Saturday, May 8, 2021

FINAL RESULTS: The SNP gain one seat overall, will *not* be a minority govt as long as there's an opposition Presiding Officer - and pro-independence parties win majority of the popular vote on the list

I haven't calculated the national popular vote on the list yet, but John Curtice stated that the SNP, Greens and Alba have 51% between them, so I'm sure that's true.  Given the importance the Tories have placed on the #PeachVote, I don't see how they can dismiss that outcome.

In terms of seats, the BBC projection was almost but not quite right - the SNP won one seat more and the Greens took one seat fewer.  That makes no difference to the outcome for the pro-indy parties combined, but crucially it means the SNP will be neither a majority nor minority government as long as an opposition MSP is selected as Presiding Officer.  It'll be a 64-64 split between government and opposition.

Final results:

SNP 64 (+1)
Conservatives 31 (-)
Labour 22 (-2)
Greens 8 (+2)
Liberal Democrats 4 (-1)

Pro-independence parties: 72 seats (56%)
Anti-independence parties: 57 seats (44%)


BBC projects pro-independence parties will have 56% of the seats in the new Scottish Parliament - up from 53% last time

BBC forecast:

SNP 63 (-)
Conservatives 31 (-)
Labour 22 (-2)
Greens 9 (+3)
Liberal Democrats 4 (-1)

Pro-independence parties: 72 seats (56%)
Anti-independence parties: 57 seats (44%)

Not only is the mandate stronger than the last time, it's also more watertight because the language in the Green manifesto is much more explicit.  The SNP have also of course surged to a record high for any party in the constituency ballot popular vote.

Scot Goes Popcast: Reflections on the first day of election results

For a very short Episode 8 of the Popcast, I recorded some thoughts on the election results so far and looked ahead to what may be happening on the regional list.  You can either listen via the embedded player below, or via the direct link HERE.

You can also catch up with previous episodes of the Popcast -

A weary response to yet another personal attack from Wings Over Scotland

I was going to wait until the election was done and dusted before replying to my Somerset stalker's five hundred and sixty-eighth unhinged blogpost about me (which, amusingly, he describes as his "second" - it would be fascinating to know what his technical excuses are for thinking all the others "didn't count").  However, on closer inspection the post contains a number of inaccurate statements - lies, for want of a better word - so just as a matter of principle I'm not going to let those go uncorrected.

The most blatant lie is also the most bizarre.  Stuart claims that I "swiftly banned" him yesterday after he made a series of angry posts in the comments section of this blog.  As I have explained umpteen times, it is quite literally impossible to "ban" anyone on the Blogger platform.  When people troll or are abusive, the only options open to me are to delete comments individually (which itself has become much, much harder on the new interface that was introduced a few months ago) or to turn on pre-moderation.  The fact that I'm currently following the latter course of action tells you all you need to know - if it were possible to "ban" people, that would solve the problem instantly and pre-moderation would be needless.

Incidentally, although I've deleted some of Stuart's individual comments in the distant past, I didn't do so yesterday (except for a couple of accidental duplicates which I removed as a tidying-up exercise).  So this "banning" claim isn't based on some sort of innocent misunderstanding - it does appear to be a very intentional lie.

What he wants his readers to believe I was trying to prevent him from posting was a protestation that he did not in fact do what everyone saw him do yesterday - ie. tell his readers to vote for unionist parties in twelve specific constituency seats.  He seems to think that his get-out-of-jail-free card on this is a comment he added at the end of his piece stating that the only seat in which he'd advocate a vote for a unionist party was Glasgow Southside.  That would be just peachy if it wasn't for the inconvenient fact that this comment flatly contradicted the explicit and repeated advice earlier in the blogpost to vote against the SNP in the other eleven seats.  The exact words used, again and again and again, were "Alba supporters cannot afford to vote SNP in those seats".

Here's my top tip, Stu: not everyone who reads your blogposts will be a complete idiot.  Some of your readers, perhaps only a select few, but undoubtedly some, will be able to spot that your words mean what they say and that a nonsensical throwaway disclaimer doesn't negate them. 

The second disgraceful lie is that I have not been supportive of Craig Murray, who faces a potential jail sentence due to his courageous reporting of the Alex Salmond trial.  Stuart alleges that my supposed lack of support for Craig is because I think there is more "traffic" to be had from attacking Wings.  The narcissism behind that statement is truly mind-boggling. The reality, of course, is that I've been vocal in my support for Craig, as the below tweet from late March amply demonstrates.  At time of writing, it's been retweeted 196 times and 'liked' 593 times.  Just because Stuart hasn't been paying attention doesn't mean that nobody else has.

