Saturday, January 17, 2015

SNP lead by 10% in first full-scale Scottish poll of general election year

Tonight sees the publication of the first full-scale Scottish poll of 2015, which has been conducted by Panelbase...

Scottish voting intentions for the May 2015 general election (Panelbase, 9th-14th January) :

SNP 41% (-4)
Labour 31% (+3)
Conservatives 14% (-1)
UKIP 7% (n/c)
Liberal Democrats 3% (n/c)

As you know, the Scottish subsamples from GB-wide polls have shown absolutely no sign of a boost for Labour recently, so I'm more than a little sceptical about the apparent drop in the SNP's lead in this poll.  This is the third Panelbase poll since the referendum, and all three have shown markedly different results - the first had the SNP ahead by just two points, the second saw the gap skyrocket to seventeen points, and now we're splitting the difference with an SNP lead of ten.  The change between the first and second poll could be easily explained by the fact that the first used a discredited weighting procedure which was wisely abandoned for the second.  It's unlikely that there's been another methodological change in this poll, but we shouldn't rule it out until we see the datasets.

It could also be that there's something odd in the datasets that will leap out at us - maybe one group has been upweighted or downweighted by an extreme amount, thus potentially distorting the result.  Or we could just be looking at an extreme example of margin of error noise.  Until and unless another poll shows a narrowing of the gap, my working assumption will be that nothing's changed, and that the SNP retain the same huge advantage over Labour that they enjoyed at the end of 2014.

All the same, a 10-point lead is still plenty enough to take the SNP past the tipping-point where they would gain lots of Labour seats - even on a uniform swing.  The rather crude prediction model on the Electoral Calculus website suggests the Panelbase findings would translate to the following results...

SNP : 38 seats
Labour : 21 seats
Conservatives : 0 seats
Liberal Democrats : 0 seats

In practice we can fully expect there to be regional variations in the swing that will work in the SNP's favour.  It's also very unlikely that the Liberal Democrats will lose Orkney & Shetland, although the Tories certainly can't afford to be relaxed about their only Scottish seat.

Of the supplementary findings from the poll that have appeared on Wings over the last couple of days, the most eye-catching is the huge divergence between Scottish and English attitudes towards the BBC, with respondents in Scotland disagreeing by a margin of 45% to 42% with the proposition that "the BBC provides balanced and unbiased political coverage".  (To use the BBC's favourite phrase from late September, that's a "decisive margin".)  We have to be cautious about treating a result like this as gospel, because it's an online poll, and volunteer online polling panels tend to have a disproportionate number of politically engaged people on their books.  It's possible that a telephone poll would have been slightly more favourable for the BBC.  But if nothing else, this finding is compelling proof of what we already knew anecdotally - that there has been a catastrophic loss of trust in the state broadcaster among a large portion of the Scottish population, and that this has been directly caused by the BBC's dreadful failings during the referendum campaign (particularly during that crucial penultimate week).  When the corporation's chief political adviser Ric Bailey appeared on Scotland 2014 a few days after the referendum and attempted to defend the indefensible, he kept starting his sentences with : "The BBC is trusted because..."  After this poll, it'll have to be : "The BBC is trusted, except by viewers in Scotland, because..."

*  *  *


This update of the Poll of Polls is based on the full-scale Panelbase poll, plus nine Scottish subsamples from GB-wide polls - six from YouGov, one from Populus, one from Ipsos-Mori and one from ComRes.  As ever, Opinium is excluded because they don't provide a geographical breakdown of their results, and the recent TNS-BMRB poll is excluded because it was too far out of date even on the day it was published!

I can't provide a vote share for the Greens, because we haven't got one yet from the Panelbase poll (and on past form it's possible that there isn't one).  What I find interesting is that adding the various subsamples to the Panelbase results makes very little difference to the SNP's share, but reduces Labour's share quite significantly, and leaves us with a markedly bigger gap between the two parties of 12.6%.  (To avoid confusion, please note that the percentage change figures below refer to something different - ie. the change since the last update of the Poll of Polls.)

Scottish voting intentions for the May 2015 UK general election :

SNP 41.3% (n/c)
Labour 28.7% (+2.8)
Conservatives 15.8% (-1.1)
UKIP 6.2% (-0.4)
Liberal Democrats 3.6% (-2.5)

(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.)

