Friday, May 27, 2022

Those #AbsoluteMenaces have done it again - the Alba Party's vote DOUBLES in latest YouGov poll

When I posted about the new YouGov poll the other night, it was quite late and my eyelids were drooping heavily, so I didn't get round to adding the Holyrood numbers.  Here they are now.

Scottish Parliament constituency voting intentions:

SNP 47% (-1)
Labour 23% (+4)
Conservatives 18% (-3)
Liberal Democrats 7% (-)
Greens 2% (-)

Scottish Parliament regional list voting intentions:

SNP 39% (+1)
Labour 21% (+2)
Conservatives 18% (-1)
Greens 10% (-1)
Liberal Democrats 8% (+1)
Alba 2% (+1)

The percentage changes listed above are from the previous YouGov poll around six months ago, so the swing they show from Tory to Labour is pretty much already factored in - there's nothing really new in it, and it reflects what happened in the local elections earlier this month.  All the other changes are not statistically significant, but that in itself is very important, because it would suggest that the SNP, the Greens and the mainstream media have utterly failed in their attempts to use the local election results to either kill off Alba completely or to persuade the electorate that Alba should be regarded as being "as good as dead".  In fact, Alba's vote has increased from 1% to 2% in the last six months, so if simply surviving as a party after the local elections is the test, it seems Alba has passed with flying colours.  It may even be that the local elections have actually been helpful in boosting the party's profile.

In practice, of course, Alba will need to double its vote to have a good chance of winning a seat or two in the Holyrood elections in 2026, or triple its vote to win a significant haul of seats.  It looks like first preference votes in the local elections are a pretty good guide to the votes Alba would have received if a Holyrood list ballot had been held this month - which makes perfect sense, because the Holyrood list is not a second preference vote, and the SNP will presumably keep pushing the "both votes SNP" message.  So standing still on the roughly 2% vote share Alba achieved in the wards it stood in at the local elections will not cut it, but it's a pretty decent platform for a new party to build on over the coming four years.  

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Over the years, Scot Goes Pop has provided extensive Scottish polling analysis and political commentary, as well as commissioning no fewer than six full-scale opinion polls, and producing numerous podcasts and videos.  If you'd like to help me continue this work, donations are welcome via any of the following methods...

Direct payments via Paypal - my Paypal email address is:

Scot Goes Pop General Fundraiser 

Scot Goes Pop Polling Fundraiser 

If you prefer a bank transfer, please message me for details using the contact email address which can be found in the sidebar of the blog (desktop version only), or on my Twitter profile.  

Thursday, May 26, 2022

Latest poll for #Referendum2023 shows Yes vote at 45%

As polling day approaches in next year's independence referendum, which the SNP-Green majority government have guaranteed us will be held on schedule, there's bound to be an increasing fascination with opinion poll results. It's therefore noteworthy that we now have the first #Referendum2023 poll to be conducted since the local elections.  

Should Scotland be an independent country? (YouGov / The Times)

Yes 45% (-2)
No 55% (+2)

The last batch of polls prior to the local elections were actually pretty encouraging for the pro-independence side, with Yes percentage shares in the high 40s.  So on the face of it these latest numbers look slightly disappointing, but a few important points need to be remembered.  Firstly, YouGov tend to be on the No-friendly end of the spectrum, and it's therefore possible/likely that other firms would show better results for Yes.  Secondly, any individual poll that bucks a clear recent trend needs to be treated with caution until its findings are corroborated by one or two more polls.  It's entirely possible that the slight slippage for Yes is an illusion caused by the poll's standard margin of error, and indeed if you look at the numbers before Don't Knows are stripped out, the Yes drop is a statistically insignificant one percentage point. And lastly, 45% is a superb platform with which to start any referendum campaign, and far better than the starting-point for Yes in the run-up to the 2014 vote.  The poll is therefore total vindication for the Scottish Government's decision to pass the point of no return by committing itself beyond all shadow of doubt to a referendum within the next nineteen months.

It goes without saying that the commentary in The Times claiming that Nicola Sturgeon has failed to increase the Yes vote in her seven years as First Minister is highly misleading, because it takes a single poll out of context.  You really need to look at an average of recent polls, which would suggest that the Yes vote remains significantly higher than the 45% recorded in September 2014.

Monday, May 23, 2022

Is there survey evidence of a surge in Scottish national identity?

Someone emailed the other day to ask if I'd write a blogpost about the New Statesman's report on survey evidence apparently showing a surge in Scottish national identity, and a decline in British national identity in Scotland.  I actually saw the article when it was published and I was going to comment on it, but the trouble was that I couldn't entirely make sense of what I was looking at.  We're very used to seeing the annual figures on national identity from the Scottish Social Attitudes Survey, but the numbers in the New Statesman piece were apparently from the British Social Attitudes Survey and were being compared with data from ten years ago, rather than last year.  So I'm not entirely sure how to fit them into the wider jigsaw.  (Although it's rather typical that a London-based publication is only viewing Scotland through the lens of a Britain-wide survey.)

What I can say with confidence, though, is that the commentary in the New Statesman piece was very misleading.  It suggested that the independence referendum produced a flourishing in Scottish national identity at the expense of Britishness, but we already know from the Scottish Social Attitudes Survey results from the time of the long indyref campaign that, if anything, the opposite is true.  There was a sudden change between the 2011 and 2012 surveys, with the percentage of respondents saying they were "equally Scottish and British" jumping from 23% to 30%, and with corresponding reductions in the percentage of respondents saying they were "Scottish not British" or "more Scottish than British".  In fact "equally Scottish and British" became the joint most popular option at that point, after years of "more Scottish than British" being on top.  Nor was this a blip - by referendum year in 2014, "equally Scottish than British" had jumped even further to 32% and had moved into the outright lead.

