Saturday, May 1, 2021

Does the BMG poll show Yes on 50%?

I've just seen the front page of tomorrow's Herald on Sunday, and it appears that a BMG poll shows a 50-50 split on independence.  Hopefully that means literally 50-50, because that will bring the little run of No majorities to an end.  Although the Scot Goes Pop / Panelbase poll showed Yes just fractionally behind and was far better for us than the ComRes poll, I was in two minds about whether to give our unionist friends the chance to crow about "six in a row", but it seems that they'll only have had two short days to enjoy that.

This obviously further increases the chances that the ComRes poll may have been an outlier caused by random sampling variation.  More details when I have them.

May Day, May Day: Why it's become increasingly vital to vote SNP on the constituency ballot and Alba on the list

I must say as this campaign has worn on, I've become ever more convinced that I did the right thing by voting SNP on the constituency ballot and Alba on the list.  In a couple of recent polls, including the one commissioned by this blog, the SNP's constituency vote has dipped very slightly below the 46.5% they took in 2016 - when of course the pro-independence majority in parliament was fairly slim.  We simply cannot afford any more slippage.  People playing silly buggers on the constituency ballot by abstaining, or voting for a unionist party, or even by voting Green or Bonnie Prince Bob, are at risk of waking up the next day with a unionist majority.  I'm absolutely serious about that.  It has to be SNP on the constituency ballot.

But by the same token, I am becoming less convinced by the day that a re-elected SNP government will deliver an independence referendum unless an Alba group is there to pressurise them.  All the mood music points to more delays and excuses.  Now, to be clear, I have no idea whether there will be an Alba group - the opinion polls are contradictory.  Some say yes and some say no.  So you could argue it's a 'risk' to vote Alba, because it might return no seats.  But exactly the same risk applies to voting SNP on the list, and I would say the greater risk is not to at least attempt to change the political weather by electing politicians who actually have a sense of urgency about independence.  

As I said a couple of weeks ago, I loved the SNP Party Election Broadcast and thought it was truly inspiring.  ("And for that, we need to exercise our right to hold a referendum.  A vote for the SNP will show Westminster and the world that we cannot, we will not, be denied our right to decide.  As our country renews, we need to choose our own future, before somebody else chooses it for us.  Then we can take the first steps towards a new nation that's fair, a nation that cares.  Scotland's future is Scotland's choice, and nobody else's.")  But I want Alba there to remind them of that broadcast and hold them to it.  I have a horrible feeling that otherwise we could look back in 2026 and realise it was the equivalent of Nick Clegg practically signing in blood a promise to vote against any increase in tuition fees.

Friday, April 30, 2021

Le Royaume-Uni, nul points: Big majority of public demand a SCOTTISH ENTRY in the Eurovision Song Contest, in bombshell for the BBC from Scot Goes Pop / Panelbase poll

So you've got to allow me the occasional indulgence, OK? Out of a large number of questions in the Scot Goes Pop / Panelbase poll, I asked just ONE about the Eurovision Song Contest.  Frankly, you should be praising me for my restraint, because I can think of at least two follow-up questions I could have asked.

At the forthcoming Eurovision Song Contest, there will be a United Kingdom entry.  However, in 2019, Scotland and Wales both competed in the Eurovision Choir event as countries in their own right.  In future years, how would you prefer Scotland to be represented in the Eurovision Song Contest?

By a Scottish entry: 60%
By a United Kingdom entry: 40%

That's much more decisive than the slim 53-47 majority in favour of a Scottish Olympic team in the Scot Goes Pop / Survation poll in January.  I can think of a few possible explanations for the difference: a) it could simply be caused by pollsters' house effects, ie. perhaps Survation have fewer people in their panel with a strong Scottish identity, b) it may be that people have more of an emotional attachment to Team GB at the Olympics due to specific memories from the past (Torvill & Dean, Linford Christie, Steve Redgrave or whatever), or c) people might have been deterred from abandoning Team GB because larger countries tend to win more medals.  The latter worry is irrelevant to the Eurovision, where smaller countries are not disadvantaged against larger ones.  (Ireland are still the most successful country in the contest's history with seven victories, although they now have Sweden breathing down their necks with six.)

Another difference with the Olympics is that there's no rule that would prevent Scotland competing without first having to become independent - as can be seen not only from the participation of Scotland and Wales in the Eurovision Choir event, but also from Wales having twice had entries in the Junior Eurovision Song Contest.  BBC Alba are believed to have toyed with the idea of a Scottish entry in Junior Eurovision but decided against it - although whether that was because of pressure from London isn't clear.  The bottom line is that it's up to the BBC - if they tell the EBU they want a Scottish entry, it would almost certainly happen.  Now that we know what licence fee payers in Scotland want, will they listen?

As I always point out, no Scot has even represented the UK since Scott Fitzgerald in 1988.  Incredibly, Cyprus and France have both been represented by Scots more recently than that.  (Karen Matheson of Capercaillie fame sang for France in 1996.)  The lack of Scottish representation deprives us of a golden opportunity to promote Scottish culture and boost tourism.

