Saturday, December 27, 2014

Craig Murray

I've been following Craig Murray's quest to become an SNP candidate at the general election with quite a bit of interest and curiosity, because the outcome was always going to be the most high-profile test of whether the SNP were following a 'broad church' or a 'tight discipline' approach in the wake of the referendum.  Craig's vision of how to fight for independence was almost the polar opposite of the SNP leadership's - as I understand it, he wanted no deals with the London parties and thought that more powers for the Scottish Parliament were a distraction or a trap, whereas the leadership want a deal with Labour to bring about as many powers for Holyrood as possible.  As it happens, I entirely agree with the leadership about strategy, and think that turning our back on the chance of a much more powerful parliament within the UK would be crazy.  But it doesn't necessarily follow that Craig's disagreement with the gradualist approach should have precluded him from standing for the SNP - there's a strong case to be made that the decision should have been left to the local constituency association wherever he decided to put himself forward.

So was today's decision to bar him from the candidates' register justified?  The general rule of thumb is that the minimum discipline required to remain part of a parliamentary party is that you follow the party whip on votes of confidence.  Strictly speaking, the question that apparently proved to be Craig's undoing (whether he would vote to retain the bedroom tax if a deal with another party required the SNP to do so) is not an issue of confidence in the government.  However, it could be argued that discipline on a wide range of issues is much more important for a smaller party that is attempting to become a junior partner in a 'governing arrangement' at Westminster (I call it that because it probably won't be a full coalition).  If, say, 2 or 3 of the party's 25 MPs were known to be unwilling to vote in line with the terms of any deal, that would significantly weaken its bargaining power in post-election negotiations.

The leadership were probably in a no-win situation on this one.  By taking this decision, they've bitterly disappointed many people, including myself, who admire Craig Murray and feel that the SNP would be enhanced by being broad enough to have a place for someone like him in its parliamentary ranks.  On the other hand, in these specific circumstances, I find it hard to criticise anyone too severely for having a laser-like focus on securing the prize of more powers, and ensuring that the momentum generated by the referendum isn't squandered.  I'm fairly convinced that's what lies behind this, and I don't think Craig's suggestion that there is a danger of "managerialism" creeping in is justified.  As I've said before, if the SNP end up surprising themselves by entering into a full-blown coalition with Labour, they'll do it not because they want to (they seem genuinely repelled by the idea), but because almost any price is worth paying to bring about self-government.

By the way, I don't think anyone should be concerned about the hypothetical question relating to the bedroom tax - I would imagine the interviewers just came up with the most extreme example they could think of, ie. could you vote for something that every single person in this party loathes if it was necessary to secure a bigger objective?  In reality, it's almost impossible to conceive of any Labour-SNP deal that wouldn't abolish the bedroom tax, but it's inevitable that one or two other painful sacrifices will have to be made.

One thing about this episode is that it should dispel the silly idea being put about by some commentators that the SNP aren't really interested in a deal with Labour, and are secretly hoping for a general election outcome that would leave them as a numerically strong but politically powerless opposition group.

Friday, December 26, 2014

Breathtaking poll from "gold standard" ICM gives the SNP a 17% lead

Heaven only knows what the Guardian are doing releasing a poll on Boxing Day, but that appears to be what's just happened...

Scottish voting intentions for the 2015 UK general election (ICM) :

SNP 43%
Labour 26%
Conservatives 13%
Liberal Democrats 6%
Greens 4%

There doesn't seem to be any word on fieldwork dates yet, which of course are all-important.  I'll update the Poll of Polls at some point, although let's not forget it's Boxing Day...

UPDATE : The fieldwork took place between the 16th and 18th of December, which means the poll is more than seven days out of date, and consequently I can't add it to the Poll of Polls.  On a positive note, it was entirely conducted after Jim Murphy became Scottish Labour "leader", so this adds extra weight to the evidence from Survation that there was no immediate "Murphy bounce".  Unlike Survation, though, there have been no other ICM polls since September to provide us with pre-Murphy baseline numbers.

