My broadband at home has decided to go down, so apologies if I’ve been something of an absentee landlord for a couple of days. Normal service should be resumed at the weekend. In the meantime, here are some voting intentions for the Scottish Partliament from TNS-BMRB (what used to be called System Three).

Holyrood Constituency vote: CON 12%(-7), LAB 32%(-4), LDEM 11%(+2), SNP 39%(+7)
Holyrood Regional vote: CON 10%(-3), LAB 29%(-1), LDEM 12%(+2), SNP 39%(-1), Green 5%

Fieldwork was 23rd to 29th June, and changes are all since the last System Three poll.


51 Responses to “Latest Scottish Voting Intention”

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  1. Based on the Weber Shadwick predictor

    This would result in

    SNP 64
    Labour 32
    LibDem 17
    Cons 13
    Green 3

    A majority is 65

    A potential SNP-GREEN government with all the unionists in opposition.. First time in history of a nationalist majority.

  2. The Conservative performances in both polls is very poor.

    Does anyone know why the Conservatives are still at 1997, or sub-1997 levels in Soctland? I know the SNP have risen, but thi has only been in the last few years. You would imagine, givwen the scale of the Tory recovery nationally, that Scotland would have seen some improvement in Tory polling shares. Was the 1997 watershed in Scotland simply more permanent?

  3. Appalling results for the Tories. I wonder why they’ve started doing so badly in Scotland at the moment.

  4. As others have noticed, this is a dreadful poll for the Conservative party.

    Having struggled for several general elections in Scotland, one might expect a truly resurgent Conservative party to have a much rosier outlook north of the border. But these polls would seem to suggest otherwise.

    It may be that there is simply no way back for the Tory party in Scotland – at least not whilst still united with England &c.

  5. Looking at the history it looks like 10% fell off both Conservative & Labour between Jan & May which this backs up. I suspect the expenses might be viewed through a different prism in Scotland as being a Tory phenomenon. Annable seems genuinely liked. Again, I think we need another few months for these polls to settle down.

  6. Re: the low Conservative vote, it could be an error of margin issue. Assuming a 3% MoE then the Tories could be upto 6% higher (unlikely but possible). Even with these figures the Greens and SNP get a 2 seat majority – hardly a ringing endorsement.

    I now await the sage – Cllr Peter. As long as we taxpayers do not pay for him to blog on here.

  7. No one expects the Spanish Inquisition… here I am.

    I did post on the YouGov poll site a few days ago that in the last month or so the Tories in Scotland have slumped from 20+ to an average of 17% for Westminster and asked for peoples theories as to why.

    The best I can come up with is two part, firstly as has been stated here the SNP seem to have not on;y got off lightly from the expenses affair but because we have always been anti Westminster actually benefited from it.

    Secondly as Labour has suffered in the UK down South we seem to have reached the watershed where although the Tories rise seem to have stalled Labour are still very low.

    I’ve always thought that a point comes where people say the game is up and then either drift to another party or won’t vote.

    While there is a chance Labour could win the LibDems get squeezed but once it looks like a done deal people leave Labour for them just like people left the Tories after major for the likes of UKIP.

    There has been a slight Libdem recovery in recent months but they are still way behind there Holyrood and Westminster votes at the last elections.

    I think this “The games up” effect may be benefiting the SNP as people desert Labour we seem to be the main party to gain. It could be that not only are people leaving Labour but perhaps even rallying to the SNP.

    A year or so back I did speculate that the fight in the Westminster election could be not “who can beat the Tories” but rather “who can best fight them when they win”, and that the SNP could perhaps make a good case.

    I am not saying that’s right particularly as I don’t like the idea of saying I got it right, but it could be a factor.

    In addition something that you may have missed is that where as the tenth anniversary of devolution got a short spot on the news a day or so ago, in Scotland it has been a major feature over the last month with a series of articles, special programmes, discussions, news stories ( and this flurry of polls).

    So with devolution and Holyrood prominent in the news the SNP as government has had a high profile and the Tories still, despite their best efforts, seen as the party that is remembered as opposing devolution.

    Again I’d welcome others thought but those are the factors that I think could be behind it.

    Peter.

