The Telegraph has a new Scottish poll from YouGov. Looking at topline voting intentions first, Westminster support (with changes from way back in August) stand at CON 18%(-2), LAB 39%(+9), LDEM 12%(-6), SNP 24%(-2). As with the recent TNS-BMRB poll, it shows a real strengthening of Labour’s Westminster support in Scotland.

Comparing this to the last General election, Labour’s vote is unchanged, the Conservatives up just 2 points. The SNP are up by 6, the Lib Dems down by a crushing 11. On a uniform swing at a general election, that would result in the SNP gaining Ochil & South Perthshire from Labour, and Labour gaining Dunbartonshire East and Inverness,etc from the Lib Dems. The Conservatives wouldn’t gain anything.

Holyrood voting intentions CON 15%, LAB 33%, LDEM 14%, SNP 32%. The Telegraph doesn’t make clear if this is constituency or regional voting intention, but the changes from the 2007 election quoted in the article imply it was constituency voting intention, in which case it would represent a small swing back to Labour since YouGov’s last Holyrood polling in October when the SNP led Labour 34% to 31%.

Voting intention in a referendum on Scottish Independence stands at YES 29%(+1), NO 57%(nc), practically unchanged from the last time YouGov asked in October. The Telgraph compare the figures to an earlier poll back in October 2008 when the figures were Yes 31%, No 53%… but even then, their claim that “Support for Scottish independence has plummeted” is stretching things a bit!

UPDATE: The tables are now on YouGov’s website here. The regional figures for Holyrood stand at CON 14%, LAB 30%, LDEM 14%, SNP 29%, GRN 6%. The fieldwork dates are the 18th to the 20th November, so only a week or so after Glasgow North East.

139 Responses to “YouGov shows Labour support rising in Scotland”

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  1. Andrew,

    “Can someone on this website tell me why the Conservatives are not out campaigning in Scotland ?

    To my knowledge David Cameron has never been North of the Border nor has any memeber of the Shadow Cabinet.”

    That’s a nonsense – DC was in Glasgow NE, as were several members of the Shadow Cabinet. We are out campaigning regularly all over Scotland (Glasgow is a particular hotspot ;))


    I agree that 5 seats is the top end for the Conservatives (I know some party activists who insist we will only have 2 – DCT and BRS), but I think you are a little over optimistic with the SNP’s prospects – particularly your forlorn hope of retaining Glasgow East.

    I think the state of the parties after the next GE will be:

    Labour – 35
    SNP – 10
    Libdem – 10
    Conservative – 4

  2. Peter

    I don’t care what independence costs.

    I don’t think it is either necessary or the best option.

    I want the comfort of knowing that when I am no longer here that my grandchildren will live in a country which respects the values on the mace and is governed on the Founding Principles of the Scottish Parliament.

    If independence now will deliver that in my lifetime I want it for me as much as I want what I want for them.

    The SNP is missing out on the best case for independence.

  3. ‘JAMES
    Labour is able to run as outsiders in Scotland against the SNP and the SNP needs to do a better job of fighting back against Labour.’

    Labour is not an outsider in Scotland; people can see and understand Westminster and also Labour ran Scotland (badly) for many years and also is still in many townhalls. Labour is only an ‘outsider’ as it currently is not in power at Holyrood, not really a useful usage of the term ‘outsider’ as its not a definition most people use.

    So, it’s still Labour versus SNP I agree; and the most common form of Labour is the dying Westminster govt. which does not allow Holyrood all the powers it needs. Easy argument for the SNP- we’d do it but Westminster isn’t doing / providing on all the bad news–and on the good news it’s all due to quality of SNP in Holyrood.

  4. One thought. If the Liberal Democrats really were on 12% in Scotland, shouldn’t they be on something like 15%-17% nationally instead of 19%.

    Similarly, if Labour really is on 39% in Scotland shouldn’t they be on something like 29%-31% nationally instead of 26%.

    I only say this because of the way the votes and seats are distributed for Labour and Liberal Democrats across the UK.

    It would seem to me that if this Scottish Poll is correct then the MORI Poll published at the weekend must also be correct because Labour in particular would be holding onto seats they are meant to lose, even gaining a few from both the Liberal Democrats and the SNP, thus restricting Tory gains.

    I would love to know what people think.

  5. I hope the left encourage more scottish tories to read this blog to see the views of some of the English tories here, they can see that English tories are so vindictive and care so little about them that they want to be chucked away.
    It is good propaganda for the fact that tories are n anti scottish Little Englander party in the extreme.

  6. Richard,

    I don’t think so. It entirely depends on their popularity in England and Wales. I believe that the Libdems are considerably more popular in England, while Labour are far less popular in both England and Wales.

    Dirty Euro,

    Can you think of any examples?

