A new YouGov poll of Scottish opinion for the Telegraph has, for what is apparently (according to the SNP and the Telegraph) the first time, the sNP ahead of Labour in Westminster voting intentions. The topline voting intention figures are CON 20%, LAB 29%, LDEM 14%, SNP 33%.

We are used to seeing voting intention polls for the Scottish Parliament showing the SNP ahead of Labour, but the SNP tend to do better in Holyrood elections than in Westminster ones. These figures – if repeated at an actual general election – would represent a massive switch in support. On a uniform swing it would produce 31 seats for Labour (down 10), 14 seats for the SNP (up 8), 10 for the Lib Dems (down 1) and 4 for the Conservatives.

Asked about voting intention in a referendum on independence, in a question using the referendum wording, 36% said they would vote yes, 48% no. This is a slight narrowing of the gap since the last time I can find YouGov asking the actual referendum question, back in April 2007.

UPDATE: A coveted gold star award for atrocious media reporting of polls – the Guardian reports a “Blow for Labour as poll gives SNP four-point lead in Glasgow East byelection”. No, it doesn’t. It’s the same poll as this one, and the question asked people across the whole of Scotland who they would like to see win Glasgow East, not people actually in Glasgow East who they would vote for. The Guardian’s article is actually correct – it’s just the headline that’s wholly misleading.

54 Responses to “SNP overtake Labour in Westminster support”

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  1. Scotland will not throw away the Union. Whatever Salmond says, few believe it.

    If Wales tries to follow Scotland’s path then that will be the end. England is already carrying the other nations within the UK. The minor-counties/celtic-nations are a bit like the Irish and C.A.P.. Great while you benefit, but when you have to pay your way…!

  2. If that UNS is applied to the Glasgow East constituency, then according to Baxter, at a general election the result would be something like:

    1. Lab 50%
    2. SNP 31%
    3. Con 11%
    4. LD 6%
    oth 3%


    Scottish sub-sample from this week’s Times/Populus Westminster voting intention poll. Usual caveats regarding sub-samples of GB-wide polls apply. (% change from UK GE 2005)

    1. SNP 44% (+26%)
    2. Lab 25% (-14%)
    3. Con 15% (-1%)
    4. LD 9% (-14%)
    5. Grn 2% (+1%)
    BNP 1%
    UKIP 1%
    oth 3%


  3. Re Fluffy’s comments.

    Sorry I totally disagree- nationalism is about emotion, not logic. Consider the attitudes shown in the 6 nations to see how people really feel at grass roots. Consider Ireland when it became independent was bankrupt. Consider the amount of nations that survive on aid. Arguing financial logic (and it is dodgy anyway- I refer to oil revenues to start with). Scotland is anyway partially independent all the time (education , law and health were never part of the Union). It is self evident that there is a strong national identity in Scotland and getting stronger; twenty years ago the SNP was loony land; now it is the party of govt.. You can not put the genie of independent Scotland back in the box, it is out and accepted as a major political issue.

    And Fluffy your line ‘few believe in it’-it’s roughly a third now and going up. I actually think a 1/3rd is pretty impressive; twenty years ago you’d be lucky to have got 1%!

  4. “I actually think a 1/3rd is pretty impressive; twenty years ago you’d be lucky to have got 1%!”

    20 years ago? The poll tax legislation had just been passed, I think you’d have got more than 1% ;)

  5. Things may change in an unpredictable way in Scotland – but I wonder whether the next General Election could come out something like Labour 35%, SNP 29%, Con 19%, LD 14%.
    If so, a number of Tory gains would also be more than minimal.

  6. Labour will probably be quite relieved by this poll as it shows their Scottish support hasn’t melted down in the way those sub-samples were suggesting.

    Found an interesting prediction in Baxter’s Scotland predictor for Edinburgh SW, Alistair Darling’s seat. On these national figures the result there would be 1st Lab 28.89%, 2nd Con 27.92% and 3rd SNP 27.58%! The first 3 candidates would be within 1.31% of each other and the winner would have less than 30% of the votes cast! That’s one to watch out for on election night!