I shall now embark on the unusual task of giving you the Eurovision preferences of various demographic and political groups.  Women are significantly keener on a Scottish entry - the majority is 64-36 among female respondents, compared to a narrower 55-45 among men.  Yes voters from 2014 are overwhelmingly in favour of Scottish representation, and among current Yes supporters there's near unanimity - only 7% want to be represented by the UK.  The position isn't quite so clear-cut among No voters - 34% of people who voted against independence in 2014, and even 25% of people who would vote No in a new referendum, would like a Scottish entry.  Labour voters are close to being evenly divided (44% for Scotland, 56% for the UK), which suggests that even the rump Labour vote still includes a decent number of people who strongly identify as Scottish.

There's a big age divide - under-35s prefer Scottish representation by a majority of almost 3-1, while over-55s are split right down the middle.  And fascinatingly, there's a narrow majority among English-born respondents (53-47) for a Scottish entry.

It's worth making the point that because the Eurovision question is to some extent a proxy for Scottish/British national identity, and because 40% of respondents plumped for the British option, it may well be that certain people in the SNP are over-optimistic about the prospect of Yes support rising consistently above 60%.  The idea that we should wait for that to happen before firing the starting gun on a referendum may be tantamount to giving up on independence completely.

Now, I'm not necessarily going to claim there's a strong thematic link here, but the next two questions in the poll are about nuclear weapons.

Nuclear weapons were banned by an international treaty that came into force in January this year.  However, the nine countries that are currently believed to possess nuclear weapons, including the UK, have so far refused to sign the treaty. Do you think the UK should join the treaty and dismantle its nuclear weapons?

Yes: 47%
No: 33%

With Don't Knows removed -

Yes 59%
No 41%

There have been polls in the past that have purported to show support for Trident in Scotland, so this could be an early indication that the new treaty is a game-changing moment that will make it a lot easier for campaigners to make the case for disarmament.  As you'd expect, the figures for SNP and Tory voters are reverse mirror images of each other (71% of SNP voters support disarmament and 71% of Tory voters oppose it), but what's much more significant is that Labour voters break 46-37 in favour of joining the treaty and disarming.  That suggests the type of 'atomic unionism' espoused by Jackie Baillie has the potential to cost Labour a lot of votes.  Additionally, 30% of people who voted No in 2014, and 22% of people who would currently vote No, want to sign up to the nuclear ban - which highlights a possible means by which a future Yes campaign could win more converts.

The UK government argues that its nuclear weapons protect the public due to a 'deterrent' effect.  However, others argue that the presence of nuclear weapons on the Clyde puts the public in greater danger by making the area a target for nuclear attacks, and by creating a risk of serious accidents.  Do you personally feel more safe or less safe due to the presence of nuclear weapons on the Clyde?

More safe: 24%
Less safe: 42%
Makes no difference: 34%

After I saw this result, it occurred to me that some of the 34% who chose the "makes no difference" option may be people who live nowhere near the Clyde and are naive enough to think that makes them safe.  In reality, you'd probably need to be in Shetland to escape the effects of a nuclear attack on Faslane.

There's an age and gender divide on the nuclear questions as well.  Although a plurality of over-55s want rid of the UK's weapons and say they feel less safe because of them, it's a fairly tight result in each case.  And women are significantly less likely than men to think Britain should not disarm or that nuclear weapons make them safer.

*  *  *

There are still more results to come from the poll.  If you'd like to be the first to know, feel free to follow me on Twitter HERE.

VIDEO: Preview of Friday night's questions in the Scot Goes Pop / Panelbase poll

BBC Scotland's exclusion of Alba from the leaders' debates is now utterly indefensible after BBC Wales set a precedent with an ultra-inclusive debate night featuring leaders of several tiny anti-devolution parties

Thursday, April 29, 2021

Scot Goes Pop / Panelbase poll: Voters say UK Government are WRONG to launch legal challenge to the new Scottish law protecting children's rights - and tell Douglas Ross it was *Brexit* that was irresponsible in the middle of a pandemic

Even the unionist media acknowledged that the UK government walked straight into a trap at the start of this election campaign by needlessly launching a Supreme Court challenge to a Holyrood law that is aimed at protecting children, and that was passed with Scottish Tory support.  The blunder has a dual effect - it makes the UK government look as if they don't care about children, and it also deepens the suspicions that they are at war with devolution and may eventually abolish or neuter the Scottish Parliament (if we don't vote for independence first).  I added a question to the Scot Goes Pop / Panelbase poll to discover whether this episode is playing as badly with the public as has been suspected.

The Scottish Parliament recently passed legislation that incorporates the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child into Scots Law.  The law seeks to protect children's rights by forbidding public authorities from acting in a way that is incompatible with the UN Convention.  However, the UK Government are challenging the law in the Supreme Court on the basis that it would interfere with the UK Parliament's right to make laws for Scotland.  Although the UK Government are allowed to challenge laws that they think may exceed the Scottish Parliament's powers, they are under no obligation to do so.  Do you think the UK Government are right or wrong to challenge the new Scottish law on children's rights?  