I haven't been able to access the datasets properly yet (possibly because I'm on my mobile), but Anthony Wells has noted that without ICM's "spiral of silence" adjustment the SNP would have had a lead of 19%, almost identical to the lead they enjoyed in the recent YouGov poll.  The adjustment basically takes a portion of Don't Knows and allocates them to the party they voted for in 2010.  This is based on past evidence that undecideds are disproportionately likely to go back to the devil they know, but whether that general rule will hold true in these highly unusual circumstances is anyone's guess.  Some of the undecideds who ICM have allocated to Labour will be people who since 2010 have voted for the SNP in the Holyrood landslide, and voted Yes in the independence referendum.  Can Labour really be said to be the default choice for such people after all that?

Thursday, December 25, 2014

A Queen-sized error of judgement

I didn't watch the Queen's speech today (I haven't bothered with it for years - paint dries in a more entertaining manner), but if it's true that she called for reconciliation between Yes voters and No voters, it was a spectacularly ill-judged comment.  For starters, as a Yes voter I'm getting a bit bloody sick of being treated by the London establishment as a belligerent in an unfortunate war that should be forgotten as soon as possible, rather than as a participant in the greatest exercise in democracy in British (let alone Scottish) history.  But more to the point, after the shocking revelation that the Queen breached her duty of impartiality to intervene on behalf of the No campaign just days before the referendum, what we needed to hear from her today was an apology, or more realistically an embarrassed silence on the topic.

I'm not a monarchist.  I don't necessarily think that getting rid of the monarchy should be the number one priority after independence, but it's high time for it to be slimmed down and totally stripped of its remaining political powers.  We've learned over the last couple of years that those powers are far more extensive than we realised, and include the right to secretly veto legislation affecting the Royal Family.  That's just not on in a supposedly democratic country.

Hope you're all having a splendid Christmas.  I should have pre-scheduled a quiz or a word-search or something, but I didn't think of it in time!

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

A stupid (and possibly malicious) mythology about the referendum polls which must not be allowed to take root

I wasn't intending to post again until after Christmas, but there's an article on Political Betting this morning which I can't allow to pass without comment. It's written by ICM's former head of polling Nick Sparrow, and seeks to cast doubt on the reliability of polls that are conducted using volunteer online panels. That's fine in principle, because we've always known that the most which can be claimed about online polls is that they work reasonably well in practice, although they definitely shouldn't work in theory. But Sparrow's use of recent Scottish examples to illustrate his reasons for thinking that online polling may not even work in practice is, I'm afraid, utterly misconceived, and possibly even malicious in intent.

"What if that poll, you know the one that said “Yes” would win in Scotland, the one that panicked the whole political establishment into making wild promises for constitutional reform for us all was – how can I put this – wrong; the product of views expressed by people with stronger views and a more optimistic outlook than others? People who might be considered to be more likely to embrace a new vision of an independent future for Scotland, less concerned than others, for example that Scotland may not have a currency, or place inside the EU."

Yeah, and what if that poll was in fact bang on the money, at least to within the standard 3% margin of error? What if we had lots of supporting evidence for that from other polls, including from PHONE POLLS? You know, like the ICM and Ipsos-Mori phone polls that put the Yes vote on 49%, well within the margin of error of YouGov's 51%? Not to mention the face-to-face poll from TNS-BMRB that had Yes on 50%?

What if there are an awful lot of people out there who simply can't understand that polls are a snapshot of opinion at a particular moment in time, and not a "prediction" of how people will vote ten days later? What if, because of that elementary misunderstanding, a politically convenient mythology is doing the rounds in some quarters that the referendum was never in fact too close to call ("the Jocks were always too sensible for that self-government nonsense"), and that the perception that it was had been caused by a single "wrong" poll? And what if someone from the polling industry, who must know perfectly well that none of this makes any logical sense whatever, buys into that mythology (albeit in a deniable way, using weasel words) in order to pursue an agenda of his own? Wouldn't that be rather cynical and irresponsible?