Furthermore, one year ago I put my name to an open letter deploring the arrest and charging of both Craig and Mark Hirst. I've also spoken to Craig privately twice within the last few weeks - we mostly discussed politics, but I don't think he's in any doubt as to where my sympathies lie.

To return to the subject of Stuart's narcissism, you may have noticed that he seems to be incapable of writing an attack post about a fellow blogger without including a graph purporting to show that he has a much bigger readership.  The obvious joke is that he's using the alleged size of his readership as a substitute for the size of his manhood.  A few weeks ago he included Scot Goes Pop in a graph that showed how his stats towered above the other leading four pro-independence blogs.  To which my reaction was the obvious: "so you're saying I'm in the top five, then?"  In his new post he says that "hardly anyone" is reading Scot Goes Pop, and to illustrate his point reveals that SimilarWeb estimates that this blog has "only" had 464,872 page views so far this year.  That's a rather interesting definition of "hardly anyone".

Of course it's unique readers that really matter, and on that measure the disparity in traffic between Wings and other websites shrinks.  Stuart actually helpfully revealed his monthly unique readership the other day, and it looks as if it's roughly seven or eight times bigger than Scot Goes Pop's.  That obviously still makes Wings the far more popular site, but a) that's something I've never disputed, and b) he would dearly love people to believe the gap is far, far bigger than it actually is.  The reason why the number of page views can be so wildly misleading is that every time someone refreshes a page to read new comments, that's counted as another page view - and presumably people are doing that far more often on Wings.

My guess is that Stuart is lashing out because he realises he blew it yesterday.  Until then, a decent number of people were giving him the benefit of the doubt and assuming that his ultimate objective was still independence, even if his means of achieving it were dubious and convoluted.  But the mask has now slipped.  You don't achieve independence by electing Willie Rennie as the MSP for North-East Fife.  

No, Stuart's agenda is something different.  His single-minded objectives are to stop self-identification for trans people, and to gain revenge against Nicola Sturgeon.  That doesn't mean he's actively opposed to independence, but it comes a very poor second to his real priorities.

Friday, May 7, 2021

The future of the Alba Party

Now, to be clear, there can be no guarantee that any new political party will survive the type of setback that Alba has just suffered.  There are various potential scenarios in which Alba might fold over the coming months.  However, at this moment there does seem to be a genuine determination to continue, and that's perfectly realistic - there aren't many small parties that can boast two MPs and a good number of local councillors.  There would be two main purposes of persevering: a) to provide a much-needed political home for independence supporters who are clearly unwelcome in the new SNP for mostly irrational reasons, and b) to pressurise the SNP into keeping their word and holding an independence referendum in the next parliamentary term.  The latter is obviously the more important reason.

One way in which Alba could have helped bring a referendum about if they had succeeded in this election was by providing an alternative for SNP MSPs who finally lose patience with the feet-dragging of the SNP leadership.  The knowledge that MSPs could defect to the Alba group at any time would have kept the First Minister on her toes and given her an incentive to avoid any further undue delays.  It's obviously harder to achieve that effect without a ready-made Alba group in Holyrood, but it can still be done as long as Alba continues to exist.  SNP MSPs would have the option of setting up a new Alba group in the Scottish Parliament whenever they want, and they'd be stepping into an existing party infrastructure.

So I firmly believe that Alba should press on, with one very important caveat: it would be a terrible mistake to put up candidates at the 2024 UK general election, unless there's an electoral pact with the SNP.  I presume that wouldn't be done anyway, but it's worth just putting that on the record.  Whether we like it or not, UK general elections do still matter, and splitting the pro-independence vote in first-past-the-post contests would be catastrophic.

Incidentally, although there'll obviously be a fair amount of nasty triumphalism tomorrow among Alba-haters, one of their constant refrains appears set to be proved wrong.  They kept insisting that by drawing attention to the tactical possibilities on the list, Alex Salmond had unwittingly boosted the Green vote instead.  But it appears that the Greens themselves are slightly underperforming their opinion poll showing - and, frankly, that's bad news for all of us, although the pro-independence majority does look more or less secure now.  

Patience, Stuart, I fully intend to do what I said I'd do. But for now I've got an election to concentrate on, even if your own mind appears to be elsewhere.

