Friday, October 4, 2019

How would voters react to the Lib Dems in a post-Brexit election?

So there were a few interesting points made in response to the previous post.  Scottish Skier pointed out that the three YouGov subsamples putting the SNP in the 30s had followed on from others that put the SNP at an unusually high level of support, so this could all be normal sampling variation signifying nothing other than that the SNP vote has held steady in the low 40s.  That's possible, although obviously the more consecutive subsamples that put the SNP in the 30s, the more likely it is that something has genuinely changed.  It's also true that the most recent Opinium subsample had the SNP at a very healthy 50%, although unlike YouGov subsamples, that one won't have been correctly structured or weighted.

Someone else suggested the reason for any Lib Dem surge could be their outright "Revoke" stance, which means that if the election doesn't happen until after a No Deal Brexit, support for the Lib Dems could evaporate.  I think that's putting it a bit strongly, although it's true that the Lib Dem offer to the voters would have to be very different in a post-Brexit election, and it remains to be seen how voters would respond to that.  Would they be convinced by a promise to take the UK back into the EU, which might mean years or decades of further turmoil?  Or would they be satisfied by a promise to soften Brexit but not to rejoin the EU?  It's impossible to know at this stage, so yes, the jury is out on how the Lib Dems would fare if the election is delayed beyond Brexit.

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Stuart Campbell has commissioned a poll of 1000 people who plan to vote SNP on the Holyrood constituency ballot.  The early results he's published are of no great interest or significance, but I can't see any reason why he'd have commissioned such a poll unless he's finally decided to test the potential support for a "Wings party" on the regional list ballot.  So I would guess that moment is about to arrive.  Remember to beware of dodgy Archie Stirling/Change UK-type questions that give a wildly distorted impression of how well the party might do.  But with a bit of luck Mr Campbell might have asked a credible question and we'll at last reach the moment of truth.

UPDATE: Unfortunately it looks like Mr Campbell hasn't asked a credible question in his poll - see the comment from Anon at 4:06pm below.  If anything it looks slightly worse than the Archie Stirling and Change UK questions that produced such misleading results.

Thursday, October 3, 2019

YouGov subsample update

Well, I'm not going to beat about the bush here: there are some worrying straws in the wind to be found in recent Scottish subsamples from YouGov.  The last three have had the SNP down in the 30s, which is unusual in recent times, and two of the three have put the SNP below the 37% recorded at the last general election, which is highly unusual.  This looks like the manifestation of what I've been worried about since it became obvious that Jo Swinson would become Liberal Democrat leader.  A Britain-wide party led by a Scot has an inbuilt advantage north of the border, because that person is all over the UK news in a way that the SNP leader is not - a problem that will only get worse during the official campaign.

This is the newest subsample...

SNP 35%, Conservatives 21%, Liberal Democrats 20%, Labour 11%, Greens 6%, Brexit Party 5%

It's quite hard to judge what a result like that would translate into in terms of seats.  The SNP would be making heavy gains from Labour, and at least modest gains from the Tories, but it's very unlikely that the Lib Dems would only be winning four or five seats on 20% of the vote.  They'd probably recover a lot of the former heartland seats that they lost in 2015.

Of course the Greens won't stand in every seat, so some (but not all) of that Green vote can be regarded as the SNP's for the taking...but then again the same may be true in respect of the Brexit Party's vote and the Tories.

I suppose the bigger picture is that this still looks like it could be the election in which Scottish Labour cease to be a major player - and that could mean sustained SNP hegemony under first-past-the-post.

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

Will Jo Swinson's stubbornness on a Corbyn-led government make her the midwife of independence?

What effect would a No Deal Brexit at the end of this month have on the case for independence?  There are two main schools of thought: 1) that people will accept the new status quo as 'the devil they know' and will shy away from any further constitutional upheaval, and 2) that many people who voted No in 2014 and Remain in 2016 will start to look upon independence as a safe harbour in the Brexit storm.  We can only speculate at this stage as to which of those is right, but if by any chance it's the latter, we may end up having Jo Swinson to thank for Scotland becoming an independent country.  Her stubbornness in refusing to compromise on the leadership of a potential interim government doesn't make No Deal a certainty, but it's hard to dispute that it makes No Deal considerably more likely.  As Paul Mason has pointed out, the Lib Dems have perversely become the party of choice for those who think a No Deal Brexit would be preferable to a Corbyn premiership.

Incidentally, Matthew d'Ancona was barking up the wrong tree with his claim the other day that a vote of no confidence would be a trap allowing Boris Johnson to remain in office until a general election that takes place after the date of Brexit.  We've already seen the speed with which emergency legislation can be passed, so if Johnson tried to squat in Downing Street after losing a vote of no confidence, and if the Queen declined to remove him from office, it would be open to parliament to quickly legislate to change the procedure for appointing the Prime Minister - it could become a position elected by the Commons. 

But all of this is academic for as long as the Lib Dems are determined to remain Boris Johnson's Little Helpers.