Wednesday, September 6, 2023

SNP on course for general election defeat, says new Redfield & Wilton poll - intensifying the pressure on Yousaf to either resign, or end rule-by-faction

For only the second time in many years, a polling firm has reported that the SNP have lost their outright lead on Westminster voting intentions.  They haven't been overtaken - Labour have merely drawn level.  However, due to the inbuilt advantage Labour enjoy courtesy of the grotesque first-past-the-post voting system, a dead heat in the popular vote equates to clear defeat for the SNP in terms of seats.

Scottish voting intentions for the next UK general election (Redfield & Wilton Strategies, 2nd-4th September 2023):

SNP 35% (-2)
Labour 35% (+1)
Conservatives 15% (-2)
Liberal Democrats 8% (+1)
Greens 4% (+2)
Reform UK 2% (-)

Seats projection (with changes from 2019 general election): Labour 27 (+26), SNP 22 (-26), Conservatives 5 (-1), Liberal Democrats 5 (+1)

Stewart McDonald, Alison Thewliss, Anne McLaughlin, David Linden, Deidre Brock and Tommy Sheppard would all be losing their seats on these numbers, along with many other SNP colleagues.  And this, of course, is well before a UK general election campaign in which Labour will be lavished with TV coverage and the SNP will be treated as an afterthought.  It's entirely possible that a further swing to Labour in the closing weeks before polling day could leave the SNP with only a tiny handful of seats.

In fairness, most polls in recent times have given the SNP a very small lead in Westminster voting intentions, which means that you'd expect the occasional poll with Labour either level or slightly ahead, due to the standard margin of error.  So it's possible that nothing has really changed and that we're just seeing 'margin of error noise' in the new poll.  However, these numbers certainly make it less likely that the situation is improving for the SNP, which underscores the point I made last night about how utterly baseless it was for Professor John Robertson to claim that "the polls" were showing that Labour's lead in Rutherglen & Hamilton West had been "slashed".  As of yet, there are no polls specifically for that constituency, and a uniform swing projection from the new national poll numbers suggests that Labour should be expected to win the by-election by something in the region of sixteen percentage points.  The odds on betting exchanges imply that Labour have close to a 90% chance of winning in Rutherglen - I personally think that's an underestimate.

I'd hope that the SNP would regard this poll as a wake-up call, rather than as a predictable milestone in a process of 'managed decline'. When you have a leader as unpopular as Yousaf, there's a very obvious step you can take that has a good chance of dramatically improving the situation.  But even if they can't bring themselves to jettison Yousaf, the minimum they've got to do is put an end to factional rule and bring Kate Forbes, Ash Regan, and at least a couple of Forbes' key supporters back into senior positions in the government.  That might at least help to offset Yousaf's unpopularity somewhat.  Falling short of that is frankly no longer an option if the SNP are remotely serious about winning elections, or even about damage limitation in elections.

Elsewhere in the poll, Redfield & Wilton ask their usual complement of independence-related questions.  The trend is marginally negative for the Yes side in most questions, but the changes are so minor that they do look like they could just be "noise", and it wouldn't be at all surprising if the status quo ante is restored in next month's poll.  An intriguing exception to the general trend is on the 'Jack Principle', ie. Alister Jack's statement that there should only be an independence referendum if opinion polls consistently show 60%+ support for one.  Backing for the Jack Principle has, for whatever reason, plummetted by six percentage points over the last month from 52% to 46%, leaving it a mammoth fourteen points short of the Jack Threshold itself.

Even with the negative changes elsewhere, there is still majority support (after Don't Knows are excluded) for an independence referendum to be held within the next five years, while voters are exactly split down the middle over whether there should be an independence referendum within the next year.

There's a weird contradiction in the poll's Holyrood numbers, which show a sharp increase in SNP support on the constituency ballot, but a sharp decrease in SNP support on the list.  A partial explanation for this phenomenon is Alba rising to an unusually high 4% of the list vote.