  7. The most disgraceful point about this poll in my opinion is the perverse result which is produced under FPTP.

    Why on earth should Labour be entitled to 31 seats based on 29% of the vote but the SNP “victors” with 33% of the vote receive only 14 seats? I am not disputing that this is approximately what would happen under FPTP. I am simply commenting on an issue which unfortunately passes most of the electorate by-the total unfairness of FPTP.

    I guess there could be a stampede to eliminate FPTP if the SNP approach 40% of the vote for Westminster and therefore achive a majority of the Scottish seats. Certainly the unionists will be begging for a referedum on Scottish independence then :-)

  8. tom,the labour party infiltrated the boundaries commission and got their own way.they created inequities and electoral bias on a massive scale.

    one of the things cameron could do is get the snp on side by addressing this,and at the same time address the craziness of the liberals having so many seats as a minority party.on that basis the tories and snp will both gain if there is some independence brought back to a labour quango,like the boundaries commission.
    if a bank behaved like the boundaries commission they would all be put away.

  9. I agree with Impartial Observer, for the most part. This shows some honeymoon for the SNP which will certainly affect the General Election – but not a sea change.

  10. My instinct is against a big growth in support for the conservatives in Glasgow East, so I’d be surprised if they are interested in making a big challenge for third. Cameron had his photo-opportunity at the opening of the campaign, but how many more times will he attract attention to himself in an area where it highlights his unpopularity and ineffectiveness?

    The SNP is in a similar bind because of its negative platform for independence – SNP popularity is inversely proportional to its success, so it one must ask how much they strategically favour reform and whether they’d not prefer to slash the Labour majority than win in this by-election.

    FPTP not only creates an unfair inbalance in the number of seats each party wins, but it also has the worse consequence that it encourages some to form policy on the basis on the likelihood of unbalanced outcomes. It creates a more vibrant debate but it also blunts the impact of any discussions.

  11. Thomas, sometimes you seem to live is something of a Labour dream world. Of course Cameron will campaign in Glasgow East – as will others – it’s part of the general message about there being no Conservative ‘no-go’ areas. And I see little or no evidence anywhere of DC being either unpopular or ineffective. Did you mean Gordon Brown by any chance? This is the same message that meant the Party contested more seats (proportionately) in May than ever before including every contest in Yorkshire for the first ever time.

    It is of course significant to note that the big winners in FPTP is Scotland are the PR enthusiasts in the Lib Dems (I assume because of their strength in under-populated highlands and islands). Nevertheless this is a good poll for the Conservatives – 20% is better than the party has seen for many a year.

  12. “The Guardian’s article is actually correct – it’s just the headline that’s wholly misleading.”

    Even the Guardian gets carried away to make sensational headlines to attract the readers interest. What is important for the Glasgow East election is whether or not the Labour Party can get its vote out in sufficinet numbers: if it can it will still win although with a reduced majority of several thousands. If it cannot then it really is in serious decline in Scotland.

  13. Yes Labour’s vote is holding up, for the moment. If the main reason why the SNP became the largest party last year was because voters were fed up of Labour then the mood has become a lot more pro-SNP and if the Salmond government continues to perform well then the gap will widen. However, as the SNP seem to be finding out in Shettleston, Labour has a lot of hard core support and it will take a while to bring those people round.

    Just to add to the PR debate, one of the recent sub-samples had the LD’s on 7% and the Tories on 19%, yet the predicted seats for both parties was 3 each! I’m no great fan of PR but it would be a serious indictment of the current system if the Tories were to poll nearly 3 times as many votes as the LD’s and yet have the same number of seats. Then again, FPTP did give the Tories huge Westminster majorities in the 1980’s with about 43% of the vote!

