As well as the normal YouGov poll in the Sunday Times, there was also a YouGov poll of Scotland in their Scottish edition. These figures are all acquired on the grapevine, so don’t take them as gospel until the tables crop up on Monday!

Scottish Parliament constituency voting intention: CON 14%, LAB 34%, LDEM 12%, SNP 35%
Scottish Parliament regional voting intention: CON 15%, LAB 32%, LDEM 11%, SNP 30%

Westminster voting intention: CON 20%, LAB 37%, LDEM ? – tbc, SNP 27%

UPDATE: The full Westminster intentions are CON 20%, LAB 37%, LDEM 11%. SNP 27%. There was also the regular question on voting intention in an independence referendum, 33% would vote YES, 53% NO – a slight narrowing of the gap since the last YouGov/Sunday Times poll.

UPDATE2: The poll also asked about voting intentions in the European Elections. The figures were CON 18% LAB 36% LDEM 11% SNP 29%. This would equate to three MEPs for Labout (up 1), 2 for the SNP (no change), 1 for the Conservatives (down 1) and no Lib Dems (also down 1 – the sums don’t add up because Scotland has one less seat this time round).

99 Responses to “Latest Scottish voting intention figures”

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  1. Peter:

    “The Libdems are clearly in trouble in Scotland and I can’t see them making any gains. The question is will they be vulnerable to tactical voting.”

    The LibDem vote is to a great extent a tactical vote against one or both of the main parties. There is another option where the SNP have a sizeable vote but as you say you arn’t in second place in LibDem seats.

    Maybe you can win some secon placings which would stand you in good stead for next time, but not this time, though there is a chance to come from third in A&B as I said above.

    NorthBriton is right. There will be very few seat changes in Scotland and if the Conservatives gain three, then they should be very pleased indeed with their progress. Even if they only gain Dumfries they should not be disappointed.

  2. Dean,

    The Lib dems did very well in 2005 and pretty much held their own in 2007 but if they might just not seem the obvious alternative that they used to be. Would I be right in saying LibDems were in second place in terms of votes cast in 2005 in Scotland? But at that point the Cons made little progress in Scotland (and UK) and SNP were less popular and still in the Swiney era and going backwards.

    But now the SNP and to an extent the Cons have sorted themeselves out to be credible to more people in a way that they wern’t in 2005. The SNP have a higher profile due to winning in 2007, the Cons have a higher profile because they stand a good chance of winning in 2010. This would naturally squeeze the LibDems. It’s hard to say exactly where the Lib vote has gone here tho. I always had a feeling that the SNP increase in 2007 was very close to the decrease in SSP support (someone correct me if I’m wrong) and that accounted for the main part of the SNP surge.

    I’m not so sure I agree with John though, I think more seats will change hands than you suggest – I wont claim to be able to predict who will win, but I do think there will be a reasonable number of changes, esp if Lib Dem vote is genuinely reduced, local candidate recognition or not. Of course, I might be completely wrong :-)

  3. Anthony, sorry for my comment (posted below) in another thread.

    “I will be interested in what Cllr Cairns has to say about Vince Cables comments regarding whether an Independent Scotland could have afforded supporting RBS – and please Peter no answer saying that an SNP government would not have let RBS take those risks in the first place. Please just admit that sometimes being in a bigger union is economically helpful.”

    I would like to know the Hon. Peter Cairn’s view.

  4. Perhaps he might use the argument that A. Salmond used on Sunday – that in an independent Scotland all the Corporation Tax receipts from RBS would have magically been stored away, so that they could be used to fund the bailout when the crisis arrived…..

    Yeah, I know, just ludicrous on so many levels.

  5. Ha, well said Chris and Mike, but the Polling data from Sunday Times ends the whole debate. Even support in principal for independence has fallen steeply- from 73% two years ago down to just 57%.

    What interests me more you guys is why there has been absolutely no change in Westminster Voting intentions at all despite the sea changes at Holyrood.

    Could it be the Tories and Liberals are failing to dent the SNP in places like Perthshire and Moray etc? I expect the SNP to slip down to about 25% at Westminster with the Tories gaining, moving to 21-23%. That would be a neccessary change if the Tories want the likes of Stirling surely. The Libs will recover to 15% perhaps more, again this might dent SNP and Labour at Westminster.

    Thoughts Guys?

  6. Dean,

    The difficulty in analysing what may happen to individual seats in Scotland is that there are significant regional variations, both in terms of which parties are the main players (incumbent/challenger), and how support is likely to have evolved since 2005.