  7. Sorry Anthony but your not accurate when you say that on those figures the Scottish tories wouldnt make any gains, I ran the numbers through Electoral Calc and it came out:

    Lab: 42 [+1]
    Con: 3 [+2]
    SNP: 7 [nc]
    Lib: 7 [-4]

    That seems like substantial progress for the tories, a collapse of the libs and a decent night for labour.

    And your inaccurate again on the Holyrood numbers, the article makes clear in the Telegraph that those were Holyrood CONSTITUENCY NUMBERS.

    Honestly, at least try and pay more respect to the seperate Scottish political cycle!

    As a vindictive little englander I could not care less who the left encourage to read this blog. Scottish Tories all 15 of them, are not about to be burned at the stake are they? We have got our own fish to fry.

  9. Dean,

    I think Anthony said that on these figures the Conservatives would not gain any seats on UNS – which is correct I think. Electoral Calculus doesn’t use UNS – quite rightly in my opinion, as UNS doesn’t happen in real life.

    I hope the left encourage more scottish tories to read this blog to see the views of some of the English tories here’

    Bizarre comment. How could the left do this? Why would they do this? Why would the left want to know the views of little englanders / UKIP / BNP / the empire still rules people?

  11. King Harold

    The last heretic, a Unitarian, was hanged in 1696, the last witches burned alive in 1661. Recently we’ve gone a bit soft. Just before hanging for murder was ended you were 13 times more likely to be killed if tried in England.

    Tory MSP’s are a national treasure which remind us of the former one nation Conservatives motivated by a sense of duty to serve the community through the only electable alternative to the class warriors of the socialist Labour party.

    Had they been freed from Westminster ties at devolution they might well now be in coalition with either Lab or SNP.

  12. @ JOHN B DICK
    Thanks John I was hopeing you would clear this up for me.
    The wee man Dirty Euro had me concerned that Mel Gibson was on the war path again.

  13. Neil, John

    Ochil, Dundee and Argyll I would say are virtual shoe-ins for the SNP. Aberdeen North probable.

    I would add Glasgow South as a potential SNP gain. SNP hold the Holyrood equivalent with a high profile MSP (Nicola Sturgeon) who is very popular (or certainly populist).

    The Labour encumbent Tom Harris has a lower profile than the former MSP who spent most of his time running a law firm.

    SNP won the popular vote in Glasgow South in the Euro elections despite the wide range of voting options available in that poll. The SNP candidate (Malcolm Fleming) is pretty strong too.

    Just one to add to the mix.

  14. Paul
    Let’s focus on what I am trying to do here with Neil’s help. Your challenge to my calculations may allow me to improve them.
    My contention is that calculations of parliamentary majorities based on national polls do not reflect the reality that, as a consequence of FPTP and regional differences, changes in Scottish seats will be remarkably few. If I am right, Alex Salmond’s estimate of 20 seats is wildly optimistic, and Conservative gains and Labour losses are also overstated in most estimates.
    I am trying to separate Scotland from UK projections in order to estimate the Lab/Con majority for Scotland alone in the hope that it can be considered alongside estimates for the remainder of the UK. For that purpose, it doesn’t matter whether the LibDem in Argyll retains his seat or loses to the SNP, but it does if he loses to the Conservative.
    I have suggested that there will be an excess of Lab over Con MP’s sent to Westminster of 33. Neil offers 31 as his “most likely” or perhaps it is his “worst for Labour”. I calculate his “conservative” (in the accounting sense) and “possible” estimate as 34 and 32.
    Maybe I will be persuaded that my estimate is too high or too low, but whatever the final figure I don’t think the old swingometer and a national poll can be used at all in Scotland with 4 regional parties, an electorate now experienced in split voting in a single election many of whom (as Peter has explained) see the party which they voted for most recently and strongly approve of (see OldNat’s post) as irrelevant to the election we are now considering.
    It is unlikely that Neil’s guesses or mine are exactly right and all are highly qualified anyway, but we are very close and crucially are using the same method.
    The few differences between us are that I would not want to be specific about which seats the SNP and Con gain beyond the one most likely in each case, but I’m allowing that some other chickens may hatch if these don’t and there could well be one or even two further rogue SNP gains from third place on local circumstances only predictable with local knowledge. I’m counting Argyll as an SNP gain for the reasons I explained above.
    I’m cautious about Con gains because as even DC acknowledges that the trend is against Labour rather that in favour of the Conservatives, and they are less likely to benefit in near Con-free, four-party Scotland.
    It isn’t partisan optimism that makes me unwilling to accept that Glasgow East will revert to Labour. It’s the fact that I didn’t predict the SNP win and don’t understand it even with hindsight. There must be local factors at work and it may be that for whatever reason people in this constituency have turned against Labour permanently. Those that have done so, noting the attention they have generated may well be much more likely to vote SNP again for no better reason than that they enjoyed giving Labour a kicking last time and want to do it again.
    Maybe these differences between us could be reduced. I’m open to persuasion, but they are so marginal and may be compensating that it really doesn’t matter.
    Between 31 and 34 extra Scottish Labour MP’s will contribution to the difference between the parties of Westminster government and the SNP will be are “defeated” by only being able to increase their seats by two thirds of what they currently have and converting many third place positions into winnable marginals for next time.
    In all of the estimates the total number of seats changing hands is far less than required for the highest number of gains predicted in these pages by optimists in either of the parties which are expected to win additional seats. Neither will the LibDems suffer the heavy losses their opponents have predicted. Whatever Labour may lose in votes isn’t going to make a big difference is seats.

