One I missed: a week or so ago there was a MRUK Cello poll in the Sunday Times on Scottish voting intentions. For the Westminster Parliament support stood at CON 18%, LAB 34%, LDEM 11%, SNP 34%. For Holyrood, the constituency vote was CON 15%, LAB 31%, LDEM 12%, SNP 39% and regional vote CON 13%, LAB 30%, LDEM 11%, SNP 40%.

52 Responses to “Scottish Voting Intention”

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  1. What’s interesting here is that the SNP are taking share across the board with all three main parties losing ground. If anything Labour have held on better than the Tories and certainly better than the Lib Dems.

    (During the election Labour were 32.2% / 29.2% (constituency / region), SNP 32.9 / 21, Conservative 16.6 / 13.9, Lib Dems 16.2 / 11.3.)

    Certainly up here I think many people who voted for them as something of a protest/anyone but Labour vote have been pleasantly surprised by the SNP. I don’t believe that there is support for independence (and nor do the polls at the moment) but generally I’m not surprised that their position has improved.

  2. so being ignorant of Scotisj politics how would pan out, seats wise, in a GE?

  3. According to the Sunday Times (I haven’t run a projection myself) it would result in Lab 34(-6), SNP(+9), LDEM 5(-6) and CON 4(+3).

  4. GE election scotland CON +2 one from the lib dems one from labour, SNP +6 four from labour two from lib dems, Labour -5.















    SNP: majority’s if repeated at election 2009/2010 would be very low in most gained seats, most of which would be in northern scotland and central scotland, the fall in the lib dem vote is helping at this time, but may change if the lib dems come back strong in scotland over the next year or two, the conservatives are making up some ground but may fall short of taking out big names like darling or des browne as the SNP are best placed to do this. on the other hand if the conservatives can get to 20% then we are talking about big gains all over the board maybe +6 at this level, but labour are in need of help, as the long awaited trap door starts to open the PM’s majority may be cut by half in his own seat from 43.6% to 22.3% a swing of 10.3% from lab to SNP.

  5. the above is based on the westminster vote and not combined with the other two voting types

  6. Stuart – how have you calculated these figures? For instance Des Browne has a majority of 8,703 (19.6%) in Kilmarnock and Loundon. How do you figure this seat goes to the SNP?

  7. Quick question – is there anywhere where the results of the last election are available in an easily manipulable form (Excel, SQL, whatever)? Or has everyone who does predictions done something themselves (he said before he started).

  8. I don’t have a lot of faith in MRUK as their polling last year seemed quite erratic, but it’s interesting that their vote shares aren’t that different from the Scottish subset in the You Gov polls. Still no sign of 11 seats though, Mike!

    Jon H:

    The figures suggest that Des Browne would lose his seat because the SNP had a relatively high share of the vote in Kilmarnock. The majority might seem big, but I’m guessing the calculation wasn’t done using uniform swing. I’d be worried if I was him, given that SNP did so well in Kilmarnock in 2005 and now have the Holyrood seat.

    I can give you an Excel spreadsheet of figures for Scotland in 2005 if Anthony sends you my email (not sure if that’s possible, but I can’t think of another way). There’s no point in us all pasting the figures into a spreadsheet! :-)

    I think the seats that do change hands at the next Westminster election will be surprising. The Tories will have had a boost in East Renfrewshire following the Euro referendum poll – lots of new contacts, no doubt. The Lib Dems woeful running of East Dunbartonshire might cost them Jo Swinson, but I’d be surprised if Michael Moore lost in the Borders – they’ve only one seat to fight this time. And I’d expect the SNP to make gains from Labour in places like Edinburgh East, Livingston and Gordon, where they now have an MSP. It blows the “they can’t win here” argument to bits, and there’s bound to be a knock-on from new MSPs diggin in.


  9. jon h- at the last election the SNP polled around 18% of the vote if this poll is right their vote has goneup by 16% if this is right labour would only need to lose 3% to other parites to lose des browne so as it stands labour has lost 5% of its vote so the SNP gain the seat all calculations were done on a UNS so theirs no messing with the figures.

  10. Jon H –

    You can download a csv file of my notional figures for every seat here –

    to use for making seat projections and so on.

  11. Hi Steven – thanks for the offer but I’ve found that the electoral commission publish them all:

    (if this has been cut then I’d imagine it’s because the site doesn’t allow link postings)

    The format isn’t ideal but I can work on that – probably drop it all into a MySQL database when I get some time (with any luck before the next election).

    OK, beginning to see it now regarding Browne. The key thing is that this is basically double the share of vote the SNP picked up at the last election.

    The issue is that most of it isn’t coming from Labour though – a lot from the LibDems (who polled over 22% at the election and don’t have a Scottish leader now). Presumably this means that exactly how it’s impact breaks down is harder to read?

