YouGov’s monthly poll for the Telegraph is now out. The topline figures, with changes from YouGov’s last poll, are CON 39%(-2), LAB 29%(+2), LDEM 19%(+1).

A two point change in Conservative and Labour support is, of course, within the margin of error, but it fits into a wider pattern. While I think the change in MORI’s poll at the weekend was mostly down to a more Labour sample, there were signs of genuine movement to Labour as well. We also saw a shift towards Labour in ICM’s poll taken at the same time.

On a uniform swing this would leave the Conservatives just short of an overall majority, and being a far more plausible figures than the extreme swing in MORI’s poll, I’d expect this to further fuel the media speculation about a hung Parliament. While this is a much less comfortable position for the Conservatives, in reality I expect that a 10 point lead would still deliver the Conservatives a reasonable majority.

Polling results are projected into election results using a uniform national swing, but it’s quite possible that the Conservatives could out perform UNS. It seems implausible for the Conservatives to be doing well in the inner-city North and we know for sure from polling there that they are doing much worse in Scotland. These places have few Conservative targets so it matters little, but if they do worse in one place, they must be doing better elsewhere to arrive at the topline figures and we have polling evidence to suggest they are doing better in Con vs Lab marginals.

On the subject of which, YouGov also carried out a parallel poll of Lab-Con marginals in the north (as far as I can tell, this was the 32 Labour seats in the North-West, North-East and Yorkshire and Humberside that the Conservatives would need to win to get a majority of 1 on a uniform swing). YouGov found voting intention in those seats to be CON 42%(+8), LAB 36%(-8), LDEM 12%(-5). Changes are from the 2005 notional election results, and suggest a swing of 8 percent. This compares to a national swing of 6.5% in today’s nationwide YouGov poll – if marginals elsewhere behave like those in the North, this would deliver a healthy Conservative majority.

YouGov also asked a question intended to see how tactical voting would impact this, and here I am less confident. YouGov told respondents their seat was the type of Conservative/Labour marginal that would decide the election and asked again how they would vote. Not surprisingly, the effect was to further increase the Conservative lead to 43% to 35%, the equivalent of a 9% swing, and if echoed in other marginals enough for a large Conservative victory.

My worry over that approach is that a fair chunk of people don’t know whether or not their seat is a marginal. In the 2008 PoliticsHome marginal poll 20% of people didn’t know which parties were in a position to win their seat. Only 34% of people in Con v Lab marginals correctly identified their seat as such, 45% of people in Con vs LD seats did, 29% of people in Lab vs LD seats. A fair chunk of Lib Dem campaigning especially consists of positioning themselves as the party best placed to defeat the incumbent, so saying in the question itself that the Conservatives are best placed to beat Labour risks overestimating the level of anti-Labour tactical voting. The 2009 PoliticsHome poll of marginals showed no obvious sign of tactical voting harming Labour in Lab v Con seats.

Anyway, that’s something of an aside. Even leaving out the tactical voting question, the main findings of the poll are that the overall share of the vote doesn’t appear to be enough to guarantee the Conservatives a majority, but in at least one group of marginals, they are outdoing the national swing by enough to get a majority.


125 Responses to “YouGov show Tory lead down, but doing well in Northern marginals”

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  1. @DAVID IN FRANCE
    There is just one worry for Labour regarding the GE; they are going to loose.

  2. I’ll happily take a 4 point closing of the gap in 13 days from YouGov. Particularly with over 150 days to go till the election. .

  3. Alec
    Also there was a lot of coverage of David Cameron’s ‘attack’ on Labour re; the Queen’s speech, and the Conservative candidate in Norwich scraping a win in the de-selection vote.

    I think James Ludlow has a point about ‘shy’ labour voters. If this government is perceived to be unpopular but has less drastic policies for cutting our deficit (ie; they want to wait until our recovery is well underway) then many labour voters will want to hide their voting intentions- reverse of what happened previously.

    Kind H. I think most people would agree. Labour is very likely to lose the GE. The big question is; Can Cameron win?

  4. DAVID IN FRANCE

    What recovery?

    Obviously living in France you may be a little unaware of just how unpopular Gordon Brown is in England. That’s understandable and I forgive you for it. There is an old adage ‘Governments lose elections oppositions don’t win them’. The bookies odds of 1/14 on the Tories emerging as the largest party reflect the government’s unpopularity not any love of the opposition.
    Basic facts old chap.

