Ipsos MORI have put up the tables for their poll in the Sunday Times at the weekend and it turns out we have some voting intention figures.

Voting intention in Westminster, with changes from MORI’s last Scottish voting intention poll in August, are CON 15%(-3), LAB 32%(+5), LDEM 12%(-2), SNP 34%(+1).
For the Holyrood constituency vote the figures are CON 12%(-3), LAB 32%(+7), LDEM 12%(-3), SNP 36%(-2). There doesn’t seem to have been a question on Holyrood regional vote.

Interesting the big jump in Labour support that we saw in YouGov and TNS’s recent polls has been repeated here, but unlike those polls the SNP is still doing well here as well, and continues to lead Labour in Westminster voting intentions. Whereas the recent YouGov poll showed the SNP gaining only one Westminster seat, if these figures were repeated at a general election then on a uniform swing the SNP would end up with 13 seats.

UPDATE: A coveted gold star award for atrocious media reporting of polls for the Sun, who have managed to present the poll as showing Labour ahead by delving into the tables and taking the figures before MORI had applied their turnout filter, thus grossly overestimating Labour.

In MORI’s own words, included in the topline figures for all their voting intention polls “We regard the voting intentions of those “absolutely certain to vote” as the most useful trend indicator, since it includes only those voters whose frame of mind is nearest to those who actually vote at elections”.

45 Responses to “New Scottish voting intention from MORI”

  1. If you look at the Labour figure in relation to what went immediately before, you might be pleasedworried, but a wider-angled perspective might make you think again.

    My point is simple. What is the actual effect of momentum changes? If one poll suggests a big swing, it’s a rogue. Two’s company , five’s for silver etc.

    How many polls does it take to change a lightbulb into a turnip?

  2. One interesting question they asked was –

    “The UK General Election next year is likely to result in either a Conservative or Labour government in Westminster.
    Regardless of how you intend to vote, which do you think would be best for Scotland, a Conservative government in Westminster, or a Labour Government”

    Based on their voting preferences for the SP constituency vote Westminster preference breaks down as –

    WM Pref, Con, Lab, SNP, LD
    Con, 79%, 6%, 27%, 19%
    Lab, 17%, 92%, 58%, 67%

    It looks like 1 in 5 Tory voters in Scotland don’t see the party at UK level as being good for Scotland.

  3. now I realise why the Sunday Times didn’t publish the voting figures.

  4. Hmmm When I plug those figures into Electoral Calculus I’m getting a result looking quite good for the SNP.

    Yes, I can definitely see why they weren’t eager to publish those results. And Alex Salmond’s popularity is looking quite healthy which they also didn’t mention, I believe.

  5. Anthony – you say :
    “if these figures were repeated at a general election then on a uniform swing the SNP would end up with 13 seats.”

    I (and Peter Snow) know it’s only a bit of fun, but if we all wore a uniform kilt and swung free, am I right in thinking Labour’s majority would increase by 42 (the answer to the universe)?

  6. If you are applying these figures to GB- how many seats would the SNP/Plaid get in England? :-)

  7. Oldnat, I don’t think the polling figures could be applied to England as I don’t think the SNP or Plaid stand in England.

    This is because they are seperatist/nationalist parties from Scotland (SNP) and Wales ( Plaid) and want to break away from what they see as a disadvantageous union with England.

  8. If they stood on a platform of “Let’s ditch Scotland” they might do surprisingly well :)

  9. Interesting differences in the table of attitudes to the main issues. Some of the key issues are Scotland/UK.

    Unemployment; 42%/27%, Economy; 37%/49%, Crime; 15%/24%,
    Education; 24%/12% Immigration; 8%/33%, Terrorism 5%/25%,
    Devolution 18%/0%.

    Now for me the caveat is that as there is almost a fifth of the Scottish sample voting for a issue that doesn’t feature for the Uk then everything is skewed.

    That out of the way the ones that really are at variance are Immigration and Terrorism, with less significant but clear differences on the importance of crime and surprise surprise on the day that Scotlands education secretary was replaced… schools.