Right: 33%
Wrong: 42%

With Don't Knows excluded -

Right: 44%
Wrong: 56%

Although that's the expected result, the detailed breakdown is fascinating.  Women are entirely responsible for the majority against the legal action - female respondents break almost 2-1 against, while men are evenly divided.  And it's not as if there's a persistently large gender gap throughout the poll - it's specific to this particular question.  At the risk of gender stereotyping, I would guess that probably means women are concerned about the impact on children, perhaps more than they are about the impact on devolution.  And although respondents divide to some extent on Yes/No lines, it's not totally uniform - 17% of current Yes supporters think the UK government are right to challenge the law, and 18% of current No voters think they are wrong.  (Which maybe raises a question mark over whether all Yes supporters fully understood the question, but obviously that's just speculation.)  Respondents who were born in England are split down the middle, while a decent plurality of Scottish-born respondents are opposed to Westminster's actions.

Every time Douglas Ross says with an apparently straight face that the Scottish Government are "irresponsible" to be planning for a referendum during a pandemic, I always imagine a nation in unison saying "Hello?  Hello?  Brexit, Douglas?".  So I asked the obvious question...

The Conservatives claim that the ongoing pandemic means that it is irresponsible for the Scottish Government to be making plans for an independence referendum.  In response, the Scottish Government say that they do not intend to hold the referendum until the pandemic is over, and point out that the Conservative Government at Westminster has already taken Britain out of the EU single market and customs union during the pandemic.  In your view, which is more irresponsible?

Taking Britain out of the EU single market and customs union during the pandemic: 39%

Planning for an independence referendum to take place after the pandemic is over: 38%

Neither of these are irresponsible: 24%

So the right result, but it's bizarrely tight given that the Tories self-evidently don't have a leg to stand on with this.  I would guess the explanation for the closeness of the outcome is that a substantial minority of independence supporters are also in favour of Brexit, and therefore the presence of a 'neither' option gave them an easy out.  A total of 62% of respondents either don't think indyref preparations are irresponsible, or think going ahead with Brexit during the pandemic was more irresponsible.

Again, there's a reasonable amount of 'cross-voting' - 18% of current Yes supporters think that indyref planning is more irresponsible, while 17% of current No supporters take the same view about Brexit.

*  *  *

There's lots more to come from the poll - several supplementary questions of interest to the independence movement, and also Westminster voting intentions.  If you'd like to be the first to know the results, feel free to follow me on Twitter HERE.

VIDEO: Preview of Thursday night's questions in the Scot Goes Pop / Panelbase poll

EXCLUSIVE: Scot Goes Pop / Panelbase poll shows a virtual tie on the headline independence numbers, leaving today's Savanta ComRes poll looking like a possible outlier

When I first received the tables from the new Scot Goes Pop / Panelbase poll, I was tearing my hair out slightly, because the numbers were pretty good for Yes in many ways, but just two respondents swung the balance, ie. if just two people who said they were No voters had been in the Yes column instead, the headline numbers would have been rounded to 50-50.  You'll get the best sense of how close it is by looking at the numbers rounded to one decimal place, which make it Yes 49.3%, No 50.7%.  With Don't Knows left in, even the rounded numbers show only a statistically insignificant one-point lead for No.

All of which tells a far better story for Yes than today's Savanta ComRes poll, which is left looking like a possible outlier.  Bear in mind that the Panelbase and ComRes fieldwork dates overlap to a significant extent - the Scot Goes Pop / Panelbase poll was conducted between Wednesday of last week and Monday of this week, while the ComRes poll was in the field between Friday of last week and Tuesday of this week.  It would be a bit of a stretch to claim that the ComRes poll is more up to date and picked up a swing that Panelbase couldn't.  Remember also that recent Survation and Ashcroft polls are bang in line with Panelbase in showing Yes on 49%, and while the last YouGov poll put the figure at 47%, that was only a 2% decrease from a firm that is typically on the No-friendly end of the spectrum.  So that's all fairly consistent with the suspicion that the new ComRes poll may be underestimating Yes due to random sampling variation. For now at least, it looks like public opinion on independence continues to be essentially split down the middle, which is an excellent starting point for a referendum campaign.

Here are the headline numbers from the Scot Goes Pop / Panelbase poll...

Should Scotland be an independent country?  (Scot Goes Pop / Panelbase poll, 21st-26th April 2021)

Yes 49%
No 51%

Before Don't Knows are removed, the numbers are - 

Yes 47%
No 48%
Undecided 6%

(1075 respondents were interviewed.  The percentages add up to more than 100 due to rounding.)

As ever, the figures for Labour voters are of particular interest - 28% are pro-independence and 72% are anti-independence, which is not quite as good for Yes as some previous Panelbase polls.  That partly explains why Yes don't have an outright lead.

