Friday, February 5, 2016

Labour slip to third place in Scotland in historic YouGov poll

I spoke too soon yesterday afternoon when I pointed out that not a single Scottish Parliament election poll had yet shown the Tories in second place.  Right on cue, here is YouGov's first Scottish poll for several months -

Constituency ballot :

SNP 50% (-1)
Conservatives 20% (+1)
Labour 19% (-2)
Liberal Democrats 6% (+1)

Regional list ballot :

SNP 42% (-3)
Conservatives 20% (+1)
Labour 20% (n/c)
Greens 6% (n/c)
Liberal Democrats 5% (n/c)
UKIP 3% (n/c)
SSP 2% (-1)

I suppose the obvious question to pose at a moment like now is : how much of this is the Tories doing comparatively well, and how much of it is just Labour doing appallingly, mind-bogglingly badly?  Obviously there was always a chance that Labour could eventually shed so much support that the Tories would 'overtake' them by default, but there's a bit more to it than that.  The Tories' 20% share is actually well within the margin of error of what they've been receiving with YouGov since the UK general election - if you imagine their true level of support is around 19%, it could be that they haven't gained any support at all over the last few months, and that the small changes shown by YouGov have just been margin of error noise.  But in the crucial period between the independence referendum and the general election, YouGov had them in a range between 12% and 16%, so clearly something has happened since then.  Some of the movement can perhaps be explained by Tory-friendly methodological tweaks, but it's unlikely that all of it can be.

I think the most plausible explanation is that the massive 'first wave' of voter desertion from Labour in the immediate wake of the referendum (largely left-leaning Yes supporters switching direct to the SNP), has been followed since the general election by a smaller 'second wave' of desertions, this time mostly centre-right and centrist unionists.  It's unlikely that these people are typically lifelong Labour voters - many of them may well be 'Murphy Labourites', ie. converts from the Tories and the Lib Dems who liked Scottish Labour's rightward and militant unionist drift, and saw the party as a bulwark against the SNP tide.  It's not hard to understand why they would be having second thoughts now - Labour no longer even present the illusion of being a remotely credible opposition to the SNP, Jackanory Jim has ceased to be Scottish Labour leader, and at UK level the party is for the time being in the hands of the radical left.

YouGov have joined Panelbase in showing Labour on an all-time low, which means the balance of probability must be that the party has genuinely suffered further losses fairly recently.  However, the jury is still out on that, because yesterday's TNS poll actually showed a small rise in Labour's constituency vote (albeit well within the margin of error).  It's also worth noting that this isn't Labour's first sub-20 showing on the constituency ballot across all firms - TNS also had them on 19% in the first post-election poll last spring.

I should point out that, although I now accept there is a genuine chance of the Tories finishing second in May, I still think it's pretty unlikely.  Since the general election, YouGov have emerged as the most Tory-friendly pollster in Scotland, and it could be that this is as good as it'll ever get for Ruth Davidson.  But if the unthinkable does happen, what would be the implications?  We've assumed that another Labour calamity is already factored in as far as most commentators are concerned, thus protecting both Kezia Dugdale and Jeremy Corbyn from any fallout from the result.  But third place isn't part of the script we've been rehearsing.  Dugdale might end up departing the stage, and we'd have to see whether Sadiq Khan's likely victory in the London mayoral election would be enough to insulate Corbyn from the impact of the Scottish result.  (Given the London-centric nature of the "UK media", it might well be.)

There might also be a subtle change in media reporting of devolved politics.  As we all know, much of the Scottish media tends to follow a Labour press release agenda, which they can get away with due to Labour being the nominal 'alternative government'.  If the SNP and the Tories are the two largest parties, it'll be harder to do that.  The media framing may switch to a left-wing SNP government being challenged by the Tories from the right, in which case the 'cultural hold-outs' in the rump Labour support (people who carry on voting Labour because their faether did and his faether before him) may start to wonder why they're voting for an irrelevant party.

That said, politics in the western world has become much more fluid.  We thought that the Canadian Liberals had become an irrelevance when they were replaced as the official opposition by the NDP, but all it took to get them back into government in one jump was a charismatic leader.  So it would be premature to assume that a third-place finish for Labour would inevitably be the end of the road.

