The Sunday Herald today had the results of a new TNS System Three poll of Scottish voting intentions. The topline figures were

Scottish Parliament Constituency: CON 15%, LAB 29%, LDEM 11%, SNP 41%, Others 3%
Scottish Parliament Regional: CON 13%, LAB 30%, LDEM 10%, SNP 40%, GRN 4%, Others 4%
Westminster: CON 19%, LAB 36%, LDEM 9%, SNP 32%

65 Responses to “System Three Scottish Voting Intentions”

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  1. I see no European Voting intention was asked or maybe not published yet?

  2. Wow! TNS have a track record over the last couple of decades in exaggerating the Labour vote. For the SNP to have a 12% lead over them on Holyrood constituency votes, and 10% on the list, at the midterm of a 4 year parliament, and despite a hostile media, is astonishingly good for us.

    Interested to see how Labour try to spin this!

    On the Westminster vote intention, I think they may underplay the Lib Dems by a couple of points, but it does put the cat amonst the pigeons and I would imagine there are a few worried Labour and Lib Dem MPs at present with both the SNP and Tories looking like making gains (several for the SNP, I hope), and probably a couple for the Tories too.

  3. This is a start of the meltdown on the Westminster vote, The SNP is consistently over 35% and recently over 40% on most Holyrood polls and SNP voters have been shown to be the most loyal. As more Labour supporters realize the futility of voting for a dead governing party and the spectre of a Tory Westminster, more will choose the SNP to ensure a voice for Scotland. Some will choose the Tories but Scotland has a long memory and is not yet ready to jump into the Tory boat. Any number over 18% for the Tories is a major gain for the party but will mean only 3-5 seats. The real swing in seats will be from Labour to SNP in the central belt and the south and LibDem to SNP in the northeast and highlands.

  4. Doonhamer –

    I think you are right and the Tories will probably win a maximum of three extra seats, even if they have a very good night. I only disagree on one issue – the Lib Dems are also shedding votes in the Borders to the SNP also, although you are right to imply that the swing will be larger in the North East and Highlands.

    I think the Labour vote is not far off a tipping point where they move from holding most of their seats but with reduced majorities to a position where they start to lose seats left right and centre.

  5. Doonhamer – what do you mean Scotland has a long memory. They are part of the UK and the Conservative governments of 1979-1997 governed for the UK as a whole.

    The Tories must obviously be doing very well in England if they are getting <20% in Scotland which account for 6-8% of the electorate.

  6. If I was David Cameron, i couldnt care less if I won a single seat in Scotland or not?

    Why are we even bothering to campaign there, its a waste of money. Scotland likes Labour or SNP, they have some unreasonable hatred towards Conservatives, and cant seem to follow the rest of the country and support Conservative, and its not exactly like you need Scotland to win. You could win 0 seats in Scotland, and still have a huge majority, so who cares really.

  7. Well, Mike, one example of Scotland’s long memory would be the fact that after 300 years of the union, 40% of the population want the Scottish Government to negotiate its end, and most of the rest want more powers for the Scottish Government.

    The Tories in Scotland have a real electoral problem. The more likely that they win in England, the more they drive votes away. A hung parliament might result in more Tory seats in Scotland as it would create as much anxiety amongst those who remember the Thatcher years. Even the most ardent Tory must recognize that those years decimated the party in Scotland. A large Tory majority in England, and that appears likely, will drive votes to the SNP.

    Former Labour supporters who cannot stomach the current Labour bunch may be flocking to the Conservatives in England but polls are showing that most of those leaving Labour in Scotland are going to the SNP. The same applies to the soft LibDem vote.

    As a nationalist, I welcome a English Tory Government as the resultant backlash will drive a successful referendum vote. With respect, Mike, the only thing that scares Scots more than a Labour re-election is a massive Tory Majority in England.

  8. Thanks for publishing the details.

    It is a very, very good poll for the Nats – few , if any Governments in history have been flourishing so comprehensively in their mid term.

    The Westminster figures are also interesting. Another five or so pints off Labour over the next year and the electoral roof will fall in.

  9. Is it possible to tell from this (on a swing basis I suppose) which seats will be lost to Labour (and I guess Liberal Democrats)?

  10. I think the most frightening thing about this Scottish poll is that 70% in Scotland are opting for 2 left wing parties (never mind the extra percentage for the extreme left wing parties). If Scotland ever wants to be an independent country in Europe it needs to buck that trend and come in line with the rest of Europe and have roughly a 35% left leaning electorate.