*  *  *

There's lots more to come from the poll - several supplementary questions of interest to the independence movement, and also Westminster voting intentions.  If you'd like to be the first to know the results, feel free to follow me on Twitter HERE.

VIDEO PREVIEW: Independence numbers from new Scot Goes Pop / Panelbase poll incoming

Alba vote increases in new Savanta ComRes poll

I didn't in any way blame Savanta ComRes for the #Matchettgate episode, because I'm quite sure the fault lay at Scotland on Sunday's end.  However, I think eyebrows are going to be quite rightly raised at the ComRes spokesman's comments about today's new poll, because they do appear to dispense with political impartiality in two key respects.  It's a poll that shows pro-independence parties with a very clear majority of seats in the next Scottish Parliament, and yet the ComRes spokesman feeds into a Tory narrative by casting doubt over whether that would represent an "unequivocal mandate" for a referendum.  I'm not sure it's for a pollster to suggest that a majority of seats isn't a proper mandate in a parliamentary system.  

He also describes the Alba Party as "ever-unpopular", which is a truly extraordinary remark.  Alba are a minority party in the hunt for seats in a proportional representation system - just like the Greens, just like the Liberal Democrats, just like the SSP in the old days.  Nobody would call the Greens "unpopular" just because 90% of people aren't going to vote for them.  The ComRes poll actually shows the Alba vote increasing slightly, which reinforces the message from other recent polls that their support is holding up.

Scottish Parliament constituency ballot (Savanta ComRes/The Scotsman):

SNP 45% (-1)
Conservatives 23% (-2)
Labour 23% (+3)
Liberal Democrats 7% (+1)

Scottish Parliament regional list ballot:

SNP 36% (-2)
Conservatives 22% (-1)
Labour 19% (+2)
Greens 10% (+3)
Liberal Democrats 5% (-)
Alba 2% (+1)

Seats projection (with changes from the 2016 election): SNP 61 (-2), Conservatives 28 (-3), Labour 24 (-), Greens 11 (+5), Liberal Democrats 5 (-)

Pro-independence parties: 72 seats (55.8%)
Anti-independence parties: 57 seats (44.2%)


There are quite a number of plus points here - although Savanta ComRes have joined Panelbase in showing the lowest SNP constituency share since 2019, the SNP lead has actually increased due to the Tories dropping back.  And in the constituency section, it's the gap between the first-placed and second-placed party that really matters.  The 25% Tory share in the last ComRes poll always looked a bit odd in the context of other polls.   And it now seems pretty likely that the relatively poor Green showing in the last ComRes poll was a freakish finding caused by sampling variation - 10% in the new poll is much more in line with others firms' polls, and it naturally has a very positive effect on pro-indy representation.

Should Scotland be an independent country?

Yes 46% (-2)
No 54% (+2)

(UPDATE: I've corrected the percentage changes above because I was accidentally looking at the last-but-one ComRes poll as the baseline.  The actual numbers in the last poll were Yes 48%, No 52%, so the swing this time is 2% rather than 4%.  Bear that in mind when reading the analysis below.)

I don't think there's much doubt that Yes support has dipped a little over the course of the campaign, which is what traditionally happens due to the SNP campaigning on bread and butter issues and leaving the pitch clear for unionist parties to relentlessly bash independence.  But there is *considerable* doubt over whether Yes have dipped by anything like as much as ComRes are reporting.  At some point soon I'll be releasing the independence numbers from the Scot Goes Pop / Panelbase poll, which had overlapping fieldwork dates with ComRes.  Part of the reason I held the numbers back for a few days was just in this case this sort of scenario occurred.

I've had two analysis pieces about the Scot Goes Pop poll in The National over the last couple of days - you can read them HERE and HERE.

Wednesday, April 28, 2021

Scot Goes Pop / Panelbase poll: Yes voters tell Anas Sarwar in no uncertain terms that he CAN'T speak for them without compromising on an independence referendum

One thing that stood out as particularly brazen in the first couple of leaders' debates was Anas Sarwar's claims that he, unlike Douglas Ross, can speak for both anti-independence and pro-independence voters.  If anything, it was actually Sarwar's predecessor Richard Leonard, and Keir Starmer's predecessor Jeremy Corbyn, who brought Labour a bit closer to being able to straddle the Yes/No divide by suggesting that they wouldn't necessarily stand in the way of an independence referendum if people voted for one (yet again).  But Sarwar has now reversed that process, returning Labour to being just as much of an ultra-unionist party as the Tories.  And yet he apparently thinks he can speak for both Yes voters and No voters simply by telling Yes voters that they don't really care about the thing they're in favour of.

I decided to use the new Scot Goes Pop / Panelbase poll to discover whether that bit of cheek was actually convincing anyone.

The Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar says that, unlike the Conservatives, his party speaks for both anti-independence and pro-independence voters. However, Labour remains firmly opposed to independence and to an independence referendum. Which of the following statements is closest to your own view? 