The reality is that polls using all data collection methods (phone, face-to-face and online) were in almost total agreement by the close of the referendum campaign. They all overestimated Yes, but not by much. YouGov's own on-the-day poll overestimated Yes by just 1% - and that was a 2% drop from the previous day's poll. That's fully consistent with Yes support having reached somewhere in the region of the high 40s by the penultimate weekend (reported as 51% in one particular poll due to the margin of error), before slipping back - which ironically is likely to have happened mostly because of the "shock and awe" campaign of terror that was triggered by the London establishment's reaction to the very poll Sparrow is moaning about.

"What if online polls, comprising panellists with stronger opinions than others, being more optimistic and more volatile suggest in the run up to the next general election that the LibDems will be annihilated, UKIP and the SNP in Scotland are surging upwards, Farage and Salmond will be the new kingmakers and mould breakers? In the end the “Yes” campaign in Scotland did not do as well as predicted, but did it do better than it would have done if the polls had suggested the “No” campaign were always going to win comfortably? What if online polls over the next few months inflate UKIP and the SNP, thereby encouraging more voters to switch to them? In the end they may not do as well as predicted by some polls, but they may do better than they would have done had earlier polls not suggested they were on the march.

This means pollsters are not innocent observers of public opinion, but active participants in the political process; not only reporting public opinion but helping to shape it."

As already noted, the Yes campaign could well have done without the poll that put them ahead. That poll did indeed "help" to shape opinion, but in a way that was - sadly - contrary to what Sparrow is slyly suggesting. But his point about the general election polls is, if anything, even more absurd than his witterings about the referendum. Tell me, Nick - which poll was it that first suggested that the SNP were heading for a landslide next May? That's right - it was an Ipsos-Mori PHONE POLL. As it happens, that poll gave the SNP an enormous 29-point lead, which is considerably larger than the lead that any online poll has reported. YouGov themselves have been positively conservative in comparison to the phone poll - they've shown SNP leads of "only" 16 and 20 points respectively.

Has this guy even been paying attention?

Christmas Poll of Polls shows SNP leading by 18%

Remember how I said last night that "unless any newspaper is crazy enough to publish a poll on Christmas Eve, that really should be that"?  Well, it turns out that the Daily Mirror is crazy enough, and they've just published a GB-wide Survation poll.  We've had an unexpected little flurry of three GB-wide polls over the last 48 hours, so for the sake of completeness I'm going to do another Poll of Polls update - I'm sure this will be the last one of 2014 (although I seem to have said that somewhere before).  It's based on one full-scale Scottish poll from Survation, plus six Scottish subsamples from GB-wide polls - three from YouGov, two from Populus and one from Survation.

Scottish voting intentions for the May 2015 UK general election :

SNP 44.1% (-1.7)
Labour 26.5% (+1.2)
Conservatives 16.5% (n/c)
Liberal Democrats 5.8% (+0.5)
UKIP 4.0% (+0.3)
Greens 1.7% (-0.2)

(The Poll of Polls uses the Scottish subsamples from all GB-wide polls that have been conducted entirely within the last seven days and for which datasets have been provided, and also all full-scale Scottish polls that have been conducted at least partly within the last seven days. Full-scale polls are given ten times the weighting of subsamples.)

The final Scottish subsample before Christmas proved to be the oddest of the lot, with Survation putting Labour well ahead of the SNP (by 48.9% to 27.1%, to be exact).  That's only the second non-Populus subsample since the independence referendum not to have the SNP in the lead.  However, there are three very good reasons why that finding is probably not significant -

1) It's based on a particularly small sample of 69 people, prior to weighting.  For comparison, a YouGov subsample will typically be based on interviews with more than 200 respondents.