    All this poll shows is that Scotland is still not ready to be an independent country ! It’s got to stop living in the past – particuarly stop harping on about the Thatcher years !!

  11. The Westminster poll isn’t too bad for Labour: 36% isn’t much of a decline from 2005 when they won 39.5%. Disappointing for the Tories to be still on only 13% in the Scottish regional poll, and the LDs are doing badly in all 3 sections. Maybe the fact that they used to have a Scottish leader but don’t now is hindering their progress.

  12. Andy, look beyond the immediate numbers. Last time, Labour had 39.5% and the other three were about equal ranging from 22 to 16%. Now, the SNP has risen from 16 to 30 and are in the forties for Holyrood. What was a split opposition is now a two horse race.

    Votes are bleeding from Labour to SNP, from LibDem to SNP etc.

    A few more points and it is a meltdown. Does anyone believe that Labour will hold at 36? In a few months, this will look like a high water mark.

  13. Yes, a great poll for the SNP but as the election draws nearer there is a risk that a Brown vs Cameron narrative will squeeze the SNP.

    And with an in-built bias towards Labour in how the constituencies are laid out, we can still expect splits like the above to give Labour the vast majority of the seats (35 to SNP’s 14)

  14. Max Would you say that for the north east of england or the liverpool region. You sound like a republican who hates parts of the USA who vote for the democrats. Very divisive.
    I dissagree that scotland should be ignored by the tories that is an odd cut of your nose you spite your face nationalism. What about tories in scotland do you care about them? Your attitude scares them off.
    So when you lose in an area your response is how dare you not vote for us we’ll show you. Hardly a democratic response. If the tories believe in the union they should campaign in all nations of the UK and respect the democratic votes.
    Your response shows why scottish people not trust the tories. You give the impression you think we are not one of you. When you wave the british flag you seem to think we are not part of it. When labour wave the flag they include us. We have every reason to feat the tories. As they do not see us as being of the same nation. They see as ungrateful foreigners who must be punished.

  15. System three polls-indeed Scottish polls in particular do not have a great track record probably because the strength of some of the parties tends to be concentrated in pockets and is not uniformerly spread

  16. @Doonhamer

    This is from memory, but I thought if you look at the decline in Tory seats, the worst impact was in 1997, with some decline in 1992. During the Thatcher years there was only gentle erosion, not immolation of th Tory base.

    I suspect that the extent of the Lab/SNP vote is driven more by a combination of the strength of the public sector (which tends to favour Labour) and the SNP’s status as the realistic opposition. The Tories suffer from the same issue that the LDs do in England – of being a somewhat irrelevant group to one side.

    I’m not convinced, though, that a Tory majority in England would directly lead to an upsurge in independence calls in Scotland. Additionally, the difference between 300 years ago and today is that 300 years ago England needed the Union (if only to terminate the Auld Alliance) – today there is no security implication (at least none that couldn’t be negotiated) of an independent Scotland, but there is a continuous fiscal drain.

    Personally (I’m a liberal unionist by tendency) I would rather look to a federal system, with real power for Scotland and Wales rather than the half-hearted muddle that there is right now. I’m not sure that full independence would really achieve that much, especially when it comes down to grappling with the economic transition that an independent Scotland would need to undergo to create a thriving market economy. And don’t give me any bull about ‘Scotland’s Oil’ please. Firstly, it’s not clear that it’s all yours. Secondly, it doesn’t generate all that much money in the scheme of things, and thirdly, it’s running out anyway.

  17. What nonsence from Nick.

    Scottish opinion polls have the same record as any other opinion polls. It is true that Systems Three have traditionally overrated Labour. However that is no different from the adjustments that have been made in other polls. S3 is also (I think) one of the last face to face inetrview polls.

    No poll gives a fully accurate picture – that is in the nature of sample. However it is possible to determine tha

    1) The SNP are doing spectacularly well in Government.
    2) Labour are in big trouble. The election could be a real change in poltical configuration.
    3) The Tories are doing OK but Cameron effect is very limited in Scotland – the Thatcher effect is still more powerful.
    4) The Liberals are struggling and will depend on constituency campaigns to keep their head above water.

  18. Its a tale of two polls for Labour.

    The Westminsrter poll is pretty good – they only have a net loss of one seat and the Lib Dems get pummelled by everyone. Ironically that splitting of the anti-Labour vote could save three or four Labour MPs.

    The Holyrood poll is pretty tough going. Has someone done the sums for the constituencies?

    The SNP should be very pleased (although Borderer is as ever blindingly optimistic about winning in Roxburgh) with the figures.