The SNP's showing in this poll is on the 'low' side, although it's within their normal post-referendum range with YouGov - they've been as low as 42% on the list before, and they've been lower than 50% on the constituency vote on three occasions.  But it's going to be murderously hard for the smaller parties and their cheerleaders to claim with a straight face that the SNP's overall majority isn't under threat on these figures, and that SNP supporters have some kind of 'free hit' on the list vote.  Nicola Sturgeon is only polling 5% better on the constituency vote than Alex Salmond managed in 2011, when of course the SNP were well short of winning a majority on constituency seats alone.  If list seats are required to retain the majority, the bad news is that this poll suggests the SNP's list vote is on course to fall from the 44% received in 2011.  The good news is that past history suggests that the gap between the constituency and list votes is likely to be much smaller than polling implies, because an aggressive two-vote strategy can help voters understand that the list vote is not a second preference or 'bonus' vote.

*  *  *

SCOT GOES POP POLL OF POLLS

For now I can only manage a partial update of the Poll of Polls, because the YouGov figures for the smaller parties aren't available yet (or at least not for non-payers of the Murdoch Levy).  I'll try to complete the numbers when it becomes possible.  [UPDATE : Now done.]  Once again the trend has been somewhat distorted, because YouGov are re-entering the sample after a short absence.

Constituency ballot : 

SNP 51.8% (-0.5)
Labour 20.4% (-0.4)
Conservatives 17.6% (+0.6)
Liberal Democrats 5.8% (n/c)

Regional list ballot : 

SNP 46.0% (-1.0)
Labour 19.4% (+0.1)
Conservatives 17.2% (+0.7)
Liberal Democrats 6.8% (-0.5)
Greens 6.6%  (-0.2)

(The Poll of Polls is based on a rolling average of the most recent poll from each of the firms that have reported Scottish Parliament voting intention numbers over the previous three months, and that adhere to British Polling Council rules. At present, there are five - Panelbase, Survation, YouGov, TNS and Ipsos-Mori. Whenever a new poll is published, it replaces the last poll from the same company in the sample.)

*  *  *

Arguably even bigger news from YouGov overnight is a Britain-wide poll showing that the Leave campaign (or should I say "Leave campaigns"?) in the EU referendum has opened up a 45% to 36% lead.  Although we've got used to Leave sometimes having the lead in online polls, it's rare for the gap to be out of 'statistical tie' territory, and it's highly likely that the movement in opinion has been caused by David Cameron's failure to secure a credible deal.  Of course, we have to at all times remember the huge disparity between online and telephone polling on the referendum - it's likely that a phone poll conducted now would still show a substantial lead for Remain.  But just as we need to start taking seriously the idea of Ruth Davidson as leader of the official opposition at Holyrood, we also need to start taking seriously the possibility that Britain might - just might - be heading for the EU exit door, thus opening up the prospect of a relatively early second independence referendum in Scotland.

UPDATE : The datasets for the EU poll are now out.  Of the five regions that YouGov divides Britain into, Scotland is the only one that wants to Remain in the EU - and by a whopping margin of 53% to 32%.  Not much comfort there for the "Scotland isn't that much different" narrative constantly pushed by the unionist press.

73 comments:

  1. Who thought they would see the day? It's seriously jaw dropping stuff. The field work done after Dugdale's ill-judged tax hike gamble as well so she will need to go back to the branch office drawing board. It will interesting to see the full results, I have a feeling the Greens may sneak up a point as well. Just how low can SLAB go?

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  2. SLAB deserve no less.
    At least with the tories, you know they are pandering to like minded folk.
    Labour kid on they are supporting ordinary folk, whereas all they are supporting is their need for power, however much corruption is necessary to keep themselves and their cronies in cushy jobs - and fuck the voters.
    Utter scum! And a disgrace to Scotland.

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  3. Everyone Left left. Now the flute and whistle brigade are leaving. I thought UKIP might get a wee temporary blip from that before they vote Tory on the day.

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  4. Was talking about just this to someone today. I was giving the above view that the thinking core vote had gone to SNP en masse and those remaining gave a false impression of relative strength by including former Tories and Liberals. If those go back to real preferences what remains may again go to the SNP leaving a fringe.

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  5. American here. At some gut level point, isn't it really about being a "Tory" not " conservative"? Its not just a policy thing. I think some Tory voters are people who don't like the other prevailing side, whatever it is. If labor right is collapsing now, SNP needs to get the labor voters who are labor because they just don't like what we would call " the establishment". If these people see it as a race by the SNP against the Tories, they will swallow and take it. Also, a lot of labor people see the Tories as the ones who them or their Da or their Pop Pop or whoever out of their union job. The SNP surely didn't! Not sure how much this relates to you, but its how I would go about it.

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    1. Bill, I see what you'rs saying, it's just that many in the Labour party have a hatred of the SNP and independence which is so ingrained they would rather vote for Donald Trump that the SNP. I guess you cold call it the Trump-rump of Labour in Scotland.