Friday, January 16, 2015

SNP and Plaid Cymru close to within just 1% of the Liberal Democrats in today's Britain-wide YouGov poll

For the third time in 2015 so far, the combined vote for the SNP and Plaid Cyrmu has reached 5% in the YouGov daily poll - which on this occasion leaves them just 1% behind the Liberal Democrats across Britain.  You'll probably recall that we saw quite a few results like this towards the end of last year.

Britain-wide voting intentions (14th-15th January) :

Conservatives 32% (n/c)
Labour 32% (-2)
UKIP 16% (+1)
Greens 8% (+1)
Liberal Democrats 6% (n/c)
SNP/Plaid Cymru 5% (+1)

The Scottish subsample figures give the SNP their biggest lead of the year so far (and also the biggest since YouGov's methodology change) : SNP 49%, Labour 22%, Conservatives 13%, UKIP 7%, Liberal Democrats 5%, Greens 3%.  The flipside is that, just for once, there hasn't really been any significant downweighting of respondents who say that the SNP is the party they most closely identify with.  All the same, this gives an indication of the results we could probably expect on a regular basis if it wasn't for the distorting effect of Westminster-centric party ID weighting.

A GB-wide Ipsos-Mori telephone poll was also released yesterday.  As ever, it gave two sets of voting intention figures - without the turnout filter, the SNP have a 39% to 28% lead in the Scottish subsample, and with the turnout filter the SNP lead by 43% to 21%.  Technically the latter figures should be regarded as the headline result, but either way the sample size is absolutely tiny.

Someone who wishes to remain firmly incognito (never let it be said that I don't listen!) contacted me last night to suggest that I might like to scroll down through the Ipsos-Mori datasets, and take a look at the geographical breakdown of Ed Miliband's personal satisfaction rating...

Net satisfaction in Ed Miliband's performance as Labour leader :

North of England:  -24
English Midlands and Wales:  -38
South (excluding London):  -36
London:  -31
Scotland:  -55

Ouch, ouch, and thrice OUCH.  This is starting to look like a consistent pattern.

I'll hold off from updating the Poll of Polls for the time being, because RevStu revealed yesterday that there are voting intention figures to come from the new full-scale Scottish poll conducted by Panelbase.

By the way, in case you missed my reply on the previous thread to a suspected "concern troll" (someone posing as a "concerned" supporter of independence in an attempt to sow division and lower morale), I've had a wizard idea for today -

In honour of Mr (or Ms) Anonymous, I propose that we declare today "Address Your Opponents With A Song In Your Heart" Day. I challenge all readers of this blog to say at least three nice things about Jim Murphy before each criticism, and that way we'll have converted the whole world to independence by teatime. I'll kick us off.

Jim, your bone structure is epic, you're considerate to your neighbours by having such a hushed voice, and I have no reason to believe that you're not kind to cute kittens. But do you really have to put a weapons system on the Clyde that has the sole purpose of mass-murdering hundreds of millions of men, women and children, and condemning the unlucky survivors to a slow, painful death through radiation poisoning?

*  *  *

UPDATE : There's a bizarre graphic on the Guardian website, purporting to illustrate the relative membership sizes of "the five parties".  Yes, you're way ahead of me here - the SNP don't appear, in spite of being the third largest party in the whole UK, with far more members than three of the parties in the graphic.  What makes it even more extraordinary is that the graphic is directly preceded by a passing reference to the SNP's membership numbers - apparently even that juxtaposition hasn't been sufficient to generate self-awareness at the Guardian's HQ about one of the more ludicrous examples of their London-centricity.

The whole London media are fast becoming a self-parody on this topic.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Take 2 : Let's all take a deep breath, and respond to the BBC Trust consultation yet again...

You might remember that after some of us sent submissions to the BBC Trust's consultation on election guidelines, which we were told was our golden chance to have a say on the grotesque proposal for rigged election debates, we all received an email implying that our views would be completely ignored because the consultation had nothing to do with the debates.  However, it was added that draft guidelines for the general amount of coverage to be received by each party during the campaign would be published in January, and would form a belated part of the consultation.  That process is now underway, and so with a slightly heavy heart I've made a second submission, which this time studiously makes no mention of the debates.  If you'd like to make your own submission, please click HERE.  (Email and postal addresses to send submissions to can be found towards the bottom of the main consultation PDF.)

