Wednesday, May 24, 2023

Pressure mounts on Humza Yousaf to resign before the general election as new YouGov projection suggests he is leading the SNP towards the loss of their Westminster majority

For those of you who don't know how MRP modelling works, it's based on real polling, but the aim is to project the likely winner in each individual constituency, and also to project the most likely overall number of seats for each party.  (For statistical reasons, the overall number of projected seats for each party may confusingly not always tally up exactly with the number of individual seats that party is projected to win.)  Because there aren't enough YouGov panellists in each constituency to directly measure support for parties at that local level with confidence, the process partly depends on assuming that similar types of voters in similar types of constituencies will behave in similar ways.  In general those assumptions have been relatively well-founded, and in 2017 YouGov's MRP modelling was famously much more accurate than their conventional polling, even though they stated explicitly that they expected the reverse to be true.

There will be exceptions, though.  You might remember that the BBC/ITV/Sky exit poll in 2017 produced some wildly inaccurate predictions at Scottish constituency level because it was assuming that voters in former Lib Dem constituencies would all behave in much the same way, whereas in fact the trends in (for example) Gordon and Edinburgh West were radically different from each other.  The projection in the latest YouGov modelling that I'm most sceptical about is the Labour gain in Na h-Eileanan an Iar.  It's not that the SNP aren't under threat in that constituency - they probably are to some extent.  But the seat has changed hands between Labour and the SNP three times in recent decades (in 1970, 1987 and 2005) and on all three occasions the result would not have been predicted by the national trend.  So if YouGov are projecting an SNP loss based partly on what is happening "in other similar SNP-Labour battleground seats", they're likely to have gone awry, because there aren't any seats that are similar to Na h-Eileanan an Iar.

YouGov projection of Scottish seats in the next UK general election based on voting intentions of 3586 respondents, collected 10th April-21st May 2023:

SNP 27 (-21)
Labour 24 (+23)
Liberal Democrats 4 (-)
Conservatives 4 (-2)

That's a worse outcome for the SNP than suggested by most, but not all, recent conventional polling.  The majority of polls have suggested the SNP will just about pass the threshold of 30 seats required for an overall majority, but this projection says they will fall short of that.  The unionist parties in combination would have 32 seats, outcounting the SNP's 27.  And remember this is just a starting point that doesn't factor in the effect of an official campaign period in which the London broadcasters will beam the Sunak v Starmer narrative into every Scottish home, leaving the SNP struggling to get a look-in.  The final result could easily be worse than this projection, with the SNP slipping to second place (or lower).

The only silver lining is that the SNP seem to be faring better against the Tories than the crude national trend would imply, and are projected to make gains in Moray and West Aberdeenshire & Kincardine. Even in Alister Jack's seat of Dumfries & Galloway, they are thought to be only one point behind the Tories. They are also projected to hold off the Lib Dem threat in Jo Swinson's former seat of East Dunbartonshire.  But in the former Labour heartlands, the SNP seem to be facing absolute carnage.

This is all total unnecessary - it's not an inevitable side-effect of the GB-wide Labour lead.  A few months ago, the SNP seemed to be successfully fending off the Labour surge, but what's changed since then is that they've lumbered themselves needlessly with a deeply unpopular new leader.  Yes, there are other important factors such as the revelations related to the police investigation, but when those other factors fade from the public's thoughts, the problem of an unpopular leader will still be there unless the SNP take action to resolve it.  Time is ticking, and there really needs to be a new leader in place before this projected defeat at the general election is permitted to happen. Making a change after the event will be a classic case of shutting the stable door after the horse has bolted, because by then the independence cause will have suffered a huge setback it may struggle to recover from.

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  1. who didn't see this coming??

  2. We can only hope this is a wake-up call for the lifeless, gutless, gormless SNP. Change, or shame Scotland.

  3. Part of the problem is the "What's the point in voting for them when you don't get independence" factor.

    1. I've told my MSP directly and my MP via their office staff that I'm not voting SNP until they sort out their own internal governance and provide clarity on their strategy for achieving independence.

      As a non-member, I'm not going to comment on their leader selection, but so far he's been weak sauce.

  4. SUPPORT for independence is still in the lead at 53% despite a drop in support for the SNP, a new poll has found.

    i assume this is likely an outlier?