Friday, June 21, 2024

If you have a postal vote, please vote, and please vote for a pro-independence party

Postal votes are apparently dropping, so I just want to take this opportunity to reiterate that if you're an independence supporter, spoiling your ballot or voting for a unionist party would be a monumentally foolish thing to do.  Please vote, and please vote for a pro-independence party.  If the polls are right (and they're not always right, but they're the only guide we have), the election is going to be very close in Scotland between Labour and the SNP.  With the right result, we could keep the flame of independence burning bright. But the wrong result would be a generational 1979-style setback that could remove independence from the agenda for the foreseeable future.

We need the SNP to retain as many seats as possible.  Ideally we need them to beat Labour in the popular vote, and if they don't, we need them to get as close to Labour as possible.  And if you don't want to vote SNP, remember Alba are an option in one-third of constituencies.  But if Alba aren't standing in your seat, and if you don't want to vote Green either, I urge you to vote SNP anyway.

There is no way of "repurposing your ballot for independence" by spoiling it, in spite of what a certain gentleman would have you believe.  A spoilt ballot is a spoilt ballot.  It will be recorded as a spoilt ballot and as absolutely nothing else.  The only way to purpose a vote for independence is to vote for a pro-independence party.

Believe me, you'll miss that pro-independence majority when it's gone.

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I've previewed the constituency races in Glasgow East and Glasgow North for The National - you can read the articles HERE and HERE.

Thursday, June 20, 2024

SNP hold steady in Savanta poll - and the polls showing Reform UK in second place across Britain no longer look like outliers

Again, although this is not great news, the fact that the SNP are not going backwards is reassuring to an extent because Westminster elections are really tough 'away fixtures', and even a few points behind Labour there's a decent chance of retaining a respectable number of seats - although admittedly it's also dangerously close to a tipping point where the electoral system might start to really punish them and reduce them to single digits.

Scottish voting intentions for the UK general election (Savanta):

Labour 38% (+1)
SNP 33% (-)
Conservatives 15% (-2)
Liberal Democrats 7% (-)

The seats projection has the SNP on seventeen seats, which is almost like a halfway house - it's much worse than anything the SNP have had since 2015, but it's also much better than anything they had prior to 2015, including even in 1974-79.  It would be their fourth best general election result in history, both in terms of seats and popular vote share.

Meanwhile, the latest batch of GB-wide polls is pretty remarkable.  One has Reform UK nine points clear of the Conservatives, and most of the others have Reform UK and the Tories within a couple of points of each other.  Only one (from the relatively untested More in Common) has the Tories in a comfortable second place.  I'm not convinced there's going to be a swingback to conveniently get the Tories off the hook here - there's now a very real chance they could finish in third place in the popular vote behind Reform UK, and also in third place in terms of seats, most likely behind the Liberal Democrats.  Oh, the Starmer v Davey encounters at PMQs will be so thrilling.

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I've previewed the constituency races in Edinburgh West and Falkirk for The National - you can read the articles HERE and HERE.

Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Another polling boost for the SNP as YouGov MRP update shows them gaining ground

Although the progress the SNP have made in this update is modest (they've improved from seventeen seats to twenty), I'm nevertheless reassured by it, because with the fieldwork being fairly up-to-date it's a good indicator that the momentum hasn't been against the SNP in this campaign.  There were one or two little straws in the wind that had started to worry me.

YouGov MRP seats projection for Great Britain:

Labour 425
Conservatives 108
Liberal Democrats 67
SNP 20
Reform UK 5
Plaid Cymru 4
Greens 2

Remember that the target for the SNP to retain a majority of Scottish seats is 29, and they're doing just about well enough to remain on the fringes of contention for that.  The upper bound of the projection is 34 seats, much higher than the upper bound of 23 in yesterday's Ipsos MRP.

More to follow...