  10. Is that a gain of 1 and a gain of 13? Or a gain of 1 and 13 total seats?

  11. Pete B

    Following that rather severe comment about the English viewpoint, has anyone had a poll in England on whether the english want independence, phrased in the same way as is asked in Scotland?

    Actually, I expect it would be ‘no’.

  12. Is that a gain of 1 and a gain of 13? Or a gain of 1 and 13 total seats?

  13. Also, interesting point (on reading the comments): Terrorism and Immigration are effectively non-issues in Scotland? That, in and of itself, is interesting, if just because it suggests that those issues are all the more important south of the border.

  14. I suppose immigration and bogus asylum seekers are less of an issue when you’re that from Dover! I think terrorism was more of an issue during the NI Troubles, due to the affinity between Glasgow and Belfast and family links and proximity.

  15. Davey

    There’s a good sociology PhD thesis based round Pete B’s “joke”. It’s very reminiscent of the kind of comments made in Scotland about England 30 years ago – but you would struggle to find on the Scottish blogs now.

    I’d hypothesise that such comments come from a nation in confusion and uncertainty about its identity. In Scotland people tend to be confidently “Scots” or “British” in political terms. Both are perfectly respectable positions.


    On the same theme, immigration is not seen in the same way in Scotland , as in England. Both our major parties support enhanced immigration and for most people it isn’t threatening. Once you accept that being Scottish derives from living here, and identifying with Scotland, then ethnic origin doesn’t really matter. As an outsider, it seems to me that the English haven’t yet come to terms with the civic nationalism which underlies both English and Scottish constitutional law.

  16. Oldnat,
    Makes sense. I do think, by the way, that a decent amount of the tension in England (as in much of Europe) derives from a feeling that the civic nationalism you mention isn’t there (that is, that the groups on some level don’t identify with being British, German, etc.). At the very least, that’s what most of the rhetoric over here in the US that I hear centers on…the argument being the people either don’t identify as American or, if they do, they pay it lip service (and when you see large rallies with the Mexican flag being conspicuous and the American one not, I can’t blame that point of view for arising). My guess is that such feelings aren’t present in Scotland, which would explain the difference.

  17. Makes sense. I do think, by the way, that a decent amount of the tension in England (as in much of Europe)…


    Which “much” of Europe are you referring to?

    In ten years of living between rural western France and Saxony (in Germany), the only dislike of foreigners I have encountered is a dislike of rich white English in parts of France!

    The press talk a lot about immigration but, outside of one or two areas on the continent where it is a serious concern, it is just a side issue. For most people, not on their radar.

  18. Peter

    Very interesting figures on the different priorities. What was the specific question asked about these issues?

    Fascinating to see that devolution is rated by more people as an issue than crime is in Scotland! Particualrly given the current debates on Calman etc.

    Was there anything about anti-social behaviour/ problem drinking? I would be interesting in the context of the labour opposition to tackling this through minimum pricing. I suspect this is behind some of the SNP bounce.

    The education issue I think will be a touchstone issue for the SNP administration to get to grips with. It is the visible part of a larger iceberg around the whole aproach to how local authorities deliver against Government policies.

    I for one applaud the radical approach of the governemnt but would have liked to have seen it phased in more slowly. Local Government (and councillors) are generally not up to this level of decision-making. This is no slur on them – they have just not had to make these big strategic decisions up till now and it is even harder as budgets contract.

  19. OLDNAT

    Thanks for your informative comments. My ‘no’ was ambiguous. I meant if most English were asked if they wanted independence they would say ‘no’. However, as we are not allowed referundum on important issues we will never know.

    David in France
    I do not think the support for far right parties in some parts of Europe necessarily supports your comments.

    I was very surprised by the size of the vote for the BNP in the recent Glasgow election.

  20. The figures are up for Labour but that was against the most dire figures ever for Labour.

    It seems that the Glasgow NE by election has given Labour little boost.

  21. David in France:
    The trouble seems to be primarily urban (Paris, Amsterdam, Hamburg [there were problems there a couple of years back, which as I recall were at least partially to blame for that clown Schill getting elected mayor], etc.), but there certainly seems to be a multi-national problem to point to. I’d note Austria, for example, putting its foot down about admitting Turkey to the EU, and I could also cite the Swiss referendum that just happened.