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    2. I'd vote for Trump over the whole lot of them.

      Aldo

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    3. Yes, that's my point. Lots of people decide at a gut level who they won't vote for.

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    4. .....where is this poll....I can't find it? Can you post a link please.

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  6. A Tory opposition in Scotland and Brexit could see an indyref 2 being very different, with the Tories fronting the No campaign. Could we be heading towards a Yes/No main Tv debate between Nicola S and Ruth D. As they sat, Bring it on.

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    1. That would be a fascinating dilemma for the Tories - they'd know it would be in their own interests to let a Labour or Lib Dem figure front the campaign, but how could they justify doing that if they were in every other sense preening themselves as the leading opposition to the SNP?

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    2. Why shouldn't a conservative front the campaign? Are you saying the Scottish public are silly enough to reject a message simply because they don't like the messenger? If a tory tells you that grass is green, would you argue with them?

      Aldo

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    3. Probably need to check it out first.

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    4. Then double check.

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    5. Then that makes you a dafty.

      Aldo

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    6. Then why did the queen and a sitting prime minister have to get Alistair frickin Darling ? Case closed . I win. Let's hit the pub.

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    7. If you're asking me whether the Scottish public is more likely to vote for independence if the unionist campaign is fronted by a Tory, the answer is yes. Of course it is.

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    8. It surely depends on the strength and relevance of the arguments. If you are saying you expect the Scottish population to reject something out of hand just because of who is supporting it, then you are, basically, saying that the Scots are stupid. That's an argument against independence - not for :0)

      Aldo

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  7. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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    1. A nice long summer holiday for Kezia?

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    2. The original comment was spam, in case anyone is wondering.

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  8. I've never been given any reason to place a great deal of faith in Yougov polls, but this is still funny.

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  9. Fascinating.Is it really that surprising though? If the unionist voter is,generally speaking,a bit older and a bit better off it seems quite natural that they should vote Tory.
    45% Con,45% Lab,10% Trivial Libdem seems a quite reasonable proposition for the unionist split.I can't recall a poll that was published without a figure for the Libdems.

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  10. Can we get a link to the data sheets for both these polls,when available?

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  11. It does look like there is some movement. But it is still in the the one or two percent. I would be surprised if they beat Labour.

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  12. Does this mean that the SNP can say to Labour voters that you need to vote SNP to keep the Tories out. :)

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  13. The Labour opposition to the SNP has been weak - imitation and appeasement. They are being punished accordingly.

    A Conservative opposition will provide a centre-right, unashamedly unionist opposition to the SNP - a true opposition. Ms Davidson is also a superior debater to Ms Dugdale and will no doubt land a good few blows on the SNP government, as it enters its twilight years.

    The future is bright - the future is blue!

    Aldo

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    1. With some Orange thrown in there too.

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    2. No doubt! But I'm a Catholic and a Celtic supporter and I'll be voting for the Conservatives - the common sense party.

      Aldo

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    3. Are you hoping to get some.

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  14. Can someone please post a link for this poll. Been on YouGov and can't find it?

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  15. But just as we need to start taking seriously the idea of Ruth Davidson as leader of the official opposition at Holyrood, we also need to start taking seriously the possibility that Britain might - just might - be heading for the EU exit door, thus opening up the prospect of a relatively early second independence referendum in Scotland.


    Which would be very bad news for the SNP:

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/scottish-independence/12141257/Imagine-the-mess-an-independent-Scotland-would-be-in-right-now.html

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    1. Somehow I doubt if Brussels and their mistress Frau Merkel will come rushing to the aid of the poverty stricken Scots.

      Aldo

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    2. Ah the telegraph. I've learned to assume from the outset that articles in it are just lies and take things from there. That golden rule hasn't let me down yet.

      I mean an English Tory paper? German socialists would hardly listen to advice from Fox News now would they.

      I mean listen to this little gem:

      'America has mastered fracking'

      If the US has mastered fracking, why is nobody fracking? The rig count is almost 2009 levels now; down 70%. Likely to be a couple of hundred billion in write downs this year too; already 42 frackers have gone bankrupt. Meanwhile, North Sea production is rising while fracked oil is dropping like a stone...

      As a geologist, I think I'll pass on Fraser Nelsons advice. And when key points in an article are bullshit, you question the whole thing. I mean why does Scotland have higher employment and higher wages than the UK if it is bust?

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    3. Scotland has a large state sector which is subsidised heavily by the rest of the United Kingdom. If we outdo the rUK on certain economic measures, it's at their expense.