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I've previewed the constituency races in four of the Edinburgh seats for The National.  I can't find them in the main part of the website, but they were in the print edition and are thus available in the digital edition if you're a subscriber.  I wrote too much for the Edinburgh South piece and had to cut out an entire paragraph, so I'll give it to you here as a sort of 'DVD extra' - 

"In fairness to Murray, being the beneficiary of tactical voting is not completely down to luck.  In some respects, Edinburgh South closely resembles East Renfrewshire - another affluent constituency which is both disproportionately anti-independence and anti-Brexit.  Indeed, Edinburgh South actually outstrips East Renfrewshire on the anti-Brexit front due to having voted Remain in the 2016 referendum by a margin of 78% to 22%, making it the ninth most pro-European constituency in the whole UK.  But in East Renfrewshire, Labour's bid for tactical anti-SNP votes had completely flopped in 2017, allowing the SNP to remain one of the two largest parties alongside the Tories and thus ideally positioned to pitch for pro-EU votes in 2019.  In contrast, Labour's far superior organisation in Edinburgh South left Murray able to tell voters in 2019 that they didn't need to choose between tactically voting against a hard Brexit and tactically voting against independence - they could do both by voting for him."

Tuesday, June 18, 2024

SNP just three points behind in Ipsos MRP poll

The first Ipsos MRP projection of the campaign is out.  It puts the SNP on 15 seats, which is at the lower end of projections from other firms, but there are some silver linings.  The range for the SNP is between 13 and 23 seats, so the central estimate is closer to the floor than to the ceiling. Additionally there are popular vote figures given for Scotland which are better for the SNP than quite a few of the online polls in this campaign.  And although the fieldwork isn't bang up to date, it's more recent than any poll we've seen apart from the Norstat one.

Labour 36%
SNP 33%
Conservatives 13%
Liberal Democrats 8%
Reform UK 5%
Greens 3%

Note that the fieldwork seems to have been conducted among the Ipsos online panel, so these numbers aren't directly comparable to the Ipsos telephone poll which had the SNP level with Labour.

A couple of other interesting points: Ipsos make clear that MRP projections are less reliable in Scotland than in England due to the gaps in Scottish census data, and the official SNP candidate is projected to be well ahead in the Western Isles even though Ipsos took the special measure of prompting for Angus MacNeil by name.

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Today is the deadline for registering to vote in the general election.  If you know any independence supporter who is not registered to vote yet, please send them HERE before midnight.

Fresh despair for Starmer as Labour's vote in Scotland SLUMPS, and support for independence SOARS to 47%

As I said yesterday, I'm a bit concerned by the number of GB-wide polls in recent days that have shown the SNP on only 2% of the vote (3% or 4% would normally be a sign that they're doing OK).  There's another one like that today.  And the latest full-scale Scottish poll from YouGov, even though it shows the Labour lead over the SNP has more than halved, does not really allay those concerns because the fieldwork is weirdly 11+ days out of date, an absolute eternity in the context of a general election campaign.  I would be interested to know what the reason for that is - did a client ask them to hold the results back for a bit?  If so, what might the agenda have been?

Scottish voting intentions for the UK general election (YouGov, 3rd-7th June 2024):

Labour 34% (-5)
SNP 30% (+1)
Conservatives 13% (+1)
Liberal Democrats 8% (-)
Reform UK 7% (+3)
Greens 6% (-1)

Should Scotland be an independent country?

Yes 47% (+2)
No 53% (-2)

Incidentally, I was asked last night whether there was a poll showing Alba on 5% of the Holyrood list vote.  That was easy because I had already blogged about it - it was the Norstat poll that also showed Alba on 2% of the Westminster vote, down one point on the previous poll.  But this gives me an opportunity to make an important point which I think is too easily overlooked.  Norstat is the successor to Panelbase, and appears to use exactly the same methodology.  In the 2021 Holyrood election campaign, Panelbase was more favourable to Alba than any other polling firm, and often showed them as high as 6% on the list.  Because Norstat weight their results by Westminster recalled vote and not by Holyrood recalled vote, it seems very unlikely that whatever the methodological error was in 2021 has been corrected.  That means when they show Alba on 5%, it may imply that Alba are actually on roughly the same level of support as in 2021, ie. around 2%, which is not enough to win seats.

Don't shoot the messenger here, but when I was on the Alba NEC in 2021-22, I repeatedly made the point that the worst thing the party could do was squint at polls and local election results and try to convince itself that it was already on course to win list seats when it quite plainly wasn't.  Only with a proper sense of realism about the task before us will we have any chance of breaking through in 2026.