  12. Cheers Anthony.

    One other thing – I asked elsewhere but I think it got lost in the noise.

    Are there any books you can recommend on polling and/or prediction? I’m thinking something light and readable as opposed to academic…

    If not what are you waiting for? Start now and you can be done in time for the next election. ;-)

  13. The momentum is presently with the SNP and the Tories to a lesser extent. At the Holyrood election many Tories voted SNP to defeat Labour where that was possible. The Labour vote held up to an extent in Glasgow and West Central Scotland but I expect a huge amount of tactical voting will happen at the next UK election as the Scots are now getting very adept at this. There is at the moment a serious possibility of Gordon Brown losing his seat if a tactical vote comes into play. Labour have already lost a huge amount of ground in the surrounding seats and the growing dislike of Brown in Scotland must not be underestimated. The fact that the Scottish Labour leader Wendy Alexander, widely perceived to be a Brown puppet, is showing a minus 22 point approval rating is unprecedented. I feel Labour is on the edge of the precipice at the moment and any further drop will accelerate an implosion or a massive split. Labour cannot manage to suit its traditional support in Scotland and the different demands of London. What also should be taken into account is the fact that when the SNP is doing well they experience a bouncce because many who have no interest in partisan politics but support independence only come out to vote when the SNP is performing well. On the other hand an unpopular Labour Party in Scotland always underperforms and turns in a result two or three points down on its poll rating.
    I would caution a pinch of slat with suggestions that support for indepndence has droppe. What has happened is tha the unioinists have introduced another option – ” more powers for the Scottish parliament” which has diluted the status quo v indpendence arguement. When the “extra powers” the Scots want for their parliament are examined it becomes clear that the more serious wants are only achievable through Independence and this will become apparent in due course. The other sigbnificant feaure of these polls are the number of people who are relaxed about Indpendence without expressing firm support. These people make up about one third of any polled group.

  14. I wonder if any of Scotland’s labour heavyweights lose their seats in Westminster is they might be tempted to try for the Scottish Parliament? The labour party in Scotland certainly needs some of the talent as they currently have no one good enough to take on Alex Salmond. Obviously this could backfire depending on who the heavyweight was… but the standard of the labour MSPs is painfully low..

  15. David – I agree that the tax raising powers is somewhat misleading – given that the parliament doesn’t use the tax raising/varying powers it currently has it strikes me that it’s a classic compromise case which people are voting for by default rather than out of any conviction.

    That said it does show that among this group the thirst for devolution isn’t that strong if they so easily swayed by an ultimately meaningless option.

    And that, in my experience, is the situation in a nutshell – two groups on either side feeling relatively strongly about it with probably the largest group in the middle undecided/unconcerned.

  16. Jon H, re Tax powers

    “it strikes me that it’s a classic compromise case which people are voting for by default rather than out of any conviction”

    Not necessarily. Ordinary people voted for tax raising powers, but it is not the ordinary people who aren’t using them, but the government. Ordinary people may well want lower taxes (perhaps Conservative voters), others higher taxes (perhaps Scottish Socialist voters). The Scottish parties are not afraid to make changes to taxation; the SNP and Liberals want to change Council Tax into a Local Income Tax, and the Labour party wants to change the council tax banding. What the Scottish parties are wary of is using their powers to vary income tax, and they’re wary of it because the Scottish parliament does not collect it’s own taxes.

    This basically means that if the Tories somehow managed to wrangle a reduction in income tax rates, there is a danger Scotland would see a reduction in it’s block grant, even if the total income tax collected from Scotland increased. Similarly, and increase in income tax could be abused the same way. For as long as the Scottish government gets it’s pocket money from Westminster, there will be no changes to the level of the taxes collected by Westminster.

    Full fiscal autonomy would change this, of course, but I wouldn’t expect anything like that any time soon.

  17. John H

    You are correct. ” Unconcerned” is the correct description and this is very significant. A sizeable majority of voters in Scotland are no longer afraid of independence and the debate is now on sensible lines. The massive scaremongering that Labour attempted at the May Scottish Election had an effect on those people most traditionally ” British ” ie the group that came through the war and the aftermath but is having a diminishing effect every year. All the SNP has to do is play Norway, Denmark, Ireland, New Zealand etc to completely trump the scare tactics which are based on seriously distorted figures (swallowed unfortunately by many English voters as well). The SNP at the moment are concentrating on trying to govern well, straighten up the books, cut down the cost of government and so on. We haven’t even started promoting Independence yet. As has been recorded in an earlier post the standard of Labour MSP is abyssmal. Sadly the standard of Tory MSP isn’t a lot better. As long as both these parties see London as the place to be they will be ill served by much of their repesentation in the Scottish parliament. Not that I’m complaining.
    PS The likeable Annabelle Goldie is a political lightweight with an aura of gravitas. She is not performing any better than ever she did. She’s just getting a better press because the powers that be (and own our press) have decided that Brown’s out with the washing and we will have a Tory Government next.