    I could also gesture to the EU Parliament results from earlier in the year, but I am also inclined to chalk at least some of that up to protest voting (as there seems to have been an inclination towards voting for minor parties across the board). What I would note, however, is that parties classified as “far right” have done quite well in most continental western European countries over the last few years, with the main exceptions being in the Mediterranean (Italy, Portugal, Spain). 2009 didn’t quite happen in a vacuum…and I can also gesture back to LePen’s 2002 shocker, which was before almost any of the more recent stuff flew up.

    If I might ask, roughly when did you live in each place, and did you live in a decent-sized urban area on either occasion?

  22. What regional breakdowns do the pollsters do of opinion polls specific to Scotland?

    There are major difference in political culture and interests between Lowland and Highland Scotland, and indeed between the Lothians, including Edinburgh, and Strathclyde, including Glasgow. In past elections these have been reflected in very different swings. For instance, the LIbDems have in some past elections done badly over the whole of Scotland, but at the same time hold and even gain seats in the North-East and North of Inverness.

    At the present time, the number of seats the SNP may win, which is varying so much according to different opinion polls, will depend as much or more on their support in their strong regions, e.g. Grampian, rather than on how they do across Scotland generally.

    One issue that needs to be monitored is how good the polls are at collecting data that fairly represents voters who live in remote areas, remembering that a considerably larger proportion of the Scottish population than that of England lives rurally. We need to remember the classic warning from polls that mis-predicted the Brecon and Radnor by-election.

    Nobody seriously believes that the SNP will be reduced next year, 1979 style, to one or two Westminster seats.

    P.S. Living next door to Dover (but I have in the past lived in Scotland), I strongly agree with the comments that Gray and Lancs Observer make about immigration. Labour look like losing half a dozen seats in Kent- a substantial proportion of their majority – because their Ministers from safe Labour areas, and particularly Scotland, have so little empathy for the needs of areas such as Kent, which is nothing like the almost bigoted stereotype of the South-East they often seem to hold..

  23. Frederic Stansfield

    Only TNS does a regional breakdown within Scotland (that I know of). The sample size in each region is very small, however. For what it’s worth, these are the figures for the constituency vote for Holyrood in November.

    Party, Total, H&I, NE, Mid, Loth, Central, Glasgow, West, South
    SNP, 40%, 51%, 56%, 41%, 27%, 41%, 35%, 39%, 35%
    Lab, 32%, 24%, 8%, 41%, 32%, 35%, 36%, 36%, 36%
    Con, 13%, 12%, 16%, 9%, 17%, 10%, 10%, 11%, 18%
    LD, 11%, 11%, 17%, 6%, 15%, 8%, 10%, 12%, 10%
    Other, 5%, 1%, 3%, 3%, 9%, 5%, 10%, 1%, 1%

    It does suggest that their vote in their Highland heartland has dropped very significantly, with the SNP being the major beneficiary.

  24. For anyone interested these are the other TNS poll numbers from November –

    Holyrood List
    Party, Total, H&I, NE, Mid, Loth, Central, Glasgow, West, South
    SNP, 37%, 47%, 52%, 38%, 17%, 36%, 37%, 39%, 37%
    Lab, 29%, 28%, 12%, 37%, 26%, 30%, 27%, 36%, 36%
    Con, 12%, 12%, 19%, 10%, 14%, 12%, 10%, 7%, 15%
    LD, 12%, 10%, 12%, 6%, 23%, 11%, 8%, 11%, 9%
    Green, 4%, 2%, -, 3%, 9%, 5%, 6%, 3%, 1%
    SSP, 2%, -, 2%, 1%, 4%, 2%, 6%, 1%, –
    Other, 4%, 1%, 3%, 4%, 8%, 4%, 7%, 3%, 3%

    Party, Total, H&I, NE, Mid, Loth, Central, Glasgow, West, South
    SNP, 25%, 36%, 35%, 32%, 13%, 25%, 25%, 22%, 22%
    Lab, 39%, 35%, 20%, 47%, 32%, 44%, 38%, 43%, 46%
    Con, 18%, 21%, 25%, 13%, 21%, 18%, 15%, 14%, 20%
    LD, 12%, 7%, 12%, 6%, 19%, 8%, 12%, 21%, 8%
    Other, 6%, 2%, 7%, 1%, 14%, 6%, 9%, -, 5%

  25. Nothing like posting a dense mass of data to kill a thread! :-)

  26. Interesting poll.

    Very good for the Nats, bit of a shock for Labour and Libs and Tories floundering.