  19. I think it is a bit unfair to say that mainstream Scottish antipathy toward Conservatives is ‘unreasonable’ Max. The Conservatives, quite rightly, do not represent all parts of the United Kingdom. The move toward the ‘centre’ is already showing cracks. Do you actually realise how inept the Conservatives were when the left power in 1997? I mean, an MP was sent to jail – and that is not even mentioning love children and other rather peverse scandals!!!!

    As for Scotland being left-wing, I think it is entirely reasonable for any region sharing similar socio-demographic characteristics as Scotland to be left-wing. Conservatives become increasingly militant in their pursuit of rather strange objectives.

    Do Conservatives really believe that the increase in Tory support is based on a support of traditional Tory values?

  20. Its obvious we’re going to see a HUGE north/south divide, with the north steadfastly refusing to vote Conservative and Labour collapsing across much of southern England. How this can be reconciled in the next Parliament remains to be seen. Perhaps only when they see how Cameron governs, and whether its in the interests of the whole United Kindom will the Scots be reassured enough to start voting Tory again?

    Then again maybe Tory England and Labour/SNP Scotland can never be reconciled and divorce will be the only option? In the end, if Scotland can’t live under a Conservative government then seperation is probably inevitable and may not be such a bad thing for either England or Scotland?

  21. Beans – its not as if any Scottish MP’s and MSP’s have had legal issues!
    By inept do you mean a growing economy with the deficit decreasing to wards a surplus in 1999? I think people would prefer a Major Government again if they could have those economic conditions.

    As for those that say the Conservatives write off Scotland -rubbish. The Conservativea are the Unionist party (it is in their title) and as such they favour all parts of the Union – England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

    I agree with the point that public sector workers are mor elikely to favour SNP/Labour and as Scotland is public sector dominated and very little private enterprise – since the banks went south and oil is running out.

  22. I dont think Scotland would necessarilly be more inclined to vote for a Major government. What you are actually arguing is the Brown government could be less popular than the Major government.

    More importantly, your economic analysis is fundamentally flawed. Firstly, Thatcher begun the whole deregulation of the financial services in the 1980s, which ‘New Labour’ simply extended.

    Even your crude analysis of public expenditure is poor, as you only consider direct employment not expenditure or indirect employment. For one, if you have ever applied for a civil service post in London you will know that you are entitled to a DIRECT subsidy based on living costs in London – no region in the UK has such a subsidy. The only region that necessitates any ‘subsidy’ within our ‘Union’ is London.

    The whole corrollary of your arguement is based on a ludicrous assumption that expenditure on ‘national departments’ (or whatever the Treasury calls it), such as the House of Parliament derive benefits for the whole country and not the region they are based. Which is simply a political statement – as the SNP, SSP, Plaid Cymru, SDLP, and Sinn Fein all maintain is not the case.

  23. For years, the SNP has been peddling the notion that those of us who oppose their separatist agenda have no valid reasons for doing so. It’s as if they think – or perhaps want us to think – that all “true Scots” actually aspire to independence, but that some of us are “feart”, that we lack confidence or for some other reason doubt Scotland’s ability to go it alone, should we so desire.

    Just look at the following dogmatic and/or spun reactions to recent opinion polls.

    “The poll suggests that, based on the SNP’s performance in power since the May election, public confidence in the ability of Scotland to run its own affairs as an independent state has increased.”

    “As the SNP administration has bedded in and started to develop its policies, this has enhanced its credibility and increased public confidence in the prospect of an independent Scotland.”

    “It would appear that the global financial situation has not had any damaging effect on Scottish aspirations towards independence.”

    See what I mean? Confidence, ability, aspirations: the vacuous rhetoric of evangelical nationalism.

    But actually, those quotes aren’t by an SNP politician! They’re the words of Chris Eynon, managing director of TNS System Three.

  24. @Beans

    Your own argument also rests on several assumptions:

    1) Thatcher deregulated, but you will note that she was a famous “monetarist”, to whom the control of money supply is critically important. To be a monetarist and allow our current situation to happen would be almost a contradiction in terms; it would be like watching Scargill perform a hostile take-over of British Leyland.

    2) Your description of subsidies is incomplete. The Barnett formula, for one, is a famous example. I really don’t think that Scotland’s effective deficit, equal to North Sea oil wealth at the peak of oil value, really compares to civil servants’ rental costs. That said, I’d much rather that civil service work were spread across the country to reduce costs, but that’s a characteristic of centralised, top-down thinking, something that the Nats espoused in their centralising “Tartan Tax” that would strip local councils of direct taxing powers.