  15. Denis Donoghue

    I have acknowledged such possibilities as an unspecific provision for rogue SNP gains on local circumstances, and I think that two such would be rather a lot.

    There is only one Nicola Sturgeon and only one workaholic Health Secretary. No doubt she will make a positive contribution in the constituency campaign but they can’t produce a clone to stand as the MP in the same constituency.

    If I were running the SNP’s party broadcasts she’d get the most exposure. It’s the way she shakes her head ans says “It’s wrong. We’re not doing it.” (Contract cleaning, PFI etc.). There is no answer to that.

  16. James

    Thanks you have given two good reasons why labour does so much better in Scotland, they are the challengers rather than government and there are several leading Scottish MPs holding key positions.

    Cllr Cairns,

    Thank you for your analysis of tories in Scotland. I find informative postings like this really interesting.

    Dirty Euro,

    How can you tell the difference between scottish and english tories? Is it their names e.g. cameron?

  17. Denis D,

    I agree with you about Ochil – certain SNP gain. Dundee West is likely, but certainly not a shoe-in. Argyll & Bute (see, I used the modern spelling this time :)) is a tough one for the SNP – certainly wouldn’t put any money on it. Aberdeen North is possible – but I wouldn’t go so far as to say probable.

    As to Glasgow South, the SNP have about as much chance of winning it as the Socialist Labour Party have of winning Horsham. It isn’t going to happen. (OK, perhaps slightly more chance, but not much). FYI there isn’t an equivalent seat in Holyrood – it is split up between 3 Holyrood seats, and all 3 have other areas in them too, so no conclusions can be drawn. Furthermore, as has been pointed out ad nauseum on this site, Westminster results bear no relation to Holyrood results (for a host of reasons). Also, I wouldn’t go so far as to say Tom Harris has a low public profile, even compared to the sturgeon. Harris is very well known (and liked) in Glasgow South, and outside it too. If you remember back to June he was one of James Purnell’s principal allies.

    All in all, I think you are dramatically over-estimating the SNP’s prospects.

  18. John B Dick,

    Maybe I can help you to understand why the SNP won Glasgow East, and then you will see why they are unlikely to hold onto it.

    They won because:
    1) The SNP were at the zenith of their popularity in mid 2008
    2) Labour were at the depth of their unpopularity in 2008
    3) Labour took the voters for granted
    4) Labour called the by-election far too quick, assuming they would win, and didn’t give themselves enough time for an effective campaign
    5) Labour selected their candidate FAR too late

    There may well have been other reasons, but as I see it these are the main ones, and you can see at a glance that none of them will apply in 2010.

  19. @JOHN B DICK
    Your point number 5 – late choice of candidate, do I remember that the eventual choice of candidate was 2nd or 3rd choice, to make matters worse?

  20. @NEIL
    Sorry Neil the above question to you not John.

  21. King Harold,

    I don’t remember that bit, but very possibly. Also, she was a sitting member of the Scottish Parliament, and, IIRC was in the frame to become leader of Labour in Scotland at the time (shortly after the long overdue demise of Wendy Alexander’s political career). So she clearly wasn’t committed to going as a constituency MP to Westminster – that can’t have helped.

  22. Andrew “To my knowledge David Cameron has never been North of the Border nor has any member of the Shadow Cabinet.”.

    You obviously are not well informed. Cameron as party leader has visited Scotland at least 6 times to my to my knowledge. He campaigned in the last 4 Westminister Scottish by-elections (whereas G Brown only went to 3). Many others in the shadow cabinet have campaigned in Scotland and both Cameron & Osbourne have made major speeches in Scotland this year.

  23. King Harold

    No 1 isn’t big enough, or as much in evidence elsewhere as it would need to be to account for an upset of that size.

    No3 would be the credible explanation I’m looking for except that it was anything but new so I remain unconvinced. If that really is the explanation then it might well not be temporary, but again, why do we not see a shift of such proportions elsewhere?