2) It's not bang-up-to-date.  It may be the last poll to be published before Christmas, but it wasn't the last one to be conducted.  The more recent subsamples from Populus and YouGov have continued to show the more familiar pattern of a huge SNP lead.

3) Survation's fieldwork even partly overlapped with their own full-scale Scottish poll, which showed a mammoth 24% SNP lead.

There's also the fact that Survation weight their results by recalled Westminster vote, which we know harms the SNP.  But that's something all firms other than Ipsos-Mori do in their GB-wide polls by one means or another (if they don't literally weight by recalled Westminster vote, they weight by Westminster-centric party identification figures).

The bottom line is that it's almost certainly just a freakish result, but it's one more drop of evidence to be put into the mix with all the other drops, and the overall picture we're left with is the SNP lead of 17.6% that you see in the Poll of Polls.

All the same, this is a timely reminder of how the huge divergence between Scottish and English voting intentions may be making GB polls less reliable.  Labour have a 3-point lead across Britain in the Survation poll - but if we assume the Scottish subsample is just a freak caused by normal sampling variation, that lead may not be particularly meaningful.

*  *  *

A small technical note : I realised tonight that I've been looking at the wrong table in previous GB-wide Survation datasets - I had assumed that Survation use the numbers which have been adjusted for the "spiral of silence" in their headline results, but it appears that they actually use the unadjusted numbers instead.  That means there may have been slight inaccuracies in a small number of previous Poll of Polls updates.  However, the inaccuracies will have been very slight indeed, so I'm not going to torment myself by trying to retrospectively correct them.

*  *  *

I know we're all reeling with disbelief after the terrible events in Queen Street and George Square, but I'd still like to wish all readers of this blog a very Happy Christmas.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Support for independence reaches 50% for the first time ever in a Survation poll

I'll keep this relatively brief, because after the tragedy in Glasgow only ten hours ago, I know none of us are really in the mood for politics at the moment. However, this is a landmark finding from Survation, and many thanks to Calum Findlay for pointing it out.

Imagine there were another referendum on Scottish independence held today. How would you vote if the question were ‘Should Scotland be an independent country?'

Yes 50% (+3)
No 50% (-3)

The percentage changes are from the last Survation poll, which was (and remains) the only post-referendum poll from any firm to have No in the lead. YouGov have had Yes slightly ahead in both independence polls they have conducted since September, and there was also a narrow Yes lead in the sole Panelbase poll to ask the question. In some ways, though, tonight's result is the most impressive so far, because there's no obvious "alibi" to cover for the fact that Yes have drawn level. When the Panelbase poll was published, John Curtice was mildly critical of the question wording that had been used, and in the case of the YouGov polls he pointed out that Yes wouldn't have quite made it into the lead if there had been weighting by recalled referendum vote. With Survation there is no such get-out clause, because the question wording is scrupulously neutral, and weighting by recalled referendum vote has been applied. If that weighting hadn't been used, ie. if Survation had simply stuck with the same methodology they used in their pre-referendum polls, then they would be showing Yes in a clear lead tonight. That tells you all you need to know about the swing in favour of independence that has occurred since September (something that all pollsters agree upon), because at no point during the referendum campaign did Survation ever have Yes higher than 48%.

Respondents were also asked when, if ever, a second independence referendum should be held.  12.7% think it should take place immediately, a further 21.7% think it should happen before 2019, and 18.4% want it between 2019 and 2024.  14.5% think it should be at some point after 2024, while a hard-core of 26.3% (almost exclusively No voters) don't think a second referendum should ever take place.  Probably the best way of making sense of those numbers is to group together those who want a referendum within ten years, and those who don't (with undecideds excluded).

There should be another referendum within the next ten years : 56.4%
There shouldn't be another referendum within the next ten years : 43.6%

It's tempting to point out that the voters have once again given short shrift to the outrageously anti-democratic narrative of "it's over for a lifetime" that David Cameron tried to get off the ground on the morning of September 19th, but in truth I think even the majority of unionist politicians have long since given up on that one.  Incidentally, even with undecideds included, there is still an absolute majority (52.7%) in favour of a new referendum within a decade.