There was nothing inevitable about the fact that most of the BBC coverage of the forthcoming general election seen by viewers in Scotland will be beamed in direct from London. Since devolution, the corporation has consciously chosen to retain the primacy of UK-wide news and current affairs programming, and has done so for a specific reason. It is a matter of record that in the late 1990s, the director-general John Birt sought the help of the Labour government in blocking the proposal for a "Scottish Six" (an integrated hour-long Scottish evening news programme covering Scottish, UK and international news), because he feared that it would "encourage separatist tendencies". To consciously act on the basis of that motivation was a flagrant breach of the BBC's duty of political impartiality.

As the rejection of the Scottish Six has not been subsequently reversed, it means that the nature of the BBC's election coverage will be to some extent shaped by the desire of an earlier director-general to suppress electoral support for one particular political party, and its perfectly legitimate flagship policy. Self-evidently this is a disgraceful state of affairs, and it now places a special obligation on the BBC to ensure that the party in question, the SNP, is in no way disadvantaged by the UK-wide prism that Birt insisted for political reasons must be imposed upon Scottish viewers.

The BBC claims that it is capable of accommodating Scottish distinctiveness within a UK-wide framework. These guidelines must in their final form be the first step towards making good on that promise at last. The excuse, whether made publicly or privately, that it would be "too boring" for English viewers to have to hear at length from Scotland's most popular political party, is totally unacceptable - or at least it's unacceptable unless the BBC's commitment to political impartiality is no more than a pretty fiction.

The acknowledgement in "Appendix I - Party Coverage 2015" that the SNP's support has increased markedly since the last general election, and that the coverage the party receives in UK-wide election programmes must therefore be increased, is to be welcomed. However, the proposed guideline on the degree of parity that the SNP can expect to enjoy with the so-called "largest parties" is utterly inadequate. The vagueness of the requirement that the SNP should receive similar coverage to those parties "on some occasions" is, to be frank, laughable. Does this mean that producers can largely treat the SNP as a fringe party, just so long as they treat it as a major party for half-an-hour every Tuesday lunchtime on BBC2?

The SNP is currently widely forecast to become the third largest party in the next House of Commons. (One of those forecasts carries the title "the Newsnight Index", so we must certainly take it seriously.) It is also forecast to win considerably more seats than the Liberal Democrats did in 1992, or than the Liberal-SDP Alliance did in 1983 and 1987, or than the Liberals did in the two 1974 elections. At the very least, then, the SNP should be accorded the same level of coverage enjoyed by the third parties in those elections - which amounted to near-parity with the Conservatives and Labour, and on a consistent basis (as opposed to a make-it-up-as-we-go-on "occasional" basis).

One of the factors that the appendix states will be taken into account in determining the amount of coverage is the number of candidates a party stands. It should therefore be noted that -

1) Two of the so-called "larger parties" (namely Labour and the Liberal Democrats) do not stand any candidates at all in one of the four constituent nations of the United Kingdom, so plainly the BBC has never deemed it essential for a party to stand on a UK-wide basis, and most certainly not in every constituency.

2) If it is to be inferred that a party standing in every constituency in Scotland (but nowhere else) will always fall below some form of threshold, then it is totally unjust that the threshold is not clearly specified. It would be perfectly possible for the SNP and others to artificially qualify as "larger" parties by standing hundreds of candidates that have no prospect of retaining their deposit, let alone winning - precisely as the Liberal Democrats do. But they can hardly be expected to take that step unless they have an assurance that it will get them over the required threshold, and that the goalposts will not then be conveniently shifted yet again.