      North Sea production increases aren't necessarily a good thing if you are selling at a loss or barely managing to break even. It represents potential future profits and tax revenues being cancelled out.

      If fracking is a right old load of nonsense, why has it transformed America from being reliant on foreign imports of oil to being very nearly self sufficient?

      Aldo

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    4. Fracking is horrendous. People here have water coming out their taps that you can ignite with a lighter.

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    5. Aldo, fracking is a drilling industry that produces a little oil. We only need to drop maybe 50 rigs more and it ceases to exist in the US.

      http://uk.businessinsider.com/baker-hughes-rig-count-february-5-2016-2?r=US&IR=T

      US oil production is collapsing in a pile of debt. $16 billion write downs so far from 42 fracker busts. SandRidge Energy is likely the next to go with $4 billion debt. A couple more and we're looking at the budget of a small country down the pan. Couple of $100 quite possible losses over 2016.

      It was a gold rush ponzi scheme. It never made any money at $100 a barrel never mind $35. Oil & Gas geologists / production chemists like myself understand why.

      If things keep up, we're looking at a global oil shortage within a year or two. Good in that sense that Scottish production is on the rise.

      And US very 'nearly self sufficient'? What world are you living in exactly? Shale gave it a temporary retirement party, but it was never close to self sufficient. Imports are on the rise recently.

      http://www.wsj.com/articles/after-years-of-decline-u-s-oil-imports-rise-1445851800

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    6. Couple of $100 bn quite possible losses over 2016.

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    7. If there is to be a global oil shortage "within the next couple of years", thereby pushing prices back up, why do all projections that I've looked at forecast a low oil value (sub 60 dollars) well into the 2020s?

      Aldo

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  16. I wonder how the EU campaign will pan out.I always assumed it would just be Project Fear with a European twist and a firm Remain vote.I'm not so sure now.I think there are a lot of Eurosceptics on the Tory benches who would like to remain quiet,let the whole thing blow over and just get on with it whatever the result.I doubt that they will sit in silence if a campaign of fear is launched on the public,especially if there's a decent amount of support for Leave.

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  17. I can't shake the feeling that refugee crisis even bigger than what we've seen so far is coming at just the wrong time for Remain.

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  18. "...all it took to get them back into government in one jump was a charismatic leader. So it would be premature to assume that a third-place finish for Labour would inevitably be the end of the road."

    I can see it now. Jackie Baillie firmly taking the reigns and restoring to Labour their rightful patrimony of the governance of Scotland.

    The SNP won't know what hit them...

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  19. SNP x 2 it is then, especially if the tories look set become the "official" opposition [after the bbc of course]. If that happens politics will be a straight pro-indy versus anti-indy affair. Indeed, because of the tories, a straight Scotland versus England affair.

    I'm not a great fan of the EU but I'll be voting Remain because it looks likely that England will vote Leave and if that happens the call fora 2nd referendum will be unstoppable.

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    1. Conservatives aren't peculiarly English you know - they (or a form of them) exist in most democratic countries in the world. Indeed, if Scotland is to be credible as a potential independent country, it requires more of this left-right balance than it has demonstrated in recent decades.

      Aldo

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    2. The right is there, it's just not supporting the British Conservative Party and their Scottish branch. There are at least two reasons for this:
      1 The party is not loyal to Scotland but supports the English Ascendancy here.
      2 The Tories extreme and rather nasty brand of conservatism is anathema to many Scots on the right. The Conservatives got more than 30% of the vote in Scotland at the 1979 Westminster election, but have been flatlining at 16% or so once the party changed under Thatcher and remained so.

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  20. What happens if the strongest part of the No argument is led by the Tories?

    Scottish politics is far too fluid to even begin to answer.

    It could see the indy argument crystallized into a left v right argument which I think would have advantages (in attracting the remnants of the Labour vote) and disadvantages (could lose the centrist voter and make indy look unappealing to business)

    Interesting times.

    We're either about to see Scots start to break into left (Yes) and right (Unionist) in the most profound way. Or we're going to see a Yes vote carry the day if Scots really are majority to the left.

    We'll see.

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  21. James,
    I wouldn't count my chickens to soon regarding how Scotland will vote in the upcoming EU referendum, I know you are parroting the SNP line that keeps harping on about how Scotland is different from England as a justification for breaking up the UK but it's entirely possible that Scotland will vote exactly the same way as the rest of the UK in the referendum.
    By the way if Scotland was an independent country do you seriously think an SNP Government would have trusted the voters by holding an in/out referendum?

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    1. Aye,it's entirely possible that Scotland will vote the same way as England.The SNP membership decide what policies they want the party to pursue.If the membership wanted an EU in/out referendum an SNP government would hold one.