Labour would have to offer a compromise on an independence referendum before it can claim to speak for pro-independence voters: 44% 

Labour can claim to speak for pro-independence voters without having to offer a compromise on an independence referendum: 26% 

With Don't Knows excluded, it's a 62-38 split.  But that's among the whole sample - given the nature of the question, what really matters is the verdict of Yes voters.  Do they think Anas Sarwar has any right to claim to speak for them without meeting them halfway in terms of substantive policy?  Unsurprisingly, the answer is no.  65% of people who voted Yes in 2014 reject the idea that an unreconstructed unionist party can represent them, and only 15% do not.  If undecideds are removed, that means 81% of Yes voters are saying "not in my name, Anas".

One thing that's irrelevant but nevertheless kind of fascinating is how supporters of other unionist parties break on this question.  Tories naturally see no reason why an ultra-unionist politician shouldn't speak for independence supporters, but Liberal Democrats are split down the middle.  

What occurs to me is that Sarwar may actually be further alienating Yes voters with his presumptuousness in claiming to speak on their behalf.  If he's really determined to be a hardline unionist, he might be better off just owning that.

Another party presenting the public with a glaring piece of hypocrisy in this election are the Liberal Democrats - they say they're not a party of rejoining the EU, and they're viscerally opposed to Scotland rejoining the EU as an independent country...and yet they'd still like us to believe that they're more passionately pro-European than any other party.  How does that work?

The Liberal Democrats are opposed to Scotland seeking to rejoin the European Union by becoming an independent country, and are not campaigning for the UK as a whole to rejoin the EU. In view of this, do you think the Liberal Democrats can still be considered a "pro-European party"? 

Yes 24% 
No 51% 

I'd say that's a very clear answer to a very fair question.  With Don't Knows excluded, a 68-32 majority say that the pro-European claim no longer stacks up.  In principle, that should be a major problem for the Lib Dems, because they're known to have campaigned on the doorsteps in recent years with the simple slogan "we're pro-UK, pro-EU".  They've now lost that USP, and voters who are serious about getting back into Europe will have to look to the SNP, Alba or the Greens instead.

Among people who actually voted Lib Dem in 2019, a mere 42% believe the claim that the party is still pro-European.  27% do not, and 30% are unsure.  And interestingly, slightly more English-born respondents than Scottish-born respondents feel that the Lib Dems aren't pro-European - in spite of the fact that English-born people tend to be less sympathetic to the concept of independence, which was explicitly mentioned in the question.

*   *   *

There are lots more questions to come from this poll - Westminster voting intention numbers, independence voting intention numbers, and several more supplementary questions that should be of considerable interest to the whole independence movement.  If you'd like to be the first to know when they're released, feel free to follow me on Twitter HERE.

VIDEO: Preview of Wednesday's questions in the Scot Goes Pop poll

Ashcroft poll shows statistical tie on independence

Thanks to Marcia for pointing me in the direction of the new Ashcroft poll, which reinforces the impression from the recent Survation poll that the traditional dip in Yes support caused by election campaigns (ie. because the SNP usually campaign on bread and butter issues rather than making the case for independence) is very slight on this occasion, and that public opinion is still essentially 50/50.

Should Scotland be an independent country? (Lord Ashcroft poll)

Yes 49%
No 51%

I've had a very quick skim through the report on the poll, and there doesn't appear to be conventional Holyrood voting intention numbers.  However, there are questions that ask respondents for their percentage likelihood of voting for each party, and 4% of people say they are at least 70% likely to vote Alba on the list.

Patrick Harvie's name is misspelt as 'Harvey', which makes me wonder how well-grounded in Scottish politics Lord Ashcroft (or whoever wrote the report) really is.

Meanwhile, Newsnet Scotland has published a very silly article about the new Scot Goes Pop / Panelbase poll.  I'm not sure whether it's worth the bother of rebutting it, given that most people are intelligent enough to spot that Newsnet under its new ownership has become a propaganda site and that any claims of fact it makes have to be treated with enormous suspicion.  But just in case anyone mistakes the article for a credible piece of polling analysis, I'll just explain that the point it's overlooking is that the seats projection from any poll has to take into account constituency results as well as list results.  That's why Alba are doing better in the seats projection than in the previous Panelbase poll, in spite of the fact that the list vote percentages have barely changed.  The SNP are projected to have fewer constituency seats now, which means unionist parties don't have to be compensated with quite as many list seats.  That leaves more list seats available for smaller parties, and Alba benefit.

That's the point I was making the other week - Alba are running a self-sacrificing campaign by urging an SNP vote in the constituencies.  That will maximise pro-indy representation but it may cost Alba themselves the odd seat here and there.

Tuesday, April 27, 2021

Scot Goes Pop / Panelbase poll: Douglas Ross is "not an appropriate person" to be a party leader or candidate for First Minister due to his 'gypsy traveller' comments, say voters by huge margin

Regular readers may remember that on both of the last two occasions I commissioned Scot Goes Pop polls, I was very tempted to chuck in a question about whether Douglas Ross should give up being a football referee and get on with the day job.  I decided against that because it seemed like a relatively frivolous question.  (And Craig Murray felt strongly that it would trivialise the whole exercise.)  But all of a sudden, it doesn't seem frivolous at all.  Douglas Ross is currently planning to hold four jobs simultaneously, and his dual Westminster / Holyrood mandate will be particularly complex, because he'll have to represent Moray at Westminster and the entirety of the Highlands & Islands at Holyrood.  It's getting a bit beyond a joke now, so I decided the time was right to use the new Scot Goes Pop / Panelbase poll to find out what the public think.

The Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross has said that if he is elected to the Scottish Parliament in May, he will not give up his seat in the UK Parliament until 2024, and that he will also carry on working part-time as an assistant football referee unless he becomes First Minister. Do you think he should give up one or more of these additional jobs to concentrate on his role as party leader? (Scot Goes Pop / Panelbase poll, 21st -26th April)

Yes 54%
No 26%

With Don't Knows excluded, that works out as a 67-33 split.

Of course the caveat you always have to put on this sort of result is that the Conservatives are an extraordinarily unpopular party in Scotland, and the people who don't like them will take any opportunity in an opinion poll to give them a good kicking.  But on this occasion that isn't so much of an alibi for Ross, because his own voters are split down the middle on the subject.  41% of people who voted Tory in the 2019 general election think he should stop being a referee and/or MP, and only 44% disagree.  

Women are slightly more forgiving of his extra-curricular activities than men (could that be because men are more likely to watch football and are therefore sick of the sight of him?).  But that's not much consolation for the Tories, because the gender gap is completely reversed on our next Ross-themed question.
Before becoming Scottish Conservative leader, Douglas Ross said his priority if he became Prime Minister for a day would be "tougher enforcement against gypsy travellers". He had previously said, also in relation to travellers, that he didn't like having to "bend over backwards for this ethnic minority". He has since apologised for his comments. In light of this track record, do you think Douglas Ross is an appropriate person to be leader of a major party and a candidate for First Minister? 

Yes 28%
No 52%

With Don't Knows excluded, a majority of 65-35 feel that Ross isn't a proper person to hold his current position.  It's hard to disagree with that - his comments as a councillor were pretty extreme and suggested to me that in those days he was only interested in entrenching his own position by pandering to the worst instincts of his narrow support base.  You live by the sword and you die by the sword - if you go down that road, you shouldn't really be expecting to hold senior office later in your career.

And what never ceases to amaze me is the chirpy, breezy way he gave the notorious "tougher enforcement against gypsy travellers" answer only four years ago - it was as if he'd been asked what his favourite flavour of ice cream was.

As I mentioned above, women seem to find his views especially repugnant - 56% of female respondents think he is not an appropriate person to be leader, and only 20% disagree.  Naturally SNP voters are the hardest on him, but pluralities of both Labour and Lib Dem voters think his comments should disqualify him.

It strikes me that this means, paradoxically, that the Tories remaining in second place in this election would be a good outcome for the pro-independence movement.  It would make Ross the de facto leader of the No campaign in any second referendum, and the public really don't seem to hold him in high regard.

I was keen to ask a question or two in the poll about the absurd contradiction at the heart of the Tories' pitch in this campaign.  They say that electors have the "opportunity" to stop a referendum by voting Conservative, which you'd think would automatically imply that there's also an opportunity to bring a referendum about by voting for other parties.  But no, apparently we can't have a referendum no matter how we vote.  So why would we need to vote Conservative to stop a referendum?  Answers on a postcard, folks.

In the initial draft of questions for the poll, I had this - 

The Conservatives say that they will not allow a second independence referendum to take place, regardless of the result of the Scottish Parliament election. They also say that an independence referendum can only be stopped if people vote Conservative in the Scottish Parliament election. What is your view of the Conservatives' position on whether an independence referendum can be held? 

a) It makes logical sense 
b) It is contradictory

I took that out, because it was more like a joke with a punchline rather than a meaningful poll question, but hopefully the point is made.  Instead, I went with this for tonight's third question...

The Conservatives claim that the current Scottish Parliament election is an opportunity for voters to stop an independence referendum by voting Conservative. Do you think this means that if pro-independence parties win a majority in the election, the Conservatives must logically accept that the people of Scotland have decided that an independence referendum should take place? 

Yes 43%
No 37%

With Don't Knows removed, it's a 54-46 split.  A closer result, but you'd expect that because anything to do with an independence referendum tends to divide opinion along unionist/Yesser lines.  74% of SNP voters think the logic of the Tories' campaign pitch is that a pro-referendum mandate must be respected, while 78% of Tory voters naturally take the opposite view.  As on many indy-related questions, Labour voters are intriguingly divided - 30% think a referendum mandate must stand, and 51% do not.

*   *   *

There are lots more questions to come from this poll - Westminster voting intention numbers, independence voting intention numbers, and several more supplementary questions that should be of considerable interest to the whole independence movement.  If you'd like to be the first to know when they're released, feel free to follow me on Twitter HERE.