  8. I just checked Scotland votes and I only get the SNP to 56 seats.

    Labour 42 (-4), Tory 11 (-7), Libdem 15 (-2) SNP 56 (+9), Green 3 (+1), Ind 1 (0)
    SSP 1 (+1).

    That’s even with the Greens, SSP and Margo still 4 short of a Majority.

    Labour could only create a majority with the LibDems and the Tories……

    The SNP could do it with the LibDems or the Tories, but would almost certainly continue as a Minority government.

    Peter.

  9. Peter – For the Tories I wonder if there might be a little bit of “they’re bashing a Scot” in G Brown. I know he is not particularly popular in Scotland, but it might be the whole 1980s thing brought up again.

  10. SNP must be laughing.

    For those who wonder why the tory ‘Unionists’ are doing so poorly it’s obvious that ‘Nationalism’ has appeal beyond Labour / Tory policies. It’s not that hard to work out.

    It’s not ‘bashing a Scot’ it’s bashing the notion of the UK.

  11. Rightly or wrongly of course, depending on your politics-the argument up there is not set in the same frame as England. The debate about a separate country is live.

  12. You get that from the polls, Jack?

  13. Is it not just that Scottish people have a different set of values than most of England?
    We North-easterners share them.
    Not only are they getting the nationalist support but alson of diappoiunted with ‘Westminster Labour’ left wing support.
    These voters would never dream of voting Tory and the LDs are seen as an irrelevance except where they have seats.
    The fact the SNP appear to have made a decent fist of Holyrood Governemnet must be helping as well.
    As to the short-term movement, no idea.
    I don’t think the games up phenomenan is applying just yet.

  14. Jim Jam,

    If we go back to Hadrians border half of Newcastle could be in.

    Peter.

  15. Another possible reason for the Scottish Tories fall is that it simply mirrors falls elsewhere in the UK, and is part of a general trend. In Scotland it is magnified as those now leaving Tory ranks will, by definition, be the ‘softer’ supporters more recently won over by Cameron. It isn’t unreasonable to think that, given the recent polling history in Scotland, these have formed a greater proportion of Tory support north of the border over the last few months, so their loss is more noticable.

    I’m not claiming this as an irrefutable truth, but it is a theory I would welcome opinions on. There’s no question now that for whatever reason, Cameron has lost some support nationally, perhaps as much as 5 – 6%. This is very significant. The questions are why has it happened and will it continue.
    I always apply the ‘Boycott test’ [add two wickets and the score doesn’t look so clever]. Even a modest Labour recovery now would make life for Cameron pretty nervy unless he can regain some of his recent losses.

  16. The figures are miserable, but the political pendulum will inevitably swing back into Camerons favour- especially now that Brown is under such intense scrutiny over his rather meak attempt at dehumanising his opposition as ‘cutters’.

    This 5/6% will return when the political debate moves forward. But hey, glass half full eh?

  17. this polling operation normally underestimate the tory vote by 7%

    they are consistently completely wrong.normally they put the tories on 10%.have they weakened their anti tory stance i wonder?

    they just cant be taken seriously.

  18. ICM have now published the detailed data from their large BBC Scotland poll, marking 10 years of Scottish devolution:

    http://www.icmresearch.co.uk/pdfs/Scottish-Poll-june09.pdf

  19. I note that ISM have provided breakdowns by Religion (Protestant, Catholic, Other, None). I cannot recall seeing such a breakdown in a Scottish poll for quite a while.

    It provides some interesting tidbits, eg:

    – “Are you in favour or against the idea of holding a referendum next year on whether Scotland should become independent?”

    Overall: Yes 58% No 37%

    Religion breakdown:
    Protestant: Yes 56% No 38%
    Catholic: Yes 62% No 35%

    – “Next year, the Scottish Government wants to hold a referendum to ask the people of Scotland whether they agree or disagree that…
    “the Scottish Government should negotiate a settlement with the Government of the United Kingdom so that Scotland becomes an independent state”
    Do you think you would vote for or against this proposal?”

    Overall: For the proposal 42% Against the proposal 50%

    Religion breakdown:
    Protestant: For the proposal 35% Against the proposal 59%
    Catholic: For the proposal 51% Against the proposal 44%

    So, contrary to popular myth, Scottish catholics are actually more likely to be both pro-referendum and pro-independence than both the population as a whole, and protestants.