3) There are three sister parties from the European Free Alliance standing in this election. Between them, the SNP, Plaid Cymru and Mebyon Kernow will put up over 100 candidates in England, Scotland and Wales. The SNP and Plaid Cymru work together as a single parliamentary group in the House of Commons. The alliance between the three parties is therefore in an equivalent position to the old Liberal parties, which in elections up to and including February 1974 stood only in some constituencies in England, Scotland and Wales. The Scottish Liberal party was organisationally separate prior to the merger with the SDP in 1988, with the only formal link to the English Liberals being at the parliamentary group level (as is currently the case with the SNP and Plaid). At a minimum, therefore, it's reasonable that the guidelines should ensure that the SNP, Plaid and Mebyon Kernow are afforded the same treatment that the Liberals enjoyed in bygone elections.

The background document on the electoral landscape is "not for consultation specifically", but due regard will be made to "factual remarks" in relation to it. Let me note therefore that there is no objective basis for the claim that "there is insufficient polling to confirm that these figures", ie. polls showing a huge SNP lead for Westminster, "establish a consistent and robust trend". Is it acceptable for the SNP to receive less than its fair share of coverage because there haven't been enough opinion polls published to remove the last remaining sliver of doubt from the drafters of the guidelines? The working assumption must surely be that if there had been sixty full-scale polls published since the independence referendum, they would show broadly the same trend that has been reported by the smaller number of polls there have actually been.

Lastly, I'm extremely troubled by the implicit rubbishing of the idea that a party's membership numbers are of any relevance. No-one is claiming that membership is in exact proportion to a party's electoral support, but it must surely be acknowledged that the SNP becoming the third-largest party in the UK, with more members than the Liberal Democrats and UKIP combined, is a development of considerable significance on its own merits.

*  *  *

Once again, if you'd like to make your own submission to the consultation, please click HERE.

Fewer people in Scotland think Ed Miliband would make the best Prime Minister than in any other region of Britain

Today's Scottish subsample from YouGov continues to show an entirely familiar picture : SNP 44%, Labour 28%, Conservatives 12%, UKIP 7%, Greens 4%, Liberal Democrats 4%.  As usual, respondents who say that the SNP is the party they most closely identify with have been sharply downweighted, albeit not by quite as much as yesterday.

The most interesting finding is in relation to one of the supplementary questions.  There is considerable regional variation across Britain on the subject of whether Ed Miliband would make the best Prime Minister, albeit not quite the variation you might expect if you believe the myth that Scotland is simply a "Labour heartland on holiday"...

Percentage of respondents who think Ed Miliband would make the best Prime Minister -

London : 18%
South (excluding London) : 14%
English Midlands and Wales : 23%
North of England : 26%
Scotland : 13%

So insisting that this election is a "straight choice between Ed Miliband and David Cameron" may not be the most promising strategy for Labour in Scotland - the overwhelming majority of people here (65%) want neither of them.

It looks like RevStu has a new full-scale Scottish poll in the pipeline, probably from Panelbase.  So as the intensely irritating Wolf Blitzer would say : "We're going to be watching this one VERY closely.  Standby."

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Is Charles Kennedy heading for defeat at the hands of the SNP?

The conventional wisdom about the impending Lib Dem meltdown in Scotland is that they'll cling on in at least two seats - Orkney & Shetland (because it's been a fortress for the party since time immemorial) and Ross, Skye & Lochaber (because of Charles Kennedy's personal vote).  But it should be borne in mind that the 'Kennedy bonus' is already factored in to the Lib Dems' baseline vote in his constituency, so there's no reason to automatically assume the drop in the party's vote will be lower there than anywhere else.

Newsnight have recently introduced a regular prediction 'index' for the general election, using the same figures that appear on the Election Forecast website.  I suspect that will prove rather awkward for the BBC, because it means they'll be openly acknowledging that the party they'd like to ban from the leaders' debates is on course to become the third largest party in the UK parliament, ahead of the Lib Dems and miles ahead of UKIP.  But Election Forecast also produces predictions for individual constituencies, and is currently showing that Ross, Skye & Lochaber is the fourth most likely seat to be gained by the SNP, with a probability of 98%.  Charles Kennedy is predicted to receive just 24% of the vote, compared to the SNP's 50%.  That would represent an enormous 31% swing from Lib Dem to SNP since the 2010 election.

