Lib Dems on 8%. Perhaps the SNP are a little too high and the Tories a touch too low, but the figures are certainly not far off from what we believe to be the true state of play. That adds a bit more credibility to what you're about to see.
How well or badly do you think the government are doing at negotiating Britain's exit from the European Union?
Britain-wide figures : Very or fairly well 20%, Very or fairly badly 57%
Scottish figures : Very or fairly well 8%, Very or fairly badly 69%
In hindsight, was Britain right or wrong to leave the European Union?
Britain-wide figures : Right 47%, Wrong 43%
Scottish figures : Right 31%, Wrong 60%
Do you think Britain will be economically better or worse off after we leave the European Union, or will it make no difference?
Britain-wide figures : Better off 29%, Worse off 37%
Scottish figures : Better off 14%, Worse off 55%
Do you think Britain will have more or less influence in the world after we leave the European Union, or will it make no difference?
Britain-wide figures : More influence 21%, Less influence 36%
Scottish figures : More influence 11%, Less influence 54%
Do you think leaving the EU will have a good or bad effect on British jobs, or will it make no difference?
Britain-wide figures : Good for jobs 28% , Bad for jobs 32%
Scottish figures : Good for jobs 15%, Bad for jobs 47%
Do you think leaving the EU will have a good or bad effect on the NHS, or will it make no difference?
Britain-wide figures : Good for the NHS 30%, Bad for the NHS 25%
Scottish figures : Good for the NHS 13%, Bad for the NHS 36%
Do you think leaving the EU will have a good or bad effect on people’s pensions, or will it make no difference?
Britain-wide figures : Good for pensions 10%, Bad for for pensions 25%
Scottish figures : Good for pensions 4% , Bad for pensions 41%
What I find most extraordinary about those numbers is that, even now, there seems to be a lingering faith south of the border in the Leave campaign's claim that Brexit would somehow magically make the NHS better. A nasty shock is coming to a country near you...
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