Wednesday, April 30, 2014

YouGov survey puts SNP in pole position for European elections

There have been so many different polls over the last few weeks that it's possible I've lost track somewhere along the line, but I'm fairly sure this is the first time YouGov have interviewed a full-scale sample of Scottish respondents on their European Parliament voting intentions for next month (we've had a few straws in the wind by way of subsamples, but no more than that).

SNP 33%
Labour 31%
Conservatives 12%
UKIP 10%
Liberal Democrats 7%
Others 6%

As for the apportionment of Scotland's six seats in the parliament, that works out as...

Labour 2
Conservatives 1

It's possible to look at these findings in either a 'glass half full' or 'glass half empty' sort of way. On the one hand YouGov are agreeing with ICM and Survation that the SNP have the lead in the popular vote and are in line to finally take that elusive third seat. But on the other hand YouGov differ from the other pollsters in suggesting that the SNP's position is fairly precarious. It's well within the margin of error that Labour could win the popular vote, and that either Labour or UKIP could snatch the one seat that is generally assumed to be hanging in the balance. (If UKIP are in with a shout of outpolling the Tories there could actually be two seats in the balance.)

I'm inclined to look on the sunny side of life on this occasion, though. In recent times YouGov have established a reputation not only as a No-friendly pollster, but also as the BPC pollster that tends to show the worst position for the SNP at Holyrood. That being the case, it wouldn't have surprised me if YouGov had contradicted ICM and Survation to the point of actually giving Labour the outright lead in this poll. The fact that hasn't happened must surely increase the likelihood that the SNP do indeed have a genuine lead on the ground.

The jury is still out on how big that lead is, though, and these new numbers will hopefully underline the importance of natural SNP supporters not mucking around with misconceived 'tactical voting' for the Greens. Unfortunately, it does now look as if UKIP and their repulsive lead candidate David Coburn are in with a fighting chance of nicking a Scottish seat, but if they are ultimately prevented from doing so it will be either the SNP or Labour who save the day. The Greens are absolutely nowhere in this race, and their campaign tactic of framing the election as a straight choice between themselves and UKIP for the final seat looks ever more disreputable by the minute. To put it more bluntly, the grossly misleading Green campaign could easily end up being directly responsible for a UKIP breakthrough.

Patrick Harvie is undoubtedly one of the Yes campaign's greatest assets, but it's hard not to sigh in despair at the double standard he's displayed over the last couple of days. He's demanded that Christians for Independence return their donation from Brian Souter, not so much on the grounds of Souter's views on homosexuality, but on the grounds that Souter tried to subvert democracy with a "sham referendum" on Section 28. Well, I didn't approve of that referendum any more than Harvie did, and I followed the advice not to return my ballot paper. But there was nothing illegal about what Souter did - in fact, leaving aside the distasteful nature of the views that motivated it, I'd have to concede it was a fairly clever campaigning wheeze. Certainly no more or less objectionable than the Greens hoodwinking people into thinking that the Holyrood regional list vote is some kind of "second preference" vote, or than the Greens fibbing about being the only party capable of stopping UKIP. All of these tactics are underhand and exasperating, but not illegitimate, and none of them are sufficiently dreadful as to require the perpetrators to be excommunicated from the entire democratic process, as Harvie seems to think Souter should be.

* * *

In the European Parliament, the SNP sit in the left-wing Green/European Free Alliance group, and the Tories sit in the rebel right-wing group they largely created themselves, the ECR. The current predictions are that the two groups will be tied for overall fifth place, with 41 seats apiece. So the exact breakdown of seats in Scotland could conceivably have a much wider significance than we realise.


  1. Hi James I did a Yougov over 2 weeks ago this must be it there were also questions on Holyrood , and Referendum question I wondered why it never appeared ,is it usual to wait this long?

  2. This poll was commissioned by the IPPR and the Universities of Edinburgh and Cardiff as part of academic research, so that might explain the slightly longer delay. There have been no referendum figures published as of yet.

    Apparently people were interviewed by YouGov on the referendum a day or two ago, though, so it's possible we might be hearing something from that quite soon (unless it was another internal or testing poll).

  3. 10% for UKIP is a worry and a disappointment,In Wales they are at I think 21% so right wing in Wales on 38% and in England 50+ Milliband has no chance of victory in GE which of course is great news for us in Scotland

  4. It will all come down to differential turnout, which is good for the SNP and Tories and bad for Labour and UKIP.

  5. It will all come down to differential turnout, which is good for the SNP and Tories and bad for Labour and UKIP.

  6. There is no question that a number of essentially SNP supporters will be mislead into voting Green for the soon to be lost Lib Dem seat.

    As you correctly assess, all the evidence points to voting SNP as the best way for a pro independence voter to stop UKIP from gaining their first ever representative at ANY level in Scotland.

  7. James, did you see that YG/Uni of Cardiff poll of English voters on EU VI and "standing up for England's interests" tables are now up?

  8. Yes, and the same questions were asked in Scotland, so it's a bit mysterious that we haven't seen those datasets yet.

  9. I'm guessing the practice of slitting SNP voters up and weighting them seperately is the reason for YouGov's Labour and NO friendly results.