    The SNP has historically been strongest in the NE – which also happened to be the Tories strongest region. Thus, in the current environment where both these parties are up since 2005, one should not expect any changes in seats won.

    SNP gains are most likely to come from Labour purely on the basis of where they currently lie second, but there are some outside chances from LD where they came 3rd in 2005.

    The Tories best hopes of gains are against Lab and LD, but given the low base from which they start, clear opprotunities are indeed limited, though I am more optimistic than John Dick.

    Labour is likely to suffer relative to 2005, not just because they are the incumbent UK govt., but also because 2007 showed that they are no longer top dog in Scotland. They are also most exposed to tactical voting, so could see losses to all three other parties, with no realistic gains (except to recover by-election losses).

    The LD position is harder to predict, but apart from Edinburgh S and Aberdeen S, new gains are most unlikely. Where they are the incumbent, they have an advantage, but if they do badly in the Euros in June they could be further undermined – just think of all those election leaflet possibilities with charts showing how they failed to hold x, y or z.

  7. I note that the issue of weighting has not been discussed on the thread. The poll seems to be top heavy in Labour voters and slight on SNP voters. It doesn’t even have a category for the SNP in its weighting information. Is this the reason for the slight Labour gain and SNP drop . Anthony, I would like to read your thoughts on this issue.

  8. Mike,

    In general terms the flaw in Cables argument is clear. It assumes that Scotland would have done everything the same and done what Ireland and Iceland have done.

    I am not sure what system of regulation we would have had or whether we would have let the banks do what they did.

    Personally much as I have my doubts about debt driven growth I suspect that with a PR parliament and both Labour and the Tories being pro gung ho banks for a decade we would have ended up in close to the same position.

    Having said that that’s not an argument against Independence it’s an argument against political triangulation and slavishly following the orthodoxy of the day rather than challenging it.

    If an Independant Scotland had got in to trouble in a debt driven boom we would have been only doing what they have in every other capital from Dublin and London to Washington and Reykjavík.

    As to Alex Salmond’s comments, I think he is broadly right. As I have argued before the SNP sits between the Tories and labour in this.

    The Tories would have kept things booming and cut taxes rather than invest in public services. Labour kept things booming kept taxes high and hugely boosted public spending.

    Both policies would have goT us pretty much to where we are now.

    The alternative would have been to have boosted growth by cutting corporate taxation with the aim of boosting actual corporate tax revenues but to have limited the growth in public spending so that we could have reduced debt.

    If I could right a “Golden Rule” for Scotlandit would be along the lines of;

    Public spending should not exceed projected spending and non oil tax revenues at the bottom of the economic cycle.

    So if You assume GDP as 100, but oil as 10, then you work it out on 90.

    If 40% of that is public sector that would be 36. So raising 36 and spending 36 would be balanced over the cycle as it would be under Browns rule.

    However at the top of the cycle revenue might rise to 38 with spending dropping to 34. but in a recession it reverses so that revenue is 34 and spending 38. In this scenario you need to keep public spending at never higher than 34.

    Browns idea was that it would balance out and you only borrowed to invest, but that has been shown to be wanting because he believed in an end to “Boom and Bust” and he committed to a perminant growth in public spending on the back of debt driven growth that couldn’t be sustained.

    The problem with keeping spending at 34 is that for most of the time revenue is higher and that’s when Business ” We pay to much, cut tax” and Unions say ” invest in public services, with the public saying “Cut taxes and invest in public services”.

    That surplus over the economic cycle should replace borrowing to invest and instead fund investment be in it capital goods like infrastructure or support to key strategic priorities like energy ( which would help business and create jobs) and in cutting debt.

    I think an SNP government could do it if we could shrink (or absorb) the LibDems and oddly enough if post independence the Tories recovered so that we could balance out the competeing calls for more spending and tax cuts.

    Of course I know many of you will struggle with this as it means accepting the alien concept that there is an alternative to the Uk right left debate and that anyone could do things differently let alone better.


  9. Peter,

    That sounds like a pretty clear proposal for a pragmatic corporatist position as expounded by various Christian Democrat / Social Democrat parties across Europe in the past 60 years.

    Nothing wrong with that in principle.

    It strikes me that in an independent Scotland both the LDs and Labour would find themselves almost redundant – but could survive thanks to PR. LDs are likely to shed support either to SNP or Tories, until they become to weak to sustain consituency MSPs, and end up a “regional list only” party. Labour would probably last longer, but would get increasingly forced leftwards (mopping up SSP, Solidarity etc).