    There were many candidates rejected or who refused to stand. It depends how you are counting, but there were more than three.

    There was criticism of the previous Labour MP, but why would large numbers of people take it out on his would-be successor. Maybe it was the local party that was being punished in which case it might be worse next time.

    In any case, remember that what we are trying to establish is not how biased I am in favour of the SNP. If I assume reversion in Glasgow East, than my estimate of inertia in the Labour contigent from Scotland (some of them are very inert indeed) is increased, as is the Lab over Con majority.

    That would add further weight my argument that it needs to be assessed separately.

    If my unspecified SNP gains do not materialise the excess of Lab over Con to go into any calculation of a majority or hung parliament increases further. 33? 34? 35? 36? ….!

    Can we all agree on NOT FEWER THAN 30.

    Now what are we predicting without Scotland?

  24. John,

    I don’t think any one factor caused the upset – but if you take all of them together, plus of course the fact that there was a depressed turnout due to its being a by-election – I think we have some idea that the circumstances were more favourable to the SNP, and less favourable to Labour, than they will be in 2010.

    Don’t get me wrong, I am far from a Labour man, and as to politics am absolutely indifferent about the result in Glasgow East.

    In terms of the likely national picture I find it easier to think about the country as a whole than breaking it down into constituent parts. As I see it the likely final scores accross the UK are something close to:

    Norn Iron – 18
    SNP – c. 10
    Welsh Nat – c. 4
    Libdems – 45-50
    Others – 2-3

    That leaves about 570 seats to share between the Conservatives and Labour in the UK. As far as I can see, at the moment the polls suggest the Conservatives should manage around 365, and Labour about 205 – giving a Conservative majority of 80. I think we could see a slight narrowing of the polls before election day, and the final result could see the Conservatives with about 345 and Labour 225 – Conservative majority – 40.

  25. This latest poll is very interesting, but in the North of Scotland voting habits are very different to the South. For example, Caithness has a Lib Dem MP with a strong majority, and Labour trailed by a long way in the last General Election. In the absence of a strong reason to vote Lib Dem, will some of these Lib Dem voters desert the ship for the Conservatives? That would be a logical thing to do if they want change.

  26. Well…it wasn’t that long ago that I was being slammed for claiming that Labour is stronger in Scotland than in Wales. I even had sneers about stating that Scotland will stay red. In Holyrood, the SNP are in charge, but in terms of Scottish Westminster constituencies they are not.

    I confidently predict that Labour will hold on to more seats in Scotland than in Wales at the next GE.

    The most interesting issue in Scotland is how many seats will the tories win and how many gains will the SNP make? I am now believing that 6 is the absolute maximum and that the SNP might gain two extra seats at best.

  27. If this poll was translated uniformly to all Scottish seats, both Berwickshire and Argyll and Bute become extreme marginals, between Lib Dems and Tory. (less than 0.25%)

    However the Scottish electorate are far from uniform. Half the seats have Labour way in front of a second place SNP, and the rest are a hegemony – each of which are quite unique.

    At the last election the Lib Dem leader was Scottish – and now their leader is English. The Labour Leader represented an English constituency and now their leader represents a Scottish constituency. Make any difference?

  28. Its been my view for some time that for the SNP to do well in Scotland the Tories would have to be dead certs to win and then the debate to be about who is best to oppose the Tories in Westminster.

    If it looks like a close election Scots will back Labour to keep the Tories out, if the Tories are going to win then its who best to fight for Scotland.

    Alex’s 20 seat target is a long shot but to do well we just have to get over that watershed point which we have been often close to or above in the last two years.

    Right now with a limited Labour recovery we slip back to little or no gain but it doesn’t take a huge swing back to the summer position for our current seats to be well above ten.

    Its frustrating for us but the final tally of SNPs really will be determined in a way South of the Border by how far ahead cameron is in april and what that does to labour voters in Scotland.

    If it galvanises them then even with the largest SNP vote in a Westminster election in decades we could tread water. If it demoralising them and they stay at home or decide to put their votes elsewhere then we could do very well.

    Indeed if the SNP manages to fight and win the argument on “Defending Scotland against the Tories” we could even either prevent or help the Tories winning Scottish seats by garnering or splitting the anti-tory vote.


  29. Peter – is the apparent health of Mehgrabi an issue up there still? Ronnie Biggs is still defying expectations down here, and I don’t think it’s an issue for most people, and as for Ernest Saunders, well…

  30. Ernest Saunders is a different case. His crime was victimless (more or less), and he just made a lot of money for himself. Anyway, he wasn’t claimed to be dying, just suffering from an incurable disease (which miraculously disappeared after his release).


    I think you are quite substantially overestimating the anti-Tory feeling. It exists, but it isn’t especially prevelant and it does not make up many people’s minds about whether to vote Labour or SNP.