    3) Expenditure in London on administration, whilst easily conceded to be inefficient, is the bedrock of the funding for public bodies across the UK. To say that such organisations simply exist to generate office jobs for the South-East, which seems to be your implication, is something that even I, a Tory, would never claim. If you eliminated their work, I would give Scotland a week after pay-day before protests rippled (understandably) through the Scottish public sector.

  25. Ex Pat

    The four party system in Scotland has long made it that much harder than in England to establish the exact standings of each party. Obviously being an ex pat you are rather out of touch with developments. Do try to keep up.

  26. Nick Keene,
    I’m seeing five parties, five in the poll and five in Parliament.

  27. ok so this poll for scotland would mean

    LAB 39 -2
    SNP 9 +3
    CON 3 +2
    LD 8 -3

  28. Providing there will be a uniform swing. There won’t be. We will see different swings in the different regions.

  29. Richard,

    1. Thatcher’s response to the crisis is hard to guess, and the impacts impossible to predict. You seem to imply the ‘crisis’ would have occurred under the Conservatives, and simply the response would have been better.

    2. The Barnett Formula is not a subsidy, but a convention to distribute resources across the United Kingdom. Perhaps, based on your own values, the system is unfair – but that does not make it a subsidy (of the like in London).

    3. Apologies, perhaps I was not clear in my previous post. For so-called ‘national expenditure’ to be excluded from calculations on regional ‘public expenditure’ per head is to claim NO additional benefits are accrued to the region they are based. Irrespective of the Barnett Formula, this fundamentally biases any meaningful debate.

  30. The Barnett formula seems to be causing some debate. Suffice it to say it is a mechanism to distribute funds on a NEEDS basis. It’s current basis is some 30+ years old and is being reviewed by the same Barnett (Now Lord Barnett) and there is support across the political divide for this process.

    On the issue of national subsidy may be there is a benefit to London in having some functions based in London although a lot have been distributed elsewhere, including some to Scotland BUT there are also costs that all residents in that area have to bear High cost housing and poor transport to give but two.

    Also those in the South would argue that the distribution of central Government subsidies for Council tax and Police are skewed in favour of Local Authorities in the North, Scotland and Wales where many Labour MPs are based.

    In short it is by no means a simple or productive matter to argue this point on a Scotland v England basis.

  31. @Beans

    1. I would suggest that Thatcher’s response to the crisis would have been similar, but since Thatcher was a monetarist and thus a keen controller of money supply, I don’t think there would have been such a large crisis as such a large, unsustainable expansion of money supply would have rung alarm bells. As Britain showed in the 1930s, world-wide recessions can be largely mitigated by prior actions (in that case, abandoning of the gold standard).

    2. The convention is an anachronism, which uses a series of antiquated population ratios to calculate current expenditure. I can’t see how this is fair, as it neither calculates based on population (for the dead are included) nor is it based on need. Whether you (or I) feel that it is a subsidy, I concede, is up to debate.

    3. Agreed, although shows that Northern Ireland and Scotland top the list of proportions emplyed in the public sector, with the SE at the bottom and London quite low-down.

  32. Has anyone seen any “proper” polls about what people now think about the Thatcher years? I think it takes this long to put them into perspective and compare against what others have made of the job. All I’ve seen so far is endless comments saying good or bad.

  33. Richard & David,

    1. This is a hypothication.

    3. To go back to my original point – London is the only region directly receiving a subsidy. It is misleading looking at headline employment numbers.

    Even if you were to take the numbers at face value, you are comparing a city with a country. Scotland is over half the size of England geographically (with less than a tenth of the population), what basis is there to suggest that the level of public sector employment should be proportional to the population.

    Furthermore, how do you define ‘public sector dependency’? There are many indirectly employed through public expenditure.

  34. The poll bodes well for SNP at Holyrood in 2011, but does not suggest that there will as yet be any major gains at Westminster in 2010 (or earlier) – certainly not the 20 seats of which Salmond boasted not so long ago.

    What I think this shows is that Scotland is adjusting to a non-Labour government at Holyrood, but that this does not translate into active support for independance – otherwise the SNP would be scoring as highly for Westminster.

    I suspect that we may be near a tipping point for Labour in Scotland and a lot could depend on how well – or badly – they do next month. If Labour does start to implode in Scotland, then we will see extensive anti-Lab tactical voting at the GE as we did anti-Tory in 1997. However, I think that this could begin to focus minds on whether Scotland wants to hand the SNP a large enough number of seats, and this could save Labour’s skin in several (or many) places. Expect plenty of jockeying for position as key challenger in individual seats once the seat by seat breakdown from the Euros is made public.

