Wednesday, June 7, 2023

Sensational Redfield & Wilton poll reveals that most voters in Scotland want an independence referendum WITHIN THE NEXT YEAR - piling massive pressure on Humza Yousaf to listen to SNP members and bring back the Sturgeon plan of a de facto referendum

The very familiar pattern has continued today of good polling news for independence being coupled with, at best, mixed polling news for Humza Yousaf and the SNP. For my money the most significant finding is from Redfield & Wilton, who show that there is now public support for an independence referendum within a remarkably tight timescale - by a margin of 42% to 40%, voters want a referendum within the next year.   There has also been a recovery in support for independence itself since last month - 

Should Scotland be an independent country? (Redfield & Wilton Strategies, 3rd-5th June 2023)

Yes 46% (+1)
No 54% (-1)

This, of course, does not mean that Ipsos were wrong recently to suggest that Yes were ahead by 53% to 47%, or that there has been a sudden movement back to No since then.  It's simply very different methodology producing very different results.  The main methodological differences are that Redfield & Wilton collect their data via online polling panel, rather than the telephone method used by Ipsos, and that Redfield & Wilton appear to weight their results by recalled 2014 referendum vote - an increasingly questionable practice such a long time after that vote took place.

Humza Yousaf's net personal rating has bounced about a bit in Redfield & Wilton polls, and this time he has one of his 'better' results, although he's still firmly in negative territory, and behind both Anas Sarwar and Keir Starmer.  The one glimmer of hope is that he's almost drawn level with Starmer, which is probably deserved - whatever my severe misgivings about Yousaf, by this stage I'd suggest just about every mainstream politician in the country deserves to be beating Starmer on personal ratings.

Net personal ratings of leaders:

Anas Sarwar (Labour): +4
Keir Starmer (Labour): -3
Humza Yousaf (SNP): -5
Rishi Sunak (Conservatives): -13
Douglas Ross (Conservatives): -22

The new poll is the second this year to suggest the SNP have lost their outright lead on the Holyrood list ballot, although their lead on the constituency ballot has increased by default due to a slippage in Labour's support.

Scottish Parliament constituency ballot:

SNP 36% (-)
Labour 29% (-3)
Conservatives 21% (+3)
Liberal Democrats 8% (-)
Greens 2% (-)
Reform UK 2% (-)
Alba 1% (-)

Scottish Parliament regional list ballot:

SNP 25% (-)
Labour 25% (-2)
Conservatives 19% (-)
Greens 14% (+1)
Liberal Democrats 10% (-)
Alba 3% (+1)
Reform UK 3% (+1)

Seats projection (with changes from 2021 election):  SNP 42 (-22), Labour 39 (+17), Conservatives 30 (-1), Greens 12 (+4), Liberal Democrats 6 (+2)

In explaining why he had decided to accept Humza Yousaf's offer of a senior job, Kevin Pringle yesterday put forward a 'glass half-full' interpretation of the polls, and suggested that the SNP were a party with a future as well as a past because they remained the natural party of government at devolved level, even under Humza Yousaf.  You'd have to say that looks a highly dubious claim on these numbers.  Yes, if the projection above was exactly right, the SNP would probably just about cling on as a minority government, but this is just one snapshot at one particular moment in time, and their position looks incredibly precarious.  And perhaps more to the point, SNP supporters want more than to be the natural party of government - they want a pro-independence majority at Holyrood (surely an absolute prerequisite if independence is to be won) to be the natural state of affairs too.  The majority of polls since Yousaf became leader, including this one, have suggested the pro-indy majority would be lost.

What's more, there's deeply troubling news today from a separate MRP projection conducted by Focaldata, which suggests for the first time that the SNP are on course to slip into second place behind Labour in terms of Scottish seats at Westminster.  Labour are projected to take 31 Scottish seats, with the SNP taking just 26.  That's the sort of outlook that ought to be leading sensible SNP parliamentarians to ponder how the self-indulgence of choosing as unpopular a leader as Yousaf can be reversed in time for the general election.

On a more positive note, the Redfield & Wilton poll finds huge public backing for the Deposit Return Scheme, and huge support for glass to be included in it.  The public also prefer the Scottish version of DRS to the proposed UK-wide version.  I suspect those numbers will stun a few people on the unionist side.  The Scottish Government have been mocked for choosing two unpromising dividing lines with London, ie. the GRR and DRS, and while there is ample polling evidence to suggest the mockery is fully justified in respect of the GRR, it's beginning to look as if the reverse may be true in respect of DRS, and that Yousaf may have stumbled onto slightly more fertile territory for a constitutional dispute.