  14. Simon Cooke, you seem desperate to apply a tag, if so can I commend ‘contrarian’. My comment was to offer caution against increasing the overzealous and misguided fervour which threatens to sweep away all sense and balance, to which any amount of poll watching or interpreting over the years should have awakened us.

    PB points to a tightening of the spread in favour of a conservative majority, while there is a timely reminder in the Telegraph today that a complete Labour wipeout is unlikely.

    Unfortunately your basic assumptions about by-election campaigning is not borne out by the ample precedents for tactical collusion to unify opposition around the most likely challenger: you might like to remember that Labour didn’t completely wimp out in Henley, although their vote did reflect the fact their disorganisation meant they leafleted the Remenham ward in Maidenhead constituency – similarly Cameron will happily attract press to show he is ‘on the march’, but how many doors they will knock on is a different matter. Would CCHQ prefer to gain 20% in Glasgow East if it prevented a Labour loss?

    Simon, I’m afraid you imply that voters are stupid, which would be an arrogant misconception attributable to your own prejudice. Any ‘general message’ you talk about is ultimate spin – we can argue whether it is self-deception or public manipulation through media messaging, but there is no question whether the reduction of ‘no-go’ zones similarly equates to turning these all into swing seats.

    As for your unquestioning reliance on the supposed lack of evidence for Cameroonian unpopularity and ineffectiveness, may I ask for starters your interpretation of how the H&H by-election reflects upon shadow cabinet direction and/or unity?

    Choosing to avoid evidence doesn’t wish it from existence!

  15. Didn’t the Owenite SDP poll 56 votes in Glasgow Central in a by-election in 1989, even after a flying visit from Owen, Rosie Barnes and John Cartwright?

  16. FLUFFY THOUGHTS – comment at the very top of page / spot on and accurate – could’nt have said it better myself !

    The SNP are a flash in the pan – they’ll do well for a while – till the Scots realise that all i have with them is the Labour Party under a new name – mmm

  17. Thomas, I made no claims about the nature of by-election campaigning and the likelihood of a ‘tactical squeeze’ on the Lib Dem and Tory vote in Glasgow East (I would have thought this went without saying). I merely suggested that the Conservatives will campaign in the by-election. Nor so I suggest anything other than that the Conservative Party’s strategy requires active campaigns. I don’t see how this relates to any suggestion as to the electorate’s stupidity – this seems to be an inference derived from an especially partial reading of my post.

    Finally, had you argued that not all in the Conservative Party are joyous with DC’s policies and priorities I would be forced to agree. However, you didn’t do this, you suggested on the basis of no evidence that Cameron is “unpopular and ineffective”. The polls seem to prove the lie of the first part of your statement and the performance of the Conservative Party since Cameron’s election as leader does the same for the latter. You may not be a cheerleader for Cameron – for all I know you profoundly dislike him – but you cannot suggest he has been anything other than a pretty good leader of the Party.

  18. the conservatives in scotland will normaly pick up more votes the closer you get to an election take 2005 the cons vote went up by 0.2% on the last election not very good but through the last days on the road befor the election a poll was published showing the conservatives on 17% this would have ment that the con would have gained 4 seats instead of just one in the end the polls over estimated the con vote and under estimated the labour vote net result labour only lose 5 seats and not the 10 predicted at the time lesson do not read to much into polls as they can sometimes by out by a long way. if repeated at an election the conservatives would gain

  19. continured from last e-mail


    snp gains


    lib dem gains


  20. Juggle the figures as much as you like, bottom line is everything is going the SNP’s way, including Oil $147 and RISING, the only stat worth bothering about.

  21. Good posts as always – I can see the SNP gaining this seat – if only because of the natural vote against incumbant parties. As a Mebyon Kernow District councillor in Cornwall, I for one will be cheering from the rafters and downing a few pints of Tribute if our sister party does well – a union only works if it is equal and wanted by both sides – this is clearly not the case in Scotland. Wales with Plaid on the rise is also moving that way and now the SW celts of Cornwall have similar sentiments that are growing. We can do better in governing more of our own life rather than be ruled by people in Westminster who have little knowledge and even less concern about our futures.

