Friday, June 8, 2018

Sensational YouGov poll suggests SNP would make sweeping gains in a snap general election, with support for an independence referendum also increasing

For the first time in months we have a full-scale Scottish poll.  This one has certainly proved worth the wait, because on Westminster voting intentions it shows the SNP opening up an enormous seventeen point lead over Labour, who have firmly moved back down into third place. 

Scottish voting intentions for the next UK general election (YouGov):

SNP 40% (+4)
Conservatives 27% (+4)
Labour 23% (-5)
Liberal Democrats 7% (+1)
Greens 2% (-1)
UKIP 1% (-2)

If those figures were replicated in any early general election, Labour would be likely to face a 2015-style wipeout, with the modest gains they made from the SNP last year being reversed.  And although the Tories have picked up support since the last YouGov poll, that has been entirely offset by a substantial increase in the SNP's own support, meaning that the SNP remain on course for seat gains from the Tories as well.  In short, it's a poll of unalloyed wonderfulness for the SNP, and The Times (who commissioned it) deserve some kind of medal for being brazen enough to put the words "Poll Blow for Sturgeon" in their headline!  (I'm not even joking - they've actually done that.)

In fairness, there may be an element of a 'reversion to the mean' about the SNP's four-point boost, because the last poll from YouGov saw the party on an unusually low 36%.  Nevertheless, of the five full-scale Scottish polls published by all firms this year, this is the first to show the SNP hitting the 40% mark.  Labour's dismal third place showing looks particularly significant, because there had been a run of polls from last autumn through to early spring putting Labour in second place.  In recent months, there has been a marked swing from Labour to Tory in Britain-wide polls, and it looks like that is being replicated in Scotland.

Intriguingly, though, the swing doesn't look quite as pronounced in Holyrood voting intentions.

Scottish Parliament voting intentions (constituency ballot):

SNP 41% (+3)
Conservatives 27% (+1)
Labour 22% (-1)
Liberal Democrats 6% (-1)
Greens 2% (-1)

Scottish Parliament voting intentions (regional list ballot):

SNP 32% (n/c)
Conservatives 26% (+1)
Labour 21% (-1)
Greens 9% (-1)
Liberal Democrats 7% (n/c)
SSP 3% (+1)
UKIP 1% (-2)

So why are Labour taking a bigger hit at Westminster than at Holyrood?  The clue may lie in the fact that they had remained in third place in Holyrood voting intentions even while they were in second place at Westminster.  It could be that some people had toyed with cross-voting (Labour for Westminster, SNP or Tory for Holyrood) because of the appeal of Corbynism, but are now bringing their Westminster vote back into line with their Holyrood constituency vote.

For reasons that are not at all clear, YouGov consistently show lower support for an early independence referendum than other polling firms.  Panelbase, for example, often find the public split right down the middle on whether there should be an independence referendum in as little as two years.  The new YouGov poll still doesn't show a position quite as favourable as that, but there has been a sharp move in the right direction.

In principle, do you think there should or should not be a referendum on Scottish independence at some point in the next five years?

Should be a referendum: 40% (+4)
Should not be a referendum: 52% (-2)

Supplementary questions also show an increase in support for a referendum being held just before Brexit, or after Brexit.

The standard independence question was also asked, finding an increase in support for Yes.  However, the figures are within YouGov's normal range, so the change may just be margin of error 'noise'.  As Calum notes in the comment section below, the fact that YouGov now appear to be including 16 and 17 year olds in their sample may have played a part, although that's unlikely to have made more than a 1% difference after rounding.

Should Scotland be an independent country?

Yes 45% (+2)
No 55% (-2)

In case you're wondering, the thin justification for the ludicrous headline in The Times is a trivial two-point drop in Nicola Sturgeon's net satisfaction rating.  Ruth Davidson has suffered a slightly bigger drop of four points, but what makes the reporting really silly is that there is another leader who has suffered a catastrophic reversal in fortunes.  Jeremy Corbyn's net rating has plummeted from -3 to -30.  But for whatever reason, The Times thought that the steady-as-she-goes result for Ms Sturgeon was more worthy of a hysterical headline.