  18. the conservative will have to poll better than 18% in scotland to make a big impact somewere around 22-24% should be the figure to target

  19. Scotregion’s hard left wing communist voters will elect McLabour by landslide to the Scottish Parliament South (Westminster) to rule “Britain” (England) and then vote nationalist in ther own region wide election for the Scottish Parliament North.

  20. “The SNP at the moment are concentrating on … cut down the cost of government and so on.”

    Who’s government?

  21. Steve,

    “Scotregion’s hard left wing communist voters will elect McLabour by landslide to the Scottish Parliament South (Westminster) to rule “Britain” (England) and then vote nationalist in ther own region wide election for the Scottish Parliament North”.

    There’s nothing like a well balanced neutral post…. and that was nothing like a well balanced neutral post.


  22. Gosh, I thought I’d give YouGov a wide berth as it was becoming as repetitive as the BBC (or so I am told; never watch the stuff). And then some fresh, informed analysis comes along from stuart gregory!

    Question for the honourable gentlemen, and Cllr Peter Cairn. As Scotland is likely to be independent within a generation (as, if the Scots don’t pull, the English will push), how does the Unionist vote in the Lowlands – rebellious despite James VI’s attempt to export them to Ulster – affect nationalist ambitions? Surely it makes questions about the border being Coldstream or on the Tweed look trivial…?

  23. Fluffy Thoughts wrote:
    “how does the Unionist vote in the Lowlands – rebellious despite James VI’s attempt to export them to Ulster – affect nationalist ambitions?”

    At the last election the SNP won 28% of the vote in the South of Scotland region (which is what I’m assuming you mean by “Lowlands”, even though the Lowlands reach as far as the SNP-rich North East region). In a system with two big parties, two medium-sized parties, and a plethora of little ones, 28% is not a bad result.

    Of course, the South of Scotland region is itself not a great match to “rural areas near the border”. The East Lothian constituency contains part of Edinburgh’s urban sprawl. Clydesdale constituency is in South Lanark.

    Galloway and Upper Nithsdale was won by the Conservatives at the 2007 Scottish Parliament election, but the SNP came in second, with a third of the vote.

    It would be interesting to get a regional break-down of the Independentist/Unionist leanings across Scotland. There may even be some surprises.

  24. Anthony,

    This from today’s Scotsman (Tuesday 1st April, though I doubt it’s an April fool).

    “A MAJORITY of people in England believe Scotland should pay for its own services, according to a new opinion survey.

    It also found that English support for Scottish independence has fallen.

    Three-quarters of those questioned agreed with the statement “Now Scotland has its own parliament, it should pay for its services out of taxes collected in Scotland.”

    But only 19 per cent said Scotland should become independent, down from 24 per cent in 1999.

    Just 16 per cent of English people said England would be better off if the union with Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland was ended.

    The survey by Nat-Cen involved face-to-face interviews with 859 adults across England last year.

    Professor John Curtice was due to present the findings to the House of Commons justice committee today.

    The survey comes as a row continued to rage over a letter from Treasury minister Yvette Cooper’s to the Scottish Government, which criticised its flagship plans on introducing local income tax.

    In the letter to Finance Secretary John Swinney, she claimed the SNP’s proposals for replacing the council tax left a shortfall of around £750m.

    I have no idea of who Nat-Cen are, although If they weren’t reputable I doubt Prof. Curtice would be involved.


  25. Peter,

    Either my memory is mistaken, but was not one of the reasons for Scottish Devolution the ability of the Scots to raise taxes independently of England. Whilst this tax was meant to be supplementary to existing funding, changing the method of local finance could serve a model to us Southerners (a’ la the Poll Tax)!

    What is for certain is that the days of the Barnett formula are numbered, and Scotland needs to prepare for this. I can only assume that the Westminster government fears further embarrassment as the inequity between the two kingdoms become more pronounced.

  26. The days of the Barnett formula are numbered but no one seems prepared to stick their neck out and propose and alternative, with the obvious exception of the SNP with independence.

    The current tax raising powers and the two question referendum were both ideas introduced by the Blair government as opposed to proposals integral to devolution.

    As with almost everything else they reflect the internal Labour battle between those in the party who supported the principle of devolution and those ( mainly Scottish labour MP’s) who hated it.

    So we ended up with a two part referendum with a lot of those who proposed it hoping that the tax part would be vetoed by the electorate and in a form that allowed a very narrow and restricted ability to vary taxation.

    We have the ability to set our own system of local taxation but the argument there is currently about retaining our share of the level of support that is currently given to Local taxation to support the new tax, LIT.

    The SNP and most Scots think we should get it while London thinks we shouldn’t. Both sides are putting forward their arguments but to be honest it’s sheer politics because no one up here is in any doubt that if Labour had won in May and proposed a new system the treasure would have transfered the money.

