Sunday, December 4, 2022

Labour's GB-wide poll lead slips to lowest level since Sunak became Prime Minister

If you ever doubt that the tides of history can make a total nonsense of seemingly watertight logic and strategic thinking, just consider this.  Until very recently, we reckoned Boris Johnson to be the greatest asset for the independence cause, and thought it would be a catastrophe if we ever lost him, because anyone who replaced him as Tory leader was bound to be less loathed in Scotland.  And then, when it became clear that we were indeed going to lose Boris, we were sure that at the very least we didn't want Rishi Sunak to be his successor - because whatever Sunak's many flaws, he's a non-idiot who comes across as relatively competent.  Well, here we are only a few months later, Sunak is PM, and as expected his personal ratings in Scotland are much superior to Johnson's, but the Tories are somehow even less popular in Scotland than they were under Johnson and seem far more certain to lose all or most of their Scottish seats to the SNP.  

Irony no. 1: This seemingly impossible contradiction has happened because of Liz Truss, not Rishi Sunak, and yet in spite of the fact that Truss has completely vacated the stage, Sunak thus far seems powerless to reverse the damage.

Irony no. 2: What would have seemed the dream scenario of the Tories being more hated in Scotland than they were under Johnson is not actually doing the independence cause any good whatsoever, because the harm done by Truss to the Tory brand has been so extensive that Labour have opened up a massive lead down south, and Scottish Labour have been able to ride on the coat-tails of that and make inroads into the SNP's dominance of Scottish polls.

On an earlier thread, Keaton posed the question of whether this unexpected problem might - paradoxically - get even worse if Sunak eventually manages to make inroads into Labour's mammoth GB-wide lead, because then you could end up with a very closely-fought general election, which would allow Labour to scare Scottish voters with the lie that a vote for the SNP could let the Tories back in.  I'm not totally sure about that - you could argue the case either way.  I suspect that a 1997-style Labour landslide would mean that Scotland inevitably gets swept along with the GB-wide trend, but a finely-balanced election would have less predictable effects.  Remember that the SNP first won a majority of Scottish seats at Westminster in 2015, when it was far from clear whether a Labour-led or Tory-led government would be elected, although admittedly the thought of a Labour government seemed less of a novelty back then after only five years of Tory rule, which had in any case been moderated by coalition with the Liberal Democrats.

It's fair to say, though, that we'll only be sure that Labour will enjoy no in-built advantages against the SNP if there is an outright Tory lead in Britain-wide polls going into the election, and at the moment that looks like a 1% chance at best.  Nevertheless, it's worth noting that an Opinium poll was published last night showing the lowest Labour lead in any poll from any firm since Sunak took office.

GB-wide voting intentions for the next UK general election (Opinium, 30th November-2nd December 2022):

Labour 43% (-2)
Conservatives 29% (+1)
Liberal Democrats 8% (-1)
Reform UK 6% (-)
Greens 6% (+2)

As per usual, the SNP have been edited out of the early summary of the results, but we'll almost certainly find they're somewhere between 3% and 5%.  

A few more polls like this one, and a Starmer government might start to look like less of a foregone conclusion.  What arguably makes the current situation different from the mid-1990s is that the Labour leader is not vastly more popular than the Tory PM, and the Tories have also changed leader and completely changed direction since the event that dug them into the hole.

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  1. Is this from the poll talked about on BBC Scotland's Sunday politics program on the radio? I didn't catch it all, but they had an analyst talking about Yes on 52% and a desire to see a referendum sooner rather than later.

    1. No, that presumably would have been the Redfield & Wilton poll I covered on Wednesday.

  2. The SNP are beyond parody. I didn't see the interview with Mike Russell, but unless the BBC's write-up of it is misleading (always a possibility), the mood music seems to be that using a Holyrood election as a plebiscite might suddenly be a possibility, but it would the "next" Holyrood election (implying they'd twiddle their thumbs until the next scheduled election in 2026). That would be the final straw as far as I'm concerned. I'd never vote for them again.

    1. What Russell was let out his horsebox again. Did he say where we are on his 11 point plan?

      The SNP MPs don't want to make themselves redundant and the SNP MSPs are worried a de facto referendum via Holyrood may actually give a yes majority vote and they would then be expected to do something.

    2. Honestly? I would take a 2026 Holyrood plebiscite over a Westminster plebiscite. I'd much rather it was earlier. But using Westminster as the de facto is grotesque folly of such magnitude, that I can't help but feel a twinge relief at the idea they might be turning away from the idea.

      There's some potentially high-stakes risk vs reward involved in waiting it out until 2026. Namely, the Labour party are likely to have taken power. 2026 would be midterm for a Starmer government.

      So the million dollar question is: will he have been able to make effective headway with the litany of enormous issues that have been piling up over the past 12 years? Or are we entering a cycle like the 1970s, where each party plays pass-the-parcel with government and neither is able to effectively deal with the problems of the day?

      If it's the former, then a 2026 election could be utterly disastrous for the independence movement. If it's the latter, it could be disastrous for the unionists instead.

      I honestly don't know the answer to that. Midterm governments tend not to be popular, when the promises of a campaign inevitably gives way to the disappointment of government. And it was under an ailing Labour government that the SNP were first able to gain power, by harnessing disillusionment with Labour.

      I have noticed for some time some soft indy friends have been drifting towards the now novel promise of what a Labour government could deliver. But would those promises hold under Starmer's tepid Blairite leadership? I have my doubts.

      But by the same token, would voter disillusionment with Labour even have enough time to take root and grow by 2026? Because first term government's often get a lengthy "benefit of the doubt" period from voters. I suppose it depends entirely on what Labour does with power, and how deep rooted the range of overlapping crises the country currently faces are.

  3. What are the odds of the SNP getting off their lazy backsides and doing something about that annual propaganda gift they give the Britnats before a de facto referendum takes place. Assuming one does take place and that is not a given.

  4. It's always just over the horizon folks

    From BBC news

    "Meanwhile, SNP president Mike Russell and former cabinet secretary for the constitution has raised the prospect of the SNP using the next Holyrood election as a "de facto referendum" on independence."

    Enough of this sh**

    Let Alba stand at every election and in every seat. It's time for change. It's time to elect a party that's serious about independence.

  5. The only thing Russel is carrying around in his horsebox is a pile of horsesh**.

  6. Gordon Brown - what a Britnat clown.
    Brown produces a long report proposing more power and devolution to the people - his very own vow2. When asked what happens if Scots reject Labour at the election. Britnat Brown responds - ' your having it anyway you moaning scotch gits. Sick of these scotch bigots don't they know they must obey us Britnats. They are lucky we allow them any votes at all. Rule Britannia Britannia rules the waves. Britons never will be slaves - unlike these scotch bigots. GIRUY Sturgeon. Oops sorry got a bit carried away there.'

    1. Citizen Brown says " power to the people" . I say " f*****f you Britnat. Not even WGD numpties would believe your nonsense. UK politicians - what a bunch of lying shits.