    Oh, and btw, the “left-right” label was not a British invention – does not fit the adversarial HofC. It came from France where they have a semi-circular chanber.

  10. Doonhammer – it won’t make any impact on the change in the vote, YouGov use fixed weights so the political make up of the sample should be identical from month to month.

    It’s also important to remember that YouGov use party ID, not past vote. They are correlated, but not the same thing at all, so it is impossible to compare them to 2005 votes and draw any conclusion about their accuracy. Not least, there are a lot of people who have a Labour party ID, but who didn’t actually vote Labour at the last election. Equally, all those “none”s aren’t non-voters, they are floating voters who don’t particularly identify with a party.

  11. Honorable Peter – some basic facts. RBS would have continued investing as it has done even if the SNP was a majority government (although since you have PR and the SNP have never scored 50+% in a Scotland wide election this is unlikely to happen). I fully accept that Scotland would have had some different policies to England, Wales, France etc. No dispute about that but I really don`t think your policies in 1999-2007 would have effected a private bank doing funky financial transactions that were very profitable and brought in plenty of corporation tax receipts.
    Therefore with your smaller economy (fact) you have been unable to afford the bail out for RBS. Or is your position that you have let RBS fail?

  12. Peter,

    I agree, the RBS and HBOS would have overlent just as they have, independent or not. The Scottish banking system would have had to be let to go belly up if independent. Remember Vince Cables speech at the Lib conference- the total Scottish budget would not have been enough to save the banks. (Remember the councils monies would still have been lost besides as the Icelandic banks would also have still folded as they did).

    Also to set the record straigh on Tory expenditure Peter

    “The Tories would have kept things booming and cut taxes rather than invest in public services.”

    This is not true. Throughout John Majors term in office the NHS always got given an above inflation real terms increase, so thats entirely misleading.

    A rather long link I know but you can read the book on google.books, its rather a good read in fact.

  13. Peter,

    ”In general terms the flaw in Cables argument is clear. It assumes that Scotland would have done everything the same and done what Ireland and Iceland have done.”

    I’m sure an Ind. Scotland would not have followed these countries to the letter – however as recently as last summer Salmond was still going to great lengths to show Ireland and Iceland as examples of what kind of country and what kind of economy Scotland could be.

    It just isn’t credible for the SNP to spend the last decade stressing that Scotland could follow Ireland’s example but conveniently believe that Ireland’s (and iceland’s) dreadful current circumstances could have been avoided. You take the rough with the smooth. Irish style success would likely have meant Irish style disaster.

    Brown may be a numpty, but at least there are 62 million of us to help each other get through this mess, not just 5 million – we will never be as exposed or potentially cripled within the Uk as we might be as a separate state.

  14. It’s SNP policy to join the EU and it’s clear that access to the support of the ECB is crucial in Ireland dealing with it’s problems .

    Oddly enough it was the inability of the EU to bring countries like Ireland and Spain where politicians allowed a property boom to get out of control in to line that has created many of their problems.

    But then if the EU did ask for those kind of powers most politicians in the EU would oppose them.

    The UK has a population of 62m and a GDP of $2.3 tn
    The EU has a population of 500m and a GDP of $13.2 tn

    If it’s size you want, and you think brings protection, back us in joining the euro.


  15. Peter, the euro is probably the best long term course for the UK (not just Scotland), as it does provide the kind of ecnomic integration (that brings security) that covers the whole of Europe.

    However I would say the interest rate issue remains an unresolved problem that prevents us from seriously considering entry- as an average rate does not take into account the differing national requirements.

    But, the argument for the Euro is for another day….(just wish Super-Ken Clarke had won my parties leadership is all…)

  16. Peter – you make a good intellectual point about EU membership and the Euro. So you are admitting that Scotland as a standalone entity could not survive. Is that correct?

    You are saying, if I read it right, that Scotland and the UK for that matter should be component parts of the EU.

    I personally think that size upto a point is important and think the UK is sufficeiently big enough to cope. Whilst Scotland is much, much smaller and needs the help.

    I agree with the point above that the SNP and Salmond touted Ireland and Iceland (Ireland is in the euro) when times were good so you take the rough with the smooth. Otherwise you are intellectual dishonest and the public will see through the SNP spin.

  17. Peter,

    Equally it could be argued that the problems faced by Spain and Ireland stemming from a property boom could not be addressed by those countries precisely because they weere in the Euro and so had no control over monetary policy.

