There is a new Ipsos MORI poll in today’s Times that shows a commanding lead for the SNP. Topline figures, with changes from their previous Scottish poll, are:

Holyrood constituency: CON 10%(-3), LAB 34%(-2), LDEM 9%(-1), SNP 45%(+8)
Holyrood regional: CON 10%(-3), LAB 32%(-1), LDEM 8%(-2), SNP 42%(+7), Green 6%(nc)

In The Times John Curtice projects that if repeated in the Scottish Parliamentary elections this would give the SNP 61 seats (up 14), Labour 45 (down 1), Conservatives 10 (down 7), Lib Dems 9 (down 7) and Scottish Greens 4 (up 2).

Clearly MORI are showing a bigger lead for the SNP than we’ve seen so far, but across the board recent polling is strong for the SNP. Recent polls from YouGov and Panelbase also showed the SNP ahead. The most recent poll from ICM continued to show Labour leading… but that’s over a month ago now, and at the time YouGov were also still showing Labour ahead. Public opinion seems to have shifted since then.

Full tabs are on the MORI website here


172 Responses to “MORI show the SNP 10 points ahead of Labour”

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  1. YouGov/Sun results 21st April CON 36%, LAB 42%, LD 10%; APPROVAL -26

  2. @james Johnston

    “The Scottish Tories will not get just 10% that Mori says today – they always get 16/17% – always – so polls that show that at 10/12% all the time are just wrong – and until we get an adjustment for ‘shy’ tories (and maybe now shy LibDems”

    Very interesting: do you think that these ‘shy’ groups are showing up in these out-of-kilter scottish polls in the Separatists column?

    If so there are going to be some very embarrasssed ‘recent crowing nats’ on here come May 6th

    :D

  3. James Johnston

    I’m not going to disagree with you about the quality of polling in Scotland!

    Like most people, I’m doubtful that SNP could do as well as the MORI poll suggests.

    However, there are two words which might just make it possible.

    Iain Gray.

  4. Anthony feel free to delete this if is not appropriate. One of your readers ask for an explanation of blue labour/ purple labour

    Robert N,

    that area. It also harks back to a day of social responsibility were communities to some extent were self sufficient. This is a mild form of mutualism and in some ways connects with David Cameron’s big society. Another aspect of Blue Labour is that tends to place much greater emphasis on family. This could spell alarm bells for those of you who view the Victorian concept of the family as archaic. Blue Labour also seeks to embrace a mild form of Nationalism or citizenship whichever way you prefer to view it. In short, it is about shoring up the working class vote at a time when they might be prepared to accept that we live in a broken Britain.
    Purple Labour are entirely different. They think that Britain works best when it is racing forward, commercializing, modernizing and embracing marketisation. These three ingredients constantly improve public services and increase consumer happiness that their taxes are being spent well. It is about inviting private companies of all sizes in to take over the functions that the state once did. It generally accepts the state to be cumbersome and too averse to change. They are strongly pro-Europe and strongly Liberal in their equality agenda. When it comes to foreign policy they are fully supportive of the Blair doctrine and are opposed to Ed Miliband’s decision to apologize over Iraq. They also strongly favour a tough approach to Law and Order.

  5. Anthony,

    oops.. if you actually delete that one it would be appreciated. I missed a chunk out

    Blue Labour aims to reconnect with working class voters. It understands their frustrations with immigration and would like to retake some of the Tory ground in that area. It also harks back to a day of social responsibility were communities to some extent were self sufficient. This is a mild form of mutualism and in some ways connects with David Cameron’s big society. Another aspect of Blue Labour is that tends to place much greater emphasis on family. This could spell alarm bells for those of you who view the Victorian concept of the family as archaic. Blue Labour also seeks to embrace a mild form of Nationalism or citizenship whichever way you prefer to view it. In short, it is about shoring up the working class vote at a time when they might be prepared to accept that we live in a broken Britain.
    Purple Labour are entirely different. They think that Britain works best when it is racing forward, commercializing, modernizing and embracing marketisation. These three ingredients constantly improve public services and increase consumer happiness that their taxes are being spent well. It is about inviting private companies of all sizes in to take over the functions that the state once did. It generally accepts the state to be cumbersome and too averse to change. They are strongly pro-Europe and strongly Liberal in their equality agenda. When it comes to foreign policy they are fully supportive of the Blair doctrine and are opposed to Ed Miliband’s decision to apologize over Iraq. They also strongly favour a tough approach to Law and Order.