Oh, and Richard Leonard's net rating has slipped from -15 to -20.  But a majority of respondents still don't have any view on him (ie. they don't know who he is).


  1. Also, poll has Yes: 45% No: 55%, the highest yes with YouGov in over a year (although they've finally included 16 and 17 year olds which maybe boosted yes by around a point)

  2. when was the poll carried out james?

  3. Very encouraging poll figures. The high Blue Tory vote is a bit of a mystery given the dismal calibre of their MSPs and MPs. The falling Red Tory vote isn't as much of a surprise - I mean, Richard Leonard! Do the Red and Blue Tories flip back and fore between themselves? Given that Alistair Darling/Ruth Davidson/A.N.Other and their familiars represent basically the same set of managerial "skills" with no principles, there's not much to choose between them.

  4. Seems like good poll news. I will take it!

  5. Davidson scores high because scottish media never report on how useless she is or indeed hold her to account for anything

  6. SNP needs to tackle their List vote drift - ostensibly to the Greens.

    Just don't understand SNP voters who do this - it's like pouring Malt Whisky down the sink so you can drink Buckfast

    1. Billy Boy British LoyalistJune 8, 2018 at 10:34 PM

      Most Nat sis and benefit spoungers drink Buckfast around the Coatbridge Catholic Circle etc. Unionists drink the best Malts.

    2. You've bought into the SNP narrative.

      These are Yes/Green voters who vote SNP when there is no Green candidate. i.e. the SNP vote in the constituency vote is inflated rather than its list vote being deflated.

      I've often wondered why people can't see the other side of this coin, but that's what party politics does to you I suppose.

    3. Well, that's the Green/RISE narrative. Some people are doing what you suggest, but you know as well as I do that some people wrongly think of the list ballot as a second preference or 'bonus' vote. It's a combination of factors, but I very much doubt that the SNP would be as low as 32% if people fully understood the importance of the list vote.

    4. Just don't understand SNP voters who do this - it's like pouring Malt Whisky down the sink so you can drink Buckfast

      It's not really much like that

  7. Odd that Corbyn's rating has fallen so sharply, what's driving it? The concocted antisemitism stuff cutting through? Or are Remain voters getting fed up with his Brexit strategy (does this fit the pattern of the movement presumably being based in the Central Belt?)

    A little odd considering how well he is doing at PMQs just now.

    1. It's pretty much only people who hated him in the first place who buy into the antisemitism stuff. His lack of enthusiasm for the EU will definitely be hurting him, though. He's quite lucky the Lib Dems are dead and Remainers have nowhere else to go.

  8. I think that a more helpful way of assessing how the various party leaders are performing is not the widely-reported net totals, but how their “very well + Fairly well” figure compares with the VI of their party. i.e. are they pulling their party up, or pulling it down?

    Pulling up (party’s support in brackets)
    +18 Davidson 45% (27%)
    +5 Sturgeon 45% (40)
    +5 Corbyn 28% (23%)

    Pulling down
    -3 May 24% (27%)
    -10 Leonard 13% (23%)
    ? Rennie? (7%)

    So, in contrast to the widely misleading headlines and reporting, it is not Sturgeon or Corbyn who are disasters for their parties, it is Theresa May, and, especially Richard Leonard. Davidson is, I’m sorry to say, a star among a large chunk of the general public, even non-Tories.

    It is actually Rennie’s weakness that worries me. It was the immense LD to Con unwind in rural Scotland that lost the SNP so many seats. We need the LDs to be doing *much* better in order to dampen the Con vote. My hunch is that the Con core-vote is still at the low level (about 15%) it has been for decades. The rest is just froth, especially LD froth. Please measure Rennie YouGov!

    I think that the Growth Commission bickering may be suppressing Sturgeon’s ratings at the moment. A lot of pro-independence people are worried about her. They needn’t be.