    The LibDems have forced a unitary council, which has little support amongst the rank and file here, on us and this is being held next year. We are mobilising our forces, gaining defections from Lib Dems and others, and are gearing ourselves up to fight as many seats as possible.

    So good luck to the SNP in Glasgow East.

  22. Lets say Oil reaches $200 per barrel, then who on earth can tell Scotland cannot be a Sovereign Nation State.
    If that happens by 2010 then they would win the rferendum.
    Hence if the Oil price is above $200 then the Scottish Nation will realise that they can have complete fiscal and political autonomy.
    I think that this Glasgow bt election is about that considered vision and who is the best party to take the Nation forward.

  23. Simon, I think we are aguing at crossed purposes between ‘whether’ and ‘how much’.

    I agree that the Conservatives will campaign in Glasgow East, what I disagree with is the amount to which the party leadership will want to be associated with the result while wanting to use the constituency as proof of their relevance.

    We shall have to judge our conclusions by how many times David Cameron decides to visit during the course of the campaign. Although I’m not betting that he’ll visit again, I’ll guess you won’t convict him until the evidence is in, while ‘The Oracle’ will assume his innocence from the start on the basis that he is there in spirit.

    In fact I don’t think you and I are so far apart on our analysis, except as a matter of emphasis.

    Not being a member of the Conservative party it is hard to say exactly what effect he has had internally, but on the evidence provided in commentary (such as by Matthew Parris) the touchy-feely stylings of his leadership is proving counterproductive (the problem is not the message or the messenger, but that is the wrong message for this messenger) and at the expense of building a perception of substance (there are policy reviews, but where are the policies?).

    Experience suggests that triangulation can have both a unifying and polarising effect depending on how it is managed, so it is a fine line to tread to seek definition against the core support of your membership constituency, which may both exlain and justify recent poll volatility and Cameroon strategy.

    Whether Cameron has been a good leader or not can only therefore be summised by his influence on the polls, but this is a zero-sum game where the relative successes and failures on all sides must be taken into account, and no definitive answer can be disentangled.

    So at this point in time it is simply too soon to be able to answer the question, whether or not any evidence is said to exist or not. Consequently it is all too easy to make competing claims – but that is the nature of politics.

    My feeling remains that the false estimation of mid-term polling is at work on both sides, so this is a crucial time for Cameron to maintain any perception of momentum, and the Glasgow East by-election must make for an unfortunately tricky combination of circumstances for him at this particular moment in time.

    In other words the fight for third place is just as exciting as the fight to decide the winner in this constituency.

    I look forward to reprising this debate after the event.

  24. ICM say Lab 47/ SNP 33/ LD 9 / Con 7

    for Glasgow East

  25. When canvassing in Glasgow East the SNP asks four questions.

    1) Which party do you consider yourself a supporter of ?
    2) Which party did you vote for at the last election ?
    3) Who will you be voting for this time ?
    4) How would you vote in an Independence referendum ?


    Well firstly we didn’t get enough people to answer the door, secondly to many, but a minority, said they weren’t interested and wouldn’t vote. that leaves us with the rest making up about a third of registered voters.

    The majority gave Labour for Q1, less but still most Labour for Q2 and it was close to fifty fifty for Q3. The answer for Q4 was around 3 to 2 for “Yes”.

    It rarely if ever comes across in polls but my and many others in the SNP’s canvassers experience on the doorsteps is clear and has been for years, a large percentage of Scots, particularly labour voters, will say yes when that question is before them.

    In a way we are confident that come 2010 the referendum will be like Glasgow East; We will start a fair way behind but will close the gap in the campaign and that the final result will be close.

    I am not saying we will win, but it will be close and closer than the current polls suggest.