What's interesting about this is that the constituency predictions are seemingly not based on assumptions of a uniform national (or even regional) swing, but instead on unpublished YouGov subsample data at the constituency level.  Admittedly, some of the other predictions don't really pass the smell test.  Plaid Cymru are predicted to lose one of their three seats, whereas I think it's much more likely that they will hold what they have, and on a good night might regain either Ceredigion or Ynys Mon (or possibly even both).  So it could be that the constituency sample in Kennedy's seat isn't representative - but the point is that it would have to be inaccurate by an absolutely huge margin for him to have a chance of hanging on.

SNP and Plaid are once again on 5% of the Britain-wide vote - just 2% behind the Liberal Democrats

Today's Britain-wide YouGov poll shows support for the SNP and Plaid returning to 5% for the second time since the start of the year.  It also appears that the better showing for UKIP in the last two polls was a bit misleading, with Nigel Farage's party slipping back to 14%.  Given the pattern of recent results, it's probably reasonable to conclude that the true position for UKIP is around 15% - assuming YouGov's methodology is basically right, of course.

Britain-wide voting intentions (YouGov, 12th-13th January) :

Labour 33% (n/c)
Conservatives 32% (n/c)
UKIP 14% (-3)
Greens 7% (+1)
Liberal Democrats 7% (+1)
SNP/Plaid Cymru 5% (+1)

The Scottish subsample figures are : SNP 46%, Labour 31%, Conservatives 16%, Liberal Democrats 3%, UKIP 2%, Greens 1%.  That's (marginally) the best Labour showing of 2015 so far, but of course what really matters is the gap between the SNP and Labour, and that remains as huge as ever.  It gets even worse for Labour, though, because the only reason the gap is as "narrow" as 15 points is the weighting by Westminster-centric party ID, which is particularly extreme in this poll - SNP and Plaid identifiers have been downweighted from 66 to 34.  It seems highly likely that without this distorting procedure, the SNP's lead in the subsample would be north of 30%.  (And, who knows, the SNP and Plaid might be on 6% or 7% of the Britain-wide vote!)

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

A clear majority of voters in England think Nicola Sturgeon should be included in the TV leaders' debates

You may have already seen this in the SNP press release yesterday, but a YouGov poll conducted last Thursday and Friday found an extraordinary level of support across the whole of Britain for Nicola Sturgeon to be included in the leaders' debates - 53% thought she should be in the line-up, while only 30% did not, and 17% didn't know.  What's particularly striking is that there is an absolute majority in favour of her inclusion in every single region of England and Wales...

London -

Sturgeon should be included : 52%
Sturgeon should not be included : 29%

South of England (excluding London ) -

Sturgeon should be included : 53%
Sturgeon should not be included : 33%

English Midlands and Wales -

Sturgeon should be included : 52%
Sturgeon should not be included : 30%

North of England -

Sturgeon should be included : 51%
Sturgeon should not be included : 28%

Scotland -

Sturgeon should be included : 66%
Sturgeon should not be included : 24%

Over 50% of people who are planning to vote Tory, Labour or Lib Dem support Sturgeon's inclusion, with the opposition coming disproportionately from UKIP supporters.  In Scotland itself, the percentage who think Sturgeon is entitled to a place in the debates is almost identical to the percentage who think Nigel Farage and Natalie Bennett should be included.

So fairness demands it, and the public support it.  Inclusive debates would even make for a superior TV spectacle, because there would be more of a gender balance.  So what exactly are the broadcasters scared of?  It's terribly hard not to conclude that the answer is "the result of the election if her voice is heard".

"Eet vos a pleasure to shhhhhred eet, James!!!" (Cue prolonged maniacal cackling.)

Hmmm.  I don't want to jump to conclusions, but judging from this lengthy outpouring on Twitter yesterday, it's just possible that self-styled superstar "risk assessor" Neil Edward Lovatt wasn't entirely happy about seeing a challenge on this blog to his superstitious belief that the betting markets are some kind of infallible God of Prediction.

"Looks like @JamesKelly never learns! He's blogged about me and odds again. I'm shredding it live right now!"

"So that's @JamesKelly's blog shredded. I'll probably edit it a little but it does the job on a JK botched job"

"yes I think his blog must be struggling again, another fundraiser on it's way?"

"3 bad examples out of hundreds of successes, many more than polls. He's a joke."