    I am coming to the conclusion that Salmond may not be too far off the mark. This sort of poll is within reach of his 20 seat , hung parly scenario.

    Time fopr a re-think among some of the journos?

  27. Honestly, the so-called “Scottish” papers are all spinning it that Labour is ahead and SNP is down. “Another blow” they write. What rubbish. That’s the kind of nonsense carried out daily in Scotland all in order to maintain Labour / Union. It really is like Mugabe stuff.

  28. Oldnat,

    That TNS data is very interesting. I would say revealing but of course one should be careful given the size of the regional sub-samples.

    However, we can tease out some interesting omens for each party.

    For SNP – they can expect to make gains in H&I, NE & Mid (but not that many I would guess since they are already well positioned in those areas), but the Lothians figure is a bit of a surprise – 27% for Holyrood Const but only 13% for Westminster. Does that mean Edinburgh voters will be voting tactically in SW, S and Nth ?

    For Lab – reassuring to see that their Central belt heartlands look solid, but NE and Lothians look vulnerable – Aberdeen, Dundee and Edinburgh to fall ?

    For Cons – Big contrasts between Holyrood and Westminster constituency votes. While scores in NE and South almost to be expected, the higher shares in H&I and Lothians are interesting. Argyll could be a tighter contest than John Dick thinks, while my gut feel that Cons will take Darling’s seat with tactical votes from SNP and LD may prove right.

    For LDs – hmmm. 7% in H&I and 8% in South can’t be good news, and even 12% in NE must be a concern. 19% in Lothians may be promising, but I can’t see where 21% in West is going to deliver any seats.

    Have you done any comparisons on regional basis with either 2005 or 2007 results ?

  29. It’s incredible that despite a daily barrage of lies, half truths and distortions from the unionist papers and BBC the SNP still has the support of the people.

    And once the facts about Independence with Oil and Gas and all Scotland’s other assets begin to emerge in the Referendum Campaign, the numbers supporting Independence will rocket.

    No wonder the Brit Nats don’t want an Independence Referendum.

  30. Interesting analysis and comments Paul H-J; so assuming that that your prognosis is right how do you see the Scottish seats split at the GE

  31. On today’s front page of the Daily Mail (Scottish Edition) there is mention of a new poll. When I looked at the page in the newsagents with the voting intentions they are very much like the poll above. Are they very late at reporting the poll above? If not then maybe a voting trend has started?

  32. Davey,

    May I refer you to my posting at 4:30 on 26 November on the YouGov Scottish poll (which you can access via the “November” tab in the archive.

    Or if you wish to short-cut to actual figures:

    Lab: 30-35
    SNP: 8-12
    LD: 11-6
    Con: 3-10 (but +/-5 most likely)

    Lab will suffer losses, but they will not be as extensive as may have been the case only a few months ago, and they may recover their by-election losses (but nothing else).

    SNP will make gains from LD and LAB, but may lose Glasgow E.

    The Con figure is the most volatile, and could actually be anything from 0-12. 3-6 is the range with the highest probability.

    For LDs, potential gains are so limited that every seat lost is a seat lost in the final tally. Based on latest polling / election results, only seats which remain dead certs for LD are the three northernmost, Fife NE (assuming Ming does not retire) and Edinburgh W.


  33. Paul H-J

    I’ve only looked at the old Pictland!

    We agree that there has to be HUGE caution about using regional samples, but (just for the hell of it) let’s assume that they are reasonably accurate, and also recognise that not being Lab or Con matters through much of that territory.