  6. “YouGov/Sun results 21st April CON 36%, LAB 42%, LD 10%; APPROVAL -26”

    moe trend lead i.e. smack in the January thru April ballpark; (dis)approval on the negative side for recent trends.

    That- and the questioning of the scottish MORI poll by an informed poster- makes for a nice start to the weekend

    ;-)

  7. ROB SHEFFIELD

    Do you think that lead is enough to get your 1000 seat gain in the English locals?

  8. ROB SHEFFIELD
    Very interesting: do you think that these ‘shy’ groups are showing up in these out-of-kilter scottish polls in the Separatists column?

    Plural columns needed, I suggest, since the Scottish Greens also seek independence. So also do the SSP and a number of other parties in the “Others” column, which of course also includes unionists like the BNP and UKIP plus even a few home rulers.

    You could try petitioning YouGov for them to have separate “Others” columns for all three categories. Come to think of it, perhaps the BNP have already done just that and you simply need to add your name to their plaint.

  9. Ironically Max Hastings contributed to a pre-recorded arts program (broadcast this afternoon) about journalism novels… to say that the first thing he did on becoming Telegraph editor was to sack the drunks.

    So will employers be tempted to take on the long-term unemployed (stereotyped today as voluntary drink/drug/obesity cases), or will they take their line from a restatement of Tory principles (“understand a little less, condemn a little more”)?

    To those who think the cuts have started, June 1st will be an improtant day for some… it has been mentioned to me by someone who should know, that social security managers have been given a target to reduce benefit claimants by 15% though sanctions – before the introduction of the universal benefit.

    Also placement funding for 17-25 year-olds coming out of care homes and youth offender centres has all but dried up now – so sanctions are being applied to these cases also, with predictably counterproductive and distressing consequences..

  10. I can’t believe that changes will be on the scale predicted, not least because of compensation on the list.

    The LibDems are on the way down, and the SNP (perhaps only in the North) and the Greens are on the way up. We can be sure of that, but not much else. The support of all the parties except the Greens is very regional and swings in votes may not make much impact on seats where there are large majorities or fourth placed candidates involved.

    The Greens don’t need a very big change to lift them over the threshhold in the regions where they do not have an MSP and they are sure to win most but probably not all of the 5 list places that they lost last time.

    Other than that we know nothing.

  11. @barbazenzero

    An intelligent post which deserves very serious consideration-just don’t give up any day job you might have

    :D

    @oldnat

    Being a labour supporter I’d certainly hope so.

    ;-)

  12. @barbazenzero

    An intelligent post which deserves very serious consideration…..

    :D

    @oldnat

    Being a labour supporter I’d certainly hope so.

    ;-)

  13. @Oldnat
    My beef isnt with wage restraint as such – although I’d prefer to reward low paid workers – its with describing a policy where the SNP say that low paid PUBLIC SECTOR workers will get a pay rise, only for folks to find that if they work for the NHS or councils they wont get one.

    I think we may find a lot of disappointed public sector workers when they get their pay packet at the end of this month.

    John Swinney has been on the tv again this week saying that public sector workers earning less than £21k will get a pay rise. I’ve certainly had fellow union members expecting a pay rise, who havnt believed me (“you would say that, wouldnt you”). I guess John Swinney is more believable than me! Now, either John Swinney is lying, or he doesnt realise the difference.

  14. Adam

    What can conservatives do?

    Bavarianise, or wait for independence to re-band. If they broke the link with the UK party they could be in coalition with the SNP.

    They are rightly emphasising the list vote in this region where they have two respected MSPs. If a Conservative won a highland constituency they would be certain to lose Mrs Scanlon who is the kind of MSP they need to so as not be seen as the nasty party. That would be a loss all round.

    I would be surprised if they lost more than one seat. They have been down to the core vote for a decade and their voters go not to other parties but to the crematorium.

    Independence is a matter for a referendum, not an election.

    They have a heavyweight politician in the leader who has worked out how to operate with a minority government. Labour have no idea how to do that.

    She’s a big woman. On my train this morning she nearly sat down beside my wife who was concerned for the safety of the grandchildren’s Easter eggs.

  15. Socal Liberal

    What’s remarkable is that the polls, and even more so the projections should be first favouring Labour without any obvious reason why, and then the SNP, again forecasting a result by methods which take no account of compensation on the list and almost as wildly out.

    Independents will be elected. Conservatives will not lose nearly a third of their seats for the reasons I gave above.