*  *  *

There have been two new GB-wide polls published over the last twenty-four hours - one from Populus, and yet another one from YouGov that I wasn't really expecting.  The Scottish subsample from the Populus poll (conducted between the 19th and 21st) has the SNP ahead of Labour by 37% to 23%, while the bang-up-to-date YouGov subsample (conducted on the 21st and 22nd) has the SNP in the lead by 43% to 27%.  Both of those results may look very similar to what we've become accustomed to, but in fact Populus are showing a significantly bigger gap than their recent average.  It's also striking that the SNP have maintained such a huge advantage in a YouGov poll that sees Labour at a Britain-wide level move up to an unusually high 36% - it seems to be in London and the North of England that Miliband is making some progress (although of course that may just be a one-off statistical blip).

And unless any newspaper is crazy enough to publish a poll on Christmas Eve, that really should be that!

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Mega Murphy meltdown as SNP rocket to 24-point lead in scorching Survation survey

There's a question I'd rather like one of the nation's journalists to ask Jim Murphy some time soon.  It goes like this.  "You know that promise you keep making that you will prevent the SNP from gaining even a SINGLE SEAT from Labour next May?  I take it you'll be resigning immediately if you don't deliver on that, yeah?"

Because as of this moment Murphy's powers of prophecy aren't looking too hot.  Survation have just released the first full-scale Scottish poll to have been conducted since he became Scottish Labour "leader" (the fieldwork took place between Monday and Thursday) and the message is absolutely identical to the one that Scottish subsamples from GB-wide polls have been sending us over the last few days - namely that the "Murphy bounce" eagerly anticipated by Jim's right-wing admirers north and south of the border has quite simply failed to materialise.  Given that the SNP's Westminster lead in the last Survation poll seemed implausibly high, I had expected them to slip back a bit tonight due to normal sampling variation, but instead there has been a further net swing of about 1% from Labour to the SNP.

Scottish voting intentions for the May 2015 UK general election :

SNP 48.2% (+2.4)
Labour 24.4% (+0.5)
Conservatives 15.9% (-0.8)
Liberal Democrats 5.3% (-0.8)
UKIP 4.0% (-0.8)
Greens 1.1% (-0.4)
BNP 0.4% (-0.3)
SSP 0.1% (-0.1)

On those numbers, Murphy's problems would go a touch further than merely a failure to keep his promise of preventing the SNP from gaining a single seat.  He'd actually be losing no fewer than THIRTY-SEVEN of the forty-one Scottish seats that Labour won at the last general election - and, needless to say, every single one of them would be a gain for the SNP.  Most amusingly of all, Murphy would even lose his own East Renfrewshire seat!

In the real world, the result is unlikely to be quite that good.  It seems reasonable to assume there'll be some kind of swing back to Labour as polling day approaches, if only because they'll have a huge advantage due to lop-sided coverage beamed in by the London media.  It's also possible that Survation are slightly overstating the SNP's lead, even as it stands now.  Although there isn't quite the clear-cut divide that we saw during much of the referendum campaign between Yes-friendly and No-friendly pollsters, Survation do seem to have emerged (at least in their online polls) as one of the most favourable firms for the SNP.  Oddly, though, the most favourable of the lot has been Ipsos-Mori, a pollster that spent the referendum campaign vying with YouGov for the title of most No-friendly firm.  Conversely, the recent polls from Panelbase have shown a somewhat lower (albeit still huge) SNP lead, even though they were for such a long time the only firm that had Yes even within touching distance.

We certainly shouldn't buy into the idea that Survation "must" be overstating the SNP, though.  It's worth pointing out that their methodology is actually much less favourable for the SNP now than it was in their pre-referendum polls, for the simple reason that they have started weighting by recalled referendum vote.  In this poll, 438 people who recall voting Yes were downweighted to count as only 411, while 482 No voters were upweighted to count as 509.  (Those numbers change slightly after undecideds and probable non-voters are stripped out, but the basic pattern remains the same.)  The mind boggles as to how big Labour's deficit would be if the pre-referendum methodology was still in operation.