The early results are in...

Thoughts and rumours as the counting starts

We're now in the fog of war stage where rumours are starting to circulate, but it's difficult to know what to take seriously.  I've heard enough to make me slightly jittery, though, so I went back and refreshed my memory about the opinion polls in the run up to the 2017 general election.  Although the polls that year did overestimate both the SNP's vote share and their lead over the Tories, the degree of error was not all that huge.  That's good news because it means there'd have to be a far bigger polling error for us to end up with a 2017-type result this time.  So whatever happens I don't think it'll be quite as bad as that.  The other thing about 2017 is that it was a pincer movement in which both the Tories and Labour made progress simultaneously - it's hard to imagine that happening after the results in England overnight.

I've also heard that there may be a high turnout.  My theory has been that a low turnout would favour Alba as an individual party, but that a high turnout would be better for the pro-independence parties in combination.

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You can catch up with Episode 7 of the Scot Goes Popcast, in which I speak with the Alba Party's Chris McEleny, HERE.

Thursday, May 6, 2021

As the polls close, let's wrap up some unfinished business

It's 10pm, the polls have closed, and if this was a UK general election we'd have just instantly found out the entire election result via a BBC exit poll.  But as this is 'only' Scotland, there's no exit poll, and as there's also a pandemic, we're effectively living in 1923 and won't know the full results until Saturday.  Until then, let's kill some time by dotting the i's and crossing the t's of the Scot Goes Pop / Panelbase poll - this is the very last result, and the only one that produced an out-and-out negative outcome.  I asked whether the fact that a number of MPs and local councillors had joined Alba meant the party should receive roughly the same level of coverage from the broadcasters as the Liberal Democrats and the Greens.  Although only a minority of people agreed, it was a substantial minority, and it's worth making the point that a previous poll showed majority support (excluding Don't Knows) for Alba being included in the leaders' debates.  Taken together, the two polls suggest the centre of gravity in public opinion is that Alba should have received considerably more coverage than they did over the course of the campaign, but not necessarily full parity with the longer-established parties. 

Given that two MPs and several local councillors have joined the new Alba Party, do you think the broadcasters should give roughly the same level of coverage to the Alba Party in the current Scottish Parliament election campaign as they do to the Scottish Liberal Democrats and the Scottish Green Party?

Yes 33%
No 48%

It was pointed out to me after I received the results that one of the problems with the question wording was that I was inviting Lib Dem and Green supporters to take a self-interested view - and sure enough 58% of the small sample of Lib Dem voters said "no", which was slightly higher than the corresponding figure of 56% for both Conservatives and Labour.  A slightly more fair-minded attitude was found among SNP voters - 36% thought there should be parity and 49% disagreed.  There was a difference between age groups as well - younger people were somewhat less hostile to the idea of equal coverage than older people.

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You can catch up with Episode 7 of the Scot Goes Popcast, in which I speak with the Alba Party's Chris McEleny, HERE.

If you're voting Alba on the list today (and you should!), that means you support independence and should also be voting SNP on the constituency ballot WHEREVER you live

You know, it would have been really lovely to think that all of us bloggers supporting Alba on the list would be pulling in the same direction today of all days, the most crucial election day since September 2014.  But Stuart Campbell has made that impossible with the stupidest, most irresponsible blogpost in the history of the independence movement.  He has chosen pollling day - polling day - to issue a recommendation to his readers to vote for unionist parties on the constituency ballot in no fewer than TWELVE specific seats.  Either the man is on drugs or he's ceased to be an independence supporter.

The point he's making is that if unionist parties win those seats, it's slightly more likely that Alba will win a list seat in the corresponding electoral region.  And in the literal sense that's true.  It's a point I've made myself - the advice Alba have put on their leaflets to vote SNP on the constituency ballot is self-sacrificing advice.  Because here's the thing: Alba's purpose is not to maximise Alba representation, it's to maximise pro-independence representation.  Six Alba seats in an indy-majority parliament achieves something.  Ten Alba seats in a unionist-majority parliament achieves absolutely nothing.

If the SNP perform exceptionally well in the constituencies in any region, what it effectively does is crowd out all of the other parties and makes fewer seats available for them than their share of the list vote would otherwise justify.  Alba would suffer from that a bit, but the unionist parties would suffer from it a lot.  The latter point is far more important than the former.