  16. Calum/Stuart Dickson/James Johnston

    It is the incredible drop in Con support – together with the total number of changes to which it contributes – that leads me to reject the poll and especially the predictions.

    Somethig isnt right. Weighting, absence of list compensation, national swings, shy voters, outlier – take your pick.

  17. Whether the Scotland polls are right or wrong, it’s certainly the most interesting election in town.

    The Salmond/Sturgeon factor simply trumps all. Great names for Scottish Nats too :)

  18. RAF

    You forget the Fisheries Minister – Richard Lochhead.

  19. You do all know about the excellent briefings by SCPO don’t you?

    h ttp://www.actsparl.org/elections2011.aspx

  20. John B Dick

    The critical factor in an AMS election (as I think you have said) id the regional voting pattern.

    There is a tippijng point in each region, however, where a party that is sufficiently dominant in the constituencies will get no list MSPs, but still have more MSPs than their share of the list vote entitles them to.

    I can see that happening for the SNP in the northern regions, while a relatively small constituency seat gain for the SNP in Glasgow, Central and the West would reduce Labour’s “over-representation”.

    What everyone seems to agree on is that the election ios still too close to call.

  21. @OldNat

    :)

    Do you mean “too close to call” in terms of whether the SNP will get an overall majority?

  22. Raf,

    Any socialist worth their salt would not begrudge an SNP win..

    1. They done a goood job 2007-11
    2. They have a decent leader
    3. they aint pushing independance
    4. Rather sady, my party blew it.

    If I had had an input into the Labour campaign for Holyrood, I would have suggested the following

    1. Holyrood will exercise its right to use tax raisning powers to put 2p on income tax. .058bn x5 = 2.9bn.

    But they didnt

  23. RAF

    The Labour strategy is simply to appeal to their “core vote” – probably around 35%. If they can get that out on 5 May, and Salmond does something stupid in the two leader’s debates on 1 and 3 May, Labour could still be the largest party.

    With few campaigning days left, Labour need a lot of luck to pull it off, but in an AMS system it could happen.

  24. Everyone seems to have forgotten Wales while trying to make sense of the shifts in Scotland. The pattern is different here. There is no visible shift to Plaid in Wales (rather the contrary – the polls suggest that they will be the main losers alongside the LibDems). Labour seem certain to win seats and increase their overall share of the vote substantially. The main issue is whether these increases will be enough to win an outright majority, which not even the latest Scottish polls are predicting for SNP. The common factor is a probable collapse in the LibDem vote. Maybe Labour needs to talk more persuasively to the pro-unionist but still patriotic urban majority (as it does in Wales). Face down the SNP on independence eg “Welcome to SNP’s Irish Solution to Scotland’s Economy” – “Go independent, join the Euro, lose all subsidy from the rest of GB and get poorer and marginalised VERY FAST.”. Sorry Old Nat but even you must be amazed at Labour letting the Salmon off the hook on his support for failed small-state economies and his not-very-well-hidden support for the break up of GB !

  25. In all honesty, it does look too good to be true. The SNP appears to be in the lead and gaining, though by how much, from whom and in what regions in particular remains to be seen. Obviously there is a feeling that much of the SNP progress is in the Highlands, the Northeast and other areas which are strongholds for the LDs. However, given that on this poll the LDs are only really down about 7 or 8 percent it would imply that they are picking up tory support and, in some areas, labour support also. Given that the tory vote in Scotland is near static and Labour probably can’t go lower than last time (even with Gray’s best attempts to do so) I suspect that the SNP share is probably a bit lower, the Labour and Con shares a bit higher and the LD share perhaps a point or two down.

    As fun as it would be to hypothesise Labour losing East Lothian, I simply cannot see it happening, and the best money on the betting now appears to be had by backing Labour candidates (Lab 4/1 in Aberdeen Central,7/4 in Midlothian North for example). Fortunately, though, the majority of SNP activists are not taking this poll as gospel. We have to realise that there are still 14 days to go until the election and Labour must surely now be bringing in the big guns or at least changing tack in some meaningful way to improve their standings. This, to all intents and purposes, should be used as a best case scenario for the SNP and an indicator that the SNP has momentum at the moment, not a guide to what is most likely to happen on May 5th(yet).

  26. OLDNAT

    Sssshh! You’ve told RAF about the SNP’s secret.

    Richard Lochhead is a young unasuming Rural Affairs minister who gets a lot of coverage in local-rural and trade press but almost none elsewhere. He wouldn’t be recognised in a Glasgow supermarket, but in a fish market he would be a celebrity.