    I think it is possible, but very unlikely, that the SNP will win more than 10 seats. 12 would be an excellent night for them, and even on a very unrealistic set of figures, with a large SNP lead over Labour, I think 20 is still beyong the bounds of possibility.

  31. Neil – I think the compassion in the justice system links the three releases,

    The possibility of it being mis-placed impacts on the level of trust the electorate affords the powers that be. All three cases have harmed that trust.

    I wouldn’t be surprised if the Meghrabi release had an effect on voters realising their fresh, vibrant Govt was just as subject to the strange mix of gullibility and cynicism that we have become enured to down here.

    Saunders’ crime paled in comparison with the manner of his escape from his punishment,

  32. John,

    I agree with what you are saying. When Megrahi was released I could have told anyone who wanted to listen that he would still be alive today. For that matter there is a fairly good chance he will be alive come the next election. Could it turn into an issue? Possibly. Hopefully. I was extremely angry when he was released, as I think were most people, but time moves on, and most people quickly forget about the issue, or at least forget most of their disgust.

  33. Not germane to the discussion but for a bit of comparative politics I thought I’d mention that the Conservative party-the Opposition- in Australia is tearing itself apart (as in lots of the front bench resigning). Basically the Leader Malcolm Turnbull is a realist and modernist and so believes in things like Climate change and the need to fight it. He though has the ‘old-fashioned’ sceptics (say, like the UKIP wing of the Tories here) who totally disagree with him and he’s being (probably) dragged down by this ‘the modern world is rubbish’ and farmers know the whole truth lot.

  34. @JACK
    Our blood brothers down under will have to grin and bare it regarding Malc Turnbull, or risk going to the dogs. We have born with Dave (or at least the brighter among us have) and its paid divi’s. I certainly dont want a global warming debate kicking off, but I think much of it has an anti capitalist agenda and is a media circus act. However Cameron has by his apparent concern for this and other matters, at least got the BBC and others taking him and the Conservative Party seriously.

    I never went away sir, who are you, an imposter I dare say.

  36. Anthony,

    Heard on the PB thread, that a YouGov poll for the Telegraph out tonight ?

  37. ‘Apparent’ concern…sums him up doesn’t it.
    That is what even he own supporters think. (KH)

    Question is when will it be apparent to the ‘English and Welsh’ electorates that apparent is all it is.
    probably too late for the GE.

    Forgive me but we are at the end of a long thread.

  38. @ JIM JAM
    It has also been a very long 12 years of deceit, war, debt, and reduction in personal freedom my friend.
    The English and Welsh electorates have plenty to consider with regard to those issues. In addition, the Chilcot enquiry may not be the Nuremberg Trials but it already illustrates the depths Blair and Brown (as his 2ic) were prepared to sink to.

  39. Wisdom, Justice, Compassion, Integrity, are the values inscribed on the ceremonial mace with which the Queen hanselled the Scottish Parliament. These are the values which Donald Dewar thought Scottish citizens expected of their government.

    Before he became a minister, I was in discussion with Kenny Macaskill on another matter which concerned what you might describe as historic Scottish values and I came to the conclusion then that he was a person of uncommon compassion and integrity.

    Whatever the Megrahi issue may cost the SNP in votes, it won’t be much, and it won’t be all one way.

    Kenny MacAskill was passed over for the Politician of the Year award because the decision was a quasi-judicial and not a political one (His colleague John Swinney got it because finance is a tough brief right now) though you could argue that it was a political decision to allow it to be so.

    There is some evidence that opinion is related to distance. If you got your information direct from the full 20 minute Scottish Parliament statement, you were likely to take a different view from someone who only heard a soundbite on Fox News.

    The Christian churches were unusually focused in their support. Those in the tiny Unitarians Church in England were mostly opposed. The very few questioned in Scotland were unanimously – and strongly – supportive.

    There were several opportunities for the issue to be kept in the news, which also gave Kenny MacAskill opportunities to explain his position. I think that brought Scottish opinion round to some extent.

    It is also the case that Kenny MacAskill is one of the small number of SNP ministers The Scotsman and Labour has, since they were appointed, targeted for personal attack (they daren’t say a word against the Health Secretary) and the intensity and scale of their negativity is counterproductive as anyone with the slightest amount of sales training could tell you.

    Where the issue will have a significant effect is in Kenny MacAskill’s own personal vote.

    Never forget Falkirk West.

    Denis Canavan was a hard working and long serving far left Labour MP who exemplified the values listed at the top of this posting. He was denied selection for the Scottish Parliament and stood as an independent.

    Thousands of voters who opposed his political views but respected him were affronted by the way he had been treated and gave him the largest majority in the Scottish Parliament and the highest personal vote.