VIDEO: Preview of Tuesday night's questions in the Scot Goes Pop poll

Monday, April 26, 2021

Exclusive Scot Goes Pop / Panelbase poll suggests the supermajority is on: the SNP, Alba and the Greens are on course to win 62% of the seats in the new Scottish Parliament

I've tried to keep the arrival of this latest exclusive Scot Goes Pop poll under wraps, but my interests do betray me, and there was at least one person on Twitter who clocked that the Panelbase survey under way over the last few days was probably commissioned by me!  If you saw the video teaser earlier, you'll already know the list results from the Scottish Parliament voting intentions, but as I mentioned, the constituency results show more extensive changes.

Scottish Parliament constituency ballot voting intentions (Scot Goes Pop / Panelbase poll):

SNP 45% (-2)
Labour 22% (+2)
Conservatives 20% (-3)
Liberal Democrats 8% (+2)
Greens 4% (-)

Scottish Parliament regional list ballot voting intentions:

SNP 36% (-)
Conservatives 21% (-1)
Labour 18% (+1)
Greens 10% (+1)
Alba 6% (-)
Liberal Democrats 6% (-)
All for Unity 2% (-)

On behalf of Scot Goes Pop, the polling company Panelbase interviewed a representative sample of 1075 adults in Scotland, including 16 and 17 year olds, from 21st-26th April.

Seats projection (with changes from 2016 election): SNP 61 (-2), Conservatives 24 (-7), Labour 20 (-4), Greens 11 (+5), Alba 8 (+8), Liberal Democrats 5 (-)

Pro-independence parties: 80 seats (62.0%)
Anti-independence parties: 49 seats (38.0%)


So Labour are gaining a bit of traction and moving ahead of the Tories, but ironically only on the constituency ballot, and not on the regional list ballot where they actually need it.  That would leave them stuck firmly in third place in terms of seats.  The Greens are probably overestimated on the constituency ballot because they're only standing in a dozen constituency seats, so the SNP can confidently expect to take some (but not all) of the Greens' 4% vote share.

But the big story is Alba's showing on the list.  This is the third Panelbase poll in succession to show the new pro-independence party on 6%, but in this case the seats projection is even more favourable than before, with Alex Salmond on course to lead an eight-strong group at Holyrood - bigger than the Greens and Liberal Democrats had in the previous parliament.  If that's how it turns out, Alba will arguably have succeeded in bringing about the 'supermajority' they promised, albeit with the Greens playing a crucial role as well.  Pro-indy parties in combination are projected to have 80 seats, which amounts to 62% of the 129 seats in the parliament.

The key is that the Greens and Alba are doing well at the same time - it's not as if there's just a rearranging of the deckchairs with one pro-indy party gaining list seats at the expense of another.  Only 70% of people who voted SNP in the 2019 Westminster general election are planning to vote SNP on the list this year, but the vast majority of the others are going to other pro-indy parties - 11% to Alba and 13% to the Greens.  And the figures are very similar among Yes voters from 2014 - 12% are voting Alba on the list and 14% for the Greens, with 60% in the SNP column.

On the constituency ballot, Labour take 16% of people who voted Tory in 2019, while the Tories only take 5% of those who voted Labour two years ago.  But the equivalent numbers on the list are much closer (13% and 9% respectively), which explains why Labour aren't making enough headway on the more important of the two ballots.

Curiously, the seats projection shows an exact repeat of the 2016 result in the constituency ballot, with Labour holding all of their three constituency seats.  Whether that's actually what would happen is hard to say, given that they should really have lost Dumbarton and East Lothian last time.  All of the changes are on the list seat allocation.

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There are lots more questions to come from this poll - Westminster voting intention numbers, independence voting intention numbers, and a number of supplementary question that should be of considerable interest to the whole independence movement.  If you'd like to be the first to know when they're released, feel free to follow me on Twitter HERE.

VIDEO EXCLUSIVE: New Scot Goes Pop / Panelbase poll shows Alba on course for EIGHT seats - Greens also performing strongly - Labour in trouble

There have been SEVEN occasions when a party has taken at least one Holyrood list seat with less than 6% of the national vote

One of the most active anti-Alba propagandists on social media was telling people yesterday that they shouldn't even dream of voting for any party if it was below 6% in the opinion polls - the implication being that Alba would have no chance of winning any seats in that scenario.  But is that really true?  In a word, no.  Since the Scottish Parliament was established, there have been no fewer than seven occasions when a party has won at least one list seat with less than 6% of the national list vote -

In 1999, the Greens won 3.6% of the vote and one list seat.

In 1999, the SSP won 2.0% of the vote and one list seat.

In 2003, the Scottish Senior Citizens Unity Party won 1.5% of the vote and one list seat.

In 2007, the Greens won 4.0% of the vote and two list seats.

In 2011, the Liberal Democrats won 5.2% of the vote and three list seats (and it would have been more if they hadn't won constituency seats).

In 2011, the Greens won 4.4% of the vote and two list seats.

In 2016, the Liberal Democrats won 5.2% of the vote and one list seat (and it would have been more if they hadn't won constituency seats).