    It’s basically because the SNP won that the money is being withheld.


  27. Thanks Peter,

    You raise a good point with “LIT”. Your “finance minister” Mr Sweeney [-Todd?] wants another £400 million in council tax-benefits. Yet the SNP are to impose an income-tax to replace council-tax.

    How can the SNP present this to the hard-pressed English tax-payers? Also, will this “council-tax benefit” be subject to the new income-tax…?


  28. STEVEN F – Be patient , 11 Tory seats in Scotland is a definate – it will happen !

  29. Fluffy Thoughts (EDP):

    The Council Tax Benefit isn’t calculated based on need, it’s estimated and then handed out, regardless of need. It’s part of Scotland’s alloted share. (Whether it should be part of Scotland’s share; whether it should be calculated each year or not is a matter for another day. This is how things stand now.)

    Luckily for the SNP, they don’t need to present it no the English tax-payer (hard-pressed or otherwise), as the SNP doesn’t answer to the English tax-payer, and it doesn’t have to.

  30. ZX,

    Thanks for your answer. As to your last paragraph, can you answer the following:

    When is the LIT due to come into operation, and

    Who is most likely to be running Westminster when LIT is implemented?

    Nothing wrong being a proud Scotman, but don’t assume the passivity of the English tax-payer will last indefinitely. Karma…! ;)

  31. The LIT is hopefully due in about 2010, just in time for the most likely Westminster election.

    Council tax benefit is means tested and paid from general taxation by the DWP although individual Councils administer it. Currently across the Uk just over 5 million people receive it. I don’t have a figure for the UK cost (I’d be grateful if anyone had one as I’d like to know our percentage share compared to our share of Uk taxation).

    The SNP view is that irrespective of what form of local taxation Scotland chooses Scottish taxpayers are entitled to the same level of central government support as anyone else in the UK.

    If London is prepared to support council tax in England, Scotland and Wales plus rates in Northern Ireland then it should continue that financial support for LIT in Scotland.

    The current DWP position is that CTB is a benefit given to individuals not Scotland or Councils and therefore doesn’t count as Scottish money, therefore no Council tax no council tax benefit.

    Now you can argue for either, but given that £1.5 bn of CTB isn’t claimed every year and that it is widely seen as an bureaucratic and inefficient benefit to prop up a highly unpopular tax the UK government isn’t exactly being smart here.

    As CTB is paid from general taxation then by the governments figures about 8% of all UK CTB is Scottish tax payers money, I suspect that that is actually about £350m not £400m as Scotland has a higher proportion of people on CTB than the UK average.

    That makes their current position pretty close to going in to the next Westminster election campaigning in Scotland on a platform of;

    “if the government you elected brings in a policy you want but we don’t like then we will take £350m of your money and give you nothing in return”.

    That’s pretty close to electoral suicide.

    regardless of the UK governments position or what merit it has, from a Scottish electoral point of view.

    a) The Council tax is deeply unpopular.
    b) A majority support Local income tax.
    c) The Council tax freeze is popular.
    d) They think the £400m is their money.
    e) The majority feel the UK government is being deliberately difficult.

    In opposing LIT the Labour party in both the UK and Scotland seems to have lost sight of the fact that they are moving themselves in to a policy position prior to the next election which is in voting terms a recipe for disaster.

    It’s one of the reasons why a lot of SNP people are delighted that the labour government has decided to make implementing LIT so difficult.

    Even if they do manage to stop it they will be denying the Scottish electorate something they want and have voted for which is hardly the way to get back in to power.


  32. Just to respond to Peter’s five points.

    1)Yes. But only because it keeps going up so much year-on-year. I don’t think the principle is particularly unpopular.
    2)Perhaps. But this isn’t a “local” income tax. It’s a flat rate 3% levied no matter what level of service is delivered. Finally breaks the link between council spending and residents paying.
    3)Certainly. Why not just continue with it then?
    4)Doubt that it has registered. Before promising LIT maybe the SNP should have confirmed the £400m would be made available.
    5)Maybe. I guess that is why the SNP are seeking to make hay.

    At the end of the day, from what I read “LIT” isn’t going to happen because the LibDems won’t support it because it isn’t local. Labour and the Tories are opposed for the very good reason that it will hammer working families – which given Scotland’s demographics seems an eminently sensible position to take. I suspect the SNP will be more than happy if the proposal is sunk by the three unionist parties – as if they were to actually carry the policy through it would very rapidly become extremely unpopular with those sections of the community that would be hurt by it.

  33. NorthBriton,

    To reply on 1 to 5.

    1) The rise is one reason for the unpopularity, but the fact that it bares no or only an assumed relationship to the ability to pay is also a big pat of it. Under Council tax the most someone with a castle will ever be asked to pay is three times what someone in the worst bed sit will.