  5. @ Alec – yeah, sorry. Not enough sleep making me grumpy.

    @ David in France – given the collapse of the Dubai bubble and the defaulting on huge loans from British banks, recovery from recession may be a bit of a desert mirage right now. The pundits seem to think that Britain will be hit very hard by this.

  6. Andy – there are 24 in the top 116, but there are 32 in the seats the Conservatives would need to win on a uniform swing (because some of those 116 are LD or SNP held, so wouldn’t necessarily go on a uniform swing from Lab to Con).

    Graham/Al J/Neil – Scotland provides about 8.5% of the votes in Great Britain.

    Jay Blanc – I do have access to all the internal YouGov stuff, but not for the purposes of the writing this blog, which I do independently. Internal chinese walls as it were. Any inquiries about their methods, I’d send to Peter Kellner.

    Once the tables are up we’ll be able to see whether extensive weighting was necessary. I can say that the main voting intention question was the first question asked, and that I personally would have no concerns over people’s location. YouGov only send out £50 payment by cheques in the post, so panellists have a strong incentive to tell the truth about their postcode, and comparatively little incentive to lie about it.

    James Ludlow – remember that the adjustment for “shy Tories” that the pollsters made after 1992 was not a crude upwards adjustment of Conservative support, it’s an adjustment based on the past behaviour of people saying “Don’t know”. In practice that means ICM and Populus at least are already assuming a significant level of shy Labour voters, and without that they would be showing Labour at a lower level.

  7. @ Anthony – so they are already adjusting for “shy Labour voters” in the way they used to for “shy Tories”? That’s interesting.

  8. That’s interesting. I don’t want to throw a spanner – but what about those who say they’ll vote Tory but vote Labour. I wonder if that’s likely?

  9. James

    I can see that there are certainly potential UKIP voters among former Conservative voters. Whether when the time comes and other issues than Lisbon are to the fore they would risk a “wasted vote” and another five years of Labour Government, is another matter.

    There are so few Tory voters in Scotland, and very few of them of the kind you describe that I need to take seriously what you say just as I expect you to consider carefully what I have to say about Scotland.

    How many seats do you think it will cost the Cons, and how many UKIP MP’s do you think there will be?

    Andy Stidwell

    The difference between us is that you have two more Con Gains and a Lab/Con surplus two fewer. Your Con possibles are double mine and that’s why your “most likely” is too.

    I think the likelihood of unexpected SNP gains on local issues is much greater than these. We need to spend some time on the constituency pages to have any hope of spotting them though (only because I live there) I can say that Argyll is perhaps top of the list of possibles and a three way marginal that any of the candidates could lose by one false move.

    What matters is the Lab/Con surplus whatever the makeup of it might be and regardless of what the LibDems and SNP achieve. Anything above 30 is important for the balance of power and is likely to mean there is no comfortable majority and an early second election.

    OldNat’s “severe English backlash” would be ignored by a Conservative government because they will have other more pressing issues to deal with; because they have no policy option ready for something too complicated to deal with by crisis management, and because they neither know, understand or care about Scotland.

    The effect in Scotland would be more important. It would make it more difficult for the three Unionist parties to defend the Union, increase the support for independence, and weaken the resistance to a referendum.

    If they dared, Scottish Conservatives could Bavarianise, support the SNP’s referendum, campaign against independence (perhaps not too enthusiastically), accept the will of the people, and – win or lose – all they would need is a new name so that they could win back former supporters, and bid in competition with the Libems for coalition with SNP or Labour. If independence was the outcome, they could target the post independence SNP right and sooner or later hope to be the major party in coalition.

    A Con/Lab coalition is unthinkable, you say? It would need to be NewLabour of course, and Scottish Labour would be further to the left if the Socialists don’t recover.

    Certainly it is impossible without rebranding and either independence or Bavarianisation. They are Unionists, and it’s a matter of principle, aren’t they, so they won’t do it?

    The UKIP and any Old Labour suppporters here will not, I hope, tell me that it is unreasonable to suggest that a party might abandon a long established principle, in the hope of obtaining power?

    Bernard Shaw asked a woman if she would be prepared to sleep with him for money.