    1. Aye. I was at the RD Glasgow Uni talk and saw an old acquaintance there. I assumed that, like me, she was there to do some "opposition research." Turns out she actually quite likes Davidson and wonders if "she's in the right party." It seems like Davidson's "detoxification" of the Tories is actually working. Showing her up for the hateful, incompetent, powerless pole-climber she is will be a key part of winning a second referendum AND preventing Scotland falling into her craven hands.

    2. Absolutely right. Davidson might be an oafish buffoon with few obvious talents, but with the help of the media she had detoxified her party to a certain extent. That seems to have backfired due to the Westminster government's appalling handling of so many issues and the very low calibre of Tory MPs and MSPs. I'm not sure her party will retain their seats in the north-east given the UK government's stance on fishing and Scottish produce.
      Hope they get a hammering again.

  9. Encouraging poll results and trends. Perfect for the first day of the SNP conference. If we can just convince Labour voters that to keep the Tory party at bay they should put their trust in the SNP and that in doing so they will help burst Ruth's deflating bubble.

    The media including the BBC have been guilty of outrageous hagiography of Davidson without asking serious questions. This has reached the ridiculous situation of someone totally untested in senior office being touted as a potential PM. She is appalling under pressure and would not last five minutes in the bear pit that is Westminster Cabinet power politics. It is an insane proposition and I am not sure senior Tories really buy into it but are happy to big Ruth up so as to make her look credible to Scottish voters. However, those senior Tories may be hoist by their own petard if they are not careful. UK politics has never been more volatile.

    1. I totally agree with you on the bizarre touting around of Ruth Davidson as possible British PM with no experience of anything other than making funny faces and guffawing with laughter in an Afghan minefield near Pacific Quay. It is ludicrous until you look at the other names being put forward - Gove, Mogg, Johnson et al. It is ludicrous until you see than Fox and Davis have been employed in senior posts.

      For years the BBC backed UKIP's Farage. They like a hearty, bluff buffoon who will say the sort of thing that would shock a maiden aunt in 1952. Farage is gone and they've latched on to novelty politician Davidson.

      The people and interest groups who really run the Conservative Party won't want another lump of uselessness like May, so Davidson is never going to be British PM.

      Winston Churchill's future looks a lot more promising than poor Davidson's.

  10. Great poll and very promising. I've taken to following Tory discussions online; it's revealing how little they understand about Scotland. This is a rare clear sighted article by s Scottish Tory who appears to understand what is going on:

    Fortunately the slow motion train crash which is Brexit is taking all the Tory attention, so there is little risk of them doing anything intelligent, and frankly little motivation to hold on to Scotland. Even the prospect of re-igniting the Irish Troubles is not enough to hold back the Brexiteers.

  11. Finding it difficult to accept the suggestion that there is not a drift from SNP to Green on the list but rather an "uplift" to SNP on the constituency vote. The former seems to me far more likely than the latter - and the explanation in my view is, as suggested, a misinterpretation of the List vote as a 2nd preference

    James - is there any evidence one way or the other?

  12. What never gets asked is what do you think is going to happen if Scotland isn't independent?

    1. Not much will happen. The rich, landlords and land owning class will run the country as they do. The poor will die as they do serving the aforementioned.

    2. Pretty much. Losing a second indyref will lead to us being punished without mercy by our supposed betters.

  13. The stalemate remains. A clear unionist majority and a clear nationalist plurality.

  14. What a dilemma the Scottish Nat sis have. They want to leave the UK Union. They want independence. They want to be run by the EU. What kind of independence do th Nat sis want. Do they want independence!

  15. The better we're doing, the more shrill and angry our opponents become.

  16. James you are an unconscious comedian. I noted your twitter thingy about the Tories in Scotland. The various Tories have been in power since the Jocko Parliament opened.

  17. Labour delenda est.

  18. Nice to see that Leasky is still writing the headlines.

    SNP : MAY shows contempt for Scottish Democracy.

    A casual glance would leave the impression that BOTH The SNP and May were showing contempt. It's a trick that they've used before.

    No doubt good old @leaskyht can provide an explanation. HOpefully without using the words trumpist or Putin.