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Today is the deadline for registering to vote in the general election.  If you know any independence supporter who is not registered to vote yet, please send them HERE before midnight.

Some important information for voters: "Best For Britain" are lying to you. They're lying to you because they're a British Nationalist front organisation who want to stop Scotland from being able to choose its own governments. They don't care *how* they keep Scotland under the thumb, and if lying to voters is what it takes, they think it's fine to do that. Hold them accountable for lying to you.

Probably like a lot of you, I tend to subconsciously use my family and friends as barometers of what is going on in the heads of the electorate at large.  With that in mind, I was rather alarmed that someone asked me just after the election was called whether she was allowed to vote SNP in a UK general election - not whether it was a good idea, but whether it was even possible, because clearly the media or the Labour party or someone had been feeding her the idea that Westminster elections are straight choices between Tory and Labour.  And this is not somebody who was voting in a general election for the first time - in fact I'm fairly sure she's voted for the SNP in multiple general elections in the past, and yet she'd still half-forgotten that the SNP are an option on the ballot paper.  So that's a useful reminder that some of the misleading propaganda out there is so effective that it's worth making sure that people you know are aware of the basics.

When I spoke to her again about ten days ago, she seemed to be much more aware of the range of options at the election, but had developed a nagging worry that she might need to vote Labour if she wants to get the Tory government out, again presumably because that was what she had been told by the media or by Labour themselves.  No, I explained, we live in the Cumbernauld and Kirkintilloch constituency, which is a straightforward SNP-Labour battleground where the Tories don't even come into it.  But, she persisted, isn't Labour the better choice for getting rid of the Tories?  I shrugged and reiterated that the Tories aren't going to win Cumbernauld and Kirkintilloch!  She started to say "but" again, but then seemed to accept the inescapability of the logic.  I could tell, though, that she still had the nagging thought that there must be more to it than that, and that somehow electing a Labour MP must "get rid of the Tories" in a way that electing an SNP MP does not.

But of course it doesn't.  That's simply not the way the system works, as any constitutional expert will tell you.  In the UK the parliament is elected and the government is appointed - the King appoints the Prime Minister and then the Prime Minister appoints other ministers.  But the King has to act in accordance with constitutional convention, which states that he can only appoint a Prime Minister who commands the confidence of the House of Commons.  Not the leader of the largest single party, so there's no horse race between Labour and the Tories to win the greatest number of seats.  If the majority of MPs don't want a Tory government, the King can't appoint one, and it really is as simple as that.  Both Labour and the SNP are opposed to a Tory government, so electing a Labour MP or an SNP MP has exactly the same effect - you're voting against a Tory government.  

That means, by extension, that it's only possible to vote tactically against the Tories in seats where the Tories are actually in contention - and in the minority of Scottish seats where that's the case, it just so happens that the SNP are the Tories' main opposition, and the SNP would thus be the tactical anti-Tory choice.  But everywhere else in Scotland, it's literally impossible to vote tactically against the Tories, because they're not going to win anyway.  All you can do is decide whether you'd rather be represented in parliament by an SNP or Labour (or in some cases Liberal Democrat) MP.

A real world example may help to illustrate the point. This is the result of the 1923 election in terms of seats - 

Conservatives 258
Labour 191
Liberals 158
Others 8

If you believe the present-day propaganda, that result would have meant that the Conservatives had won the horse race with Labour, and that Liberal voters had "let the Tories back in" by not voting Labour. But nope. The King couldn't appoint a Tory government, because neither Labour nor the Liberals would accept that, and between them those two parties outnumbered the Tories by miles.  Instead, the King appointed a Labour government under Ramsay MacDonald with Liberal support.

Now, I entirely understand that it's in the cynical self-interest of Labour candidates to mislead voters into misunderstanding all of this.  But deceiving voters should be no part of the role of a "non-party", "pro-European" organisation purporting to be offering voters an "objective" guide to "tactical voting".  