    The Euro is not a panacea. A single currency implies a single monetary policy, but generally does not work without common fiscal and other macroeconomic policies. The latter require at the least a federal political structure.

    This is why the Euro has always been primarily about political union and not free trade.

    Even then, monetary policy will be directed at the needs of the majority / core elements of the economy and not peripheral regions. There is a boad arc within Europe which stretches from N.Italy/ NE Spain, across France to SE England, Benelux, Northern Germany and the Baltic sea which accounts for the lion’s share of Europe’s economy. Anywhere outside this “core” is a peripheral region as far as EMU is concerned.

    Eurozone monetary policy (even within a true political Union) will never be adjusted to fit the needs of small peripheral regions if they are out of kilter with the needs of the central core.

    Sorry, but this holds true for any geographic / economic entity and on any scale. Just look at N. America and China for further evidence. So whether you are on the fringes of Britain or the fringes of Europe, you are better off within a smaller unit provided you have sufficient critical mass.

  18. Peter,

    “The Tories would have kept things booming and cut taxes rather than invest in public services.”

    This is exactly the right thing to do in boom years. I fear it may not have been what a Tory government would have done, but it is what should have been done. Keeping a lid on public spending, encouraging individualism and keeping taxes low leave scope for raising taxes and increasing spending when it is necessary (i.e. now) without having to increase Government debt.

    “Labour kept things booming kept taxes high and hugely boosted public spending.”

    Precisely the opposite of what they ought to have done, and the reason we are in the mess we are in, where the government has to borrow obscene amounts of money in order to conduct the (necessary) bank bailouts, and keep up other commitments which should never have been made.

    “Both policies would have got us pretty much to where we are now.”

    What a load of absolute nonsense. We got to where we are now because of the complete incompetence of the FSA (not too little regulation, just wrongly targeted regulation). The difference between these two policies is in the position the country would be in to meet the recession. The low tax model would have put us in an immeasurably better position, that much ought to be obvious to anyone with understanding of economics.

    “The alternative would have been to have boosted growth by cutting corporate taxation with the aim of boosting actual corporate tax revenues but to have limited the growth in public spending so that we could have reduced debt.”

    How is that an alternative? That is pretty much precisely what you say the Tories “would have done”, but with a more ear-catching spin to make it sound less “spending-cuttish”.

    Face it Peter, the SNP do not have unique and magical economic solutions, you are a single-issue party just trying to wreak havoc with the constitution.

  19. Starting at the top.

    “However I would say the interest rate issue remains an unresolved problem that prevents us from seriously considering entry- as an average rate does not take into account the differing national requirements.”

    Conditions vary between US states as much as they do in the EU and a common currency and set of interest rates doesn’t seem to be pulling them apart.

    Without the ability to set there own interest rates US states have had to adapt and transform their economies. Because they aren’t able to run away from the problem they have to face it.

    I am all for that for Scotland.

    “So you are admitting that Scotland as a standalone entity could not survive. Is that correct?”


    Norway works fine as does New Zealand, but being part of a larger currency union does allow you a degree of protection if you make a mistake.

    It’s like an insurance policy, it’s not essential but probably a wise thing to have.

    “Equally it could be argued that the problems faced by Spain and Ireland stemming from a property boom could not be addressed by those countries precisely because they were in the Euro and so had no control over monetary policy.”

    Again No,

    The Irish and Spanish had plenty of options.

    Ireland could have limited the amount of leverage it’s banks could take on so that they didn’t build up debts or liabilities disproportionate to GDP and like Spain they could have raised the cost of development or housing by upping the equivalent of stamp duty.

    It’s not the fault of EU monetary policy that politicians in Ireland and Spain didn’t have the sense or bottle to make unpopular decisions to stop their economies over heating.

    ” Just look at N. America”

    Good try, over look that it works fine in the US including Hawaii and Alaska and pretend that Canada proves the point.

    Within the US a single policy works with huge variety between states and the difference between New Foundland and Alberta are equally stark.

    ” keeping taxes low leave scope for raising taxes and increasing spending when it is necessary (i.e. now) without having to increase Government debt.”

    And just how does a country that has cut taxes rather than save raise money in a recession without raising taxes or increasing debt. If the low tax regime had led to even more consumerism the banks would still need to be bailed out and if the government had a smaller tax base it would still be in trouble.

    “The difference between these two policies is in the position the country would be in to meet the recession.”