  20. @Dean Thompson – please don’t assume that I find a relatively poorer Tory performance as good news – I’m just discussing the numbers. I’m also not so sure that you, and many other posters here, are correct in that the scrutiny of Brown’s ‘cutters’ claims will drive people back to the Tories. I’m not sure Brown is making the right tactical call, but neither would I be surprised if we begin to see the ‘Tory cuts’ message, once repeated continuosly for the next 11 months, bed down in some people’s minds and become an electoral ‘fact’. It may not be correct, but it’s a tactic both parties have used to devastating effect in the past, and we have to face the fact that most people vote on vague impressions rather than careful analysis. If the economy improves to the extent that Labour can recover some credibility, their message on cuts will be listened to a little bit more.

  21. especially now that Brown is under such intense scrutiny over his rather meak attempt at dehumanising his opposition as ‘cutters’.

    —–

    What purpose does this comment serve?

    I’m sure it’s acceptable to veer slightly off topic from the polls themselves, but why do so in such a clumsy and crass one-sided manner?

    Can we not be above that on this blog – and yet still talk politics?

    FYI I might point out that political history shows – please go check the facts – that both main parties are as “good” or as “bad” as each other. Both “lie” as much as the other. Both break as many promises and both make as many mistakes as the other.

    Point scoring belongs elsewhere and not on here. Please try to bear that in mind.

  22. @ Alec

    Labour can shout “Tory cuts” for the next 11 months because it’s true; I can’t see any next government not making cuts, with the plunging tax revenues and Standard&Poor’s assessment making money more expensive on the bonds market.

    But now some commentators (e.g. the newest member of the MPC) think that we’re reaching the trough of the recession, so who will benefit? If Brown is gaining the “better the devil you know” vote, he may suffer. If he can claim victory in a recovery and drown out warnings from Standard&Poor and the IMF, then he might gain. But if that MPC member is right, and any recovery is “anaemic”, then jobs will not be created despite Brown’s claims to recovery, and that jarring message of Brown’s victory dance versus seeing friends still unemployed.

    As for Scotland, the SNP are now one of the top 2 parties; if you want Labour out, then the SNP are the main opposition. If I agreed with their domestic policies, despite being a unionist, I’d vote for the SNP.

  23. I still can’t understand why the cuts thing is an issue for Brown. If we all know that there will be cuts, why not just concentrate on the scale and timing issues, instead of pretending that a 0.000001 increaase is significantly different from a cut?

    Am I missing something? We all know Cameron will cut much deeper and faster (no shame in that – it’s what he stands for), so why on earth make the argument about the accuracy of the stats at all?

    I wonder what he has to say about Clinton Cards and National Express – whether he’d put their behaviour down to normal private business practice, or whether he’d be a bit miffed on behalf of the creditors (in the case of NE that’s us, and in the case of Clinton’s it’s probably lots of small businesses)

  24. by “he” I suppose I mean “they”, as I haven’t read much at all – especially about the response to Clinton’s little manouevre.

  25. If one looks at the detailed tables (see link kindly provided by Stuart Dickson above) it clearly demonstrates the difficulty in compiling a fully representative sample that accurately reflects Scottish opinion.

    The reason is that far from being monolithic or uniform, Scotland is a country with significant regional variations – in geographic, cultural and social terms. This means that there are very different political battle-lines in each region.

    TNS tried to address this by sampling across each of the 8 regions in the Holyrood parliament. But, with a total sample of 998, the regional sub-samples are all too small to be properly representative.

    While this may not matter that much in assessing levels of support for Lab and SNP – who are genuinely “national” – it does lead to a much higher margin of error for Con and LD support.

    To illustrate, compare the tables for those expressing a preference (a sample of only 600 in total) with the actual results less than four weeks ago.

    Maybe there are reasons for a decline in the Con share as compared to increases for Lab and SNP, with LDs basically unchanged.

    But if one looks at specific regions, the movements are totally contradictory:

    South:
    TNS: SNP 40; Lab 27; LD 14; Con 13
    Euros: SNP 25; Lab 19; LD 10; Con 24

    Glasgow:
    TNS: Lab 37; SNP 29; Con 12; LD 12
    Euros; Lab 31; SNP 28; Con 8.5; LD 7

    Highlands;
    TNS: SNP 49; Lab 25; Con 13; LD 12;
    Euros; SNP 28; Lab 10; Con 11; LD 22

    In each case the TNS shows a substantial increase for Labour, and barring Glasgow, for SNP, while the figures for Con and LD are all over the place.