    Strange there was no separate question for the Euro elections given that they will be upon us in only four weeks.

    BTW – uniformly bad poll for LDs – if borne out at Euros, they could be in an even bigger crisis in Scotland than Labour.

  35. Re the Westminster implication and the previous comment.

    I wonder if this poll is actually showing a fascinating sea change. Would it not be possible to argue that people are really quite happy with the SNP in Scotland and have adjusted to that . With perhaps the next step being a non minority SNP govt. Then would come the argument for independence.

    I think to try and assume all would happen simultaneously may be a bit too quick; change normally happens over a period of significant time.

    In other words it is possible to argue that the SNP has come from nowhere (really) in the 1970s and 1980s and now is a minority govt. The next change (as these polls suggest) is a majority govt. and then perhaps in another decade the independence issue will really bite as people become used to an SNP govt.. (I note that the issue of independence in 198os would have had miniscule support and the question now has very serious support; to argue it is insignificant is wrong. A 1/3 of the people support SNP at Westminster; that stable door has been well and truely opened…)

    Much as I despise Blair I think he will in a hundred years be remembered for two things 1) the Iraq war for good/evil depending on your view and 2) for starting Scotland on the way to independence (for good/evil depending on your own view)…

  36. Jack,

    While it may sound strange given the passions the Iraq war inspires, I suspect that Blair is far more likely to be remembered for opening the door to Scottish independance than for a muddled war whose only lasting legacy is likely to be the undermining of Britain’s global authority – and even that is something that can be repaired.

    More contentiously, perhaps Blair will go down in history as the last Labour leader to win a British general election.

  37. Paul H -J I I accept if the results are really bad for Labour and Brown comes under much more pressure this will make Labour’s task in Scotland more difficult. However I suspect many Scottish voters will not be materially influenced by the results of the European elections (in which most will not bother to vote) or the English local elections.

  38. If Scotland “has a long memory” of how they perceive the Thatcher years, let us hope that the South of England establishes a long memory of how a Scottish Chancellor/PM wrecked the economy of the whole of the UK and put us in debt for generations.

    Good polls for both Nats and Tories, but Labour won’t be too worried about losing it’s core Scottish vote as is only likely to lose a couple of Westminster seats. Also by elections recently suggested opinion polls may over estimate nationalist support

  39. @Paul H-J

    Much as I would, perhaps, prefer the Liberals to replace Labour as a party of government, I can’t see it happening. The “sea change” would need the Liberals to either supplant Labour in its heartlands or carve out their own heartland somewhere.

    I think that the reports given in the DT, etc, are more the record of the right of the Labour party issuing threats to try to prevent Labour going left-wards, without much serious intent. I’d bet that it’s more the DT gleefully predicting Labour’s doom than expected and imminent actions (and I say this as a DT reader).

    Of course, it all depends on who holds/wins/loses which seats next year…

    Also, any polls for the upcoming elections across the UK? Or are the low turn-outs and oddities associated with them stopping meaningful polling?

  40. The poll seems to reafirm that the Scottish Tories are firmly in the region of 19-22%, and this is still far out of the election. Firstly, the SNP have still to suffer a damaging series of events which is coming and shall undermine their electoral performance:
    1. they will have to abandon either their much vaunted council tax freeze or some other high profile policy platform
    2. they are only going to increase their talk of referenda and independence (and as you all know they won in 2007 because they didnt talk about this!)

    And naturally they have still to be frozen out of the coming Westminster Brown or Cameron struggle.

    I’d expect the SNP to struggle to keep above 27% in Westminster polls by December this year- events are now increasingly against them. And just to provide context; in YouGov Scottish voting intention polls the SNP have declined by 9% since Aug 2008- only recently managing to get back 3% to recover 30% (a short peak before continued decline?)

    Just some thoughts, and the big benefactor of a squeeze on SNP shall be the Tories- as the anti-labour factor up here in Scotland is much larger than the anti-tory factor (personally its not s much hatred for the tories its fear, nothing more).

  41. Mike,

    The voters in general won’t be bothered about the Euro-election results – except if they lead to serious in-fighting and blood-letting within Labour – which will assuredly send their poll ratings ever further southwards.

    My point was that the LD tradition of bar-charts showing only LDs can win here will be open to some amusing projections as the parties size up which Labour seats they want to focus their resources on to maximise their gains – and Labour’s losses.

  42. Richard Manns,

    May I refer you to my other posts on this subject.