    Anyway the reason people don’t like it isn’t the issue, it’s whether it is smart for Labour to defend it. If your hung for an offence you didn’t commit your still hung…..

    2) No tax is perfect, it’s a balance between fairness and efficiency. The decision to fund Local government how we like is devolved to the Scottish parliament, the rules drawn up in the Scotland act don’t say we need to let councils set it.

    Having 32 separate taxes would be inefficient just as having 32 different sets of Council tax collections. It would be particularly burdensome for large Councils like Glasgow or the likes of tesco who employ people from numerous authorities.

    Given the current rate of Council tax the variation around 3% would be between 2.8% and 3.2% and to be honest that’s not worth then hassle.

    Unless you address it by increasing the amount councils raise significantly, which is beyond the powers of the parliament as it would require major realignment of several taxes,the current variations are little more in real terms that tokenism to give the impression of independence.

    3) Only because the underlying system even when frozen or not is unfair and inefficient. You should try where you can to address unfairness and inefficiency even when no one is complaining.

    4) The £400m argument may not be at the forefront of the debate but it is bubbling alone under the surface and becoming more of an issue. Look at the poll figures on Barnet. English think it’s unfair and subsidises Scotland, Scots don’t, it’s the same here.

    5) No disagreement their.

    As to hurting working families their is no evidence for that quite the opposite. If a working Family has two adults both working and say a band c house they are paying about £1,000 a year or just less.

    Full time adult male earnings are £25,000 meaning a 3% tax on £20,000 of £600. To pay £1,000 the partner would need to be a women on £18,500. That’s below the average full time for a women of about £20,000, but only half of working women work full time and a significant proportion don’t work.

    However the number of Scots 2m households with two people on a combined income of £45,000 is less than half, as the largest group of households is now single adults and few pensioner couples have anything like this level of income. Scottish Median household income is under £30,000.

    Labour has focused on so called average incomes of around £50,000 as people in this category will lose out, but they are by no means average, unless you discount people on below average income, pensioners the disabled, students the unemployed, housewives or those working part time, which just happens to add up to about two thirds of the electorate.

    I am sure the third who will lose out will be inclined to vote against the SNP, but as they will probably be a two way split and less 10% of current 36% SNP vote, that’s fine with me..

    Labour can spend as much time as they like trying to get their share of 10% of the SNP’s vote while we target at least 25% of the Labour parties 35% and we will see who wins.

    You are right that those hurt by LIT will not like it, but as with the Council tax and the poll tax before it, those who will benefit happen to out number those who lose.

    Aa campaign based on mobilising the minority on above average income who will lose against the majority on below average income who will win, doesn’rt seem that smart to me, particularly for the Labour party who’s core support are mostly in the lower part.

    I just can’t see posters with a smiling Wendy saying; ” Stick with Labour for higher bills”. being a big vote winner.


  34. This Saturday (5th April ) there is a new YouGov poll in the Times and Scottish Sun. The results are;

    Note: The YouGov poll was conducted from 2-4 April, sample 1,070

    Scottish Parliament constituency vote (change since 2007)
    SNP: 40% (+7), Lab: 32% (-), Con: 12% (-5), Lib: 13% (-3), Other: 4%

    Scottish Parliament list vote (change since 2007)
    SNP: 33% (+2), Lab: 30% (+1), Con: 13% (-1), Lib: 12% (+1),Other: 13%

    Holyrood seats projection:
    SNP: 49 (+2), Lab: 44 (-2), Con: 15 (-2), Lib: 15 (-1), Other: 6 (+3)

    Westminster General Election (change since 2005)
    SNP: 31% (+13), Lab: 35% (-5), Con: 17% (+1),Lib: 12% (-11) Other: 4%

    Support for a referendum on Scottish independence:
    Immediate referendum: 11%, Within the next year: 28%, In 2010: 26%,
    Should not be referendum: 21%, None of these: 4%, Don’t know: 11%


    Support or oppose country becoming a country independent of the
    rest of the UK;

    Support: 34%, Oppose: 50%, DK: 15%.

    There are no Westminster seat predictions although even at +1 from 2005 I think we can discount 11 Scottish Tory MP’s….



  35. Peter,

    I feel you exaggerating the Stats in a manner fitting nEU-Labour. Yes, 65% may support holding a referendum, but only 34% currently favour independence. [You state the latter with less prominence than the former.]

    For example we could extrapolate that the DK’s for independence hold no referendum preferences, though we could be wrong. We could suggest that half of those calling for a referendum would oppose independence, but it is unlikely as pro-independence supporters should be more eager.
    Even so, if is fair to say (approx) over 40% of those calling for a “lifetime” referendum will oppose it.

    Goosh, is it not awful how complex this process really is…!