    Obviously the regional sub-samples (each under 100 preferences expressed) cannot be a reliable guide. But the above figures also show why the aggregate tables may not be that helpful either.

  26. Clinton Cards appear to have avoided paying redundancy to a part oftheir workforce by some sharp paractice.They put a subsidiary into administration then ‘bought’ it from the administrator leaving 800 workers with no redundancy pay . I
    From what I understand of the Scottish Tories there’s no difference between them and the SNP on economic issues so who will vote for them? After all they’re the guys that run Scottish rugby which has been a disaster for many years. A bunch of talentless snobs by all accounts.

  27. @ Wolf

    The SNP favours centralisation of taxation in Scotland on Holyrood, both up from councils in Scotland and down from Westminster. The Tories favour localism, i.e. downwards towards the councils, individuals and charities. The SNP would like to pay for the loss of income tax through an additional income tax, the famed “Tartan Tax”.

    Whilst the scope of this is fairly limited, so are Holyrood’s economic powers. The Tories are keeping fairly schtum about taxes and spending if/when they win in Westminster in 2010, but then, so did Mrs T. As Heath pointed out, a detailed manifesto is a “hostage to fortune”. I’ve no idea if the SNP publishes a different manifesto for Westminster.

    Peter Cairns is a member of the SNP, so I bow to his corrections if I’ve got something wrong.

  28. PAUL-H-J

    Don’t be daft. Obviously the sub samples are not accurate because the sample size is too small but that does not mean that the full sample is not robust.

    This is no different from any opinion poll. If you wanted an accrurate sub sample then you would need a “super poll” of 5-10,000.

    However in EVERY Scottish poll, in EVERY Scottish sub sample of a UK poll, the SNP – TWO YEARS INTO GOVERNMENT- are performing at the highest level in their history – and this against a press corps which, at least on its on line versions, seems as sour and negative as ever..

    A truly astonishing achievment. The question is why? Perhaps some of the home based correspondents could tell us why.

  29. Brown thinks Cameron is not that popular, and that Labour can get out of the hole they are in. While I don’t believe the second half (Labour are just too unpopular), I think he’s got a point with the first half.

    Which explains the Tories weakness in Scotland – they are up against another opposition (in UK terms) that also happen to be a successful regional government. (And yes, you might not like all the SNP’s policies, in they have been pretty efficient, with no scandals anywhere near the Westminster scale and largly effective in governing from a quite weak position. So they appear objectively successful.)

    Oh, and Richard, the Nats have pushed through the biggest localisation of financial power in UK history by giving local councils near-complete discretion over their budget.

    Christian

  30. The key issues of this poll is which politicians are smiling most; again the SNP…

  31. @ Christian Schmidt

    I don’t claim to judge the Nats’ actions recently, but I refer you to this report – http://www.sundayherald.com/latestnews/hubnews/display.var.2111587.0.0.php

    The council tax would be abolished in favour of a uniform, Scotland-wide additional income tax. If it is uniform, it is dictated by Holyrood.

  32. The continuing, and indeed increasing support for the SNP is remarkable on a number of levels.

    First of all they are a minority Government in mid-term, when traditionally much of the almost euphoric support which greeted the election of a new Government has died away following the harsh experience of reality over expectation.

    The second point is that Scotland has been hit by the recession at least as hard if not more so than the rest of the UK. The (near) demise of our two largest financial institutions, bailed out (or so we are continually told) by the strength of a Union which the governing party is fundamentally opposed to, has still not dented their credibility.
    Lastly, and in order to keep this post relatively brief, the SNP have been opposed root and branch by all sections of the Scottish print and broadcast media.
    There is not one newspaper, TV or radio station which actively supports the party and indeed there has been a sustained campaign to undermine them at every available (or even unavailable) opportunity from a number of individuals and publications.

    The SNP is a modern political enigma.

  33. Yes Christian, Jack and Richeard – but WHY are the Nats proving so popular given that they ARE IN MID TERM.

    Is it just the Salmond effect – if so then Nicola Sturgeon also looks pretty able to lead.