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I launched the Scot Goes Pop fundraiser for 2023 a few weeks ago, and the running total has now passed £1500.  The target figure is £8500, however, so there's still quite some distance to travel.  If you'd like to help Scot Goes Pop continue by making a donation, please click HERE.  Many thanks to everyone who has donated so far.

Tuesday, June 6, 2023

For some inexplicable reason, the SNP seem to actually *want* a by-election in Rutherglen & Hamilton West - so have they any chance at all of winning it?

Over the past few months, there's been a part of me thinking "stay off the subject of a possible Rutherglen by-election, so as not to draw attention to a petition that won't necessarily succeed".  However, due to the grotesque unity between the SNP and Labour in supporting the petition to oust Ferrier, it's probably all but guaranteed to succeed, so at this stage there may not be any great harm in looking ahead to the by-election and the scale of the challenge the SNP will now face - partly through their own fault.  Incredibly, fourteen SNP MPs actively voted for Ferrier's suspension today, which is an act of self-destructive virtue-signalling that I have zero patience for.  It's unknown whether Ferrier was responsible for any Covid infections at all, but even if she was, the harm caused by her actions will pale into insignificance compared to the countless ongoing personal tragedies directly brought about by the subsequent irresponsible actions of government leaders, including Humza Yousaf and Rishi Sunak, in dropping all mitigations against the virus.  (I hardly ever blog about Covid anymore, but for the love of God, it's surely blindingly obvious that there should currently be an all-out campaign to clean up indoor air, especially in schools, and that people should at least be given non-binding encouragement to wear masks in the highest-risk indoor environments, for example hospitals or crowded trains.  This stuff isn't rocket science, and nor would it constitute some kind of intolerable breach of personal liberty.)

Anyway, Rutherglen & Hamilton West unfortunately just happens to be one of the most Labour-friendly seats in Scotland, as can be seen from the fact that it was one of only seven Scottish seats Labour took during the Corbyn surge of 2017.  Margaret Ferrier grabbed it back for the SNP in 2019 with a swing of 5%, but that was actually more modest than the national Labour-to-SNP swing of 8%, so if anything the SNP's underlying weakness in the seat worsened slightly (although perhaps that can be partly explained by a one-off incumbency bonus for the outgoing Labour MP Ged Killen).  The SNP will go into this by-election defending a lead over Labour of just under ten points, which means on a uniform national swing you would expect them to hold the seat if their lead in Scotland-wide opinion polls exceeds around sixteen points.  In every poll conducted since Humza Yousaf became leader, the SNP's Westminster lead has fallen well short of that, varying between three and twelve points.  So there are strong objective reasons for Labour being regarded as favourites in this contest.

But in practice it could be a whole lot worse than the national opinion polls imply, partly because trends are often magnified in by-elections, and partly because the witch-hunt against Ferrier that the SNP have helped to whip up will bounce back on one party only, and that party will not be Labour.  If Labour win, it'll really be the margin of victory that commentators will be looking at - because expectations are so low for the SNP, a narrow defeat could even help shore up Humza Yousaf's position somewhat, but a crushing defeat in the region of 20-30 points could genuinely call into question whether Yousaf can survive as leader until the general election.

And a possible wildcard question: will Alex Salmond seize the moment and stand as an Alba candidate?  I have no inside information, so I'll just give you my own opinion, which is that if Alba are thinking of getting involved in this by-election, they should either do it properly or not at all.  There's literally no point in putting up a candidate who nobody has ever heard of "for experience" if that person goes on to take only 1% or 2% or 3% of the vote - it would split the pro-indy vote in a crucial first-past-the-post by-election without shifting the dial one iota as far as Alba's credibility is concerned.  Whereas if Alba puts up a big-name candidate and takes perhaps 15% or 20% of the vote, that could be a truly transformational moment after which voters across Scotland will for the first time regard the party as a serious option.  Yes, an intervention of that significance could help Labour win the seat, and for the avoidance of doubt that would be a bad thing not a good thing, but the trade-off might just about be worth it if the SNP are shocked into realising that they can no longer keep kicking independence into ever longer grass without risking a major electoral cost.  If Alex Salmond doesn't want to stand, though, Alba should sit it out altogether (as indeed should be their default position in the vast majority of first-past-the-post elections).

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I launched the Scot Goes Pop fundraiser for 2023 a few weeks ago, and the running total has now passed £1500.  The target figure is £8500, however, so there's still quite some distance to travel.  If you'd like to help Scot Goes Pop continue by making a donation, please click HERE.  Many thanks to everyone who has donated so far.