    Just as the turning of the tide is not immediately evident to a causual observer, so too the sea-change as between Lab and LD will not come quickly or in a single event. Replacing Labour as the official oppostion will take at least two parliaments / GEs – if not three.

    Defections are a distraction, and can be counter-productive to a party’s chances of success in the defector’s seat. This close to a GE the opposition parties will surely only welcome defectors in seats they have no strong prospect of winning.

    As to the need for LDs to establish a heartland – they used to have two – SW England and Scotland – each of which gave them about 10 seats (and also supplied all their leaders for 50 years until Clegg). They are in danger of losing their Scottish base, but could well lay the foundations for a new base in the northern cities – Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle, Sheffield — so perhaps Clegg is an omen ?

  43. Max (on Saturday),

    Your comment is way off beam. There is no way that Tories will “give-up” on Scotland just because they may hope to gain no more than 10-15% of Scottish seats in the foreseeable future.

    There are two very good reasons why not.

    Firstly, purely pragmatically, if you write off an entire region just because you are not doing well, you will eventually end up pinned into a small corner. If Scotland is “no-go”, then why not Wales ? or the North-East ? or S. Yorkshire ? or Gtr Manchester ?

    Secondly, there is important symbolism and moral authority for governing a united kingdom from having at least one MP in each region. Just think of it in reverse and the damage to Labour’s claims to be a credible official opposition after the next election when they are wiped out across the southern half of England bar a handful of urban seats and a pocket in London. Indeed, if Labour get eliminated in any English region at the Euros in June this would be as bad for them as the Tory losses in Scotland and Wales in 1997.

    In addition to the above, it is an important strategic rule to take the fight to your enemy in his strongholds as it keeps his resources pinned down. Whatever it costs the Tories to mount just a modest campaign in Scotland, the impact is to stretch Labour’s more limited resources even thinner.

  44. it is factually correct to say the tories declined the most under major,but that was the first election after the poll tax.

    this poll always underestimates the tories by 3/5%
    so 5/6 seats for them.

    as for the snp,it is a nonsense to talk about independence from england to join the euro.completely mad and not independent ,just anti english.

    so take the pro euro vote in scotland,and remove the people in that % who do not want to be independent and you have the refurendum %. it is not near 50%.

  45. in ref county election a bit off subject i know, hear in leicestershire if the national figures are right labour will only have between 2-4 seats after the locals and the lib dems will only lose 2 or 3, n any respectsthats a bad night for labour, in nottinghamshire the tories will gain lots of seats the same i derbyshire where a tory gain is not ruled out, the key county of the night will be the northern county of lancashire if the tories gain this for me its over or labour, on the matter of scotland some gains for the tories hear next year maybe 6 or 7.

  46. Jamie Smith:

    Wrong, wrong, wrong!

    The first election after the poll tax was introduced was 1992, when the Tories actually gained a seat and a larger share of the vote after John Major promised to “take stock” (and Neil Kinnock got carried away in Sheffield. At least YouTube hadn’t been invented then…)

    You can’t ignore the dismal result of 1987, when the Tories lost 11 of their 22 seats in Scotland, equalling the 11 they lost in 1997. The ’87 result, with seats lost to Labour, the SNP and the Liberals, showed that Scots were starting to vote tactically against the Tories even as Maggie was at the height of her powers.

    It’s simply inaccurate and rather ignorant to say that either the idea of Scottish independence or joining the Euro is anti-English. It would liberate the English from the prospect of having a governemnt they didb’t vote for, just as it would liberate the Scots from the same problem. English members of the SNP, including some MSPs,are enough to disprove your point. Plenty of small countries retain their independence while sharing a currency, and Scotland would be no different.

    Anthony, why aren’t you moderating comments like Jamie’s? I wouldn’t expect to get away with claiming the Tories were anti-Scottish! It’s playground stuff.

    Lastly, watching the coverage of the ’79 election on Monday threw up the interesting fact the Scotland was the only part of the country to see a swing to Labour. I don’t anticpate the same at the next GE, but it does show the political divergence between Scotland and England was already underway.

  47. ‘as for the snp,it is a nonsense to talk about independence from england to join the euro.completely mad and not independent ,just anti english.’ Jamie Smith

    I’m not sure that this is a fair summary of the SNP position; nationalism has more to do with a separate historic past, separate languages (Gaelic, Scots), a separate sense of identity (consider the 6 nations and the way football does not play home nations), massive cultural icons that are clearly Scottish (and not English/ British such as Burns)and yes, that also includes a sense of being Scottish (anti-English) because all nations see themselves as not being another nation (such as English). Scotland also historically looked far more to Europe than England did so its possible they may use the Euro (Let’s note that the CBI also supports this idea, so big business likes it–it’s not actually a daft idea, just one which many English can not handle as it involves change and a sharing with other countries.)