    “Of course not” she said.

    “What, not even for a million pounds?”

    “Oh, well, that would be different.”

    “Well, here’s five pounds.”

    “Don’t be disgusting! What sort of woman do you think I am?”

    “We’ve already established that. What I am doing is negotiating the price.”

    That’s what coalition government is about. Deals between a willing buyer and a willing seller. Scottish Conservatives aren’t allowed to play in that game, and Scotland is the poorer for it.

  10. @Jack – I think there are loads of Eurosceptics in the UK Green Party! In addition, surely if voting anti-EU becomes a priority for a voter, they are even more likely to switch to UKIP if their ‘default’ party of support is pro-EU than if it is anti-?

  11. @AL J
    “Can Cameron win it” you say, with a lead in the marginals like this, like BOB THE BUILDER, yes he can.

  12. A question to Anthony and to all contributors;

    Does anyone else think it is time to put an end to projected general election results based on notional uniform national swings, given that the swing is very likely to be considerably higher in the marginal constituencies?

  13. Andrew,
    No! I recall polls in marginal seats going back as far as 1970 suggesting that one party was outperforming there in relation to the country as a whole. As often as not such forecasts were not vindicated by the subsequent results.
    Specifically on the eve of poll in 1987 the Tories had a lead of 6 – 12% yey a poll of marginals suggested that Labour was doing much better there – so much so that a hung Parliament was possible..Yet the actual result – a Tory majority of 102!So my advice would be to take these findings with several pinches of salt.

  14. After thinking about this poll for two days now I have come to the conclusion that Labour’s vote has increased but ONLY in thier safe heartland seats. This was the case in the 1951 general election, Labour increased their share of the vote but lost to the Conservatives becuase their share of the vote only increased in their safe seats. What else would explain why the Tories are still leading in the northern marginals!

  15. @ Alec – what I meant was we haven’t heard much from the Tories in terms of specific policies which I expect will change as we approach the GE. More it has been bad news stories which may have impacted on the current polls.

    Although not scientific I would agree with other contributors that the word on the street is that Brown has to go. I think if the party had ditched him the prospect of a hung parliament or even a narrow Lab victory would have been greater.

    Now I still think that hung parliament is at the most negative of eventualities for conservative supporters but I wouldn’t rule it out even though I think that the Tories will scrape in at worst.

    I’m basing that on what happened in 1979, probably the most likely past election from which to predict the next. Back then Labour were ahead in some of the polls during the campaign.

  16. I STAND CORRECTED!

    The population of Scotland is 5,168,500 according to 2006 figures. I thought it was at least 10 million. I’m from Wales. But I suppose that’s not much of an excuse as I lived for 3 years in the Borders and my daughter was born in Melrose. Shame on me!

  17. I would hardly call the odd poll giving Labour a slightly higher percentage than what was considered a terrible performance in 1983 anything for them to get excited about

  18. Lets continue wirh GE result projections. It may annoy some but I find it quite exciting.

    I remember Kinnock and Labour doing well in the marginals. There was a ‘rolling poll’ every week during the election and Labour was suposed tp be catching up and even overtaking the Conservatives in the marginals. We all know what happened in 1992!

    So I’m with Graham on both counts.

  19. Anthony

    The current WMA leaves a total of 15% for Others.

    Could you tell me how this will impact on seat calculations when trying to predict the forthcoming general election.

    If you haven’t already done so could you write a piece on the subject particularly in the circumstances when it appears the Conservatives have fallen under 40% and Labour are entering the high 20s, and if YouGov and Mori are to be believed, on the cusp of 30%.

    Thank you.

    Richard

  20. Everything still to play for it seems.
    Also seems supporters of party B are just as likely to exaggerate their chances/the doomousity of party A as supporters of party A were the reverse a few months back.

  21. Andrew

    “Does anyone else think it is time to put an end to projected general election results based on notional uniform national swings, given that the swing is very likely to be considerably higher in the marginal constituencies?”

    Not exactly but I think it is time to put an end to projected general election results based on notional uniform national swings without separate treatment for Scotland where it is known that the swings are very different.

  22. @Phillip JW

    Glad to hear it, though the “its all down to Scotland” line seems to have been pushed by many others too, including Mike Smithson on PB (surely a betting man can do some simple arithmetic? :-).