    The policy you say would have been better is to all intents and purposes the one that Ireland and the US followed. lower tax and free enterprise with limited regulation and they aren’t any better off than the UK.

    How is that an alternative? That is pretty much precisely what you say the Tories “would have done”, but with a more ear-catching spin to make it sound less “spending-cuttish”.

    The difference is that we are talking about a limited targeted tax cut to boost economic growth and particularly business growth.

    In addition by running a surplus over the economic cycle with it targeted for investment we would be better placed because we could have investment without large scale borrowing.

    In my model we tax at a higher rate than the Tories and use the excess not for Nurses and policemen but for schools and roads with current revenue instead of long term debt or PFI.

    I never said it was magical but it is an alternative that avoids us with a public sector that we can’t sustain in a down turn wither that be because it is too big or we don’t have the tax base to sustain it without raising tax in a recession.

    It’s a bit like returning to the old style traditions of Scottish banking but applying it to the public sector.

    “Face it Peter, the SNP do not have unique and magical economic solutions, you are a single-issue party just trying to wreak havoc with the constitution.”

    Well for a single-issue party I seem to spend a lot of time here answering peoples questions and explaining our position on about everything from the monarchy to economic policy, defence to energy, environment to local taxation.


  20. But Peter it is well known that the SNP is a single issue party at its core. It is in your name Scottish NATIONAL Party.

    Most countries have two main parties – like Labour and Conservative precisely because most people think in two dimensions on multiple issues (tax – higher or lower, crime – punishment or or softer approach etc). Of course this is simplistic but then most people do not spend much time on political theory. That is why you have Democrats and Republicans in the US, or the CDU and SPD in Germany., Of course there are fringe parties like the Lib Dems but most people don`t know what they actually stand for other than maybe one signature policy (PR in the LD case and independence in your case). So bottom line the SNP has to really fight to get across what it stands for other than Independence and in the current situation independence has lost most of its imaginary allure.

  21. Peter,

    The USA is often trotted out as an example of a successful currency union between states with very different economies etc.

    But, the USA is also very clearly a Political Union, with large federal transfers to even out the ups / downs of individual states relative to the average. It also has a common language, common legal system and, most importantly, a significantly more mobile population allowing large transfers both within and between states, which makes it more homogenous than Europe could ever be. While the USA is a federation of 50 States, they are all Americans. It is not a coincidence that the only US State which can truly be said to have a distinctive culture is Texas (ie there are Texans, and there are Americans who come from, or live in, one of the other 49 states) which enjoyed a considerable period of power and independendance prior to being subsumed within the USA.

    In other words, that confirms my point that a monetary union works well when coupled with fiscal and political unon. Whatever the ambitions of the EU, it is a very long way from being the U.S.E., and even if a full federal political union were foisted on the Nations (not States *) of Europe it would not lead to either a common language / culture or the level of mobility enjoyed by the USA.

    As I said, monetary union without political union does not work. We can debate whether or not political union is desirable, and we probably differ thereon – or may even agree. But the real issue regarding the EU is that its promoters are trying to achieve a political union without having that debate (or worse still, deliberately suppressing the debate as they do not like the outcome).

    * The distortion of language for political purposes is a well documented process for undermining opposition when this cannot be achieved through rational debate. It is not for nothing that the EU always refers to “member states” rather than “member nations”. Does the Scottish Nation really want to give up being British for the sake of becoming a European region ?

  22. Paul H-J – the answer to your last question seems to be yes. The SNP seems to have a “hatred” of Britain and sees the EU as an idyll. I wonder how long it would take for them to chafe at the rules the EU has and wants to have in the future. Then they will long to be 9% of a union as opposed to 2%.

  23. Paul,

    The EU refers to member states because that’s what it’s members are. The Uk is a state made up of four constituent nations.

    States sign treaties and are legal entities, but there are states like the UK, Spain and Belgium that have different nationalities with them, and indeed there are German speakers across at least three states not all in the EU.

    Secondly I don’t accept your argument about the EU in the slightest. The US shows that diverse regional economies can share a common currency. all the caveats about language and federal transfer.

    Of the $3,000bn Us federal budget only $400bn (13%) go to states in aid and transfers, that’s a smaller share than we give to local government.


    The SNP doesn’t hate the UK or Britain. we’d rather not be part of it, but that falls way short of hatred. As I’ve said before lots of people decide to leave home after their teens but that doesn’t mean they hate their parents.

    There can be tensions but to be honest they often get better once they have moved out.