If for some reason your objective is to have Alba MSPs in a unionist parliament, that means you have an agenda which is unrelated to independence.  Which all adds up, because it's hard to escape the impression that Stuart's first love these days is the trans issue.  But Alba itself is about independence - first, last and always.

No matter where you live, I strongly recommend that you vote SNP on the constituency ballot, and Alba on the regional list ballot.  You can read my reasons for supporting Alba HERE.

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UPDATE: This line from Stuart's piece warrants closer attention - "Glasgow Southside, where a surprise win for Anas Sarwar would be all but guaranteed to be balanced with an SNP list seat..."  That is an astonishingly brazen line of argument from someone who based the whole case for a Wings Party on the claim that it was practically impossible for the SNP to win list seats anywhere.  If the SNP lose Glasgow Southside (which they won't, by the way), they would still have eight constituency seats out of nine in Glasgow and it would be a tall order for them to win even a single list seat in the city.  It's possible they'd manage it, but "all but guaranteed" is breathtakingly dishonest.

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Catch up with Episode 7 of the Scot Goes Popcast, in which I speak with the Alba Party's Chris McEleny, HERE.

Who wants a second chance?

But if you want it, you have to vote for it, and you have to vote for it today.  Tomorrow will be too late.

An SNP vote on the constituency ballot is absolutely essential.  Ignore the siren voices making the logic-defying argument that "strategic" abstentions or votes for unionist candidates can by some convoluted roundabout manner assist the cause.  Only a vote for the SNP can do the job on the constituency ballot, for two reasons.  Due to the repeated recent history of failures by polling companies, you always have to consider the worst-case scenario, and the outlier ComRes poll painted a vivid picture of that yesterday: the SNP falling well short of an overall majority and the pro-independence parties vulnerable to losing their combined majority if there's any more slippage.  By voting against the SNP on the constituency ballot (and that includes votes for the Greens or for Bonnie Prince Bob), you could tip the balance and produce a unionist majority in the next Scottish Parliament.  The second reason is the popular vote: any mandate for independence or for an indyref will be either buttressed or undermined by the strength or weakness of the popular vote mandate - and it's much harder for pro-indy parties to win a majority on the constituency popular vote, simply because the Greens are much weaker on that ballot.  So, again, if you vote for a unionist candidate, you could tip the balance and create a unionist majority on the popular vote - or increase that majority if it's already there.

A vote for the Alba Party on the regional list ballot is equally important - it greatly increases the chances that the SNP will actually use any mandate they win today.  Someone said in the comments section of this blog the other day that the only reason we haven't had a second referendum so far is that Nicola Sturgeon thought we'd lose it, and she was just being sensible about the timing.  I don't think that's true at all.  I think the main reason was her unwillingness to face the UK government down and explore alternative avenues for seeking a mandate if a Section 30 order continued to be refused.  She certainly gave every impression of being deadly serious about calling a referendum when she made that announcement in the spring of 2017.  By all accounts it was quite a shock to SNP strategists when Theresa May came back with the "now is not the time" line - they thought the 2014 precedent guaranteed that a Section 30 order would be granted and that a referendum would go ahead in late 2018 or early 2019.  In other words, we'd have had a referendum by now if the SNP hadn't accepted a "no" from Westminster.  I'm afraid it's entirely possible we'll still be making that observation in 2026 if we don't do something today to change the dynamic.

Whenever I've reported a poll showing Alba on two seats, or three seats, or five seats, or eight seats, there have been snorts of derision from the "both votes SNP" brigade.  "What do you think three Alba MSPs can possibly achieve?" they ask scornfully.  Well, as those people are asking you to vote SNP on the list, and as there were only four SNP list MSPs in the last parliament, and as some polls in this campaign suggest the SNP might only win one or two list seats today, it's reasonable to turn that question on its head.  What is it exactly that you think a handful of SNP list MSPs can achieve that a handful of Alba MSPs can't?  When you look at it that way, it becomes obvious that a small Alba group of MSPs would be much more effective - they'll be independent actors who can pressurise the SNP government.  By contrast, a small number of SNP list MSPs will, in a relative sense, be lobby fodder.  (Although, let's be clear, that would still be infinitely preferable to unionists MSPs - if you can't bring yourself to vote for Alba for whatever reason, for heaven's sake get out there and vote for another pro-indy party.)

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You can catch up with Episode 7 of the Scot Goes Popcast, in which I speak with the Alba Party's Chris McEleny, HERE.