But, you might wonder, were all of the above parties just very lucky?  In one or two cases maybe, but for the most part no.  Let's now look at all of the examples of parties that won more than 1% of the national list vote without winning any seats.  As you can see, not a single one had 3% of the vote or more.

In 1999, the Socialist Labour Party won 2.4% of the vote and no seats.

In 2003, the Pensioners Party won 1.5% of the vote and no seats.

In 2003, the Socialist Labour Party won 1.1% of the vote and no seats.

In 2007, the Scottish Senior Citizens Unity Party won 1.9% of the vote and no seats.

In 2007, Solidarity won 1.5% of the vote and no seats.

In 2007, the Scottish Christian Party won 1.3% of the vote and no seats.

In 2007, the BNP won 1.2% of the vote and no seats.

In 2011, the Scottish Senior Citizens Unity Party won 1.7% of the vote and no list seats.

In 2016, UKIP won 2.0% of the vote and no seats.

So with Alba at 3% in yesterday's Survation poll, and with the majority of polls so far showing them on 3% or higher, it would be a very brave (ie. misleading) call to say that they have no chance whatever of seats.

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I mentioned my interview on IndyLive Radio the other day - you can now listen to it at your leisure HERE, or via the embedded player below.  Our unionist friends love to sneer at things like IndyLive Radio, but I listened to their interview with John Curtice from the same show, and it was incredibly in-depth.  You'd have learnt more from that than from three months of listening to Good Morning Scotland.

I've had lots more constituency profiles in The National in recent days - Angus South, Angus North & Mearns, Glasgow Pollok, Glasgow Shettleston, Rutherglen, Kilmarnock & Irvine Valley, Central Scotland (regional list), Mid-Scotland & Fife (regional list), Edinburgh Western and Edinburgh Southern.

I overran the target word count in the Mid-Scotland & Fife piece, so the final sentence didn't make it in.  As it was a sort of 'punchline', I'll present it here for your delectation and delight -

"So the next time you see one of those gaudy 'Winning With Willie Rennie' posters, just remember it could be pretty much anyone who is winning with him."

Sunday, April 25, 2021

Survation poll contradicts ComRes: the Alba vote is holding up, and the SNP are on course for an overall majority

So the Alba-haters who got so terribly excited about a single ComRes poll putting the party on 1% will have to calm down again, at least for the time being.  A new Survation poll shows no drop at all in the Alba vote, which increases the chances that the ComRes number was just a freakish finding caused by random sampling variation.  Like YouGov, Survation have also contradicted ComRes in that they're still showing the SNP on course for an overall majority - indeed the SNP vote has actually risen on the constituency ballot.

Scottish Parliament constituency voting intentions (Survation / Sunday Post):

SNP 50% (+1)
Conservatives 21% (-)
Labour 21% (+1)
Liberal Democrats 7% (-2)
Greens 2% (+1)

Scottish Parliament regional list voting intentions:

SNP 35% (-3)
Labour 22% (+3)
Conservatives 20% (+2)
Greens 10% (-1)
Liberal Democrats 7% (-1)
Alba 3% (-)

Seats projection (with changes from 2016 election): SNP 67 (+4), Labour 24 (-), Conservatives 22 (-9), Greens 11 (+5), Liberal Democrats 5 (-)

SNP: 67 seats
All others: 62 seats


Pro-independence parties: 78 seats
Anti-independence parties: 51 seats


Bear in mind that seats projections at this stage have to assume that Alba's vote is evenly spread, which is unlikely to be the case in the real world.  So the projection that Alba are on zero seats should be taken with a pinch of salt.  With a national vote of 3%, there's a good chance that they'd be on 5%+ in one or two regions, and thus might take one or two seats.

The other point that should be treated with a little caution is Labour's second place.  Over recent months, Survation have repeatedly shown Labour doing better, relative to the Tories, than other firms have.  So although the general consensus is that Anas Sarwar has had a better campaign than Douglas Ross (hasn't everyone?), and although it may seem intuitively plausible that Labour are re-emerging as the leading opposition party, I wouldn't find it at all surprising if other firms continue to show the Tories in second place.

Should Scotland be an independent country?

Yes 49% (-1)
No 51% (+1)

I'd say the independence numbers are mildly encouraging.  Given that ComRes and YouGov both showed 2% drops in the Yes vote to 48% and 47% respectively, I wouldn't have expected Survation - who in recent times have been a relatively No-friendly pollster - to report a figure as high as 49%. Election campaigns often produce dips in support for independence, simply because unionist parties fire up their base by making the case against indy, while the SNP tend to shy away from making the case for indy and try to win on bread and butter issues instead.  But there's certainly no sign of the roof failling in.

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You can catch-up with Episode 6 of the Scot Goes Popcast, in which I speak to Alba Party leader Alex Salmond, HERE (with video) or HERE (audio only).  And if you find Scot Goes Pop's coverage of polls helpful and would like it to continue, I'm currently running a fundraiser HERE.