    Is it just because Labour are so unpopular or is there a fundamental shift going on on identity perhaps?

    There must be some explanation which explains what is becoming an extraordinary feature of polling.

  34. @Ex-Pat

    Good question.

    I’m sorry to say (as a Tory) that Scotland will probably remain a public-sector-dominated nation, so what’s the difference between the Tories and Labour in Scotland for the average Scot? But the SNP offer something fresh and confrontational, and perhaps have galvanised Scottish politics.

    They also offer something that the other parties lack; a specific attachment to Scotland. Ironically, the Tories once had that in their alliance with the Unionist Party of Scotland so that the Unionists could boast of independence that the Scottish branch of Labour couldn’t, and this is perhaps what Cameron is trying to repeat in NI with the UUP.

  35. Richard

    An analysis of why the Tories aren’t cutting it north of the Tweed is inetresting but still doesn’t explain why the SNP – as opposed to say the Lib Dems in opposition north and south of the border – are soaring ahead!

    Dougie

    Even enigma must have an explanation (s). You are right about the Scottish media however. From my vantage point it seems incredible. Take Scotland on Sunday for example.

    Today carries a glowing profile of Nicola Sturgeon – about time – but the copy contains five snide attacks on Salmond. They are totally unbelievable which makes the Nats walking on poltical water all the more astonishing.

    HOWEVER IT MAY BE THAT THE COMBINATION OF SALMOND AND STURGEON THAT LOOKS SO STRONG.

  36. > but WHY are the Nats proving so popular given that they ARE IN MID TERM.

    To a large degree for the same reason that the Tories do so well in England: politics is a zero sum game in which you don’t have to be good, just better than the competition.

    And they just are. Firstly, the SNP is clearly better than Labour (not difficult at the moment). Secondly, as the 2nd big party in Scotland they get a head start in getting more media attention than the smaller parties (and while much of the printing press is negative, its still attention and TV and radio is quite neutral). Thirdly, the Tories and the Liberals both have their own problems (Tories = Thatcher, Liberals = Labours little helpers, both = lack of councillors / activists across large parts of Scotland). Fourthly, the Nats do have the better politicians (at the moment at least, thought note the unionist parties constantly loose good people to Westminster). Fifthly, as (regional) government they don’t suffer from the ‘all mouth no trousers’ opposition syndrome.

    (Oh and being minority government is actually an advantage as you can still claim credit for most things that go well – little can be done without your agreement – but if things do not go well the shit can often be shared – as in the ‘lost’ budget. How do you think all these Scandinavian minority governments manage to govern so well and get re-elected?)

  37. Ex Pat, I am not being daft.

    I fully understand the argument about regional sub-samples in UK wide polls – indeed I am not one of those that puts any store in the occasional Scottish sub-sample showing Tories at over 25% in Scotland.

    My point is more subtle than that.

    If one takes the UK, then while there may (actually, not may, will) be local variations in support for each party, taken across either a national, or even individual English region, the divergence from the national “average” will not be great.

    The exceptions to this are that one has to factor in SNP and Plaid for Scotland and Wales. The Scottish scenario is clearer and one regularly sees a different patetrn of support in this sub-sample to the national picture. Wales is complicated by virtue of being included in a wider region. Thus it is conceivable that in a given regional sub-sample of 150-200, there may be no more than 20-30 Welsh voters. This means that one cannot extrapolate Plaid Cymru support from National polls in the way one can for the SNP.

    Yes there are some English regions that are historically more inclined to one party or another, but overall they balance out – especially if one does not concentrate on a single poll and loks at aggregated figures over several months. But, overall, the picture is generally one of a Con-Lab contest in which there are some seats which are actually Con-LD and others which are Lab-LD contests. The seats involving Con-LD or Lab-LD contests ten to even each other out, not just nationally, but region by region.

    Returning to Scotland, the point I was making in my original post is that even at a “National” level, there is no primary contest – even though we may now see the SNP effectively replace Lab as the party which was present as a contender in all seats, but with a different foe from one area to another.