I think this phenomenon is pretty easy to explain - many people who had previously identified as "more Scottish than British" knew they were going to vote No in the referendum, and began to feel that "equally Scottish and British" was a better way of reconciling their national identity with their indyref allegiance.  A cynic might argue that any recovery in Scottish identity since then could therefore indicate that the prospect of a new referendum feels much more distant to potential No voters, but in fact that's pretty unlikely given the way that unionist parties have obsessively talked up the "threat" of Indyref 2. 

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I ran an informal Twitter poll yesterday, and these are the results after a whopping 1375 people voted...

Do you believe the SNP's promise of a 2023 independence referendum will be kept?

Yes 42.8%
No 57.2%

Of course the sample isn't representative of anything apart from people who follow me on Twitter, or in some cases of people who follow my followers.  So there'll be a disproportionate number of Alba members and supporters in there, but what I find more interesting anyway is the substantial minority of people who voted "yes".  Someone actually left a comment to say in all apparent seriousness that he had "never been as sure of anything in his life" as he is of a 2023 indyref.  I hope the SNP leadership are aware of how sky-high expectations are among their own supporters.  These are not people who "play the game" and pay heed to the nods and winks given to journalists that the 2023 promise isn't really intended to be taken seriously.  They simply expect the promise to be kept, and heaven only knows how they'll react if in a year's time they realise they've been led up the garden path.

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Over the years, Scot Goes Pop has provided extensive Scottish polling analysis and political commentary, as well as commissioning no fewer than six full-scale opinion polls, and producing numerous podcasts and videos.  If you'd like to help me continue this work, donations are welcome via any of the following methods...

Direct payments via Paypal - my Paypal email address is:

Scot Goes Pop General Fundraiser 

Scot Goes Pop Polling Fundraiser 

If you prefer a bank transfer, please message me for details using the contact email address which can be found in the sidebar of the blog (desktop version only), or on my Twitter profile.  

Sunday, May 22, 2022

#Referendum2023 : Thoughts on Nicola Sturgeon's essay

So we've now seen Nicola Sturgeon's heavily-trailed essay, which apparently marks "the start of a new independence campaign".  The piece can be summarised as "the government I lead is wonderful - no, seriously, it's truly, truly wonderful, oh and it's time to debate independence".  No date is announced for the independence referendum, and indeed the word "referendum" isn't even used at all as far as I can see, which is a bit worrying given that we're supposed to have been guaranteed that there will be a referendum within the next nineteen months at the absolute most.  However, the referendum promise is at least obliquely acknowledged with references to people "wanting a say" on Scotland's constitutional future, and the SNP being "committed to offering that choice".  To the extent that there's any meat at all, it's the announcement that the Scottish Government "will shortly begin publishing" an updated prospectus for independence.

I suppose if you were opting for the maximally charitable interpretation, you would say that perhaps the SNP are paying attention to the optics of doing everything in the correct sequence.  So first we'll see the prospectus for indy, then perhaps there'll be a renewed request for a Section 30 order, then there'll be legislation for a referendum in the absence of a Section 30, followed presumably by a high-profile Supreme Court verdict on whether the legislation is within Holyrood's competence.  But that would be a very, very optimistic expectation given the long history since 2017 of the SNP starting these much-hyped pushes towards independence, only to allow them to quietly fizzle out within a few weeks.

On that very point, I've received some interesting feedback relating to the Scot Goes Pop #Referendum2023 Countdown Clock. The person said that they understood what I was trying to achieve - it's like an each-way bet that attempts to help shame the SNP into keeping their promise this time, but also with the aim of forcing SNP leadership loyalists to notice if that promise isn't kept, in the hope that they might then take some action (either by pressing for internal change within the SNP or by moving across to a different pro-indy party).  But, the person added, he wasn't sure that would work, because this particular scenario is different to the earlier promises that a referendum would be held in 2018, or in 2019, or in 2020, or in 2021. This time there really is a justified expectation that some sort of action will be taken.  It's not that the referendum will actually be held - it probably won't be.  But the SNP at least seem minded to legislate for a referendum, safe in the belief that the Supreme Court is likely to strike it down, and only then will they refuse to take any further concrete action for the foreseeable future.  And because of the theatrics of a televised Supreme Court case, most SNP members and supporters will be satisfied with that - they'll think "we wanted something to be done, and it has been".  If I then persevere with the Countdown Clock, people will just say "what are you talking about, they did their level best to hold the referendum in 2023".

That may well be a perfectly plausible scenario, but actually if we ever get to that point, I'd be almost inclined to say "mission accomplished" as far as the Countdown Clock is concerned, because I'm far from convinced that the SNP will even hold their nerve sufficiently to push matters as far as legislation or a Supreme Court showdown.  Based on past precedent, there's a very real chance that they'll gratefully grab hold of any convenient excuse that comes along for delaying the whole process yet again, and that'll be when we very much need to confront SNP leadership loyalists with the uncomfortable truth that yet another promise has been broken.  

At least if we get to the point where the Supreme Court have said Holyrood can't hold a referendum, we'll be a bit further forward, because it will kill the whole bogus narrative about how we have to keep delaying a referendum until we're "certain to win" (impossible) because we "only get one more shot".  After a Supreme Court defeat, the only game in town will be a plebiscitary election, and elections come up once every five years, not "once in a generation". The likes of Pete Wishart will no longer get away with pretending that the independence cause is a piece of china he's balancing on his head, heroically trying to prevent it from being destroyed forever.