    Constituents take a closer interest in their own MP/MSP than in others. I look forward with interest to see if Kenny Macaskill’s personal vote at the next election betters the average change for his party.

  40. Further to the Megrahi issue, I would like to remind commentator that neither the CCRC, the Justice Secretary nor Megrahi’s doctors said he had only three months to live (with the implication that every subsequent day Megrahi is alive is a calculated insult to the Lockerbie relatives).

    The official advice given to MacAskill was that

    “The clinical assessment, therefore, is that a 3 month prognosis is now a reasonable estimate for this patient.”

    And for the record, I do not think the decision to release Abdel Baset al-Megrahi will make the slightest difference to election results. It just does not feature as a key issue for Scots.

  41. John B Dick,

    When you say the “churches” in Scotland were supportive of the decision to release Megrahi, you mean the Church of Scotland, right. That may be the largest church in Scotland, but I don’t think that justifies referring to it as “the churches”

  42. Cap’n Scooby,

    you do remember about one week after his release it emerged that the doctor who made that “clinical assessment” was paid by the Libyan government to do so.

  43. Neil,

    I do not recall that myself, however it is not material to my central point which is that no three -month maximum life span was ever given.

    I , personally, have no doubt that Megrahi is and remains a very sick man. I do not think that Megrahi is guilty of the Lockerbie bombing but it was wrong to release him on compassionate grounds. His appeal, before he was forced to drop it as a condition of compassionate release, would have been an indictment of the investigation carried out by the British & American security services.

    I ‘d like to make clear that I am not a swivel-eyed conspiracy theorist on this, m’kay.

    However, I fear that we are getting off the topic of polls and polling.

  44. Neil/Neil Turner

    10 is what the SNP will have. For the Cons to get 6 is on a par with AS’s 20. Short of half the leadership of the SNP being found in bed with minors or animals, that won’t happen either.

    The slow but steady rise of the SNP is one factor in Scottish politics, but it shouldn’t be evaluated on its own without considering the present pattern of regionality and FPTP.

    Look at what FPTP did to Scottish Conservatives in 2005. Much the same will happen to them this time. Consider too that the LibDems and SNP, with the same vote between them as Labour got much less than half the number of MP’s.

    The SNP will “lose” this election by only increasing their seats by two thirds and getting around the same share of the vote as Labour or maybe even more.

    What will be of interest will be to see how many SNP winnable marginals there will then be which are vulnerable to a very small swing. There are 3-4 now, next time there could be up to 30.

    What would be the implications of that?

    Many on these pages are predicting a Conservative government with a small or no overall majority. In such circumstances, an election is often called early in the hope that the majority could be increased, and because “events, dear boy” with hindsight might make it a matter of regret that the opportunity was missed.

    Would DC hesitate if there was a prospect of reducing the 30+ Labour advantage from Scotland by two thirds but there was a risk that they would be replaced by 20 SNP MP’s.?

    What could 30 SNP MPs do to make a fuss about independence? They don’t have to concern themselves with English-only legislation or for that matter equivalent matters in Scotland. Scottish MP’s postbags have been empty since devolution. They can devote their whole energies to issues where UK government policy is at odds with Scottish Public opinion.

    If there is a majority of SNP MP’s, they may revive the pre-devolution objective: to reconvene elsewhere.

    Where would Scottish Labour be?

    In the Scottish Parliament they are now on their fifth leader in twelve years and each one has been less successful than the last. The pool of available talent is being used up too fast and it won’t be refreshed enough in the next election when there are bound to be net losses and experienced MSP’s are replaced by novices.

    Nationally, a UK election defeat will have New- and Old- Labour blaming each other. The party will not be able to afford an early election and many high profile MP’s will have gone. Morale and membership, already damaged by Iraq and expenses will sink still further.

    The Scottish party will itch to be more independant and more left. They will continue with their self indulgent and counter-productive negativity against the SNP.

    The Conservatives and Labour are hamstrung by their connections with the London leadership. With poor prospects in the next election, the LibDems are no better off as they are shrinking to their highland heartlands where the SNP competition is strong but not strong enough to diplace them while they are squeezed to the point of being wiped out elsewhere.

    The short term prospects for the SNPare bleak too.

    The impression will be created by their opponents (who will themselves believe it) that the SNP have “lost” the election.

    The danger for the SNP is that much of their membership will believe Labour’s claim that failure to acheive more than half an unrealistic 20 seats or raise the level of support for independence shows that they have lost their way. It shows nothing of the kind.

    Have you ever made bread with the older type of yeast?

    For a long time it seems as if nothing is happening, and then, suddenly it froths up all at once.

    The generation long but inexorable rise of the SNP due entirely to inept and ignorant governments of both parties and a failed constitution at Westminster, has been overlooked because it is masked by FPTP and it is outwith the metropolitain focus of the chattering classes. It is working away just like the yeast.