"Yes I shredded him just today :)"

"Yes James asks for donations from his readers."

"Worth it, it's actually a decent challenge to the betting markets. I used it shredding James Kelly"

"Whilst I've shredded @JamesKelly's blog he got owned in his comments section. :)"

"No time for the guy, talks nonsense and ridicules anyone that disagrees and then claims offence. Absolute zoomer who charges!"

"Puerile and pseudo intellectual, and bad at it.  That's our James."

As a hard-core Jim Murphy fan (he even used "that" twibbon), Neil had better start hoping that I'm right about his superstition, because the betting markets have been moving gradually but pretty relentlessly in the SNP's direction over recent weeks.  For example, the Betfair exchange is currently "predicting" that the SNP will win more seats than Labour, and that their final tally will be somewhere between 26 and 35 (anything above 29 would of course be an absolute majority of Scottish seats).  Meanwhile, Alex Salmond is the equivalent of a 1/5 odds-on favourite to snatch the Gordon constituency from the Liberal Democrats.

Why is this happening?  I suspect there comes a point when even wealthy gamblers south of the border can't ignore the elephant in the room - ie. the sheer consistency of polling data giving the SNP a gigantic lead with less than four months to go.  There have been three Britain-wide polls published over the last 24 hours, which have produced the following Scottish subsample figures...

Populus : SNP 41%, Labour 25%, Conservatives 20%, Liberal Democrats 9%, UKIP 3%, Greens 2%

Ashcroft : SNP 48%, Labour 24%, Conservatives 14%, Greens 8%, Liberal Democrats 4%, UKIP 3%

YouGov : SNP 43%, Labour 28%, Conservatives 16%, UKIP 7%, Liberal Democrats 3%, Greens 2%

The Ashcroft numbers are particularly encouraging as they come from the first telephone poll of the year, albeit admittedly the sample was much smaller than in the other two polls.

*  *  *


Today's update of the Poll of Polls is based on the Scottish subsamples from seven GB-wide polls - four from YouGov, two from Populus, and one from Ashcroft.

Scottish voting intentions for the May 2015 UK general election :

SNP 41.3% (+1.1)
Labour 25.9% (-0.3)
Conservatives 16.9% (+0.4)
UKIP 6.6% (+0.3)
Liberal Democrats 6.1% (-0.1)
Greens 3.1% (-1.1)

(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.)

Monday, January 12, 2015

Are the Lib Dems doomed to exclusion from the Holyrood leaders' debates next year?

I'm slightly perplexed by the reaction in some pro-independence quarters to the provisional Ofcom ruling, which was actually very helpful towards the case for SNP inclusion in the Westminster TV leaders' debates.  A myth seems to have sprung up from somewhere that Ofcom ruled against the SNP's involvement, but nothing could be further from the truth.  The question of who to invite to the debates isn't within Ofcom's remit anyway, as they've made clear.  The most direct impact of their pronouncements will be on the apportionment of Party Election Broadcasts.

They will of course have a strong indirect influence on the format of the debates, and that's exactly why the provisional ruling is so helpful - it makes abundantly clear that not a single party comes even close to qualifying for major party status on a UK-wide basis.  The only parties recognised as major parties in Northern Ireland are the DUP, Sinn Féin, the Alliance Party, the UUP and the SDLP - none of which even contest elections in England, Scotland or Wales.  UKIP are only pencilled in for major party status in England and Wales, and will continue to be deemed a fringe party in both Scotland and Northern Ireland.  The SNP naturally retain their major party status in Scotland, as do Plaid Cymru in Wales.  The Tories, Labour and Liberal Democrats continue to be recognised as major parties in England, Scotland and Wales only - the Tories are a virtually irrelevant fringe party in Northern Ireland, while Labour and the Liberal Democrats are completely absent from politics in the province.