    It’s would be hard for any party right now to win any EU referendum short of pulling out because deep down the UK population see us in a way as separate from Europe.

    Deep down most Scots see Scotland as a different country and given a once in a lifetime chance to say so a large proportion will.

    That’s why for all the opponents of a referendum rubbish it as a sure fire “No” and therefore not worth wasting time on, they are actually very worried that in fact the SNP can win it.


  26. “Deep down most Scots see Scotland as a different country and given a once in a lifetime chance to say so a large proportion will”

    As I have said to you in the past Peter my opposition to a referendum is based on the fear that it will turn out to be a ‘neverendum’ BUT if you and your party will agree not to ask for another referendum within a lifetime- however we can define that yardstick-then I would be more than happy to see a referendum held at the same time as the Euro elections next year.
    Unlike you I believe most Scots -60%- deep down see Scotland as one of four countries making up the United Kingdom and given a chance to say so will vote accordingly.

  27. A bit off topic, but since Peter mentions referendum and EU in one post, I believe the SNP is missing a trick here.

    For I believe a referendum on the EU constitution treaty could be won in Scotland: Firstly the anti-cEU-constitution Tories are rather marginal. Secondly, the SNP should be able to get its core support to vote yes by arguing that there is a link between the EU constitution and Scottish independence (“Independence in Europe”).

    And if result is England votes no on the EU constitution while Scotland votes yes, what would that mean for an independence campaign?

  28. Nick,

    “This above all unto thine own self be true”

    If you believe something is right you stand up and say so and if it goes to a vote and you lose then you can accept the result, but that doesn’t mean you are wrong or should give up.

    In 1940 the conventional wisdom was that Britain was on the ropes and German ruled continental Europe, even that the smart thing was for us to agree to peace with Nazi Germany.

    We didn’t and were right not to do so, because what they represented wasn’t what we believed in.

    The SNP want Independence and will push for it till we get it, so the offer to set a time limit and park our aspirations because you don’t share them for a set time isn’t one that appeals to us.

    Who is to say that if we agreed to a twenty year limit there wouldn’t be a majority for Independence in five.

    Fifteen years ago Labour were unelectable, less than ten the Tories were a joke, a year ago Brown was ahead now he’s dead in the water. Nasty though it was and vile as they were what the IRA said after the Brighton bomb was true;

    ” You were lucky this time, you need to be lucky every time, we only need to be lucky once”.

    The very fact that a limit on our attempts to gain independence appeals to or opponents is a good reason for us to reject it.


  29. Peter, you speak with the true voice of an activist. Unfortunately you don’t take into account any strategy behind the policy proposals (or if you do you don’t betray any knowledge of the knife cutting both ways).

    Independence for Scotland sounds on the face of it like a perfect policy, with clear definition on all fronts – a silver bullet. The problem is faced when questions begin to be asked about how it links into the wider framework of principles which the SNP supposedly stands for.

    I’m not convinced that it has been fully articulated to the scottish electorate how the unravelling of the British union would be supplanted by greater integration with Europe on the SNP watch, because support for the policy depends upon conflating the two issues and setting the party in opposition to these two political structures which are demonised as the root of all evil in the public eye.

    This is disingenuous – you can’t have your cake and eat it.

    Extraction from the British Union and extraction from the European Union do not amount to the same thing and I find it hard to believe either has a majority of support in Scotland alone, or that any workable solution could be found for both in conjunction together.

    The basic flaw is that they are policies of opposition for a party to rally to whilst in opposition. Neither is a positive wish and therefore either would be the cause of serious instability were they likely to come close to fruition.

    Both failure to provide a referendum and failure to win a referendum on behalf of the SNP would be incontravertible rejection of this core belief of the SNP and the ability to bring it to fruition, which is something no serious leader will run the risk of letting occur.