    For the last four years he has been harvesting (!) votes for the SNP in the North East and indeed anywhere where there are farmers and fisherman.

    The SNP have got fishing communities and not just farmers but many others with rural interests solidly behind them. There is an astonishing diversity in the issues the Rural Affairs minister has to deal with.

    I’ve got the weight of fish landed in Scottish ports and I’m going to plot it against increase/decrease in SNP votes by constituency.

    Labour and Conservatives (other than the two Con farmers) rarely speak of these things, and if they do, they are not heard. The national press are not just not interested, the arn’t aware how important the CFP is to some parts of the country. They imagine that foxhunting is the only rural issue while the UK government for decades has assumed that what is important to London is important to people everywhere in the UK and the press feed off party handouts.

  27. @John B Dick
    It surprises me that fisheries is not a larger issue in Scotland. After all, it has a large coastline and hundreds of islands.

    The LDs have tended to do well in rural island communities such as the Western and Northern Isles. But, I suppose if the LDs are on the slide, the SNP are best placed to pick up these seats.

  28. RAF @ OLDNAT

    An overall majority for any party in any SP election is highly unlikley.

    It is so by design.

  29. @John B Dick
    Yes, indeed. But on the MORI numbers (caveats about the List seats aside) you would be close.

    I was just surprised OldNat wasn’t sure whether the SNP would end up as the largest party. That appears almost a foregone conclusion based on recent SP polls, surely?

  30. An election communication from the Labour candidate in my constituency said he would like to hear from me.

    Taking him at his word, I told him:

    “Most of my life I have voted Labour as have most of my family. Several have been active in the Labour party at constituency level. As a teenager I was much influenced by Donald Dewar who was at school with me and we had over a hundred conversations about constitutional arrangements and voting systems.

    In the event that you become an MSP in my constituency or region you will have one constituent, perhaps the only one left, who was trained half a century ago by The Father of the Nation himself.

    It is for that reason that I will not be voting for you or for Labour on the Regional vote in this election.

    The unremitting negativity of the Labour group in the last parliament has diminished the effectiveness of elements of the design of Donald’s Home Rule parliament which foster cross party working. It is also ignorant and foolish (as anyone with the most basic understanding of sales technique could tell you) to rubbish the competition. Clearly, SLAB politicians with few exceptions prefer to play the party games of public school and Oxbridge debating societies and ape the practice of the Westminster parliament in which two “house” teams take their turns to alternate their roles like cricketers do, sitting two sword’s length apart (though they have red belts to hang their swords on outside) and record their debates on calf vellum.

    I do not think independence for Scotland is the best way to deliver competent government in the UK as a whole, but it is the only way that I will be comforted by the thought that when I am gone, my grandchildren will grow up in a country with a parliament designed for purpose, based on the four founding principles and respecting the values on the mace.

    Few issues have disgraced the party of men of the stature of Donald Dewar, John Smith and Robin Cook and their precursors in the ILP more than the automatic opposition for oppositions sake on the Megrahi release, and few actions of a Scottish minister have better demonstrated these values.

    Both the Greens and the Conservatives, small though they are, are able to operate in the parliament in a responsible way. It seems likely that they will have between them more talented MSP’s and serious legislators than will Labour with many more MSP’s. Miss Goldie understandably makes the most of her party’s claimed successes. Labour merely girns unappealingly. Even with four parties and the prospect of a return of socialists at the election after this one, the Scottish Parliament could function very well without Labour, and better than it has done in the last session.

    I expect that losses of Labour voters who remember a party of principle will be offset by former LibDem voters in some constituencies, but it is in the interests of Scotland, the Scottish Parliament and even the Labour party that you lose this election and reflect on whether there are any principles in politics that you adhere to or whether the opinion of the foreign owned press, knowing which pop group inspires you, and which biscuit best conveys the image focus groups like, is more important.

    Under the sixth Leader in twelve years you will have the opportunity to rebuild the party relying on the new intake, and you should also Bavarianise to rid yourself of a superimposed leadership of people too busy to understand the dynamics of the Scottish parliament and ignorant of Scottish history and values and the many issues in which population sparsity or rural industry is a factor. Where a leader with such potential may come from, and whether the London leadership would allow him or her to do what you need to do is problematic. The SNP has at least four ministers who could do the job for you.