    On that basis, I’m speculating that the following seats might be liable to a change in MP.

    Inverness etc – I’ve previously assumed this would be a return to Lab, but their campaigning for Glasgow could be a significant negative, so a leap from a poor 3rd place for the SNP in 2005 to winning isn’t beyond possible.

    Argyll & Bute – Con or SNP look possible – but no one should try and predict this of all seats!

    Gordon – looks like an SNP gain

    W Aberdeenshire & Kincardine – Again I’ve always assumed this as a likely Con gain, but I wonder if having their popular MSP as a candidate for London might alienate some ex LDs. Outside chance of an SNP gain.

    Dundee W – another possible SNP gain

    Ochil & S Perthshire – Definite SNP gain

    Stirling – Any of Con/Lab/SNP could win

    Dunfermline – Probably return to Lab, but there was a big floating vote which went LD at the by-election so who knows. The Forth crossing likely to be an issue.

  34. Paul H-J

    I forgot Aberdeen (my home town!)

    Aberdeen N – has a large aspirational population and that’s usually fertile territory for the SNP. Again Labour’s concentration on Glasgow is a strong disincentive to voting Labour,

    Aberdeen S – Con gain, I’d guess.

  35. Wednesday, 2 December 2009
    Scotland prepares for the Election Battle
    Details of today’s poll TNS/System 3 are as follows:

    Holyrood Constituency Vote (with change from 2007 in brackets)

    SNP: 41% (+8%)
    Labour: 29% (-3%)
    Tory: 15% (-2%)
    LibDem: 11% (-5%)
    Other: 3% (1%)

    Holyrood Regional Vote (with change from 2007 in brackets)

    SNP: 40% (+9%)
    Labour: 30% (1%)
    Tory: 13% (-1%)
    LibDem: 10% (-1%)
    Green: 4% (nc)
    Other: 4% (-7%)

    Holyrood seats analysis

    Running those figures through the Weber Shandwick seats predictor gives the following result (with change in brackets):

    SNP – 58 (+11)
    Labour – 41 (-5)
    Tory – 16 (-1)
    LibDem – 12 (-4)
    Green – 2 (nc)

    Westminster voting intentions (with change in brackets)

    SNP: 32% (+14%)
    Labour: 36% (-4%)
    Tory: 19% (3%)
    LibDem: 9% (-14%)
    SNP re-takes poll position ahead of elections (2009-12-02 9:52)
    Poll puts SNP ahead in marginal seats (2009-10-03 11:16)
    SNP moves ahead in latest poll (2009-09-13 11:09)
    Support growing for SNP Government (2009-09-06 9:34)
    Polls shows increase in SNP support (2009-08-30 11:20)


  36. Charlie

    I’d only give the Record a “Daily Star” for that level of distorted reporting!

  37. Anthony

    Any confirmation of the new TNS Holyrood poll quoted above?

  38. Old Nat,

    “Pictland” – nice term for the areas north of Lanarkshire / Fife.

    Overall, I would agree with your assessment.

    On Inverness, I think Peter Cairns could give you a better assessment than I can, but I have assumed this would be an SNP gain since you have held the equivalent Holyrood seat comfortably, and I believe that Lab (like Con) are now out of contention here.

    There is a band of seats, from Argyll right across to Aberdeen, where we will see both Con and SNP votes rise relative to 2005. How much each party rises in each seat is open to discussion, but the impact on Lab and LDs will be painful (for them).

    The real danger for LDs is that those seats they lose this time (esp Argyll and Gordon, but also WAK) may slip further away in 2011 (Holyrood) and 2014/5 (Westminster) as they settle into being SNP/Con contests much like Moray and Banff were in the 70s & 80s.

  39. OLDNAT

    Interesting appraisal – don’t disagree with any of that, although I reckon Dundee West is more probable than possible – given the changes in political landscape in that city.

    Paul H-J

    Yes the Lib-dems are in danger of being pinned back to Caithness and the Northern Isles (and NE Fife while Ming is there). Likely to lose E Dunbartonshire (to Labour) and under threat in the Borders from noth CONs and SNP (likewise in the Aberdeen suburbs).