    Notwithstanding present low level of support for independence, these underlying factors are set to continue and it is now to late to prevent independence.

    SNP supporters will be disheartened though a combination of an over optimistic estimate of SNP gains, the lack of Scottish polling by region and FPTP. They will be mistaken, but not for the first time.

    So who can look for comfort in the Scottish results. Not the Socialists because the voters don’t know which lot are perjurers, and not the Greens unless they win the one seat they have an outside chance in.

    FPTP will defeat them and every other party in Scotland except Labour and give Labour false confidence about their real level of support and medium term prospects.

    Did I ever mention that I was against FPTP?

  45. Neil

    The statement from the Roman Catholics was even more direct, succinct and to the point.

    That both they and the CofS should agree on a matter which does not relate to common traditional theological Christian mythology and is in support of an atheist minister is notable.

    What was even more interesting is that the Church of Scotland managed to make a statement at all.

    The Moderator can’t and won’t do it. In the past, journalists were wont to ask the Bishop of Edinburgh in the mistaken belief that he spoke for the largest protestant church in Scotland.

    This time the CofS must have taken the initiative themselves for the statement came from the convener of the appropriate committee. That means they must have met to discuss it first, maybe by chance, maybe not. I’d like to know which.

  46. @ Neil

    Happy to diagree with you on Glasgow South. While I agree that Nicola is not the candidate she has a strong influence on campaigning in the area and in my view will be a strong factor.

    Don’t see what Harris nailing hiself to the (Blairite) Purnell ship will do for his chances in Glasgow. Nicola got in supported by a huge Muslim anti-war vote remember.

    You did not address my point about SNP winning the popular vote in the Euros for the very same constituency boundaries. Obviously a different election but it provies the votes are there to win it..

    I guess there is a lot of water to pass under the bridge between now and the GE. Interesting to see what the Gray position on tackling alcohol problems (do nothing) will do to the labour campaign.

    PS, Alcohol minimum pricing would be an interesting subject for a future poll

  47. Jack You made the bizarre comment. It is very easy to make people see a blog. I do not get your point,

    king harold. I won’t mention William the Conqueror .

  48. John,

    How large will Lab lead over Con be in terms of Scottish MPs ?

    Actual result in 2005 was Lab 40 (excl. Speaker), Con 1 – a lead of 39. Could this fall to below 30 ? You assert definitely not, I say maybe, and here’s why:

    If this were purely a question of Con gains from Lab, we would need to see 5 Con gains to produce 35:6 and a lead of 29. Given that there are only 3 Lab held seats where the Lab/Con lead in 2005 was less than 10%, and only 2 more where it is less than 15%, then we would need to see UNS of at least 7% for that to happen – clearly not supported by current Scottish polls.

    However, one thing on which we are agreed is that Lab/Con UNS is irrelevant for Scotland where we not only have a four-party system, but significant regional variations, not to mention a history of tactical voting. So, apart from direct Lab-Con switches, we need to take into account the effect of potential Lab losses/gains to/from third parties and Con gains from third parties. We should also take account of likely movement in the vote shares of third parties which may distort the Lab/Con differential in individual seats. Put simply, this is not just about how many Scots switch from voting Lab to voting Con.

    In addition, we have had two nationwide elections in Scotland – 2007 Holyrood and 2009 Euro-Elections, which, whilst not directly applicable to Westminster, do give us better guidance as to the regional and local performance of each party since 2005. One common theme throughout these is the collapse in LD support from the 23% achieved in 2005. Other clear trends include not just the Lab-SNP swing in former Lab heartlands, but also clear evidence that Con support has recovered most in those areas where it may have most impact.

    Turning to how this might pan out, the starting point is the 2005 actual result, adjusted for by-elections to give position as at start of GE campaign.

    Actual 2005 Result was Lab 40; LD 11; SNP 6; Con 1; Speaker 1.
    The five by-elections since 2005 have resulted in 2 Lab holds; 1 Lab gain (from Speaker); and 2 Lab losses, 1 each to LD and SNP to give;
    Lab 39; LD 12; SNP 7; Con 1. Current Lab/Con lead of 38.

    Lab losses direct to Con reduce the lead by 2, so 4 direct losses produce a lead of 30, and 5 a lead of 28. But, not only do Con gains from third parties reduce the lead, so too do Lab losses to third parties.

    For Lab to retain a lead of 30 or more, they need to ensure that the sum of Lab net losses plus Con net gains remains below 9.

    If one looks at the electoral landscape in Scotland, one can divide the 59 seats into the following regions: Highlands & Islands; North East (Former Grampian and Tayside regions) + Stirling & Ochil.; Lab heartlands in Central Belt (From Ayrshire to Fife excluding Edinburgh and Stirling); Edinburgh; and Southern Scotland – incl Clydesdale and E Lothian.