And yet in one of the most disreputable stunts ever seen in a general election, "Best For Britain" have deliberately coordinated with the Labour party to try to con voters in SNP-Labour marginal seats into thinking it's somehow possible to "vote tactically against the Tories" by voting Labour. Yesterday, Labour candidates in Scotland were queueing up on social media to claim that Best For Britain had objectively determined that a vote for Labour in their constituency was the only tactical way of kicking out the Tories. But if you read the small print on the Best For Britain website (extraordinarily difficult to find), it's openly admitted that the opposite is true, that it's not possible to vote tactically against the Tories in SNP-Labour marginals, and that a Labour vote in those seats is only being recommended because the people involved in Best For Britain just personally think Scotland would be better off being represented by Labour MPs (because they are British Nationalists who oppose Scottish independence). Well, that's an interesting pro-Labour view that you can validly put to voters if you want to go out door-knocking for the Labour party, but it quite plainly has got absolutely nothing whatever to do with an "objective tactical voting guide" and you shouldn't be outrageously lying to voters by pretending that it does.

Best For Britain have just outed themseves as the polar opposite of what they have purported to be. They are not a pro-European, cross-party organisation.  They are instead a front for a single pro-Brexit party, ie. Keir Starmer's Labour party.  They should be held accountable for what amounts to an attempt to rig a general election by deception, and I urge all voters to hold them to account.

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Today is the deadline for registering to vote in the general election.  If you know any independence supporter who is not registered to vote yet, please send them HERE before midnight.

Monday, June 17, 2024

GB-wide Redfield & Wilton poll shows Reform UK level with the Tories in joint second place

The latest batch of GB-wide polls don't really confirm the impression of a few days ago that Labour were slipping back.  The new Deltapoll survey has Labour steady at 46%, while Redfield & Wilton have them up one point to 43%.  However, two of the new polls do show a very tight race between the Conservatives and Reform UK for second place, and Redfield & Wilton actually have the two parties level - 

Labour 43%
Reform UK 18%
Conservatives 18%
Liberal Democrats 12%
Greens 5%
SNP 3%
Plaid Cymru 1%

I've been just a touch concerned about the relatively high proportion of GB-wide polls over the last few days that have had the SNP on only 2%.  Obviously no individual Scottish subsample is worth much, but when it starts to become a pattern you have to wonder.  But we'll see what the next full-scale Scottish poll brings. (And of course yesterday's Norstat full-scale poll had fairly recent fieldwork and showed the SNP going slightly up, rather than down.)

A few more constituency profiles

I was a bit surprised by how few polls there were over the weekend, but I suppose media outlets are feeling the pinch these days too. So as there isn't much new to report, now might be as good a time as any to catch up with the latest batch of constituency profiles I've written for The National - East Renfrewshire, East Kilbride and Strathaven and Dunfermline and Dollar.  

But please, if you or any independence supporter in your life is not registered to vote yet, take action on that urgently because the deadline is tomorrow night.  Registering online should only take a few minutes and can be done HERE.

Sunday, June 16, 2024

What would be the standout wins for the SNP if Survation's extraordinary projection is right?

Although some people are sceptical about the credibility of Survation's MRP projection that the SNP are on course for a majority, let's take a moment to savour some of the specific constituency-level projections while we can, because if by any chance they're reflected on polling day there are some right belters in there.

* The SNP's Kirsten Oswald would defeat both Blair McDougall and Sandesh Gulhane in East Renfrewshire - although in McDougall's case the loss would be narrow and he would sadly evade a repeat performance of finishing third in a "two horse race" as he famously did in 2017.

* The SNP would supposedly defeat press-hack-turned-Labour-hack Torcuil Crichton in the Western Isles, although I'm very dubious about that projection, because none of the MRP polling from any firm seems to have yet come to terms with Angus MacNeil's involvement in the race.  My working assumption is still that MacNeil will be the leading pro-independence candidate in the constituency, and that much of the SNP's 38% vote share in the projection will actually go to him.  That creates the danger that Labour's 34% will be enough for Crichton to win due to a split pro-indy vote.  

* Kirsty Blackman and Stephen Flynn would hold both Aberdeen seats for the SNP.

* Seamus Logan of the SNP would very narrowly defeat Scottish Tory leader Douglas Ross to become MP for Aberdeenshire North and Moray East.