    [PS. Why don’t the Times/Scottish Sun (or their English parent) pay YouGov to repeat the performance in England? [No wishy-washy BBC/Guardian questions that way!] ;)

  36. Fluffy,

    I didn’t exaggerate anything. What i copied was the poll as published as i got it in e-mail form, I just cut and pasted it.

    It’s quite clear at the moment that a relatively small but growing part of the two thirds supporting a referendum are unionists who feel the tide is moving the SNP’s way and that a vote now while support for Independence is below 40% is better than at a time of Alex Salmond’s choosing when support is higher.

    As to the date it will be called if at all, well we need to get it through the parliament and the most we can get with the three Unionist parties against is fifty when a majority is 65.

    If the referendum now movement grows and gets it’s act together then there is really nothing to stop labour, the Tories and the Libdems who have seventy nine seats putting their bill to the Parliament.


  37. The predictions for the Westminster seats that I have seen, based on the figures from the latest YouGuv poll, had the SNP gaining Argyll & Bute; Dundee West; Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch & Strathspey; and Ochil & South Perthshire. It also had the Tories gaining Berwickshire, Roxburgh & Selkirk. That would give Labour 38 seats, the SNP 10 seats, the LDs 8 seats, the Tories 2, and the Speaker.

  38. RDL,

    Who produced those projections?


  39. Electoral Calculus, I think.

  40. Anthony,

    Two things, firstly another SNP press release on a New independence poll.

    “The Scottish Opinion/Daily Mail poll asked if people approve or
    disapprove of Scotland becoming an independent country. The changes
    since the last identical poll in the Daily Mail (published on 10 August 2007) are in brackets.

    Yes: 41% (+10)
    No: 43% (-6)
    Don’t know: 16% (-4)

    Prior to the Mail poll, System 3/TNS in the Sunday Herald was the last
    poll asking the straightforward question about independence in a
    referendum. The change between September and December showed the gap narrowing from 15% to 4%.”

    Secondly an interesting on line survey from Scotland on Sunday here.

    As it’s an on line poll it is easily biased but it does seem a bit more sophisticated than most, particularly the three choice question on constitutional options.


  41. A second Independence poll this week, This time for the Sunday Herald, showing virtually the same figures;

    “TNS System Three has since conducted a tracker poll based on the SNP administration’s favoured referendum question, namely whether “The Scottish government should negotiate a settlement with the government of the United Kingdom so that Scotland becomes an independent state”.

    The latest findings, which were gathered between March 26 and April 4, show that 41% of the 977 respondents agreed that the Scottish government should negotiate an independence settlement.

    This contrasts with 40% of people who did not agree with the SNP’s number one priority, while 19% said they did not know how they would vote in a referendum.

    TNS’s first poll on the SNP government’s question, in August, revealed that 50% of Scots were opposed to independence, compared to 35% of respondents who were in favour.

    The polling firm’s next snapshot of opinion, in November, revealed the gap had narrowed to four points, with opposition at 44% and support at 40%.

    Support for a negotiated independence settlement has risen by 6% since August, while opposition to separation has dropped by 10% over the same period. The number of “don’t knows” has increased by 4% in eight months.

    The results are broadly in line with polling data published last week by Scottish Opinion, which found that 41% of respondents approved of independence, with 43% disapproving.”

    Now I have my doubts if you can really call it a trend based on only three polls three months apart from each other, but with two polls so close, I think saying that right now independence and the Status Quo are neck and neck is probably close to the truth.

    However, as most people here know that may be the result if there was a vote tomorrow, but there isn’t going to be a vote tomorrow, so we can all relax.

    In addition it always needs to be borne in mind that the polling figures for Scottish independence are notoriously fickle if not volatile. Thus I am not heralding this as a breakthrough but if it slips back to the 20’s next year I won’t be pulling my hair out either.

    Thirdly any referendum will probably have to be at least three way, including “Devolution+”.

    That’s where these figures become important because it really makes it all but inevitable that The Wendy Commission (WC) will need to offer at least some, if not substantial, new powers for Holyrood if it is to see off Independence.

    I think it will if not kill them off, hugely curtail, the WC’s idea of Westminster taking some powers back.

    The one that has been muted is strategic planning, which have been portrayed to mean Trident and New Nuclear Power stations.

    I have to say this is another jaw dropper from Labour.

    Labour MP’s who want to stop Alex Salmond interfering in these issues seem to have missed the point that beyond the workforces and local communities at the military and civil nuclear sites the majority of Scots ( about 60-70%) don’t want Trident Mk2 or new nuclear power stations.

    Given that we are looking at an election probably in 2010 and with the Tories ahead and if anything widening there lead it is quite possible that we have the makings of a perfect storm.