Wednesday, May 5, 2021

A list of election endorsements from pro-independence blogs

One of the traditions of major elections is to collate the endorsements of various newspapers (most famously, it was "The Sun Wot Won It" for the Tories in 1992).  There's never been much need to do that for pro-independence blogs in the past, but this election is a bit different.  So here's a tentative list - updates, additions and corrections are welcome.  In some cases I've only included an endorsement on the regional list because I haven't seen an explicit constituency endorsement, although it may have been there and I've missed it (hence the call for corrections).  

Scot Goes Pop: SNP constituency, Alba list

Wee Ginger Dug: SNP constituency, SNP list

Wings Over Scotland: Alba list

Bella Caledonia: General support for SNP and Greens (which may imply SNP constituency, Green list, but I haven't seen that stated directly)

Craig Murray: Alba list

Barrhead Boy: Alba list

Random Public Journal: Alba list

Newsnet Scotland: SNP constituency, SNP list (unbelievers shall perish)

Peter A Bell: All parties are rubbish but I'm still engaged in a heated debate with myself

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You can catch up with Episode 7 of the Scot Goes Popcast, in which I speak with the Alba Party's Chris McEleny, HERE.

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Today I arrived at the conclusion of my own personal equivalent of "NaNoWriMo".  Over the last month and a bit, I've profiled all seventy-three constituencies and all eight regional lists for The National and the Sunday National.  I reckon that must come to around 45,000 words.  Here are the last few: Aberdeen South & North Kincardine, South Scotland (regional list), Dundee City West, Dundee City East, Paisley, Linlithgow, Greenock & Inverclyde and East Lothian.  And you can also read my piece in The National about the Eurovision and nuclear weapons questions from the Scot Goes Pop / Panelbase poll HERE.

Eve of election polls show Alba's vote holding up - with contradictory signals about the size of the pro-independence majority

So we're deep into the late flurry of polls that always arrive in the last 48 hours of any major election campaign - I expect there'll be more tonight, and perhaps even one or two tomorrow.  There was a touch of panic last night when a Savanta ComRes poll came out with by far the worst showing of the campaign so far for the SNP, but it quickly became clear that the fieldwork was slightly older than yesterday's YouGov poll, which showed the complete opposite - it had the SNP on an absolute majority on the constituency ballot, which if replicated tomorrow would be by far their best result in any Holyrood election.  Today we've also had Survation and Ipsos-Mori polls with more or less the same fieldwork dates as ComRes, and the results are closer to YouGov's.  So, touch wood, it looks like the ComRes poll might just be a very weird - albeit scary - outlier.

Ipsos-Mori (30th April - 3rd May):

Constituency ballot: SNP 50% (-3), Labour 22% (+4), Conservatives 20% (-), Liberal Democrats 6% (-), Greens 2% (-)

Regional list ballot: SNP 39% (+1), Conservatives 23% (+2), Labour 18% (-), Greens 12% (-), Liberal Democrats 4% (-2), Alba 2% (-1)

Survation (30th April - 4th May):

Constituency ballot: SNP 49% (+2), Conservatives 21% (-), Labour 21% (-), Liberal Democrats 8% (-), Greens 1% (+1)

Regional list ballot: SNP 36% (-1), Conservatives 21% (-1), Labour 19% (+1), Greens 10% (-), Liberal Democrats 7% (-), Alba 3% (+1)

Savanta ComRes (30th April - 4th May):

Constituency ballot: SNP 42% (-3), Conservatives 25% (+2), Labour 22% (-1), Liberal Democrats 8% (+1)

Regional list ballot: SNP 34% (-2), Conservatives 23% (+1), Labour 19% (-), Greens 9% (-1), Liberal Democrats 6% (+1), Alba 2% (-)

The Ipsos-Mori poll shows a tie on independence, while Survation shows a modest No lead and ComRes shows a suspiciously large No lead for a second time in a row.  That reinforces the impression that something weird is happening with the ComRes sampling - although, admittedly, there's always the possibility that a pollster that is out of step with the others will prove to be the only one that's actually right.  (That's what happened with Survation in 2017.)

As for Alba, they're up in one poll, down in one, and level in the other - which suggests their vote is holding up.  It seems like quite a while ago now that the Alba-haters were breathless with excitement about a single ComRes poll showing the party on 1% - I think they imagined that Alba were on the way out and would soon stop registering in polls completely.  That hasn't happened - it looks like Alba will end the campaign having registered in every single poll, and so far all but one poll has put them in the 2-6% range.  If they're at the upper end of that range on polling day, they could take a decent number of seats.  

