As you may have seen, the very last day of campaigning for the local elections brought word of the first Scottish poll for just over a month, and on the independence question the results were pretty encouraging - perhaps surprisingly so.
Thursday, May 5, 2022
Support for independence surges by 2% in eve-of-election ComRes poll - with more signs of a potential breakthrough for the Alba Party
Should Scotland be an independent country? (Savanta ComRes / Scotsman, 26th April - 3rd May 2022)
Yes 49% (+2)
No 51% (-2)
Although Yes miss out on the bragging rights for getting to 50% or higher, that's a solid result from a firm that has tended to be on the No-friendly end of the spectrum in recent times. It's also, of course, a statistical tie - meaning that it's impossible to tell for sure which side is in the lead, due to the standard margin of error.
Scottish Parliament constituency ballot:
SNP 46% (-)
Labour 25% (+1)
Conservatives 18% (-2)
Liberal Democrats 7% (-)
Scottish Parliament regional list ballot:
SNP 31% (-3)
Labour 23% (+1)
Conservatives 18% (-2)
Greens 14% (+1)
Liberal Democrats 10% (+2)
Alba 3% (+1)
There don't appear to be any specific local election voting intentions in the poll, so instead we're left trying to glean indirect clues about what might happen today from the Holyrood numbers. However, I would guess that a local election question would have produced fairly similar results to the Holyrood constituency numbers anyway - and that would have almost certainly misled us by overestimating the SNP, who are unlikely to get close to 46% in the first preference vote. Based on past precedents, I'm sure they would be more than happy to end up somewhere in the high 30s. Their biggest concern will be that Labour are polling a few points higher than five years ago - which opens up at least the theoretical possibility of Glasgow changing hands. You can imagine how the unionist media would gloat about that - the coverage of it would obliterate any favourable results for the SNP elsewhere.
I suspect a certain individual who is rather precious about his "project", and who recently demonstrated himself to be stuck in the "box" (ahem) of his own partisan Green propaganda, may be a tad dismayed at Alba's fine showing in this poll. 3% in the recent BMG poll was the best result for Alba in any poll from any firm since last year's Holyrood election, and the fact that it's been replicated in the ComRes poll makes it somewhat less likely that the progress is an illusion caused by margin of error noise - however much some people might desperately want that to be the case! If there is an Alba resurgence, I don't think there's any great mystery about how it's happened - it's just sheer hard work by a committed membership that has succeeded in boosting the party's visibility. Bear in mind that under the STV voting system, any party will need far more than 3% of the first preference vote in any individual ward to have a realistic chance of grabbing a seat. I'm not convinced that will be an insurmountable hurdle for Alba, though, who should have the advantage of a strong personal vote in specific wards for high-profile candidates (such as Chris McEleny).
If I can be permitted to put on my own partisan hat just for a moment, I'd like to strongly urge any of you who live in a ward with an Alba candidate to give Alba your first preference vote. This will almost certainly be the last chance for Scotland to get serious about seeking a mandate for independence this side of the 2024 general election. If, like me, you don't believe for one moment that the SNP leadership are sincere about holding an independence referendum next year, an Alba vote is a no-brainer. But even if you're merely not sure whether the SNP leadership are sincere, a first preference vote for Alba is a totally risk-free insurance policy, as long as you give SNP candidates your next highest preferences. You can fire a warning shot across the SNP's bows while still voting for the SNP to defeat the unionist parties. That's the beauty of a preferential voting system - you really can have your cake and eat it.
To reiterate what I've said before, the best voting strategy for independence supporters today is as follows...
1) Rank all, or almost all, of the candidates in your ward.
2) Give your highest rankings to ALL of the pro-independence candidates, in your own order of preference. (For me it would be Alba first, then the SNP's candidates, then the Greens.)
3) Give your next highest rankings to any inoffensive non-unionist independent candidates who may be standing.
4) Give your lowest rankings to the unionist parties (but first make very sure you've ranked all other candidates ahead of them). This allows you to vote against the Tories properly by having them at absolute rock bottom, below even their unionist rivals.
For an explanation of the rationale behind this strategy (often called "vote until you boak"), you can listen to my new podcast about how the STV voting system works.
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Britain Elects have a prediction model out which gives a central forecast for the SNP of a net loss of twelve councillors. That's not a totally implausible outcome, but what is completely and utterly absurd is that the supposed best case scenario for the SNP is a net gain of just three councillors. My guess is that the Britain Elects model is an Anglocentric one that only takes account of GB-wide polls - which means, as far as Scotland is concerned, it's pumping nonsense in and getting nonsense back out. It can be safely ignored.
Posted by James Kelly at 3:58 AM