    In the 80s and 90s, Labour would be 1st or 2nd in all but a handful of Scottish seats. However, we now see that handful having spread to cover large parts of Scotland outside the Central belt, and there will be maybe a dozen Scottish seats at the election where Labour are not only a poor third, but even fourth.

    While the SNP has managed a broad-based improvement in support, there will still be many seats where it is a distant third.

    Across Scotland we see the following permutations:
    Lab-SNP; Lab-Con; Lab-LD; SNP-Con; SNP-LD; Con-LD; plus a fair number of different 3-way contests – Lab-LD-Con; LD-SNP-Con; Lab-SNP-Con; and maybe even one or two when all four parties are in contention.

    Moreover, there is not an even distribution of the various contests across Scotland, since those not involving Lab are primarily in rural Scotland outside teh central belt.

    This patchwork effect means that even “national” polls cannot predict what the outcome may be in any particular region – still less specific seats.

  38. Paul

    Perhaps not daft but rather out of touch.

    In the European elections a month ago the SNP came first in 26 out of 32 Scottish local authorites , second in four and a close third in the other two.

    No-where were they a “distant” third beacuse they had a lot more votes than the other three parties and their votes were distributed pretty evenly across the country.

    The question is how have they achieved such a dominance while they are in mid-term, not so much against Labour which is a deeply unpopular government at Westminster but also against Tory and Liberal who are in opposition both north and south of the border.

    Is it leadership, is it the politics of identity, is it superior organisation?

    If you can tell me then I will withdraw daft completely!

  39. Christian

    Interesting stuff but what about the leadership factor.

    I see on the Beeb website a reference to a Newsnicht presentation on an ICM poll last week showing Salmond streets ahead of Brown and Cameron.

    Does anyone have the detail and is there similar figures for Sturgeon recently?

  40. RICHARD MANNS,

    The SNP isn’t in favour of centralised taxation, but with LIT the choice is between 32 different tax rates for council which varry from 400,000 tax payers in Glasgow to less that 10,000 in the three Island Councils.

    Add to that the problem of large companies that have employees in more than one council area and it makes sense in terms of efficiency and administration to set it nationally.

    In addition with large numbers of the better earners commuting into our cities you run the risk of better off suburban councils setting a low tax while the cities where they work set a high one.

    There always needs to be a grant support system to even these variations out but it should be as efficient and effective as possible. The current way in which Council support grants are calculated in a classic example of red tape gone mad.

    At this point someone usually comes in with “No taxation without representation” but that’s not a rule of economics it’s a political slogan, particularly favoured by thoes who want lower taxes.

    If people don’t like LIT being set nationally I look forward to seeing there proposals for tax powers to community councils.

    Peter.

  41. Does anyone have the leadership ratings referred to above for Salmond but , in particular, for Sturgeon?

    How did ICM compare Salmond, Brown and Cameron?

    Did they do similar ratings for the Scottish Party leaders?

    Is this the real explanation?

  42. Ex-Pat

    If you reread my daft posts carefully you may find that my key point is that due to regional variations it is difficult for any poll with a smallish sample to properly reflect the highly regionalised support for either Cons or LDs in Scotland. Moreover, while a national poll may well be able to pick up relative support for Lab and SNP wihin a reasonable margin of error, this of itself does not give us the confidence to predict the outcome in terms of seats.

    In other words, it may well be that the result were there a Holyrood election this week would be in the region of Lab 30 and SNP 39%, both +/- 2%, but I believe that the figures for Con or LD are both understated in this poll, the Con figure possibly by as much as 5% (This is after all a Holyrood poll not a Westminster one, otherwise I believe the Con figure may be higher still).

    Even were all four figures accurate within 3% either way for share of vote across Scotland, I don’t think one can simply take the figures for the last Holyrood election in 2007 and adjust the share of the vote in each seat up/down to arrive at a projected result.

    As to out of touch, I must admit I had not really looked at how broadly based the SNP performance was in June. Clearly the SNP is now close to being in the position in which Lab used to be as a contender for almost every Scottish seat. (Incidentally, as far as I can tell, Borders is the only council area where SNP came third, 5% behind LD and 12% behind Cons).

    However, that does not detract from my point about the fragmented nature of the battleground, inasmuch that whereas SNP was first or second in all but Borders Council areas, the “other” party in first / second place was Con in 9 Councils, LD in 4, and Lab in the remainder. There were also a handful of areas where three parties were close, and one where all four were bunched.