I also think Alba may have dodged a bit of a bullet last night.  Another leaders' debate excluding them so close to polling day could have led many voters to overlook them completely, but on this occasion the BBC were shamed into providing an extra prime-time programme with compensatory coverage for parties not in the debate.  I didn't time each interview, but I got the impression that Alex Salmond had about nine minutes or so, which isn't too bad considering that each leader in a five-way 70-minute debate will presumably have had an average of 14 minutes.

The Greens are looking like the independence movement's get out of jail free card - if they really are on 9-12% of the list vote, there's much more leeway if the SNP underperform in the way ComRes are suggesting (although from a psychological point of view, a majority reliant on the Greens is not as good as an SNP-Alba majority, because they're not always perceived as an out-and-out independence party).

One thing I was going to mention a few weeks ago but completely forgot - there was a YouGov poll about the first BBC leaders' debate (the one involving Lorna Slater) and respondents declared Nicola Sturgeon the winner by a country mile.  That'll be a surprise to anyone who watched TV pundits trying to push the narrative that either Anas Sarwar had won or that there was no clear winner.  It seems to me there's a bit of a double standard here - journalists are very eager to treat poll verdicts on leaders' debates as indisputable gospel when it suits them.  For example, the notion that Alistair Darling had defeated Alex Salmond in the first indyref debate was based on a single small poll with a relatively narrow result.  And yet they'll quite happily set aside a much more decisive poll result when it's not what they expected or wanted to hear.

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You can catch up with Episode 7 of the Scot Goes Popcast, in which I speak with the Alba Party's Chris McEleny, HERE.

Tuesday, May 4, 2021

Scot Goes Popcast with guest Chris McEleny, speaking about our exclusive Panelbase poll results showing that three-quarters of SNP voters want an indyref to take place with social distancing if the pandemic isn't over by 2022 or 2023

For Episode 7 of the Scot Goes Popcast, I was joined by Chris McEleny, the Alba Party's lead candidate in the West Scotland electoral region.  Before joining Alba, Chris was leader of the SNP group on Inverclyde Council, and has twice been a candidate in elections for depute leader of the SNP.

We discussed a broad range of campaign issues, but in particular I asked him about the penultimate result in the Scot Goes Pop / Panelbase poll, which I can now reveal...

If the pandemic hasn't completely ended by 2022 or 2023, do you think it would be reasonable to go ahead with an independence referendum on the same basis as the current election, with safety measures and social distancing?

Yes 43%
No 44%

With Don't Knows removed -

Yes 49%
No 51%

The virtually even split among the whole sample is startling enough, because there was a slim anti-independence majority in this poll, and you'd expect most No voters to be opposed to holding an indyref at any time, let alone during the pandemic.  However, among Yes voters and SNP voters, the results are remarkable...

If the pandemic hasn't completely ended by 2022 or 2023, do you think it would be reasonable to go ahead with an independence referendum on the same basis as the current election, with safety measures and social distancing?

2019 SNP voters only:

Yes 75%
No 16%

2014 pro-independence voters only:

Yes 73% 
No 18%

Current pro-independence voters:

Yes 81% 
No 10%

The SNP leadership have thus far set themselves against any prospect of a referendum until the crisis is totally resolved - witness Nicola Sturgeon on the leaders' debate tonight talking about a referendum "in due course, in the fullness of time", which as someone pointed out to me is language that is used almost word-for-word as a euphemism for "never" in an episode of Yes Minister.  But it appears SNP supporters take a radically different view and can see no reason for an indefinite delay.  Which is perfectly understandable, given that we're in the middle of a Scottish Government approved demonstration that a democratic event can be conducted in a safe and orderly manner in spite of the circumstances.

You can listen to the podcast either via the embedded player below, or at the direct link HERE.

You can also catch up with previous episodes of the Popcast -

Amazing Alba: Alex Salmond's new party sees support increase in Opinium and YouGov polls, as pro-independence parties head for big majority

Apologies for being a bit late in getting these numbers up - but I can promise that I haven't been idle on your behalf.  I've spent the day writing three articles for The National (including this one), and also recording a podcast with Chris McEleny, which hopefully I'll be able to bring you at some point tonight.  