    Scottish Labour is in no condition to lead a government at this time. The problems of a dearth of talent, inept strategy, and lack of new ideas are enough for you to deal with and competent government would be beyond your capacity. The root cause of all these problems is because your party is now bereft of any principle worthy of the name and membership, active support and funding would all be transformed by a party with a vision which could inspire people in the way it used to do nearly a century ago.

    I won’t be voting for you on a matter of principles: Labour’s abandonment of them.

  31. Welsh Borderer

    Since the break up of the current UK Union is the SNP’s goal, it could hardly be hidden! We can’t tell without a referendum (which the Unionists won’t let us have), but polling suggests that FFA would be the preferred choice of most Scots (ie leave foreign affairs & defence with the UK).

    Ah, yes. The failed small state economies of Norway, Denmark, Finland ……….

  32. John B Dick

    Wow! That was impressive.

    The really sad thing is that Rice probably wouldn’t understand what you were saying.

  33. [email protected]

    OLDNAT is quite right.

    The polls are not to be believed because they are not consistent with what we think we know from other sources; because their method is too rough to be servicable in a system with list compensation, and because a national swing is too crude a tool to use where most parties have a strong regional bias.

    That does not mean that the SNP may not be the largest party, but whichever party is the largest it will be by only a handful of seats. A projected lead in double figures for either party is unbelievable.

    The SNP have a striking disparity in the leader’s popularity compared with their main opponent but the relative competence of the potential minsterial teams is no less in their favour.

    There are rumours of Labour corruption in Glasgow.

    The SNP are nearly always helped by any party leader from Westmnster who comes for a day and offends Scottish sensibilities.

    Labour, recognising that many voted for them for Westminster because the SNP are seen as irrelevant to a parliament they wish to secceed from, are fighting the Tories and claim that the SNP are abettig them by passsing on Tory cuts. They claim the SNP are “Tartan Tories”.

    That’s not the perspective of Scottish Vote Compass or of many voters (many ex Labour members among them) who perceive the SNP to be further left than Labour. It doesn’t ring true, and it won’t help Labour.

    For an inexperienced minority government, the SNP has done remarkably well. Labour’s negativity is creative and incessant. It’s offputtine as I said above.

  34. @ John B Dick

    “An overall majority for any party in any SP election is highly unlikley.

    It is so by design.”

    Why is that?

    Also as to your response to the Labour MSP candidate, I think the SNP should use you in an ad. :)

    @ Eoin

    This is admittedly a random question. But do you know if McCourt is an Irish name or a Scottish name?

    @ Old Nat

    I was thinking back tonight to the only election where the results actually made me break down into tears when my candidate lost. You may laugh but it was a non-partisan mayoral election (a close fought second round runoff) almost 10 years ago. Both candidates were Democrats, both were liberals (though one decided to abandon his long record and his family’s long record of proud liberalism to support blatant racism), and both opposed the policies of George W. Bush. Did Dubya sometimes come up in the race? Yes. But rarely and it was a non-issue. Neither one could have run a race purely on attacking Dubya. If either one had, the race would not have been close.

  35. @ John B Dick

    “Labour, recognising that many voted for them for Westminster because the SNP are seen as irrelevant to a parliament they wish to secceed from, are fighting the Tories and claim that the SNP are abettig them by passsing on Tory cuts. They claim the SNP are “Tartan Tories”.

    That’s not the perspective of Scottish Vote Compass or of many voters (many ex Labour members among them) who perceive the SNP to be further left than Labour. It doesn’t ring true, and it won’t help Labour.”

    The SNP doesn’t support the economic policies of the Tories or the cuts to public services that are being made. At least as I understand it. And I doubt the SNP can be considered a stand in for Tories (didn’t the SNP grow in power over the fact that Scots became really unhappy with the Tories and Scottish independence was seen as a solution to Thatcher?) . I think if you run a campaign that doesn’t address the actual issues faced by the voters, the voters aren’t going to vote for you.

  36. John B Dick

    You have summed up my own feelings eloquently and movingly. Thank you. I hope your message will get through, but sadly I doubt it will.

  37. There’s a surprisingly warm write up on Ed M in today’s Sun under the headline ‘Red Ed is Dead’. He is given plaudits for accepting mistakes in power and for some deft shots on the pool table. While the article isn’t a glowing endorsement, it is remarkably sympathetic and much more friendly that the Sun’s original tone towards the Labour leader.

    Labour spin doctors will love this I’m sure, and it interesting to see, so soon after the GE. Not sure if this signifies anything, but it certainly suggests Murdoch is keeping his options wide open.