    In almost every comparable situation regional ‘nationalist’ parties have accepted their predicament and scaled back their demands for the realistic achievement of greater autonomy coupled with increased interdependence, more spending on local economic development and power over cultural identity. These movements are inevitably weakened by the choice between taking the radical hardcore option or settling for practicalities.

    It is only a matter of time before the SNP faces reality and UK devolved democracy reaches maturity.

    Is this why Salmond and Sturgeon have yet to get round to opening this debate properly? Or are they simply biding their time while they stockpile arms in order to mount another doomed scottish guerrilla campaign against our mutual interest?

    Seriously though, would an SNP-sponsored referendum be offered on both UK and EU questions? Would they be held simultaneously or seperately, and, if seperate, which first?

    How does the SNP distinguish canvass figures on both? From the looks of your example you don’t, preferring to go for the emotive appeal unrelated to any real or potential question.

  30. Thomas,

    The majority of Scots support EU membership and see no problem with an Independent Scotland being in the EU. That would put us in the same class as Austria, Finland or Denmark and most Scots would see that as an enhanced role in Europe.

    At the moment we live in the EU but don’t really have a direct role in shaping it, that is done by the UK government.

    Even in the unlikely case that we weren’t in the EU we would then almost certainly have the same position as Norway, Iceland or Switzerland which although not ideal would still give us more control and influence over our dealings with the EU than Scotland currently has.

    So in effect there is no contradiction between Independence and Independence in Europe they sit quite well together.

    Those who do see a contradiction tend to be people who are cynical about the EU and broadly pro the UK, but in general Scots are the other way down more sceptical about the union that people in England and more pro the EU than those south of the border.


  31. According to my newspaper Alex Salmond is on record as saying that a referendum on independence was a once in a generation opportunity. Are you in disagreement with your party leader on this vital point Peter?
    I now believe that your candidate in Glasgow East is proving to be no match for Margaret Curran and that as a result Labour will squeak home.Perhaps you should have stood….

  32. Nick, it is a once in a generation opportunity in that the conditions are just right, almost a perfect storm, but that doesn’t mean we won’t get another.

    It’s like flood protection, it’s built fro a 100 in 100 year event but that doesn’t mean you can’t have two such events in the same decade.

    Tonight on TV we will get the first of what could be two debates before next Thursday so we’ll see who comes out best as it will have a huge effect on who people will listen this weekend and in the last few days of campaigning.



  33. Sorry that should be a 1 in 100 year event, global warming isn’t that bad yet….


  34. There is of course no such thing as ‘independence in Europe’. The WHOLE POINT of the EU is to take-away more and more powers from the nation states which belong to it and centralise them in Brussels as the former ‘good student’ of the EU the Republic of Ireland is now finding-out.

  35. The SNP are as slippery as an eel when it comes to an independence referendum both as to timing,frequency and the wording of the question itself.The unionist parties should have no truck with them or even consider a referendum until such times as the SNP adopt a more reasonable attitude. The SNP will never have a majority at Holyrood under the present electoral system and their influence at Westminster is zilch. Long may it remain so.

  36. Nick,

    The SNP had both the timing and question for the referendum in our manifesto for 2007 and fought and won an election on it. We intent to stick to that timetable and if we can get it through the parliament that question.

    So as far as slippery is concerned we’ll take no lessons from the Tories who gave us Maastricht without a vote and have failed to say if they will have one on Lisbon, from Labour with there off on referendums on the EU constitution and the Lisbon treaty or from the Libdems who are for or against referendums solely on whether the polls show it would give them the result they want.

    Name another party that is giving a firm date and question more than three years early on an issue that the polls show they aren’t going to win. I can’t see what evidence you have for saying that’s slippery.


  37. Peter, this obviously touches a nerve.

    Do you have any evidence to show that Scots are strongly in favour of EU membership?

    At the moment Scots does have a stronger subsidiary voice in the EU due to membership of the UK than it would ever have independently.