The idea of "reserving UK-wide debates for UK-wide parties" is therefore rendered an utter nonsense by Ofcom's ruling.  The latest arrogant London media attempt to bludgeon everyone into a rigged debate is a joint Guardian/Telegraph initiative which is oh-so-generously extended to cover "all five main UK-wide parties".  Yup, you've guessed it - the new "UK-wide" addition is the Green Party of England and Wales, which as the name suggests is a party that only puts up candidates in two of the four constituent nations of the UK, and is not recognised as a major party by Ofcom in any of the four nations.  Labour and the Liberal Democrats are somehow billed as UK-wide in spite of only putting up candidates in three of the four constituent nations, while the Tories and UKIP are called UK-wide in spite of being regarded by Ofcom as fringe parties in one or two of the constituent nations.  Meanwhile, no fewer than seven parties that are recognised by Ofcom as major parties in part but not all of the UK (putting them in a superior position to the Greens, and in exactly the same position as the other four London parties) are to be totally excluded from this "UK-wide" debate.

The world's gone mad.  Or to put it more accurately, the media's stayed London-centric.

As James pointed out in a comment the other day, though, there's a really interesting snippet in the Ofcom document about the Liberal Democrats' claim to be a major party in Scotland.  It's noted that the Lib Dems achieved a substantial level of support in Scotland at the last Westminster general election, but that their support has consistently been much lower since, both in elections and in opinion polls.  It's difficult to escape the impression that the coming election is the potential final piece of the jigsaw, and that if the Lib Dems do as badly as we expect, their status as a major party in Scotland will be untenable.  That would mean that they shouldn't really be invited to the Holyrood TV leaders' debates next year.  It's worth remembering that they already hold fewer seats in the Scottish Parliament than either the Greens or the SSP secured in the 2003 election - and yet neither of those parties were invited to the main debates four years later.

If the Lib Dems are struck off Ofcom's list of major parties in Scotland but not in England, where then for "UK-wide debates" in the Westminster election after next?  That would leave two of the broadcasters' four beloved "main parties" (UKIP and the Lib Dems) as fringe parties north of the border.

*  *  *

Ah, the dear old Guardian.  They seem to think that because Ed Miliband has said that he really, really, really wants to be Prime Minister of a majority Labour government, that somehow means he's ruling out a confidence-and-supply deal with the SNP.

I'll be honest with you - I really, really, really want a free holiday in Tahiti, but that doesn't mean I'm ruling out staying here for the next two weeks.

The Guardian also claims that the SNP have ruled out a full coalition with Labour, which is a load of rubbish as far as I can see.  Nicola Sturgeon and Alex Salmond have certainly downplayed the possibility of a full coalition, but they've always been scrupulously careful not to explicitly rule it out.

*  *  *

I know that some of you have been simply bursting to vote for this blog in a "Pointiest Pointyheid in Scottish life" poll. Well, now's your chance. For heaven's sake, click HERE before it's too late!

Sunday, January 11, 2015

SNP lead by 14% in latest Poll of Polls

I had imagined I might be able to update the Poll of Polls this morning with a whole variety of polls from the Sunday papers, but as far as I can see there's only one new poll out today - the regular Sunday Times survey from YouGov, which has Scottish subsample figures of SNP 39%, Labour 25%, Conservatives 17%, UKIP 12%, Liberal Democrats 4%, Greens 2%.

All the same, an update of the Poll of Polls is still worthwhile, as it can now be based on six subsamples (five from YouGov and one from Populus), rather than the measly four last time around...

Scottish voting intentions for the May 2015 UK general election :

SNP 40.2% (+0.4)
Labour 26.2% (-1.1)
Conservatives 16.5% (+1.0)
UKIP 6.3% (+1.8)
Liberal Democrats 6.2% (-0.6)
Greens 4.2% (-1.3)

(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 oddest thing about the Britain-wide figures from YouGov is that UKIP have suddenly jumped five points to 18%, having found themselves in the unusually low range of 13-15% throughout the week.  I can think of two possible explanations - a) Nigel Farage's odious remarks about the atrocity in Paris have attracted a degree of sympathy from a small section of the population, or b) this is something of a rogue finding.  I think the latter is more likely, if only because of the implausibly good showing for UKIP in the Scottish subsample.  However, even if it is an outlying result, it certainly increases the chances that the party's true position at present is more like 15% than 13%.

Meanwhile, the Tories and Labour continue to be locked in a neck-and-neck race to the bottom (in more ways than one) - they're polling at an abysmally low 32% apiece.