    In addition, the Council areas do not translate directly to Westminster (or Holyrood) seats. To take one obvious example, Edinburgh with 5/6 seats, was tight between all four parties. That does not mean that the 17-21% for each party is evenly distributed across all seats, and it follows that each party may be stronger in some seats and weaker in others. Indeed, it is theoretically possible for SNP to win the most votes across Edinburgh at the next GE but still emerge with no seats precisely because its vote is evenly distributed.

    The SNP dominance in recent elections / polls has come primarily at the expense of Labour. The reasons for that are fairly clear.

    However, if you look again at the detailed results from 4th June, you will find that in those areas where Lab has already fallen out of contention, the SNP position is not materially improved upon the results from the 2007 Holyrood elections.

    I am not decrying from Salmond’s performance as a leader, and I don’t doubt that being in government (even a minority one) acts as a spur to improved identity and assists with organisation.

    FWIW, I believe that the order of the four parties at the next GE in terms of votes will be the same as on 4th June, and I doubt that the share of vote (after some redistribution of others) will be that much different either.

    Quite how that pans out in terms of seats won/lost is however an open question. In the central belt where it is a straight Lab/SNP battle, the SNP will need to be significantly further ahead of Lab in total votes in order to win many seats simply because the Lab vote will be concentrated in this area while the SNP votes will be spread across the country.

  43. It will be interesting to see what trends emerge over the summer and in to the conference season but it could be that the effect of Labours melt down and the expenses affair could be a narrowing of the gap between Westminster and Holyrood voting intentions.

    A combination of a percieved failure by Labour nationally and dissapointment with Westminster in general could well mean that what we have seen clearly for the first decade of devolution, Scots voting differently for westminster and Holyrood, might be changing.

    If this was the case Holyrood constituency seat results might be a better guide for Westminster next year that the last general election.

    Peter.

  44. Peter,

    In principle, I would agree with you, but….

    Whilst I understand the theory, in practice the divergence between the two sets of boundaries means that even if we could accurately transpose the 2007 results to the Westminster boundaries it does not follow that all voters would have voted the same way for Westminster.

    We can of course strip out tactical voting by using the regional rather than constituency vote from 2007. I would even go so far as to say that that would be a better base-line than the Euro vote last month.

    Perhaps it would be more accurate to say that the 2010 (assuming it is May 2010) result would be a pretty good guide to the likely outcome for 2011 Holyrood results ? (Though we still have a mapping issue and no way of discounting any tactical voting which may occur.)

  45. Paul H-J

    Interesting analysis. In passing, you mention the Borders being the only area where we in the SNP are third.

    We were however only 5% behind the Lib Dems (18.5% to 23.5%) and Labour were on just 6.4%. This in an area which had in past years delivered more than 45% (and often more than 50%) to the Lib Dems and where in 2004 we came 5th in the Euros (behind UKIP and Labour, in Roxburgh and Berwickshire at least).

    Hence, even here in the Borders, we have made genuine progress. If we had been better placed on postals, where we have been guilty of letting the Tories and LDs steal a march, I am sure we would have been pushing for second place. If the SNP nationally starts to target the Lib Dem vote (to win in places like Gordon, Argyll and Inverness), we will benefit from that in a way that knocking Labour can’t help us, as they are squeezed to the max here.

    So, we are working on it, but whereas in some areas it is a two horse race, we are fighting both the Tories and Lib Dems in what both would regard as heartlands. However, we believe we now may have more members then the LDs, so watch this space. At least now we are firmly part of the three horse race, rather than on the sidelines.

    All the best.

  46. Borderer,

    Your comments about SNP targeting of LD votes is interesting – and reinforces the point I was making earlier about the variety of scenarios applicable. As an aside, SNP progress in areas like this makes it easier for Cons to take LD seats. You couldn’t organise such a campaign in St Andrews could you ?

    As you note, Borders is an area wher Lab are clearly out of contention, and there is little of their vote left to be squeezed. This will become progressively true across the Highlands, Grampian and Tayside, with Labour support confined to the main cities.

    We will undoubtedly see a large number of 3-way marginals in Scotland, and the SNP will be among those 3 in almost all – possible exceptions being Edinburgh S and Aberdeen S – though these could become 4-way marginals as Inverness was in 1987-92.

