Friday, September 22, 2017

Land of the valiant, reciprocator of firm friendship

As you know, I'm out of the country at the moment (albeit not in Indonesia, as someone thought on the previous thread).  So I do hope you're duly appreciative of the fact that I forewent my siesta yesterday to write a new article for the TalkRadio website.  It's about the mystery of why BBC Scotland have been so quiet about the Catalan independence referendum - particularly strange when you recall how interested Catalan media were in our own referendum three years ago.  You can read the article HERE.

PhantomPower suggested that while I'm away, you might enjoy watching his latest film, featuring George Reid and Alan Bissett.  Hopefully it will appear by the magic of technology in the space below...

(I can't actually access TalkRadio or YouTube at the moment, so if there's any problem with the above links, please let me know.)

Last but not least, I was contacted a couple of days ago with the news that Scot Goes Pop is number 11 in a new Top 100 list of Scottish blogs.  I've no idea how the rankings were worked out, but you know me - I'll take any accolade that's going.  The full list can be viewed HERE, and there are lots of interesting non-political blogs on it that I wasn't previously aware of, covering topics like travel, fashion and food. 

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Crisis mounts for embattled Ruth Davidson as three more subsamples put the SNP in the lead

Just for the sake of completeness, here are the three most recent Scottish subsamples from Britain-wide polls -

ICM: SNP 34%, Conservatives 32%, Labour 21%, Greens 4%, UKIP 4%, Liberal Democrats 4%

YouGov: SNP 37%, Labour 29%, Conservatives 23%, Liberal Democrats 7%, UKIP 4%

Opinium: SNP 35%, Conservatives 32%, Labour 24%, Greens 6%, UKIP 1%, Liberal Democrats 1%

In a sense these are in line with the full-scale Scottish poll from Panelbase, because they all show the SNP in the lead, and they all show the SNP well ahead of Labour, who until recently had looked like the main challenger.  There have now been twenty-three subsamples since the election, and fourteen have put the SNP ahead.  Seven have shown a Labour lead, and only two have shown a Tory lead.

If we buy into the theory that there was a Labour surge during the summer which has since subsided, there's one huge mystery that has yet to be solved.  How do we explain the significant swing from SNP to Labour in the very recent Cardonald and Fortissat by-elections, which took place at roughly the same time as the Panelbase poll was in the field?  Perhaps there were local factors at play, and perhaps it's just coincidence that more or less the same thing happened in two different places at once...but we should probably keep an open mind until we have more information.

Note : I'm out of the country for a couple of weeks with intermittent internet access, so blogging may be light.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Sensational poll suggests SNP would make sweeping GAINS in an early Westminster election

Rarely have I been so delighted to be proved wrong.  I had suspected that last week's Panelbase poll for the Sunday Times contained a Westminster voting intention question that was being withheld until this week for the purposes of a "blow for Sturgeon" headline, ie. because the results were markedly worse for the SNP than the Holyrood numbers.  Well, I was correct about there being withheld results, but not about them being bad for the SNP - in fact they're so wonderful for the SNP that the Sunday Times have seemingly given them only the most cursory of mentions.

Scottish voting intentions for Westminster (Panelbase) :

SNP 41% (+4)
Conservatives 27% (-2)
Labour 24% (-3)
Liberal Democrats 6% (-1)
Greens 2% (+2)

This is the first full-scale Scottish poll of Westminster voting intentions from Panelbase or any other firm since the general election, so the percentage changes listed above are from the actual election result, rather than from a previous poll.  I know some people will look at the numbers and think "this looks very similar to the pre-election polls that overestimated the SNP by a few points, so the SNP are probably being overestimated again", but of course this poll has been weighted by recalled 2017 election vote, which should have resolved any skew.

If the poll is right, it genuinely looks as if quite a few voters who switched to the Tories or Labour in June have since come home to the SNP.  One of the things that made the election in Scotland so unusual was the large number of seats that were won by knife-edge margins - some of them broke for the SNP (including, remarkably, all four that were decided by fewer than 100 votes), but plenty of others didn't.  Labour's six gains are now marginal seats, and most of them are ultra-marginals.  Based on the Panelbase numbers, the SNP could expect to regain all of those six seats, with only the extreme oddity of Edinburgh South remaining firmly out of reach.  There would also be modest gains from the Tories (Stirling would fall on the tiniest of swings).

In other words, the doom and gloom of the summer is now over.  The SNP can stop fearing an early election, and can perhaps even start thinking of it as a golden opportunity to gain seats - although admittedly none of us need any reminding of how suddenly the political weather can change these days.  One thing is for sure - if these numbers are spotted in the corridors of power in London, it'll put an end to the Tories' silly notion that they can expect the SNP to abstain on a no confidence vote.

Does all of this mean that the picture painted by Scottish subsamples of GB-wide polls since June (basically that the SNP only had a very narrow lead, and that Labour had surged into a strong second place) was totally meaningless?  As this poll has taken me by complete surprise, I suppose I should have the humility to say "possibly", but the flip-side of the coin is "not necessarily".  We only have one full-scale Westminster poll to go on at the moment, and it may yet turn out that a 14-point lead for the SNP is 'on the high side'.  I wonder if question sequence may have played a part - if Panelbase asked about independence and Scottish Parliament voting intentions first, respondents may have been more likely to stick with the SNP when subsequently asked about Westminster.  But there may also be a way of reconciling this poll with the subsamples.  YouGov are the only firm who seemingly weight their Scottish subsamples separately - and they suggested in their first few post-election subsamples that there was a tight race between SNP and Labour.  More recently, they've shown the SNP with a bigger lead.  That could be an illusion caused by the enormous margin of error, but it's just possible there was a Corbyn surge for Labour in the summer that has since subsided as memories of the election have grown more distant.  There's no getting away from it, though - to see Labour in third place, and a whopping 17 points behind the SNP, is undoubtedly a big shock.