    Current seats and holders are:

    H+I 6 [LD 5; SNP 1]
    NE 12 [Lab 5; LD 2; SNP 5]
    CB 32 [Lab 28; LD 3; SNP 1]
    Ed 5 [Lab 4; LD 1]
    SS 4 [Lab 2; LD 1; Con 1]

    In the Highlands, LD dominance is likely to continue despite their fall in the polls. While LD may see some slippage in their share of the vote, and possible loss of 1 or even 2 seats, this is most likely to favour SNP and not Lab. This region is almost irrelevant to Lab / Con competition in Scotland, still less for UK.

    At the other end, of the four seats in Southern Scotland, only E Lothian can be regarded as “safe”. If Cons emerge from GE with only 3 Scottish MPs, the chances are they will all be in this region. But, since one will be a gain from LDs, the net impact would be to reduce the Lab/Con lead by 3.

    Edinburgh is a more interesting region. Based on the 2009 Euros, Lab could lose all four seats, with the spoils being shared out between SNP, Con and LD. At worst (for Lab) the final tally might be Con 3 LD 1, SNP 1, giving a net reduction of Lab/Con lead from +4 to -3. That is unlikely, but it is fairly likely that Lab may lose 2, and Cons gain at least 1. Probable net reduction in Lab/Con lead in this region is in my view 2-4, with 5 possible.

    In the North East, all five of the Lab seats are at risk. The two Aberdeen seats may be easier for Lab to retain, but could both fall. Two (Stirling and Ochil) are likely to be LAB/Con/SNP 3-way marginals in this election, with actual outcome too uncertain to predict. One is a very vulnerable Lab/SNP marginal and almost certain to be lost. There is one SNP/Lab marginal, but that will stay SNP. In addition, there are two SNP/Con marginals, which may hinge on how former LD votes swing. The other four seats are unlikely to change hands, but Lab will be a distant third or fourth in all of them. Given the tapestry, it is nigh on impossible to predict the net impact on Lab/Con lead in this region, but it will almost certainly be negative, possibly by as much as 5 or 6.

    That leaves the monolithic Central Belt. The best result for Lab here would be to recover its two by-election losses and take Dumbarton E off LD, a net gain of 3. But, as can be seen from the above, that may simply offset losses in the other parts of Scotland, and may be needed to keep the lead at 30. However, how realistic is it that Lab will make those gains and not lose any seats in this region ?

    The two by-election losses are tricky. In Dunfermline, LDs have had four, nearly five, years to consolidate their position. It cannot be taken for granted, but I suspect that Lab may find it harder to pull votes back from SNP here than in Glasgow. In Glasgow E, some of the factors which contributed to the 2008 loss may have gone, but John Mason has had two years to dig in.

    In Dumbarton, my view is that this will be an LD hold but with a significantly reduced majority. It is possible that both Lab and LD will see their shares fall in this seat, with Con and SNP rising by 2-5% each.

    Looking elsewhere in the region, there are a number of SNP targets and one Lab/Con contest which may be very tight. As with other parts of Scotland, a lot could hinge on how the decline in LD vote from 2005 falls between the other three parties. Overall, I would expect the net position in this region to be neutral as between Lab/Con, but it too could deliver a negative contribution.

    In summary, I think there are enough seats across Scotland which Lab could lose, or which Con could win as to make it far from certain that Scotland will deliver a Westminster contingent with a Lab/Con lead in excess of 30. Indeed, it is even possible that Labour may fail to win 30 seats overall in Scotland

    Apologies for such a long post. Trust others find it informative.


  49. @PAUL
    Dont apologise Paul, very interesting reading. A very different and in some respects more complex state of affairs than England.

  50. John B Dick,

    OK, I didn’t realise you were including the Roman Catholic Church. Even so, its only 2 out of who knows how many.

    On the subject of 6 Scottish Conservative MPs, I don’t think it is likely, but certainly not Gloy Plopwellist. And since the top 6 most likely seats do not include any currently held by the SNP, the salmon and the sturgeon pumping animals would not really have an effect. In fact, the better the SNP do, the better for the Conservatives. I’m thinking particularly about seats like East Renfrewshire, D&G and Stirling, where the SNP splitting the Labour vote will help the Conservatives.


    If we were to go on the Euro results then the next parliament could see UKIP as the official opposition. A clearer case could not be found of split voting at different elections. I can categorically say that the votes for the Westminster election will not be the same as those for the European election.

    Also, Tom Harris is very popular in Glasgow South – I know this because I campaign there on a semi regular basis. We can agree to disagree, and only time will tell who is right. But I would be prepared to put substantial money on Labour holding Glasgow South.

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