    On an 9% recent increase in Lab support in Scotland (and I am sceptical it is so high – this change is based on comparison with a different pollster), around 0.75 of the national 2% increase could come from Scotland.

    The 2% drop in Tory support certainly doesn’t come from Scotland! The starkest feature of recent polls to me, is not a solidification of Labour support, but rather a drop in Tory support.

  23. I think people being polled are saying they will vote Labour so that Brown will call an early election and we can get rid sooner rather than later.

  24. It seems fairly obvious that if the Tories are doing well in the north they will do well almost anywhere, (the almost meaning
    Scotland). We have all read the reports of Labour dead in the south, dead in the midlands and doing far less well than usual in the west and particularly Wales. I am begining to pick up some idea of the Scottish situation by reading the learned gentlemen on this site.
    However, Scotland is not crucial to the Conservatives for this GE.Therefore IMPO, based on this Tory resurgence just where Labour dont want them to gain a foothold, the Ashton strategy has worked a treat. Its been alluded to but not much, with marginal swings everywhere except Scotland, of some impact,
    The Tories can win on a quite low national swing. A deal less than 10%. This clever activity is clearly based on their overiding problem of coming from so far back in the first instance.

  25. Philip JW

    You were probably thinking of the number of benefit claimants in Scotland… ;)

  26. ‘WES WHITE
    @Jack – I think there are loads of Eurosceptics in the UK Green Party! In addition, surely if voting anti-EU becomes a priority for a voter, they are even more likely to switch to UKIP if their ‘default’ party of support is pro-EU than if it is anti-?’

    Wrong. Green issues are universal; global warming being but one example. As such Green people are happy with a more universal perspective on all matters, including lawmaking. As such EU is a happy place for them, not least due to the strong Green parties on mainland Europe. Green is the antithesis to UKIP / BNP / right wing tories (incidentally of course – and ironically for the Greens – business is also pro EU)

    Incidentally I still cant see the point of an anti EU position such as UKIP; what makes them think that after spending a decade stuffing up the EU by withdrawing from it that the EU will then give the UK any economic rights to Europe? It’s farcical-the EU will tell us to drown in our mess. Then we go down the economic gurgler… (Or do we believe the EU will love us as we are British and so deserve special treatment… What racism, what stupidity…)

  27. I think a poll of Labour’s 150 safest seats would be extremely interesting. If it could be shown whether or not the Labour vote is holding up better in these seats than in the rest of the country then we would have a much better idea of the sort of lead the Tories need to win a majority.

  28. It is great news for the tories that they are doing well in the marginals. Lets be honest the tories have to win 117 marginal seats to win the election and this suggests that in the north they will win all the target seats. If this is the same in the south were it is likely to be more tory than the tories should win a majority.

    They have a ten point lead but the marginals suggest they will win the key battleground seats. They should hold on to the others they hold because labour have failed so bad. I think the key is to win in Yorks and then the Tories have got a governement.

    Dont forget the 17 point lead they had a few days a go either. Polls are very unpredictable at the mo and UKIP will more likely turn Tory in a GE.

  29. Given this 4-point reduction in the Tory lead, and your projection of the Con majority as down to 28, what is your view of the Sunday Telegraph’s editorial coverage of their figures today? Objective?

  30. The expenses scandal will surely throw many of these general trends completely out of predictive kilter.

    I imagine it might be possible to quantify an outrage factor, dependent on the degree of individual sitting MP abuse, but with second home flipping apparently still considered acceptable in Westminster, voters might act more harshly where least expected.

  31. On the ‘Scottish Explanation’, I think its totally bogus and needs to be ditched entirely. the Scottish poll showing Labour up 9% was comparing this week with August. This poll compares with the last Yougov poll on the 13th of this month (I think). Unless all the 9% rise in the Scottish poll occured over the last week or so it is not a valid comparison and is therefore meaningless, apart from the poor maths is assigning a 2% national poll movement entirely to the Scots.

    Secondly, the marginals element of the poll clearly favours the Tories. However – be careful. When was the last marginal poll conducted? Do we know the direction of travel of the lead in marginals? Does it mirror the fall in the national lead? An 8% swing in the marginals looks good, but not so good if the swing was 10% a month ago.