Whatever we might think about specific weighting procedures and their effect on the size of the SNP lead, one thing about this poll that we should be able to have a reasonable amount of trust in is the trend, because as far as I can see there has been no further methodological change since the last Survation poll.  And it's the trend where the true horror lies for Labour.  The idea that Jim Murphy was going to be some kind of "Messiah" figure now looks unutterably daft.  The Record (which commissioned the poll) are valiantly trying to put a positive spin on the situation by distracting our attention with the results of supplementary questions that asked specifically about Murphy, but in truth even those look pretty grim for Labour.  Just 14% of voters say that they are more likely to vote Labour now that Murphy is "leader", while 18% are less likely to do so.  A quarter of voters say they think Labour will be more successful due to Murphy, compared to 16% who don't - but that's actually a much less important finding, because it will have been influenced more by the media's propaganda efforts to paint Murphy as a political colossus and obvious vote-winner, rather than by respondents' own feelings about the man.

The Record's last throw of the dice is to point to the finding that 28% of Labour voters, 14% of Tory voters and 22% of Liberal Democrat voters agree with the statement : "I am more likely to vote Labour now Jim Murphy is Scottish Labour leader". Suspiciously, though, we are not told how many Labour, Tory and Lib Dem voters agree with the statement "I am less likely to vote Labour now Jim Murphy is Scottish Labour leader", and that part of the datasets hasn't been published yet. Perhaps the most important detail we need to see is how many current SNP voters say they are less likely to vote Labour now that Murphy is in harness - because of course a large chunk of Labour's support from 2010 is now in the SNP column.  Admittedly, we're told that 21% of current SNP voters would "seriously consider voting Labour" - but we aren't told how many current Labour voters would seriously consider voting SNP.  How mysterious.

If you wanted to summarise in a few words why the SNP are doing so well at the moment, it boils down to the fact that they have the support of the vast majority (85%) of people who voted Yes in September, while unionist parties have been unable to prevent a very substantial minority of No voters (29%) from "defecting" to Nicola Sturgeon's party - although in reality a lot of those people will have voted for the SNP in past elections anyway.  It's reasonable to deduce that the SNP need have little fear of suffering localised reverses next year in their No-voting north-east heartlands (and of course that was borne out by a recent council by-election in Aberdeenshire).

Jim Murphy is a dyed-in-the-wool Blairite, which means among other things that he believes in an authoritarian ideology (militarism, detention without trial, and all the rest of it).  It's curious, then, that he's recently spent so much time championing "targetted libertarianism" in a way that he hopes will appeal to a certain group of lapsed Labour voters that he wants to win back - ie. working-class men who he thinks above all else crave the personal freedom to drunkenly shout sectarian abuse at football matches.  I'm just wondering how well a macho offering like that will play with women, especially given that the SNP's new leader is female.  For now, the gender gap still works in Labour's favour (the SNP "only" lead by 46% to 28% among women), but for how much longer?

* * *

Yet more nonsense from Mike Smithson at PB -

"Previous Scottish polls with figures like these have failed to budge the Scottish single seat markets. Last week the SNP was only down as favourite to win 4 seats currently held by LAB. This suggests a lack of confidence on the ground."

No it bloomin' well doesn't. The vast majority of punters at UK betting exchanges are based south of the border and don't have the first clue about what's happening on the ground in Scotland (exactly the same problem that distorted the markets during the referendum). If you wanted to predict an English election using the "wisdom of crowds" principle, you wouldn't ask crowds in Belgium, would you?

"53% of those sampled in Survation Scotland poll "remembered" voting YES in IndyRef"

Heaven only knows where he's getting that from, but it's certainly not from the Survation datasets. In fact, 44% of the unweighted sample recall voting Yes, and 49% recall voting No (the remainder presumably didn't vote or can't remember).