    The avoidance of the term ‘British’ in your comment at the start would certainly rile my back up in Scotland; are you really suggesting that Scottish people should give up being Scottish and be English? It’s that sort of belief which will drive Scotland quicker to independence than anything else; their are too many English who can not understand that many people strongly dislike the belief of some English that the English are a cultural pinnacle to which all should aspire. It’s the attitude of 1900 Empire…

    I repeat my earlier view; strong showing for the SNP in these polls follow from the SNP moving from a fringe party in the 80s to a minority govt now. Give them several terms in office or main opposition and you will see the percentage for them go up at Westminster as people adapt to the idea of them in power. It will take another decade probably (though a right wing Tory at Westminster govt would increase support for the SNP as a party which does not have strong support in Scotland running Westminster would highlight that ‘Westminster is a different country)…

  48. I’ve managed to use to computers with the result that i can now only log on here using my wife’s MacBook, which I have to sneak away from her when she’s not looking.

    In no particular order just some comments.

    Given that the SNP want to leave the UK then I suppose technically it’s a “seperatist” agenda, but it’s disengenus and prejorative. I could be equally label those that support the continuation of the status quo as “centralists”.

    I’ve never accepted this talk about no independence because of the Euro. I doubt that any of the sixteen countries in the Eurozone feel any less Independent states than they did before it.

    I can understand that some people don’t like the idea of the end of the pound, but the experience of those countries that have given up the Franc or Deutsche Mark seems to be that life goes on.

    I am on record as saying that i thought twenty seats was beyond the SNP and my target was a dozen so a prediction of 11 MP’s is more than we have ever had before which is fine by me.

    Given encumbancy and party support across the country I think the thing to watch might be the shares of the vote across the country. for the SNP to get more votes that Labour is a real possibility and that could be a real psychological blow for Labour.

    In 2005 about 2.3m Scots voted around a 60% turn out. Labour got 922k votes to the SNP’s 412k.

    If it is a close election and it’s fought by Labour to keep the Tories out then the Labour vote and turnout should hold up and we could see Labour even on these polls getting 900k with the SNP on 700k.

    But if the tories are thought to be running away with it then Scottish turnout could be down to say 2.2m and Labour drop to under 800k and that is a total the SNP could reach.

    The Tory revival in Scotland is another issue, If you look at the YouGov figures going back to 2005 the low 30’s to the low 40’s (a bit higher now) a 10% rise representing about a 305 rise. Compared to 2005 the tories in Scotland are up from 16% to about 21% a rise of 5% or about 30%.

    So the Tory recovery in Scotland isn’t that different from the the UK overall and I suspect that if the Tories peak at around 45%, then in Scotland the peak for the Tories would be about 23%.

    If we assume that in a three party system that would be about 30% then it’s not really that out of step with what the tories could expect in many parts of the North of England.

    On the whole subsidy junkie thing, it comes down to whether you think that there should be support from the weaker areas from the stronger or not.

    I don’t disagree that Barnett is past it’s sell by date, but the idea that we should support poor areas is correct. Rich parts of London should support poor parts and the South East should support the North of England.

    I’ve never been a supporter of Tebbit style on your bike, sink or swim economics.

    From an SNP perspective, we believe that Scotland can and should stand on it’s own two feet. How we deal with our problems is up to us and that will probably include the poorer parts of Scotland being supported by the richer.

    In short, if Britain thinks that Scotland doesn’t pay it’s way and doesn’t like the idea of supporting it, then how does it feel about supporting Tyneside, Humberside or the Southwest.

    For us the answer to that is up to you, how you dish up your money in your country is up to you. But if we go for the strong centre supporting the weaker parts and Britain doesn’t then that shows the differences between us.

    By and large I haven’t really enjoyed reading the last close to fifty posts because they seem to have brought out some of the more negative and partisan sides of the argument , the kind of things that have over the last few weeks have come to more and more dominate the UK threads.

    I have my views and party allegiences but I try to be objective and non partisan with my posts and I hope that this whole site calms down a bit, because i honestly think the quality of site has declined in the last couple of months.


  49. Peter,

    Here are some questions for you to ponder for politics in an independent Sctland:

    Would Scotland retain its hybrid electoral system, or would it establish a new structure: whether a pure PR system (which ?) or a return to FPTP ?