Scottish Parliament constituency ballot:

SNP 39% (+3)
Labour 30% (-2)
Conservatives 16% (-3)
Liberal Democrats 8% (-)
Greens 3% (+1)
Reform UK 3% (+2)
Alba 1% (-)

Scottish Parliament regional list ballot:

Labour 30% (+1)
SNP 25% (-4)
Conservatives 15% (-3)
Greens 14% (+5)
Liberal Democrats 9% (-)
Alba 4% (+2)
Reform UK 3% (-)

Seats projection (with changes from 2021 election): SNP 53 (-11), Labour 36 (+14), Greens 16 (+8), Conservatives 15 (-16), Liberal Democrats 9 (+5)


  1. Read the room, Humza. It's time to go.

    1. He's been a disaster area in that job. The SNP made a terrible mistake in March. I don't blame the members, because they were carefully steered towards electing him, with a variety of tactics, some legitimate, but some completely unacceptable and against the party's own rules. Even then they only just barely elected him.

  2. Humza paying the price for Sturgeon's enforcement of blind obedience, mediocrity and self serving with no strategy for independence. It's a tired old analogy but 'rabbit in the headlights' is pretty much where the SNP leadership has allowed itself to be.
    The rest of us have to just keep at the task of building support for a realistic way forward one person at a time.

    1. I bet he remains First Minister after the WM general, almost regardless of how catastrophic it is, picking up the media’s cherished “Beleaguered” title as he then leads Holyrood to a Unionist majority.

      “See! See what we told you! Scots don’t want independence. North Britons want carrots!”

      Thanks, Humza. Nicola says she couldn’t have done it all by herself.

  3. Hard to imagine Yousaf surviving that kind of drubbing at a GE. Gravy bus apocalypse scenario.
    Never mind, the US State Department has taken out insurance. Kate Forbes is to attend the British American Project, Conference in Liverpool (9 - 13 Nov). Kate will find time while Holyrood is in session to enrol in what is widely regarded as a “CIA front”. Not that “Oxbridge” Kate ever found time to attend an Indy march (even when she promised to do so).
    V O’B

  4. The prospects of the Greens doubling their representation to 16 fills me with horror. Heaven knows what manner of Kafkaesque criteria they employ during the selection process.
    What kind of odd-balls will they dredge up.
    The current cohort includes:
    * the one that repeatedly lied about having a PhD
    * the perma pubescent dweeb
    * the one who claims a MSc in Integrative EcoSocial Design & Leadership from Gaia University

    V O’B

  5. Rob here,

    Possibly a very naïve question, but... There's been a lot said about the low quality of certain SNP MPs whose televised performances have rammed home that message. Could enough Indy-supporters in certain constituencies be tired enough of their lacklustre devo-SNP MP to simply not turn out, or seek a "protest" vote? How much of a factor might that be?

  6. It seems fairly obvious that Cameron offered the Section 30 in 2014 because he calculated correctly that No would win, and incorrectly that demand for independence would be extinguished.

    Support for independence among ordinary people has up to now rested on the perception of the SNP as a competent government which to be fair it used to be.

    But as Robin MacAlpine has pointed out, the current SNP/Green government is now a small gene pool of ideas, having expelled or exiled all dissent.

    Voters looking at the ferry issue, the gender issue, the drug deaths and so on must be asking themselves, "do I want these guys in charge?".

    Those of us watching the situation closely will be aware the SNP/Green administration has a long way more to fall.

    As the Scottish Government sinks in popularity so do its chances of winning a referendum. Onlooking Unionists must be wondering at what point it would be advantageous to offer a Section 30 on the basis that a No verdict really would sink Independence in a way that 2014 did not.

    1. Scooter and the SNP, the gift that keeps giving.

  7. Oh wow, this from the National about this poll:

    "Analysis predicts pro-independence majority in Scottish parliament"

    SNP 55, Greens 15

    Mark McGreen wrote: “This would be a big win for Yousaf everything considered"

    Like - losing 9 MSPs (and 23 MPs)?

    And FIFTEEN Green MSPs :-(

    Ooops apocalypse, Scotland bankrupt.

  8. From the National:

    " Keith Brown said of the poll: ...“Humza Yousaf remains the people’s choice as First Minister by a considerable distance"

    That's nonsense, Kate Forbes was and is far more popular, and Yousaf is about as unpopular as Douglas Ross.

    1. Down is up, up, up!:

      It's this kind of childish nonsense—treating voters like Muppets with zero recall and total credulity—that turns so many folk off politics. It's Labour's bread and butter. And it blinds everyone who does it.