    In addition we don’t see the EU as an idyll at all. We have a lot of issues with it , particularly the CFP, but on balance it has more benefits than draw backs and it’s certainly not the route of all evil.

    For us being part of the single currency and the worlds largest single market without the kind of control from Brussels over our economy that London has now is a good alternative.

    We get larger size benefits than being part of the UK along with more political and fiscal autonomy. it’s a win win.

    The Uk doesn’t want to lose power or influence North to Scotland or south to Brussels, which is fine and understandable, but from a Scottish perspective even if you take the “Swapping London for Brussels” arguments is still broadly beneficial.


  24. Peter – I put “hatred” in speech marks because I didn`t mean you or the SNP hates Great Britain but you do have a dislike of it – otherwise why try and leave. Especially as you keep pushing the message and the majority of Scots do not want to leave. I would love a referendum now so when you lose we could move onto real subjects like employment, environment, defence etc. But on these and other issues the SNP has no distinctive policies because as I mentioned before political issues usually have two sides (left and right) so parties in the “middle” like the Lib Dems and groups like your have a hard time.

    You mentioned that Germany is a state, well France is a nation and the EU is made up of Nations. The United Kingdom is a nation with four compoentn parts. Wales is a principality – not a nation. Northern Ireland is a province, again not a nation and Scotland really is just a province with pretentions. Yes hundreds of years ago it had nation state status but then so did Texas and they aren`t going anywhere.

  25. Peter : “The US shows that diverse regional economies can share a common currency”

    True- a single monetrary currency tends to simplifiy trade, tourism, and capital transfer across the European Free market. In fact I agree with Peter that yes its entirely workable, and as for the caveats concerning langauge- its not really that much of an insurmountable mountain for the Euro, as English is already the well established language of commerce.

    Paul H.J – “As I said, monetary union without political union does not work.”

    It seems you have the backing of Barroso’s advisors on that one!

    But seriously, the Euro can work, and is essential in the furthering of the EU free trade commitments. differing currencies can act as a barrier to trade and must be ended.

  26. Just a question of curiosity, why did north east Scotland turn their backs on the Tories to a SNP stronghold? The Tories were quite comfortable up there until 1997.

  27. Whittingham,


    Thatcher brought in a type of city centric conservatism that was at odds with the traditional one nation Tories that dominated rural Scotland. I don’t know that many Tories but those I do have said that even in John Majors time Heath was still one of the most popular senior Tories in Scotland.

    For many Scottish Tories it wasn’t them that moved away from the Tory party but the Tory party that moved away from them. It was that combination of the coalescing of opposition to thatcher around the SNP and a fall in active Tory support for what Thatcher was doing that sent the Tories in to reverse.


  28. Caution Peter, here in Stirling they still love Forsyth and I’ve heard one or tow “bloody Heath!” comments from the oldies of the constit. office.


  29. Dean,

    And pray tell just what earthquake shifted Stirling to the North East of Scotland?

    Apart from anything else, don’t you think that being being the local MP for more than a decade might have something to do with Forsyth’s popularity in Stirling as opposed to his Thatcherite views.


  30. True Peter on both counts ;)

  31. Peter just wants to over generalise and say that the Scots do not like Conservatism. When the Conservatives at the very least are the third party in Scotland.

  32. Tom,

    I was asked what happened in the North East so I gave an opinion.

    With 1 in 5 of the vote I think a lot of Scots like the Tories, but as it’s 2 in five in the UK they have less than half as popular in the UK.

    The Third party idea isn’t that helpful as if you had five parties, one of 75% and the four others on 9%, 8%, 5%,and 3%, the Party with 8% would be “at least the third largest”.


  33. Peter – your example is technically true but in the realm of reality we both know no party gets 75%. So being third is a bigger deal than in your example.

  34. Tom,

    20% tells you the strength of support a bit like the time in a race. Third doesn’t tell you if it was close or not , or even if there were only three in the race.


  35. Peter – thanks for your persistence. The SNP does not do as well in Scotland as the Conservatives do in England. I know who I would rather be.

  36. Peter – time to get back to the work we as taxpayers pay you to do.

  37. If I could get the discussion back on topic:

    20% is interesting for the Tories as this indicates that they’re holding up and not slipping back like I’d half-expected to maybe 18-19%. Things appear steady in terms of core support for the first time in a long time.

    The Nats have held up in Westminster too, but with support slipping back to Labour in Holyrood, things cannot be taken for granted, they could slip back in future Westminster polls where I believe that 27% is now their upper most % share hope.