* * *

Survation also have figures for Holyrood...

Constituency voting intentions for the 2016 Scottish Parliament election :

SNP 50.8% (+0.8)
Labour 24.6% (+1.6)
Conservatives 15.1% (+1.0)
Liberal Democrats 4.8% (-1.9)
UKIP 2.2% (-0.9)
Greens 1.5% (-0.8)
BNP 0.3% (-0.5)

Regional list voting intentions for the 2016 Scottish Parliament election :

SNP 39.8% (-0.8)
Labour 23.8% (+3.5)
Conservatives 13.7% (+0.7)
Greens 9.0% (-0.9)
UKIP 7.1% (-0.6)
Liberal Democrats 5.5% (-0.9)
SSP 0.5% (-0.4)
Christians 0.3% (+0.3)
BNP 0.2% (-0.1)

In spite of the slight uptick in Labour support (from a horrendously low base), this poll confirms what other firms have consistently shown - that the biggest threat to the SNP at Holyrood does not come from unionist parties, but instead from the inclination of some of their own voters to drift off to the Greens on the list.  If things remain as they are, that phenomenon would threaten the SNP's chances of a second overall majority.  If the state of play changes, it might even threaten the SNP's chances of remaining the largest single party.  Hopefully a very aggressive two-vote strategy will be put in place to counter this potentially huge problem.

*  *  *


Barring the improbable appearance of another full-scale Scottish poll between now and Hogmanay, this will be the last Poll of Polls update until 2015.  It's based on the Survation poll, plus five Scottish subsamples from GB-wide polls - four from YouGov and one from Populus.  As always, the new Opinium poll (in which the SNP are flying high) is excluded, because the Scottish subsample result hasn't been published.

Scottish voting intentions for the May 2015 UK general election :

SNP 45.8% (+3.4)
Labour 25.3% (-1.0)
Conservatives 16.5% (+1.0)
Liberal Democrats 5.3% (-1.3)
UKIP 3.7% (+0.1)
Greens 1.9% (-1.7)

(The Poll of Polls uses the Scottish subsamples from all GB-wide polls that have been conducted entirely within the last seven days and for which datasets have been provided, and also all full-scale Scottish polls that have been conducted at least partly within the last seven days. Full-scale polls are given ten times the weighting of subsamples.)

Less than limitless levity looms for Lousy Libs as yummy year-end YouGov yields a 'Yikes!'

After the false alarm on Friday, it looks like this morning's Britain-wide YouGov poll really is the last from the firm for this year.  It's the Winter Solstice today, and the Lib Dems might just be wishing the darkness could swallow them up - once again they find themselves 2% behind the Greens, and just 1% ahead of the SNP and Plaid Cymru.  And yet the broadcasters still haven't announced a change to their initial proposal to exclude the SNP, Plaid and the Greens from the leaders' debates.  Just how much longer can this nonsense go on?

Britain-wide voting intentions (YouGov, 18th-19th December) :

Labour 34% (-1)
Conservatives 32% (+2)
UKIP 15% (-1)
Greens 8% (n/c)
Liberal Democrats 6% (n/c)
SNP/Plaid Cymru 5% (+1)

Even more importantly, the Scottish subsample gives the SNP an enormous 44% to 24% lead over Labour.  So while Jim Murphy may think he's had a "good week", the polls beg to differ.  Still, it's perfectly possible that proper, full-scale Scottish polls will pick up a change in attitudes that the Scottish subsamples in GB-wide polls have thus far failed to detect, and the first test of that will come in a Survation poll that is apparently due in the Daily Record tomorrow.  The last Survation poll gave the SNP a ridiculously big lead, so if that eases down only a little it might well be due to normal sampling variation.  A big drop might be more significant (unless there's another methodological change, of course).

I'll hold off for Survation, and then calculate the final Poll of Polls update of this tumultuous year.