  32. Am i missing something?

    This poll within MOE could be

    CON 42%
    LAB 26%

    So nothing would have changed.

    In fact this is even more likely to be the case because of the Nothern poll.

  33. Alec,
    I have suggested before that the enhanced swing in marginals over UNS is expopenential.
    If 6.5% swing on UNS equates to 8% in marginals, I reckon it would be more than 9.5% if UNS 8% and 5% UNS would not equate to 6.5% in marginals but something less.
    Reason being the dynamics and sentiment will have changed.

  34. @Alec

    Politics Home survey in September had the swing in the North around 9-10%, so direction of travel could indeed be downwards.

    Usual caveats, different pollsters, etc.

  35. I repeat – polls on marginal seats do NOT have a good track record!

  36. Alec

    The Labour in Scotland poll of +9 is a comparison with the August poll and puts them back up to their 2005 level. The SNP and Tories are both -2 since Aug (though up +6 and +2 respectively on their 2005 vote). The big change was the LDs – down -6 since Aug, and -11 since 2005.

  37. Labour for some unknown reason to me seems to do better at the end of the yr in polls,this is what happened in 2008 when they got to within a point of the tories.

    However the labour bounces have become so small now they are not really visable,this poll is as i have stated within MOE,the thing that will kill the Labour bounce(it that is what it is) off in my opinion as with 2008,was the budget and the defciit & media reaction to it.

    I personally believe Labour are dead in the water,i also believe once XMAS & New Year in behind us the public mood will be one of getting labour out & getting them back for real or percieved grievences,especially against Brown.right or wrong that is what i expect to happen.

  38. I’m still not convinced over this. The promise of ‘out performing in the marginals’ has happened before with regional polls, and they’ve tended to be wrong. And YouGov’s sample set is after all going to be the number of people in that region who have internet connections, knew about YouGov to register with them, were interested in politics enough to do so, and have been incentivised by cash prize offers. Add that to the reduced sample set from regional polling, and I’d have to say the poll is a wash.
    (http://ukelectiontrend.blogspot.com/2009/11/yougov-and-marginal-polling.html)

  39. Taking the fact that a budget is due just weeks before a dissolution of parliament,i have been wondering since the last budget was held at its latest date ever, if this was acually a ploy to go in FEB-MARCH 2010 for the GE,this would give Labour some element of surprise & would importantly avoid the Budget.

    Brown could say a budget wasn’t held in 2008 until Arpil 21st so therefore a yr will not have expired until April 21st 2010 & not being open to the charge of ducking a hard budget.

    I don’t know if there is any precedent for a GE in this period in UK history but i think its not out of the question.

  40. John B

    I didn’t mean that the UKIP would hurt the tories in Scotland. I think they will hurt them in marginals in England that they need to get a majority.

    Last election you can even look at many seats where the UKIP made a difference and this election I think it will be greater. I don’t think UKIP will have any effect in Scotland but they will elsewhere.

    I also don’t think UKIP will have any MP’s. The UKIP’s only goal is to destroy the tories and cost them 50 seats and have a hung parliament. If you listen to their new leader his focus is to destroy the tories. They know they will have no influence in a hung parliament because they will have no MP’s they just want chaos so nothing gets passed. Their vote I think will be the surprise of the election and not BNP’s vote.

  41. James

    I understood that you meant that UKIP might damage the Cons in England.

    There are anti-EU sentiments in Scotland, but few in Scotland are going to vote for the English Nationalists. Even fewer will be in the handful of constituencies where they could damage Cons prospects and not many of these will have a majority as small as a UKIP vote.

    Alec/OldNat

    I can accept that Labour are now at 2005 levels and always have been around that level OR that they were down -9 by August and have made a slight recovery, but +9 in four months has to have an explanaton so obvious that we all know what it is.

    It’s just as Anthony was saying about the supposed sudden drop for the Conservatives.

    My guess is that the next poll will show labour down again.

  42. That damned Captcha just wiped out 5 minutes work!!

    The Conservatives fortunatley do not need Scottish seats to win a majority (as nice as it would be to win some) and Wales is moving away from Labour in droves apparently.
    As I have said before England is Basically Conservative and most of the marginals should fall like dominoes to the Conservatives on Election night.