    And remember that even if the SNP got 29%, all other things being equal, they would still only find this replication into the Constituencies would see them gain only 1. Well short of Salmonds personally imposed 20 seat target.
    This now seems unachievable.

  38. Dean – thanks for deciding upon yourself to “get the discussion back on topic”. Were you a school monitor at all??

  39. A prefect actually ;)

  40. The Conservative party like any large members organisation has several strands of opinion. While no one particular group dominated, a one-nation NE Scotland MP could have as much claim to the represent the mainstream of the party as an English Nationalist or Free-market fundamentalist.

    In at least one constituency the local party was over complacent and the MP lazy.

    Peter was right. When the party was taken over by dogmatists with little experience of rural economies or Scottish values, its loyal supporters lost heart, aged and were not replaced by new younger members.

    Labour are also an urban party. Devolution has enhanced the differences in organisation and policy that was already there in Education and Health, but they are too closely bound to the party at Westminster.

    The notion that the parents of secondary school children should shop around for the school of their choice – whatever its merits (if any) in an urban situation – is simply daft in most of Scotland.

    I live on one of the 27 inhabited islands in Argyll, with a population of 6,000 and more than its share of elderly (many of them English). How many schools do you think we have? I’ll give you a clue: It’s one more than the number of private schools, and one more than the number of faith schools.

    Increasingly, as the two large parties have courted the Sun reader, they have become less and less relevant to the NE of Scotland. Understandable it may be that a remote, thinly populated, economically and culturally different part of the country should seem less worthy of attention, but there are consequences of neglect.

    It’s not about money, though the money goes to London (not even English) problems. It is that issues with a strong Scottish dimension are less likely to be adressed at all, even with inappropriate solutions, while we get the solutions to English problems.

    Peter mentions the CFP as something the SNP is keen to address, but there are other issues for example rural transport issues are entirely different from urban ones.

    NE Scotland is different from SE England. Some people think it is different enough to be a separate country, but that isn’t necessary.

    A UK parliament on the model of the Scottish Parliament and the Bavarianisation of the political parties would have been enough to prevent separation, but it’s too late now.

    John Curtice is of the opinion that one of Margaret Thatcher’s three enduring achievements is that she persuaded the Scots of the merits of devolution. Tony Blair can take more credit for the recent success of the SNP than can Alex Salmond.

    Gordon Brown hasn’t done much damage yet, but there is no easy solution for him. He could untie the Scottish party, and let it drift significantly to the left, but that would bring many other problems.

  41. I’m a One Nationist myself, personally my old papa loved Heath and wont vote Tory anymore until Thatcherism (new-rightism) is destroyed.

    I agree with you that Labour is urban orientated, but if they loose Aberdeen North / South then they shall also be a purely centre belt party (dundee west is a sure SNP gain so long as they don’t screw up).

  42. John,

    Your summation above is a salutary reminder to all psephologists that political geography is as important as political philosophy when analysing voting patterns and party strengths.

    Labour has always been an urban / industrial party. The few areas in which it held apparently rural seats are a throwback to the days when there were isolated coal / steel communities which by their concentration out-voted the rural hinterland in which they were set.

    The Conservatives were traditionally a “country” party, but under both Thatcher and Heath they became progressively sub-urban. Sound psephological strategy, but it diminished the strength of the rural voice within the party.

    The LDs have two conflicting threads, reflecting the fact that they are in fact a merger of two distinct strands – old Liberalism and Social Democracy.

    The Liberal parts were mainly rural – Hughes and Alton were their only urban MPs for many years. This also explains why they, and their LD successors, have been so succesful at taking rural seats off the Conservatives in by-elections (their track record in suburban seats is not as good).

    The Social Democrats were basically ex-Labour voters who were originally upset at teh left-ward drift of Labour, and subsequently by its right-ward drift in home-affairs and foreign policy. Hence the party is able to take seats off Labour in Northern cities, and the ease with which many LDs view coalition ararngements with Labour.

    In a Scottish context, there is a gulf between the urban industrialised central belt and the rural highlands. The contrast is starker than in either England or Wales, and there are not the suburban belts which provide modern English conservativism its bedrock.

    Hence, the evolution of the Conservative party in line with English needs has reduced its rural appeal, while the lack of a suburban base has not offered new opportunities. Only now is a less stridently English Tory party recovering its poise in Scotland, but it will have to fight to regain the territory it could once call its natural home.