    Associate membership of the EU means you actually have less say over your relations, with less control and less influence. It means no seat in policy-making discussions, no seat in the council of ministers and no seats in the parliament – how do you hope to be heard – by shouting at the gates, by starting up a new carrier pigeon service?

    The example of Flanders constitutional crisis should provide adequate contradictory evidence to your bare assertion fallacy and affirmation of the consequent – which just coincidentally happens to support your political viewpoint.

    But in the meantime if you just keep shouting loudly enough, you might force people to start letting you get on with your life in isolation, or you could contribute to the argument by addressing the questions.

  38. > Do you have any evidence to show that Scots are strongly in favour of EU membership?

    How about the fact that pro-European parties get consistently better results in Scotland than in England?

    Also, compare the policy differences between the English and Scottish Greens. The Greens are the only political movement with fully separated English and Scottish parties, and the Scottish Greens policies are much more pro-European.

    > At the moment Scots does have a stronger subsidiary voice in the EU due to membership of the UK than it would ever have independently.

    lol! Keep hold of that line for the Edinburgh Politics Festival. It’ll bring the house down.

  39. That’s hardly evidence, now is it, Christian?

    Firstly no party will ever claim its electoral support is down to any single issue, so any suggestion of correlation is a spurious relationship to say the least.

    Also the fact that Scottish Greens take a different line from their English counterparts says nothing about the popularity of the concept considering their level of success at the ballot box, rather it highlights incoherence in the Green movement (if that’s what you could call them).

    Taken together those two pieces of knowledge provide circumstantial context which at most indicates only greater relative support in Scotland for the EU, but nothing like solid evidence of a majority.

    The weight of voice that can be brought to bear is an important factor in the way politics functions and shouldn’t be disregarded at all, let alone quite as easily as you attempt. The ability to stand united is the prime source of legitimacy in decision-making and the basic method of exerting influence over action.

    If that’s the best you can do it’s no wonder you conclude with an appeal to the cheap seats!

  40. “Scots are more pro the EU than those south of the border”

    The Scottish Government believes that :-” on the whole this is not the case, with people in Scotland reporting broadly similar Eurosceptic views as people in Britain as a whole.”


  41. thomas,

    “Do you have any evidence to show that Scots are strongly in favour of EU membership?”

    There was a poll on this matter quite recently, showing that Scotland is significantly more pro-EU than any other break-down region of the UK. I’m sure you’ll have no trouble looking it up.

    “Associate membership of the EU means you actually have less say over your relations, with less control and less influence. It means no seat in policy-making discussions, no seat in the council of ministers and no seats in the parliament – how do you hope to be heard – by shouting at the gates, by starting up a new carrier pigeon service?”

    How exactly is that any different to the way it is now? Scotland has no seat in policy-making discussions. Scotland has no seat in the Council of Ministers. Scotland has 7 seats in a parliament of 738. That’s less than one percent. We’d have more clout using our veto in EFTA than shouting from under the table (or, as it has been in the past, from another room, down the hall).

  42. Thomas,

    I did say ‘How about’, I realise it is rather circumstantial. But short of a referendum, how do you get hard evidence on a single issue?

    And I am sorry for my tone in the second part.

    The point is, my personal experience was that the DfT certainly takes little to no account of Scottish views. And private discussions with Scottish government officials and a some MSPs (including a few Labour ones) *everyone* thought the same / had similar experiences.


  43. Thomas,

    “At the moment Scots does have a stronger subsidiary voice in the EU due to membership of the UK than it would ever have independently.”

    The Danes stopped Maastricht it it’s tracks and the Irish have just torpedoed London, Scotland hasn’t been able to keep control of our own fisheries as it doesn’t have a vote on the CFP while land locked Austria does.


  44. Sorry that should be Lisbon not London, which surely must be a Freudian slip.


  45. I posted a trunckated version of the link to the Scottish Government poll on “attitudes to EU in Scotland”.

    Hopefully this is the correct page :-


    No evidence there of rabid Europhilia North of The Border.