* John Nicolson would hold Alloa and Grangemouth for the SNP.

* The SNP's Steven Bonnar would somehow hold off the Labour challenge in Coatbridge and Bellshill - that would be pretty extraordinary.

* Kim Marshall of the SNP would win Alister Jack's former seat of Dumfries and Galloway - and she'd do it with a bit to spare.

* Joanna Cherry would have a handsome win in Edinburgh South West.

* The SNP would hold ALL SIX Glasgow seats - that's a bit hard to believe, but it would be amazing if they did.

* The Lib Dems wouldn't even get close in Inverness, Skye and West Ross-shire, allowing an easy hold for the SNP's Drew Hendry.

* The SNP would gain (or notionally "hold") Moray West, Nairn and Strathspey - the successor seat to the one Douglas Ross currently holds, although he won't be standing there.

* Allan Dorans of the SNP would hold Ayr, Carrick and Cumnock by miles - that would be quite an effort.

* The SNP's David Wilson would narrowly gain Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk from the Tories - that would possibly be the most spectacular gain of all.

* Last but certainly not least, Andrew Bowie would be heavily defeated by the SNP in Aberdeenshire West and Kincardine.

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I meant to mention this earlier - as Craig Murray actually comes from Dundee, I couldn't help but be amused to spot that Dundee Central is another of the constituencies in which both of his political parties, the pro-independence Alba Party and the anti-independence Workers Party of Britain, will be standing directly against each other.  I wonder who he'll be supporting in that one?

More polling encouragement (albeit milder) for the SNP as Norstat shows them closing the gap - and independence support increases to a heady 49%

I pointed out last night that one of the possible credibility problems with the Survation MRP projection showing the SNP winning a majority of Scottish seats was that no conventional poll in the campaign so far has shown the SNP in the outright lead.  That remains the case after today's new Norstat poll, but at least it shows the SNP closing the gap, and technically it's a 'statistical tie' - ie. the standard margin of error means it's not possible to say for sure whether Labour or the SNP are in the lead.  

Scottish voting intentions for the UK general election (Norstat):

Labour 34% (-)
SNP 30% (+1)
Conservatives 14% (-2)
Liberal Democrats 9% (+1)
Reform UK 7% (+1)
Greens 4% (nc)
Alba 2% (-1)

The Survation MRP fieldwork seemed to include a larger number of respondents in Scotland than a normal full-scale Scottish poll would, and yet it showed a 7-point SNP lead in the popular vote.  So we may now be getting into territory where the race is tight enough that different pollsters will disagree with each other on which party is in the lead.  If so, it's conceivable we could go into polling day not actually knowing who is winning this election in Scotland.

Even if Norstat are closer to the truth than Survation, though, the two silver linings are that there is no sign in the Norstat poll of any momentum against the SNP, and that a four-point margin is small enough that the SNP would probably be able to salvage a respectable number of seats.

Once again, I'd draw your attention to the Alba vote share.  If those people can be assumed to be, for the most part at least, very committed independence supporters, they are numerous enough to have the theoretical capability of cutting Labour's 4-point lead in half.  Remember that Alba are not standing in two-thirds of constituencies, and Norstat will have allowed people to select the Alba option regardless of which constituency they live in.  So it's entirely possible, and arguably highly likely, that at least half of Alba's 2% are people who will actually vote SNP - enough to bring down Labour's 'real' lead to around three points.

Norstat confirm that the appetite for independence remains undimmed and may actually be increasing -

Should Scotland be an independent country?

Yes 49% (+1)
No 51% (-1)

And a further sign that the SNP's underlying position may be strengthening is that they now hold a slight lead on both Holyrood ballots.

Scottish Parliament constituency ballot:

SNP 34% (-)
Labour 32% (-1)
Conservatives 16% (+2)
Liberal Democrats 8% (-1)
Greens 6% (+1)

Scottish Parliament regional list ballot:

SNP 28% (+1)
Labour 27% (-1)
Conservatives 16% (-1)
Greens 9% (-)
Liberal Democrats 8% (-)
Reform UK 7% (+1)
Alba 5% (+1)

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I've previewed the constituency race in Dundee Central for The National - you can read the piece HERE.