    Labour on the other hand has maintained its stranglehold on the urban central belt, and through this, gained a domination in Scotland which enabled it to be presented as the “establishment” party and so win seats elsewhere in Scotland.

    For the Liberals, their primary successes have been in replacing the Conservatives as the “rural” party. It is only in recent years that the LDs have sought to break into the urban areas as an alternative to Labour, helped by their coalition in Holyrood. But, as the Holyrood coalition unravelled, post 2007 the Scottish LDs have been marooned. They are now exposed to challenge from all three parties. Incumbency and localism may well help them retain most of the seats they currently hold, but I predict long-term decline for the LDs in Scotland.

    The challenge for the SNP has always been to be an alternative to Labour in the central belt, or the alternative to “English” conservatives in rural areas. It has to be said that to date they have met this challenge well. The problem going forward is that being in government means that the party needs to have consistent policies across the country, and this may well result in a diminished appeal in either – or even both – regions.

    Even though it may be that not many seats actually change hands, I believe that the next GE will be a watershed in Scotland, and will set the ground for some major changes at the elections after – both at Westminster (2014?) and Holyrood in 2011.

  43. Paul H-J

    There is very little I can add to that.

    I am old enough to remember commentators on election night noticing some slight improvement in the 3rd placed Liberal vote and pointing out that the constituency was once National Liberal.

    It looks as if the SNP have noticed that they can have as well as “consistent” policies as you describe them, it is also easy to have additional regional policies for rural areas.

    The efforts of the SNP government to address the problems of pig farmers or East coast fishermen are never going to be of much interest to voters in Glasgow, and still less in Essex, but in SNP target seats they could be very important. Westminster politicians, media commentators, and pollsters are likely not to notice these issues or think they are important, and the central organisations of the major parties will fail to support their candidates who will have nothing to say on these issues.

    There arn’t very many votes to be gained in pig farmer’s families, but the key factor is that there are very many more rural niche issues than you might think, and those who are interested in them are used to being ignored and are flattered and surprised if politicians take an interest.

    The massive Labour majorities in Glasgow so outweigh any changes North of the central belt that all-Scotland polls would not show up SNP growth in a handful of Northern seats.

    There won’t be many seats change hands this time, but projections of swings to the Conservatives being enough to take two seats off the Nationalists are based on Scottish or UK polling and are certainly wrong.

  44. John

    If the Tories were to take but one seat off the SNP at the next (Westminster) election I would be pleased but very surprised (or vice versa).

    What I think is far more likely is that in many seats (but by no means all) the Tories will cease to be a fourth place irrelevance, and in about a dozen seats they will be seen to be clear contenders. With luck, they may hold five of them.


  45. Peter has stopped – horrah

  46. Mike,

    Went to buy a car in Glasgow yesterday, but as no one has had a kick at the SNP while I’ve been away, I’ve really nothing much to add.


  47. Paul H-J

    Three at most this time. For five next time you need another Labour government, Bavarianisation of the party or independence.

    Each seat needs to be looked at individually. No doubt Argyll and Bute (where I vote) is one of your five.

    The LibDem MP has the benefit of incumbency and the inertia of rural highland LibDem seats. On the other hand it is the least rural of them all, and they recently lost the SP seat to the SNP. The second place Conservatives do not have the well known MSP and serial candidate of past elections and their first choice has withdrawn.

    I expect the LibDem to lose some share of the poll. It may not be enough for the seat to change hands, but if it is, enough of his votes will go to the SNP for the Conservatives to still be in second place.

    Labour have little to lose, or be squeezed. This week I spoke to an ex- constituency Labour Party chairman who, like his parents and grandfather was a party member for 40 + years, but has now left the party. I didn’t ask him whom he will vote for, but it isn’t going to be the Conservative is it?

    I wouldn’t bet on who comes first, but I’d bet on the Conservative coming second.

    If elections are lost, not won, nationally Labour are losing, but that doesn’t mean that in any particular constituency the Conservatives are “winning.” In a four party system there are three potential “winners” and predictions are that much more difficult.

    It used to be an even more open constituency before Rae Michie when it was a four way marginal.

  48. What’s more, an SNP win in Argyll and a few more would tell you nothing about the prospect for independence.

  49. Almost certainly a rise in Conservative support Scotland measured in opinion polls is nostly the result of a rise in Conservative support.

    Why only almost certainly?

    Because if press and voters expect the Conservatives to win the GE, shy Scottish Conservatives may “come out”. There are about 2% who don’t want to admit to such deviant behaviour as voting for the party of Thatcher.

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