  46. ZX,
    I’ve seen something of this, but that’s not the question at hand – the question is about whether there is a majority, and there is little to suggest this is the case.

    The Efta argument may appeal to some, who don’t like the feeling of exclusion in ‘another room, down the hall’, if only because they are in another building in another country where such a sensation is minimised. Still, the irony is that this argument currently applies more to the English while under a Scottish mafia of Labour MPs than the reverse. I wonder what the welsh have to say?

    do you mean to say the SNP would take its oppositionalism to the extreme and use every opportunity to bring forth a referendum as a means to hold the community to ransom?

    Surely the public will tire of this and the tactic will come unstuck as demand for political leadership grows. What’s the point of voting for the SNP if you absolve yourself of the representative responsibility to take decisions every time a serious issue arises?

    Do you really mean to imply that you take Switzerland as a model for scottish development?

    no need to apologise, all tactics are employable if relevant and appropriate.

    I understand the problem of relative attention, but that is an ongoing challenge which cannot be easily avoided – which itself is an argument in favour of subsidiary government, separation of responsibility to appropriately mandated levels and greater devolution of powers (something which would satisfy the SNPs demands while balancing the unionists concerns).

    Salmond is facing the crunch as the culmination of his career approaches and he must weigh the decision for a referendum.

    This Glasgow East by-election has already highlighted a division between the realism of his leadership and the idealism of the SNP candidate, John Mason, so there is a real question about the legacy he will leave and the state the party will find itself without him.

  47. Thomas,

    “do you mean to say the SNP would take its oppositionalism to the extreme and use every opportunity to bring forth a referendum as a means to hold the community to ransom?”


    I responded directly to your assertion that Scotland has more influence in the EU as part of the UK than as a full member state by giving two illustrations of how small states have had great impact and how another small state has more say in an area of importance to Scotland than Scotland does.

    That pretty clearly and succinctly countered your argument and no amount of trying to change the subject to portray the SNP as potential wreckers in Europe will change that.

    As to Switzerland I wouldn’t take it as a model any more than any other European country, but it does seem to have done rather well for itself.


  48. Peter,

    firstly, you need to mug up on what an ‘assertion’ is – if Scotland chooses to waste the potential influence it can wield through the UK then that is not a structural fault, and it is also not something which can be regained once lost or thrown away.

    Secondly, illustration by comparison does not a counterargument make – impact is not the same thing as influence.

    Thirdly, I was portraying the current popularity of the SNP as symptomatic in favour of the climate of cynicism and hypocrisy which exists at the moment, rather than crediting the party with any backbone.

    Fourthly, how you make your assesment is entirely determined by your terms of reference.

    Do you count among the idealist ideologues, by any small chance? Independence at any cost?

  49. Thomas,

    I said assertion because you have patently failed to give a single example of how Scotland has faired better because of the potential influence it has through the UK, while I gave examples of countries the size of Scotland which have wielded influence.

    Indeed it was Hans Vanden Broc who famously said at the time of Maastricht;

    “What matters in Europe isn’t power it’s influence”.

    Can you in any way show how Scotland has got a better deal from the EU than any of the EU members of our size.


  50. thomas,

    ” the irony is that this argument currently applies more to the English while under a Scottish mafia of Labour MPs than the reverse”

    I beg to differ. The so-called Scottish Mafia does not sit around the big EU table thinking about how to increase Scottish fishing quotas, or securing EU money for renewables in the Western Isles. No, the Scottish Mafia is interested primarily in their own re-election, something which sits on the ballots of middle England. Now, that’s not to say that Brown et al always (or ever) do what’s best for England, rather it is to say that England is their first thought, and always will be (this is true for any government, as long as England is c.a. 90% of the UK).

    A Scottish cabal at the wheel at Westminster doesn’t automatically mean Scotland gets a better shout than England, anymore than an English cabal would mean the opposite.

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