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    2. "I wouldn't count my chickens to soon regarding how Scotland will vote in the upcoming EU referendum"

      Sorry, Jimmy, but the polling on this topic is almost embarrassingly clear. Scotland and the UK may well vote the same way in the referendum - but only if the UK votes Remain.

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    3. James,
      You have simply repeated what I all ready posted, ie, Scotland and the rest of the UK could both vote the same way in the EU referendum.
      I don't know why you imply, without actually saying so, that I favour a vote to leave, at the moment even I don't know how I will cast my vote.

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    4. Well, that's a baffling retort. If you were simply agreeing with me that the only way Scotland and the UK will vote in the same way is if the UK votes to Remain, I'm not sure what point you think you were making in the first place.

      I neither said nor implied anything at all about how you will cast your own vote.

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    5. James,

      you conveniently did not answer my question about whether you seriously think that an SNP Government would allow us a vote on whether an independent Scotland should remain or leave the EU. You do have a habit of ignoring what you think are sensitive questions or comments.

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    6. I wasn't even conscious of ignoring it - probably because I don't think it's an interesting or important question. If people had wanted a referendum on EU membership in an independent Scotland, they could have voted for a party proposing one. This democracy lark is really surprisingly simple.

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  22. Every one should take a look at YouGov. Set up run and staffed by the typical posh boy right wing mobsters. To say they were closely linked to the Conservative Party would be to ignore they are nearly seamlessly joined. The managementment have either been candidates or current Tory MPs and the staff essentially party activists.

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    1. Yougov do have a long history of underestimating SNP and overestimating Lab+Con. Also a bit of a track record in 'shock' polls. You know, like that out of nowhere 51% one ahead of the iref...

      An obvious methodology flaw is that their Scottish panel has way to many English people in it, and correcting that by weighting to CoB can only do so much. They should be asking why that's the case...

      The should also be asking why, if their unweighted base is so Lab/Con and English born heavy, why does it say it voted Yes more than was the case? Erm, whit? To me, that smells very fishy. They're not alone on this issue; a problem with all online polls. It's a bit like 2010 weighting. Way to many Scots said they voted SNP in 2010, presumably as they regretted not doing so and going Lab/Lib tactical. Now a lot of Scots are apparently saying they voted Yes when they didn't, and that's hitting Yes / pro-indy party numbers due to down-weighting.

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  23. Given the number of ex-labour people in BBC Scotland, I can't see them stopping their labour-centric approach to the daily SNPBad.

    OK, maintaining that approach would look even more biased if the Tories became the main opposition, but does anyone really think the BBC will care about that?

    They're not exactly known for impartiality. Why would they concern themselves with it now?

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    1. Well Disreporting Jackie just led with the item that is telling us low earners that raising our tax will be good for us as in only reducing the effects of austerity. So in order according to BBC Speak for me to feel the effects of austerity less they are going to make me poorer and all of us on low earnings poorer.

      They really do think we were all born yesterday at the Brit Nat Brainwashing Corp.

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  24. So Lab drops to third in LabGov pollster. HILARIOUS!

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    1. Glasgow Working ClassFebruary 6, 2016 at 10:38 PM

      The rich and Tory/Tartan Tory wealthy will be delighted their wealth is increasing and meanwhile the Scottish poor are being fooked as usual.





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  25. The Tories have no chance of coming second. During the campaign the media will persecute their candidates mercilessly, for following mysogynist troll Brian Spanner on Twitter, won't they?

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  26. Been saying this was coming for months.

    And there is more to come.

    We will see even more masks slip as many Scots abandon their usual lefty voting habits because now they are being forced to look themselves in the mirror and admit they were never left-wing voters in the first place. They are, first and foremost, unionists, having their cake and eating it, killing two birds with one vote, enjoying the convenient hypocrisy of supporting the party of "social justice" in order to help the downtrodden working class Scots, while at the same time giving the Westminster establishment carte blanche to do what they like, enjoying the view from the moral high ground without having had to navigate any kind of moral maze to get there.

    It was so easy for them because the donkey in the red rosette was always going to win anyway.

    But now we've reached this tipping point, when these people see the polls showing a realistic unionist alternative to Labour, the Tories will only get stronger.

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  27. Glasgow Working ClassFebruary 6, 2016 at 9:07 PM

    Always said Scotland was right wing but never thought we would have two Tory parties.
    Never thought idiots would fly planes into tall buildings.Such is life.And what ever happened to the lefties that left labour for the Nat sis. Silence of the Lambs.

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