    Indeed, it may well be the case that 3-way marginals are more common in Scotland at the next election than the traditional two-party marginal with others a long way behind. There will also be a large number of seats where one party is way out in front despite being on under 40% purely because 2-3 parties are vying with each other in the 17-24% range.

    This of course will make it even harder to predict outcomes based on share in Scotland wide polls !

  47. Paul H-J

    You are not as out of touch as I thought.

    You are correct and I wrong about the number of local authority areas where the SNP came third – it was one (Borders) not two as I thought.

    However I think I have the main point which is that with a Euro total of 26 firsts – 5 seconds and one third the SNP will be challanging in just about every seat around Scotland come the election.

    There will be exceptions but not many on current form.

    I am still searching for a definitive expanation as to why this should be so. I can see the reasons for Labour weakness but why should the SNP in mid term
    be in record breaking form?

  48. Ex-Pat,

    No offence taken since you did cause me to review my impression of the breadth of the SNP position. I can see that SNP will indeed be first/second in all but a handful of Scottish seats. The most interesting aspect of this is that the exceptions are of two very different kinds.

    On the one hand we have two LD/Con seats – Borders and Fife NE, one of which is marginal, the other not (as yet). These contrast with two other historically LD/Con contests which are now 3-way contests which SNP may well win (Argyll & Gordon).

    On the other, we have two Lab/LD/Con 3-way marginals where the SNP are currently fourth, but may not be that far behind the pack. It may well be that come polling day these turn out as close 4-way marginals, and SNP may not necessarily be 4th (though I doubt that they can muscle their way up to second, still less win).

    As to why the SNP are doing so well at present, I think there are a range of factors in play, the most important of which is that the SNP are simply not the Labour party. One could ask why Con and LD have not benefited to the same extent, but I think it is true to say that the SNP are now seen as the principal alternative to Labour in Scotland, hence they have benefitted most.

    When we talk about “mid-term blues” this has historically been in relation to a poorer performance by the governong party in local elections 2-3 years into their period of office. But that has also always been by way of reference to the government at Westminster.

    It may be that despite being in (minority) government at Holyrood, the SNP have not suffered from “mid-term blues” because the electorate are not looking primarily at Holyrood, but at Westminster, when venting their spleen.

    In a way, their position is not that disimilar to a large Council held by the opposition. In some cases the opposition has only taken control because they are not the government, in others, they have been the “natural” party of control in that area. Either way, they do not suffer a reaction in their own mid-term. Look for example at the Metropolitan counties in the 1980s.

    This is not to denigrate Holyrood, but a simple question of hierarchy.

    As to what implications this has for future elections, I suspect that the response may be markedly different as between Holyrood and Westminster.

    Indeed, Salmond may be a trifle concerned that Brown is going to hang on to the bitter end. I am sure that he would much prefer to fight the 2011 Holyrood election in the context of a national Tory government 18-24 months into fiscal austerity (aka public spending cuts) than one which has just delivered its first non-emergency budget.

  49. Paul H-J

    From my vantage point I cannot really be sure but I am told that the Scottish Parliament dominates political coverage in the Scottish media and therefore your admittedly interesting analogy with a large Council cannot hold good.

    No Council I can think of is in that position except perhaps the ill fated Hatton led Liverpool in the 1980s.

    Therefore I think we can assume that the SNP Government is being judged on its merits. We can also allow for the facts that Labour are in the doghouse while the Tories will take another generation to re-connect with the Scots. That leaves the Liberals.

    The Lib Dems are totally opportunistic and widely disliked by polticos across the spectrum but that doesn’t stop them conning some of the people some of the time elsewhere. What stops them in Scotland?

    And why do the SNP shrug off the negative publicity from a deeply hostile press corps?

    I think it comes down to leadership and if anyone has the recent ratings from ICM for Salmond and perhaps Sturgeon I would dearly like to see them.

    Salmond and Sturgeon are the ideal combination – much stronger together than as individuals. He is the bright but likeable bloke. She is the thoroughly modern young women. Between them just about everybody can see something to admire.

    Compare Salmond and Sturgeon with Brown and Harman or Cameron and Osborne – get the point!

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