    I think they’re duplicity over referendum stance and pinning themselves to labour in coalition terms has been pretty disastrous – they have lost all credibility. Meanwhile south of the Border Clegg is trying to become Cameron-light which won’t go down well with their traditional rural and AB suburban voters in Scotland.

  40. I think this is irrelevant the tory lead in England is 20%-25% and looks good in Wales aswell.The labour party may get alot of scottish mps returned but who would expect anything else.

  41. Craig

    When was the last time the Tory lead over Labour in England was 20% (much less 25%)?

    As far as I am aware MORI are the only pollsters to publish England only data – and that for only 2 or 3 months.

    Thanks for suggesting that Scotland is irrelevant to the UK btw! Some of us have been saying that for a long time. :-)

  42. So it’s quite simple; Blair will be remembered for two things when history writes the books–illegal and immoral wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and starting the breakup of the (not legally, but in name) United Kingdom.

    One will we be viewed as a total disgrace, one will be viewed as starting freedoms for oppressed nations.

    Your choice…

  43. Paul H-J

    I certainly didn’t suggest that Argyll was anything but tight. What I said was that the Conservative will be second.

    Everything depends firstly on how many votes the LibDem loses and secondly how these break between Con and SNP. I wouldn’t bet on who comes first, but I would bet on the Conservative still being in second place.

    The LibDem MP Alan Reid does not make a big impact (either to his advantage or not). His USP is that he is not a Tory and not Labour. The SNP is an increasingly popular brand with the same sales pitch as the LibDems.

    We know that LibDems in Scotland are losing a significant part of their former support to the SNP but also that incumbent LibDem MP’s in rural areas are less affected by adverse swings than other LibDem candidates. On the other hand Argyll and Bute is the least rural of the LibDem held Highland constituencies and the loss of the MSP has exposed the fact that (Iraq apart) the issues people are most concerned about are devolved and it is now more obvious that the MP’s involvement in these issues has been subidiary to that of the MSP.

    That suggests that the LibDem vote is soft, and we know that the SNP appears to benefit most from LibDem losses. The Labour vote can hardly be squeezed more.

    There is no reason to suppose that in Argyll or anywhere else there is an increase in support for Conservative ideas

    In 2005 Alan Reid was concerned about a possible increase in the Conservative vote. He need not have been, the Conservative share of the vote fell marginally and I see no reason why it should not fall again also very marginally. That’s because I suspect that the loss is due to the grim reaper rather than any swing in favour of other parties.

    Those who vote positively in favour of a party which promotes policies and principles that they believe in are not the ones who switch from one election to another.

    Any dissatisfied former Labour voters will either support the LibDem or the SNP candidates. They will certainly not vote Conservative. There won’t be many, because Labour have few voters to lose.

    Those who vote LibDem because they are best placed to defeat Labour have a choice. There is no chance that by deserting the LibDems that they will let in Labour. Those who vote against Con or Lab+Con also have a choice, but the risk that by voting SNP, the Conservative will win is smaller than one might suppose.

    That is because the LibDem would have to lose a tenth of his current vote to be unsuccessful, and even if 30% of that went to the Con and the rest to the SNP
    the SNP would still in.

    If the LibDem loses fewer than a tenth of his votes, then he will still be the MP, but that is not certain.

    What is clear is that if he does lose that many the proportion which goes to the Con is unlikely to be as much as 30% because anti-Labour voters who previously voted LibDem and were prepared to contemplate returning a Conservative had the opportunity to vote Conservative in the past (and probably did) without any fear of Labour getting in.

    Those who voted LibDem previoously because they dislike the SNP should stick with the LibDem rather than vote Conservative.

  44. Paul H-J,

    I am of the view that Inverness is one we can win, although it wll be a tough fight.

    Like all LibDems Danny Alexander has done a good job of working on his personal vote, mainly by promising to campaign for someone else to pay for what various interest groups want.

    Having said that people up here are starting to lose patience with the Libdems as their national irrelevance is starting to tell. In addition in John finnie we have a first class and popular candidate and i am not just saying that because he’s my boss….