There is a new Populus poll in the Times. Topline voting intention, with changes since Populus’s last poll, are CON 39%(-1), LAB 29%(-1), LDEM 18%(nc).

It’s another no change poll, but as I’m sure many will note, 10 points is a particularly low lead compared to other recent polls. Populus use very similar methodology to ICM, and I’d expect them normally to show pretty similar pictures. However, the last two Populus polls have shown Tory leads of 10 points and the last two ICM polls have shown Tory leads of 17 points. Technically speaking they are within the margin of error of a position somewhere inbetween, and since there’s no methodological explanation my guess is that it is just that – normal sample error with the real picture being a lead around 13 or 14.

Others are up slightly to 14%, this is mostly a boost for UKIP who are up to 4% from 2% a month ago. It’ll be read as a result of the Conservative Lisbon policy, but I would be wary of reading too much into that – there’s no significant shift in Tory support and the level of support for minor parties does tend to bounce about a bit. For the record though, it is higher than UKIP normally reach in Populus polls (as opposed to around the time of the European elections, when they were as high as 8%)

Asking specifically about the Conservative European policy, 48% of respondents backed the Conservative policy that “it would be pointless to have a referendum on Europe unless specific further changes in Britain’s relations with the EU were being proposed”, with 46% instead saying that “should be a referendum early in the next Parliament on the general issue of Britain’s relations with the EU”. Conservative supporters however were less supportive – only 37% agreed with their own party’s policy, with 59% supporting a referendum.

Populus also asked about MP’s pay. 68% disagreed with the statement that MPs should have their pay increased “to ensure that good quality people from all backgrounds are not deterred from standing”.


157 Responses to “Tory leads stays at just 10 from Populus”

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  1. @JOHN B DICK
    On a different tack I think perhaps the real winners in Glasgow were the Tories. And not just because of their fiesty wee women.
    Brown will hand off any challenges as a result of this result, this will suit Cameron down to the ground. Any waivering about giving Johnson or Milliband a chance is squashed.
    Its just James Gordon Brown he has to beat.

  2. It was suggested above that Conservative bloggers now realistically saw only four gains in Scotland.

    That should really be one more-than-likely gain and three possibles. Those with Local knowlege will know best, but to gain all three would require the Conservatives to be very lucky in their choice of good candidates and positioning on local issues, and the Conservatives aren’t exactly spoilt for choice in the sellection of candidates in Scotland when they have field candidates in every seat.

    While it would be rash to say that they will win only one additional seat, it is also unlikely that they will win all four.

    One they won’t win is Argyll, because if the LibDem loses enough votes to fall below the Conservative (and that is by no means certain) the way these voted split is crucial and the third placed SNP may well win. I wouldn’t bet on the winner, but the Conservative will most likely still be in second place, and is unlikely to be third. Labour won’t be lower than fourth place.

    My analysis above is that many former LibDem voters who never had any loyalty to the party, now see the SNP as the best third party choice. If that is so, in this, the least rural of the highland LibDem incumbencies, most LibDem votes lost will break in favour of the SNP rather than the Cons.

    If there is any change at all, and that’s by no means certain, it won’t be a Con gain, and Argyll is probably one of the four seats Conservatives expect to win. (Another may be an SNP marginal and that’s improbable)

    Of course, complications of that sort and local conditions may work in the Conservatives favour in other target seats, and whether I am right about Argyll or not, they may very well win one, or even two of them but it’s very optimistic to count all four chickens before they are hatched.

    I’m predicting that the number of seats in Scotland which change hands does not exceed ten, and that Labour’s net losses will be no more than six. Neither the SNP nor the Conservatives will lose any that they curretly hold.

    I’ve suggested above why the SNP would be wrong to expect a big breakthrough this time and also why they will not be disappointed if they have a little more patience.

    Those who are calculating the size of the Conservative majority over Labour should do so without assuming that the scale of Labour losses in England will be replicated in Scotland, albeit to the SNP’s advantage rather than the Conservatives.

    The resilience of Labours huge majorities in the West of Scotland is nothing new and nor is the FPTP dynamic. The SNP’s time may yet come, it’s just not this time, and a Conservative government will help if it is as ignorant about Scottish sensibilities as the last one.

    Another possibility is that anti-EU obsessives and English Nationalists amongst the Conservative party might (quite mistakenly) assume that the substantial number of Labour MPs could never be reduced by either the SNP or Scottish Conservatives, and help the SNP have what it wants most of all.

    They would be wrong to think that, but it wouldn’t be the first time they were wrong.

  3. John B Dick

    An interesting analysis, particularly on Tory gains. However, there was a time when Tories held alot of seats in Scotland. The Thatcher years changed that. Even from England I can see that the Tories in Scotland have rebranded as the Scottish Tories.