    My prediction:

    Con ~ 40-42
    Lab ~ 27-30
    LD ~ 17-19

  43. One thing you can do is always copy the text you’ve written before pressing the submit button in case it rejects it. Or you can use Apple computers.

  44. I frequently forget to enter the CAPTCHA code, but then I get an error message, click on my browser(Firefox)’s back button, and then enter it. No problem.

  45. The marginal campaign isn’t as easy as it looks though.

    Obviously not all marginals are the same. The tories in the recent by elections actually underperformed in a by election in a london area seat from their 2005 vote total. I’d imagine the swing to the tories in marginals around london won’t be the same as the swing in the heartlands.

    Also Lib dems won’t have the same drop off as labour so the swing to the tories won’t be nearly the same in the seats tories are targeting that the lib dems have. Lib dems actually are doing well in the southwest.

    So if you take the 130 new seats the tories would have to win from the last election in order to get to 130 labour target seats you have to get up to seat 169 where the swing would be almost 9 percent. Because in the first 169 tories target seats 35 of them are lib dem and 4 are SNP. I don’t think they are going to be picking up that many lib dem seats.

    So you look at the 9 percent swing to get at labour’s target seat of 169 and then add in the fact that the swing to the tories in seats around london will be far smaller and you see why it is such a mountain for the tories to get to 326 seats. Even if you give the tories a combination of 15 lib dem and SNP seats which I don’t see happening you still wind up with a swing of over 8 percent. That is why I think 300 seats for the tories when you look at the seat breakdowns and where they need to pick up the seats is probably their ceiling instead of 326.

    That is why this poll in the overall vote shows the tories would be short of a majority. Because all marginals aren’t the same so to extract the 8 percent marginal to all of them isn’t realistic.

  46. POLL ALERT

    New poll in Sunday Times Scotland. Unfortunately I’m getting a 404 Error so no details, but according to the headline support for independence is down.

  47. @ Syuart Dickson – Its an Ipsos mori poll suggesting only 25% of Scots want a referendum and independence would be supported by only 20%, as against 46% to stay with the UK. It’s being billed as bad news for Alec Salmond.

    @James – I would tend to agree with your analysis. There will be areas where the marginals swing is more or less pronounced, and how these affect seat will be crucial.

    I also think its worth mentioning what a few people now seem to be seeing, and that is the fact that political timing may assist Labour up to a point. The SNP have been in power for a while now, and with the inevitable difficult choices have some mid term problems. Boris has been London Mayor for a while, and has made a few errors etc. Tory councils are now making tough budget decisions and their opponents have some ammunition to fire about what a Tory administration looks like in practice. And Cameron is no no longer ‘new’ – he’s been around for a few years now, and while Blair maintained his freshness in the run up to 97, Camron’s various policy switches and changes in presentational emphasis have in part at least removed the sense that he is a new broom coming in.

    Of course there will be area where Tory councils are popular and could add votes, but looking around the country there are more and more local issues like Norfolk, Zac Goldsmith’s admission he’s a non dom in Richmond etc, that might swing a few votes in particular seats or regions.

    I don’t want to overstate this – at 10% up they’re in the driving seat – but the longer the game runs the more chance there is of the losing team getting back in the game.

  48. @ALEC
    Me thinks you are clutching straw again brother. The marginals that were showing a Tory 10 % lead are south & midlands, therefore an 8% lead in the northern marginals is an excellent overall situation. Boris having a very bad hair day and other peripheral issues are not going to make up for British banks being in the excrement in Dubai to the magnitude of £50billion.
    (Next up France and Germany £10 or £11billion each). The Iraq war inquiry will also bring senior Labour figures into focus for critisism, not least James Gordon Brown. It really is not looking good. Looking at withdrawing from Helmand might help a fraction. However, it will be a British military defeat which will have claimed the lives of 350 troops, minimum. Left to their own devices the Afghan Army will be in league with the Taliban within months and the whole thing will have been a complete waste of life and treasure. Admittedly by this time Brown will be gone.

  49. James

    Regionality is important in England too, especially for the LibDems. Not as important as it is in Scotland, perhaps, but enough to make simple national projections unsafe at the level of precision we need to predict whether there is a landslide, a working majority or a hung parliament.

    What do you reckon would be the outturn if, as appears to be the consensus on the previous thread, that the excess of Labour over Conservative MP’s from Scotland was 30 or more? My own estimate is 33. Opinions differ in detail depending on which seats commentators think likely to change but the net result is within a surprisingly narrow range.