Scottish Parliament constituency voting intentions (Opinium / Sky News, 28th April-3rd May):

SNP 51% (-2)
Conservatives 23% (+2)
Labour 19% (+1)
Liberal Democrats 7% (+1)

Scottish Parliament regional list voting intentions (Opinium / Sky News):

SNP 41% (-3)
Conservatives 23% (+1)
Labour 17% (-)
Greens 8% (+1)
Liberal Democrats 6% (+1)
Alba 3% (+1)

Scottish Parliament constituency voting intentions (YouGov / The Times, 2nd-4th May):

SNP 52% (+3)
Conservatives 20% (-1)
Labour 19% (-2)
Liberal Democrats 6% (-)
Greens 2% (+1)

Scottish Parliament regional list voting intentions (YouGov / The Times):

SNP 38% (-1)
Conservatives 22% (-)
Labour 16% (-1)
Greens 13% (+3)
Liberal Democrats 5% (-)
Alba 3% (+1)
Reform UK 1% (-)

Monday, May 3, 2021

Scot Goes Pop / Panelbase poll: SNP would win even bigger landslide victory in a new Westminster election, with the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats losing seats

So there are still a handful more results to come this week from the Scot Goes Pop / Panelbase poll - starting with Scottish voting intentions for the next Westminster election. Obviously Westminster is not the most pressing concern at the moment, because no UK general election is due until 2024 (and if Alba have their way, Scotland will be independent before then in any case). However, these numbers will still be of great interest to political anoraks, because as far as I can see they're the first Westminster numbers from Panelbase since the poll I commissioned myself way back in November. 

Now, there are two big health warnings here about the interpretation of these numbers. Although they appear to show a sharp drop in SNP support, that's over a period of six months, and we were already aware of the fact that the party's vote has come down a bit from its peak last year. And secondly, it's crucial to remember that this is the Panelbase poll that was conducted between the 21st and 26th of April, when the SNP were only on 45% of the Holyrood constituency vote. There's since been a more recent Panelbase poll conducted between the 28th and the 30th which had the SNP back up to 48%. If that poll had included Westminster numbers, it's likely (not certain, but likely) that there would have been a corresponding increase for the SNP there too. The BMG poll for the Herald yesterday had Westminster numbers which showed the SNP on a very healthy 48%. 

But with those caveats in mind, here are the results... 

Scottish voting intentions for the next UK general election (Scot Goes Pop / Panelbase poll, 21st-26th April): 

SNP 45% (-5) 
Conservatives 22% (+1) 
Labour 19% (-1) 
Liberal Democrats 7% (+2) 
Greens 4% (+2) 

Seats projection (with changes from 2019 election): SNP 52 (+4), Conservatives 4 (-2), Liberal Democrats 2 (-2), Labour 1 (-) 

So although the SNP are reported to be on exactly the 45% they received in 2019, they're still on course for seat gains, because in first-past-the-post it's the lead over other parties that matters, not your own vote share. The Tories are four points down on their 2019 showing, and the Lib Dems are 2.5% down. The four seats projected to change hands are West Aberdeenshire & Kincardine and Moray (both of which go from Tory to SNP), and Caithness, Sutherland & Easter Ross and North-East Fife (both of which go from Lib Dem to SNP). In practice it might be even better than that, because the Greens are unlikely to put up candidates in every seat, so some or most of their 4% might well go to the SNP. 

This is a truly dismal result for Labour. We were constantly told that the only reason Labour were doing so badly was because of Jeremy Corbyn and Richard Leonard. Well, both of those individuals are long gone, and yet under Starmer and Sarwar the party is right back to where it was in the 2019 general election under Corbyn.

The SNP have been more successful than any other party at retaining their 2019 vote. 89% of people who voted SNP in 2019 would still do so - the equivalent numbers for other parties are 80% for the Tories, 74% for Labour and 60% for the Lib Dems. The extra support that has completely offset the SNP's losses has mostly come from former Labour voters. 

Always of interest are the figures for English-born voters - the SNP are ahead even with them: SNP 35%, Conservatives 32%, Labour 17%, Liberal Democrats 9%, Greens 4%.

*   *   *

There are more questions to come from the poll - if you'd like to be the first to hear the results, feel free to follow me on Twitter HERE.