    A Tory Government?, A wounded Labour Party?, A referendum vote or a Scottish election called because it can’t get through?, Salmond being replaced by a Labour Minority government supported by the Tories in the run up to the Westminster election to stop a referendum?, Labour having to fight on two fronts North and South and short of cash?, Brown (still one of the most popular politicians in Scotland) being removed in a night of the long Knives?, Darling and the Alexander Brothers/Sisters (take your pick) going with them?

    Any one of the above could make an Independence referendum a very close run thing, more than one and well things could be tight indeed……


  42. Anthony,

    I’ll try again without the URL as I think it hit the Spam filter.

    New Scottish YouGov poll in Today’s (Wed. 30th April) Telegraph.

    I’d be interested on your views on two things in particular. Firstly that old bugbear of yours how accurately the text of the article relates to the details of the poll, personally i think there’s more spin than a twin tub but I may be biased.

    Secondly there is the use of the phrase “best of both worlds” in one of the questions. Hardly value neutral I’d say. Was that the Telegraphs wording and did anyone in youGov raise an eyebrow at it.

    If this sounds a bit like sore grapes it’s not. I am fairly laid back about papers spinning polls and I don’t really have an issue with the finding of this one. What I don’t like to see the deliberate skewing of questions to try to produce a particular result.

    Apart from anything else questions like ” Do you support independence for Scotland and the life of poverty and crime it would bring” don’t really give any meaningful results. ( Nor would ” Do you support Scottish independence for Scotland and the life Joy and happiness it would deliver for all”)……..



  43. Anthony,

    My mistake, I’ve just checked the actual YouGov entry and the phrase “best of both worlds” doesn’t actually appear. It was in inverted commas in the Telegraph so I had taken it as a direct quote from the Poll, and I think it may have appeared on page 13 of the telegraph as if it was.

    I’ve got a couple of other problems with the poll, like as they ask the same question about Salmond and Brown I’d have liked Swinney V Darling, Gouldie v Cameron and Stephen v Clegg, as it would have been more balanced asking about the performance of Scottish Politicians to all their UK equivalents.

    I’d also take issue with the use of executive over government although I think the most appropriate would be “Executive/Government” which acknowledges the difference.

    I think the questions concerning both the 3% “tartan tax” and fiscal autonomy can also both have been better phrased as they could be seen to be advocating tax rises.

    One that I think is worthy of commenting on is the lack of or indeed potentially negative Cameron effect. I think it’s the first time I’ve seen that question asked.

    I can understand you not updating the site on this poll with London and the Council elections at the moment but hopefully you can get round to it next week although if it goes badly for Brown tomorrow their may be at least one commissioned snap YouGov poll on the future for Brown, If it’s not primed ready to go at the moment.



  44. Anthony,

    Sorry to pester you again ( this is starting to look like my own personal Blog) but I just got an SNP press release that details a poll showing near 60% support for Local Income Tax (LIC).

    Any idea who it was by?.

    Given that you did chin me once about dragging a post off topic to debate Independence, I’ve sort of just decided to post anything specifically Scottish here if that’s all right.


  45. You can for now, but if I ever do a nice graph I’l have to close the comments (moderating comments on a page for some reason buggers up the settings that allow a graph to work on the page)

  46. Peter:

    Are you sure about Trident as well as Nuclear Power? My understanding was that the existence of a minority SNP government had alerted the power companies to the possibility that an nuclear-unfriendly government of an independent Scotland might emerge sometime within the lifetime of a nuclear waste dump, and the industry had lost interest in locating a new facility in Scotland anyway.

    Trident would be a different matter. Conceding a veto to Alex Salmond would appear as a defeat. An independent r-UK could of course have as many nuclear weapons as it is willing to pay for with a reduced population base.

    Labour’s best option would be to adopt the LibDem deferral and hope something turns up. If the WC/UK Labour raise the Trident issue they do CND’s work for them because it brings the issue to the fore.

    If I remember correctly, I’ve seen higher figures than your 60%-70% opposition to Trident and I’m also even more certain that I havn’t seen any recent Scottish ones.

    Maybe that was just for Scottish/Labour MP/MSP’s?

    I’m off to mix my metaphors “bombshells” “sleeping dogs” “shooting oneself in the foot” etc.

    There is a body of opinion on this site which thinks that elections are never won, only lost. John Curtice credits Mrs Thatcher with presuading the Scots of the merits of Devolution.

    There are a lot of ways in which you could lose an independence referendum. Trident could provide several of the most effective.

  47. David


    …. and underwhelmed.

    It has too recently dawned on me that the noise made by party supporters, both Unionist and Nationalist, has obscured the fact that there are many who are unimpressed by both positions. A SNP newspaper quotes a Professor James Mitchell “The best that can be said about the figures we have at the moment is that there is a lot of guesswork involved, a lot of political spin and no agreement on them.”

    Those mythical “ordinary people” seem to have got that point too.

    It’s soft in the middle.