      You don't see the cliff coming when you take both hands off the wheel to cover your eyes. "Floor it, National readers, it's coming now! Tick tock."

      Nothing happens until he's out, and I fear with this party around him that won't happen until Labour's back in Scotgov.

      Don’t even get me started on FM Anas and deputy FM Humza…

  9. Hello Dr De-la-Zouche - just a thank you for your response to my post on a previous thread. Quickly, because I think it's important, I still differ from you (I had recognised your use of metaphor but didn't think it appropriate.) Salmond cannot be said to split the movement when all he is doing is setting up an alternative party because the hierarchy of the SNP would not allow him to re-join the SNP after his acquittal It just becomes a 'depends on which way you look at it' argument. To me, it is those who did not allow him to re-join who are to blame - you know the circumstances in which he left the party and saw my link about rejoining. Compare his concern over possible reputational damage to the party to that of Sturgeon and co.
    "Doesn't setting up a rival party to split the yes vote undermine independence?"
    NO because that is not what he did. He set up a party because he was not allowed to re-join and found (along with others) the approach of the SNP to be dire - which it was, and is.

    I have no idea about Campbell's blog and the ALBA BOOK, I don't go to his site that often and I actually had thought he had chucked it at that point. As far as I was aware Robin McAlpine was also helping with the ALBA book, but I could be wrong.

    With regard to the Greens I'm actually surprised by their lack of success given the situation we are in. With all the publicity of disaster after disaster, and the high profile of the likes of Geta Thurnberg really they should be gaining much more success particularly in a PR system. As you say, they probably will garner more votes and seats, but isn't it the policies that matter?

    I agree wholeheartedly with you:
    "The Greens are indeed hopeless, In face of the increasing obvious climate disaster they are instead banging on about trans rights and dueling the A9. They, like the SNP, have lost focus on the prize. For the Greens the climate emergency should trump everything (in my considered opinion it should be top of the agenda for everybody) while the SNP should be laser focused on Independence."

    Exactly this.

  10. An interesting article on Nation Cymru:

    1. That is a very interesting article. I've found that the Welsh pro-indy camp seem to have a far more objective and pragmatic approach than the tribal one that exists in Scotland.

      That article is clear that the UK is in a poor state physically, socially, poltically and economically and that any change will need to recognise that we all want to prosper and thatvwe all have to live in these islands peacefully and cooperatively.

      The SNP leadership and members would do well to read that article closely

  11. the national seems to be dumbing down at the moment.

  12. Rob here,

    Any word on the leadership challenge?

  13. Who on Earth keeps voting for the Greens?

    If you’re pro-Indy and don’t want to support the SNP, vote for Alba not those bampots.

  14. I think we need to be realistic and accept that independence is inevitable.

  15. From the Notional:

    "FERGUS Ewing has hinted that he may be set to lose the SNP whip, with reports suggesting he may soon be disciplined by the party."

    I think, the sheep should be expelled, which is most of the indy incurious muppets in Holyrood, and Ewing made the whip, with the motto: "The SNP is only for people with their own original mental reasoning faculties. Dolly the clones should not apply".

    If only Tennents made the SNP ...

  16. Same article: "First Minister Humza Yousaf confirmed on Monday that the SNP's Holyrood group will meet to discuss the party rebel's future"

    They'll all be flocking to that. With a baa baa here, and a baa baa there, here a baa, there a baa, everywhere a baa baa.

    Imagine "severely disciplined" being appropriate for holding an opinion (the right one on this matter), and daring to stick to it.

    WTF have the "We're a broad church" SNP come to - dictatorship?

    You'll have had your Independence then.

    1. (that was me as well) And this comment below the line:

      "I respect Fergus for sticking to his principles, but are they worth weakening the independence cause for?"

      really encapsulates what is wrong with the extremists of the YES movement these days. We're expected to endorse every single stupid badly thought out Bill or policy not just the SNP, but the SNP with its tail pulled by the Green party and a ring through its nose. Wheesht for Indy.

      Well FTFAGOS, I'm not a mindless clone, nor will I vote for a party full of them. What is it about the word "Independence" these total clueless SNP politician morons don't understand?