VIDEO: Preview of Monday night's question in the Scot Goes Pop / Panelbase poll

Sunday, May 2, 2021

Drama as Alba storm to their best result so far in a non-Panelbase poll - and pro-independence parties are on course for 61% of the seats

Details of the BMG poll have now been released, and they pretty much tick every box.  The SNP are above their 2016 level of support in the constituency ballot, and they're on course for an overall majority.  Pro-indy parties are projected to be winning a huge majority in combination.  Alba are above 3% for the first time in a non-Panelbase poll, and are also projected to win seats for the first time in a non-Panelbase poll.  And both the Tories and Labour are on course for significant seat losses.

Scottish Parliament constituency ballot voting intentions (BMG / Herald):

SNP 49% (+1)
Labour 21% (+1)
Conservatives 19% (-2)
Liberal Democrats 8% (-1)

Scottish Parliament regional list voting intentions:

SNP 37% (-5)
Conservatives 22% (-)
Labour 17% (-)
Greens 9% (+1)
Liberal Democrats 8% (-)
Alba 4% (+4)

Seats projection (with changes from 2016 election): SNP 68 (+5), Conservatives 25 (-6), Labour 18 (-6), Greens 9 (+3), Liberal Democrats 7 (+2), Alba 2 (+2)

SNP: 68 seats
All others: 61 seats


Pro-independence parties: 79 seats (61.2%)
Anti-independence parties: 50 seats (38.8%)


The independence numbers are confirmed as Yes 50%, No 50%, which means the little run of six No-majority polls has been well and truly broken.  Of the two newest polls, one has Yes ahead and the other has Yes level.

Sensation as new Panelbase poll shows pro-independence majority

Well, I must admit I didn't see this one coming.  I thought the question in tonight's polls would be whether we'd see an even split, a small No lead, or a larger No lead like the one we saw in the recent ComRes poll.  Instead Yes have stormed back into the lead in the Sunday Times' final Panelbase poll before the election.  

Should Scotland be an independent country? (Panelbase / Sunday Times)

Yes 52% (+3)
No 48% (-3)

The percentage changes are from this blog's own Panelbase poll which I published just two days ago.  With a BMG poll in the Herald on Sunday apparently showing a 50-50 split, I think it's becoming reasonably safe to conclude that the ComRes poll may have been an outlier caused by random sampling variation.  That doesn't necessarily mean that Yes are ahead - it could be that ComRes were on the low side and Panelbase are on the high side.  But it does look like talk of a Yes collapse was massively overblown.

And, I'm afraid, that doesn't just mean overblown by unionists - certain Yessers with a vendetta against Alba seemed to have fallen in love with the idea of a drop in support in independence, because they wanted something to blame on Alex Salmond, even though the media blackout of Alba made it wildly improbable that he could have been responsible.  But as he's apparently so all-powerful, I presume his critics will now be logically consistent and give him full credit for this remarkable Yes comeback tonight.  

Scottish Parliament constituency ballot:

SNP 48% (+3)
Conservatives 21% (+1)
Labour 20% (-2)
Liberal Democrats 7% (-1)
Greens 3% (-1)

Scottish Parliament regional list ballot:

SNP 39% (+3)
Conservatives 22% (+1)
Labour 16% (-2)
Greens 8% (-2)
Liberal Democrats 7% (+1)
Alba 4% (-2)
All for Unity 2% (-)

Seats projection (with changes from 2016 election): SNP 65 (+2), Conservatives 28 (-3), Labour 18 (-6), Greens 9 (+3), Liberal Democrats 6 (+1), Alba 3 (+3)

SNP: 65 seats
All others: 64 seats 


Pro-independence parties: 77 seats (59.7%)
Anti-independence parties: 52 seats (40.3%)


The seats projection above is the official one by John Curtice, commissioned by the Sunday Times to accompany the poll.  Ironically if the same projection model that was used for the Scot Goes Pop / Panelbase poll a few days ago had been applied tonight, Alba would have been projected to be on zero seats.  However, Professor Curtice's projection is a much more realistic representation of what would happen in the real world - in practice it's hard to imagine a party not taking any seats at all on 4% of the national list vote.  As I mentioned the other day, no party in Scottish Parliament history has failed to win a seat at that level of support.  And although Alba's 4% vote share is 2% lower than in previous Panelbase polls, it's still their fourth-highest showing in any poll to be published throughout the campaign.

I still can't find the BMG numbers, but according to the Herald's front page they also show an overall SNP majority.  If so, the two polls in combination suggest a mini-wobble for the independence movement may have passed.  The SNP's constituency vote is back above 2016 levels in the Panelbase poll, so they can start thinking about gaining constituency seats once again, rather than losing seats.

More details and analysis to follow...