    Can you see a time (not in the next couple of elections) when say a third of MPs in Scotland are Tory?

  4. Can you see a time (not in the next couple of elections) when say a third of MPs in Scotland are Tory?

    I personally doubt it. You should have a look at the polling data from Yougov, the Tory vote is distinguishable from mainstream voters. This is especially true for views on the Scottish Parliament. If you’re a Tory, the silver lining is that their voters seem fairly entrenched in their views (i.e. they are unlikely to vote for anyone else). The other side of the coin, if you take John’s example of Argyll, I would have thought they may pick up the seat only if the Lib Dem AND SNP vote is split fairly evenly (I do not suspect they will see a rush of voters suddenly voting conservative). The net effect being, Tories will pick up seats only where the anti-conservative sentiment (i.e. SNP voters voting to keep the Tories out) is the weakest.

    The question you have to ask is, where will voters come from for this Tory revival? A problem as I see it is that Labour seem to portray themselves quite well as a West of Scotland party in Scotland. The problem is that SNP-LibDem-Conservative are all vying for the seats outside of Glasgow. A modest Tory recovery will only win a couple of seats. A recovery you are talking about would result in the Tories taking everything from SNP/LibDem – which I cannot see happening. Labour know that if they keep Glasgow and the West, they will always be a powerful force in Scotland (which I should not lament so much (sorry James)).

  5. Davey

    Yes, but only under independence if the SNP fragments.

    I can see a time two elections away or maybe only two years away when they can be in coalition with the SNP in the Scottish Parliament.

    Bavarianisation (or independence) and rebranding as the responsible party of the thinking Scottish right (as compared with the recent positioning as the Thatcherite Nasty Party ignorant of anything on this side of the border) is what they need.

    They are already moving in that direction. Notwithstanding a few lapses, under Ms Goldie they are smarter operators in a minority government situation than the LibDems.

    There are economic rightwingers amongst the SNP whom they could cosy up to up after independence, when they would be a purely Scottish party.

    To reach the former position when Scottish Conservatives had the majority of the popular vote (the only party in any part of the UK to do so) they would similar opponents, and that is inconcievable.

    Labour then was an association of class warriors and a strong Roman Catholic base. The middle class, and those who aspired to be middle class, together with a handful of rabid working class protestants, found it impossible to identify with Labour even if a Labour government would have been in their narrow economic interests.

    The LibDems had yet to build support at a local level. If one should reach a better third place in a general election than a barely saved deposit, commentators would look for a reason why they should come back from the dead and point to an old National Liberal history in the constituency.

    The large heavy industry employer with unionised Labour is gone altogether but so too have the One Nation Conservatives who were the backbone of the party. Fundamentalist free marketeers and English nationalists have repelled some, but most have just died off, and their class solidarity is no longer relevant because of the Americanisation of culture.

    Sectarianism in Schools remains, but religion is not what it was either.

  6. Davey

    Could I see the Socialists in Scotland winning a third of the seats? Same answer:

    “Yes, but only under independence if the SNP fragments.” … and if Labour implodes.

    For the moment, the Socialists are spending more time with their lawyers. They would need to be united, and give up their propensity for a truly Presyterian level of schism. That would be against all experience.

    The would also have to give up another bad habit too.

    Socialists use elections campaigns (because they have few other opportunities) to preach their faith, instead of arguing for their policies showing how they would work.

    Conservatives do this too, as Teresa May did the other day. If you are preaching to the converted it is OK to say that unrestricted free financial markets will create vast riches for a few, but Hey! that’s OK because they will flash their money about and the person who cuts their hair will get £100 a time.

    Or the Nationalists will tell you that an independent Scotland will be a land flowing with milk and honey, and it will be organic milk and the honey will be low GI and good for diabetics … or the Greens will fix Global warming in three weeks.

    In six (at least) party PR Scotland any party which is going to form a government is going to need a lot of support from those who do not accept the whole credo of the party (or any other party). A party with wide support cannot be a sect, but a broad church.

    So you can’t argue from the premise that the basic tenets of the faith are accepted by all rational people and that it only needs to interpreted to show that the policy is bound to work. You have to first persuade voters that the policy is worth a try, wait till they realise for themselves that it does indeed work, and then explain why it worked because of general principles.

    Socialists usually try to start at the wrong end.

  7. Can I see Labour winning a third of the seats in Scotland two or three elections from now?

    That’s the real issue, and a very different answer.

    NewLabour, no. Old Labour: same answer as for Conservative.

    They need at least Bavarianisation. Independence for the Scottish Labour party, or independence for Scotland, it doesn’t matter. Either will do.

    The SNP claim, with some justice, that the other three large parties are controlled from London and this is even more true of Labour than the others.

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