  48. Detail of a New Poll in Scotland;

    The TNS/System Three poll details are:

    * Scottish Parliament constituency vote (change since 2007 in brackets)

    SNP: 45% (+12)
    Lab: 31% (-1)
    Con: 12% (-5)
    Lib: 11% (-5)

    * Scottish Parliament regional vote (change since 2007 in brackets)

    SNP: 41% (+10)
    Lab: 29% (-)
    Con: 12% (-2)
    Lib: 12% (+1)
    Grn: 4%
    Oth: 2%

    * Holyrood seats projection:

    SNP: 62 (+15)
    Lab: 39 (-7)
    Con: 13 (-4)
    Lib: 13 (-3)
    Grn: 2 (-)

    * Westminster General Election (change since 2005 in brackets)

    SNP: 31% (+13)
    Lab: 39% (-1)
    Con: 17% (+1)
    Lib: 10% (-13)

    TNS/System Three polled 1,086 adults between the 26th and 29th of April

    I think this is confirmation of the media effect of seeing Labour in real trouble down south. I think there may well be a poll in at least one of the Sunday’s too.


  49. Peter:

    If something seems too good to be true, it usually is, but this is a huge change in a short period. Even if it is only partly true, it is an important indication of change.

    The new minority government is doing very well and certainly more popular than it was a year ago and I don’t doubt that these projections are pointing in the right direction. It isn’t unlikely that the projection could be matched or exceeded by the next SP election and that there could be a majority in favour of independence in the SP (though not necessarily in the electorate).

    I have always been inclined to the view that devolution would facilitate and encourage a move to independance.

    Prior to the referendum, that was a Conservative argument against devolution. If they believed that then, why is it that we don’t see the Conservative party preparing for independence?

    The first time I heard the argument that a Home Rule parliament would lead to independence, it came not from a Conservative, but from a Nationalist who opposed it on the grounds that the good is the enemy of the best.

    That was half a century ago, and I remember it clearly because of what the person who was arguing for a Home Rule parliament DIDN’T say, the way he hesitated before he DIDN’T say it, and especially the feeling I had at the time that there was some non-verbal communication between the two that I had missed.

    That person who didn’t refute the idea that devolution would inevitably lead to independence was a 17 year old school friend then known as “The Gannet” but now is known as “The Father of the Nation”

    Could somebody please explain to me how devolution was supposed to “see off the nationalists”; and why it isn’t working yet?

    We have been on a slippery slope for nine years. This poll, if confirmed, shows that we have reached a tipping point. Can anything stop independence now, short of the entire SNP leadership being investigated for perjory, or fiddling their expenses AND being found in bed with minors.

    Please tell me: Am I right or am I wrong?

    The natural consequence of devolution is to facilitate and encourage the move to independence.

    If you agree, then

    Is it possible that Donald Dewar could work on the project without changing it in any significant way from the time when he was a 17 year old schoolboy, till the point when he took it through the Labour cabinet and still not realise that it would lead to independence?

    I don’t think so. Do you?

  50. John B Dick,

    I think the Unionists are just realising that devolution is a bit like Briggadon, the thing is once you start down that road you can never go back.

    In a way you could argue there is a psychological driver to Independence. By successfully equating it with Freedom ( with or without Mel Gibsons awful accent) the SNP are saying;

    “Do you want more freedom or less”.

    I suspect that every time you ask the public that question you’ll get a majority saying “Yes”, so ever time it’s asked in whatever form you can anticipate a move towards greater autonomy and eventual full or de-facto Independence.

    I suspect Donald Dewar knew or suspected that, but also accepted that once the question was being asked it couldn’t be ignored. In a way that shows he was wiser than Brown who’s response to difficult questions was seems to be to deny they are being asked.

    While you can say that an SNP government wasn’t what Dewar wanted it’s clear that embracing the idea of devolution did blunt the SNP as a force to challenge Labour in Scotland for more than a decade while opposing it has seen the Tories go from the Largest party to less than a fifth of the vote and one seat.

    Maybe what Donald Dewar realised that it’s better to fight a rearguard action and give ground slowly or hold what you’ve got that to attack against the odds and risk being routed.

    Partly I suspect that many in Labour particularly MP’s have always had their eyes fixed firmly on Westminster and were happy to support devolution as a way to meet the SNP challenge without really looking at where it could lead.

    By and large I think politicians aren’t that good at analysing the consequences of failure; They seem to think that their policies will work and when they don’t are at a loss to think what to do.

    If you put these figures in to Scotland Votes at;

    You get the seat predictions given so I think that’s what the SNP have used. The Map that goes with it shows that the LibDems would hold only Orkney, Shetland and NE Fife as constituency seats and the Tories Roxburgh.

    Having said that the figure in both Constituency and Regional for others are in my view clearly too low, so i would expect the SNP to be no higher than the mid fifties, although that’s a lot better than the current forty seven.


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