    Would the SNP continue in its present form ?

    Would there still be four main parties plus sundry others ?

    How do you see the various existing parties evolving ?
    Would some parties merge ? If so, which / why ?

    Would there still be a “left-right” spectrum, or some other dividing line(s) ? If so, where would you place the various parties ?

    In many ways, the half-way house you have today is an essential interim stage for developing the SNP from an independence movement to a credible governing party, but it will also bring to the fore internal tensions that may otherwise have lain dormant only to erupt destructively post independence.

    Just as I think the LibDem leadership needs to face up to a long-term strategic choice between being a credible left of centre party to replace Labour, or continuing as an opportunistic chameleon; so too will the SNP have to decide whether it is centre-left or centre-right, and recognise that the chocie it makes may well have implications for where and from/to whom it wins/loses seats in teh next few years.

  50. Paul,

    From top to bottom;

    “Would Scotland retain its hybrid electoral system, or would it establish a new structure: whether a pure PR system (which ?) or a return to FPTP ?”

    The SNP’s current prefered option is for open list STV for all elections, but it would be up to the parliament to decide. That tends to mean the status quo has an advantage as on the Turkeys and Christmas principle the current system is what has got the encumbants in so they don’t really ave an incentice to change it.

    “Would the SNP continue in its present form ?”

    No party would remain the same as all parties change over time, Camerons tories aren’t like Thatchers, the LibDems seem to alter depending who’s votes they are cahsing and Browns Hard Labour isn’t even like Blairs New Labour, let alone foot’s Old Labour.

    “Would there still be four main parties plus sundry others ?”

    As Kenny Dalglish would put it “Maybes Aye, Maybes Naw”.

    As with Parties changing over time, you just can’t say how it would evole but evolve it will, as all systems do.

    “How do you see the various existing parties evolving ?
    Would some parties merge ? If so, which / why ?”

    Again I can’t say what choices we will make it will depend to how well the different parties adapt to Independence and how relevant the people see them as being. I hope we won’t just revert to a three party UK lite system, but that doesn’t mean it won’t happen.

    Open list STV with constituencies of eight to ten would probably help as it would have a 10% threshold for votes but with allow space for about a half dozen parties.

    “Would there still be a “left-right” spectrum, or some other dividing line(s) ? If so, where would you place the various parties ?”

    I am sure we would have a left right spectrum of sorts because to be honest I am hard pressed to think of a multi party democracy that doesn’t.

    Where you put people depnds on how they adapt to circumstances but from right to left it would probably be Tory, LibDem, SNP, Labour, Green SSP although to be honest the LibDems, SNP and Labour could all move around the centre from time to time and issue by issue.

    “In many ways, the half-way house you have today is an essential interim stage for developing the SNP from an independence movement to a credible governing party, but it will also bring to the fore internal tensions that may otherwise have lain dormant only to erupt destructively post independence.”

    You can say that for us all; Pro and anti EU/Euro tories, Libs V Dems, New Labour v Old Labour. Again it would evolve and I am all for that because as our country changes and adapts so should our politics.

    “Just as I think the LibDem leadership needs to face up to a long-term strategic choice between being a credible left of centre party to replace Labour, or continuing as an opportunistic chameleon; so too will the SNP have to decide whether it is centre-left or centre-right, and recognise that the chocie it makes may well have implications for where and from/to whom it wins/loses seats in teh next few years.”

    I am not sure about either of these. I think the LibDems campaign song should be from “the Italian Job”… “We are the self preservation society”. For a decade and more noe there policies have been geared primarily to get themselves elected and stay elected. Again on the Turkey scale it has worked so why change it.

    I know it’s a cynical view but to be honest I see the LibDems as a carreerist party that doesn’t realistically see itself achieveing government and to be honest doesn’t want to. It’s a series of local activists and politicans pursueing local campaigns all under a single party umbrella.

    It’s camapigned so well locally on local issues that it really is the protest party. That’s fine as far as it goes but it doesn’t go to government.

    As to the SNP as I said a while back on posts about the economy, I think the SNP can survive between the Labour and the Tories as a party of traditional scottish values of sound money and economic and social liberalism. the sound money is the key.

    The tories would cut taxes and starve public services while Labour would raise taxes and expand the state. A policy of both tax and spending restraint that played one side off the other to hold the middle ground could work and might well be good for Scotland and accceptable to the electorate.

    Think of us a Clint Eastwood in “A fist full of dollars”….. ( please no photoshop of Alex Salmond in a pouncho)


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