    Alec

    The notion that the SNP are inescapably losing support because they are in mid term is either lazy speculation with a total disregard for readily available fact which might inform it, or a bad case of partisan over optimism and failure to recognise that the world has changed since the 1950’s when alternate elites accepted that each side would take its turn at government (in this the best of all possible parliaments) and anything else would be “just not cricket.”

    OldNat pointed out on the previous thread that satisfaction with the SNP government was high. This is despite being mid-term, and despite or because of a uniformly hostile negative and often personalised campaign by the press in support of Labour.

    Wendy Alexander was right. The Unionist cause would be best served by an early referendum while support for independence is still low.

    Independence is however clearly a matter for a referendum and there is no connection at whatever with voters choice in either Scottish or UK elections.

    Voting for the SNP for the Scottish Parliament is for most a pragmatic choice usally on the grounds of competence and in the last election it was not the untested SNP’s competence that was the issue.

    Independence has nothing to do with it. Three other parties which share the non-nuclear and other ethical issues votes are also pro-independence..

    The high level of satisfaction is no doubt due to low expectations or at least a low threshhold of satisfaction as one cannot point to any innovation that has been dramatically successful and popular. As was said on these pages over a year ago it’s “bog standard competent government and a few minor gimmicks” That’s a winning formula in view of quality of the competition.

    For the UK parliament, it is clear that a large section of the Scottish electorate either cannot see any point in sending a SNP MPs to a parliament they wish to leave, or they vote for a government. It would be interesting to know which. LibDems would like to know too.

    Partly for that reason, but mainly because of FPTP, there will only be about 10 SNP’s in the next parliament, half AS’s target. If that is the outcome, many in the other parties will be foolishly complacent and focus on other issues, thinking the SNP has peaked whereas what may well happen is that there will be enough improvement in the SNP’s position from third place in many constituencies to turn them into marginals winnable on a very small swing indeed which would flip the FPTP jackpot in the SNP’s favour.

    Please look at how FPTP works in Scotland and you will se what I mean. Look at what is does to the Conservatives, and compare LibDem+Nat with Labour.

    Finally, this is a long posting, but I’ve come back to the point I started at and where James left off: Regionality.

  50. @King Harold – I have no need or desire to clutch straws. A fourth Labour term would not be my favourite outcome by any means. On the issues, Statto’s earlier post shows that while the swing in northern marginals is clearly very good, as with the national polls the direction of travel is downwards. If the swing has shrunk from 9-10% in September to 8% now, a further similar movement leaves you in hung territory, although obviously we don’t yet know if these movements are repeated elsewhere (except the electorally less significant Scotland). The comments of Tory activists also suggests a strong boost to the LDs in the south west, backed up by some council byelections (accepted of course that these are notoriously unreliable indicators) so that could be another region where Tory marginal targets are becoming a little more difficult. As to your comments regarding Dubai – the total debt is £49B, with the largest UK exposure thought to be RBS at £2.3b, most others a few hundred millions. Of the debt, it won’t all be lost by any means, if there are actually any losses at all. This is why the FTSE bounced back by 1% on Friday. Its more of a nerve thing, rather than a huge financial hit. Besides, the long term collateral damage to the UAE will be immense if Abu Dhabi doesn’t step in and reach agreement with creditors, so I would expect this issue to die down relatively quickly. Brown is performing politically much better on Afghanistan at present, clearly with the GE deadline in mind, and the Iraq enquiry is I expect for most people old news. It also has the advantage of heaping blame on Blair, which I suspect is one of the reasons Brown was almost invisible in the original discussions on this.

    I don’t want to overstate my points – I’m not hoping for a Labour win, nor am I saying its all over for Cameron – he’s the clear favourite by a country mile and there are many, many bananna skins for Brown. All I’m saying is that for some time there has been a collective willingness to assume an easy Tory win and implosion of the Labour party. Up until Madelson’s speech at the Labour conference I thought this could still have happened, but I wrote back then that I felt that was something of a turning point. Labour will fight this election hard and Cameron has not been as sure footed since his own conference. I think we’ve already passed the high tide mark, but I have no idea how fast the tide will flow from here.

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