    It’s also interesting to see that largely unnanounced, Labour seem to have switched to a much less pro Euro stance, with statements from Balls and Alexander both suggesting they are turning their backs on such vigorous EU support seen under the New Labour era. Whether this is connected with the Sun article I’ve no idea, but it does seem that the political implications arising from the crisis of the Euro is providing the opportunity of a major and much needed reassessment of Labour’s stance to the EU.

  38. Realise that this thread is about Scottish parliamentary elections but a quick question for anybody in the polling know –

    How would a change to AV (likely – a change to electoral system is difficult to predict) effect Scotland’s westminster results.

    If SNP could muster Lab and Lib second prefs, could they become an important force in westminster coalition making?

    Personally I think Labour have it wrong on referendums (from the angle of trying to win voters) – they should push for these divisive referendums even if they lose them.
    If Labour offered a referendum on STV (aside from splitting the coalition), they would win votes from all the third parties.
    If Labour offered a referendum on the EU (even if they publicly opposed leaving), they would win huge amounts of Tory and UKIP voters.
    etc

    Also – another question –
    Does anybody in the know with how the press operates know if the right-wing press is starting to switch sides again?
    I know that Murdoch likes to back a winner and I’ve noticed a slow drip-drip of anti-Cameron and pro-Labour pieces but now there’s an opinion piece in the Telegraph implying that Labour is to become the main Eurosceptic party.
    I know that often the press operates within a narrative framework – and commentators often have to stay on message.

  39. Alec,
    Haha, Synchronisity.
    I didn’t realise that the Sun had a sympathetic Ed M piece – but that just relates to my question.

  40. Ed Miliband has been writing occassional pieces for the Sun for some time, perhaps Tom Baldwin (ex-Times was a wiser long-term choice than Coulson). Mirror reports the Labour leader is having a minor nose opp and I for one wish him well with that (again perhaps more to the point that a weekly hair colouring regime from Jan 2011to the next election).

  41. > The critical factor in an AMS election (as I think you have said) id the regional voting pattern.

    Absolutely. For example, it seems very likely that the Nats will get all ten constituencies in the North-East. That means any further votes in their stronhold are worth nothing – and given the relatively large LD vote there in 2007, and the LD defections to Greens over Trump in Aberdeenshire, there could be substantial further strengthening up there. The consequence of SNP gains on the list there is that the effective threshold for list seat falls, which could benefit the Greens. (Note the Greens managed to get a list seat in NE in 2003 with 5.2%, while they lost out in West with 5.6% – that’s because Labour tends to win most or all constituencies there but with a much lower share of the list vote, thereby raising the threshold.

  42. @Billy Bob,interested to hear about the nose operation,I
    hope it is to remove his adenoids which would considerably improve his speaking voice which seems to
    upset some poeple.

  43. Welshborderer,

    Yes, there is a difference between Plaid and the SNP. I’d say it is because Scotland is a Nation while Wales is a culture.

    That at least it was it feels to me after five years in Scotland and now three in Wales. There simply isn’t the constant constitutional discourse (the consensus is gradualism), there isn’t this anti-England atmosphere (as a colleague put it after a 6 Nation win, we donj’t hate England, we pitty it ’cause we know we’re superior).

    But the cultural differences are, if anything, bigger, if only because of the language (which is accepted even by most non-Welsh speakers – after all the hymn is in Welsh and in Welsh only). You could maybe say Wales is much more inward looking.

    Hence Plaid missing one of its key selling factors compared to the SNP, while at the same time the dominant faction within Welsh Labour has no problems with Plaid and therefore does not behave so stupidly like Scottish Labour. (John B Dick: Great letter by the way!)

    On the other hand, while the Welsh language is doing well, and while the Welsh are confident about their nation and culture, I cannot see Plaid going into long term decline.

  44. @Alec

    “………………but it does seem that the political implications arising from the crisis of the Euro is providing the opportunity of a major and much needed reassessment of Labour’s stance to the EU.”

    I think what this points to is further evidence that Miliband and his team, quite sensibly and understandably in my view, are using what is likely to be at least four more years in opposition as an opportunity to re-position Labour and refresh and replenish the party, both intellectually and organisationally.

    13 years in power has obviously exhausted the party and left deep fissures and scars, not to say bruised egos and lingering recriminations too. Only once before has a party, the Tories from 1979 to 1997, spent a longer period in unbroken power, and, once defeated, they took over 11 years to get anywhere near electability again. Renewal of ideas is an essential pre-requisite of political recovery for any party and I’ve been encouraged to see this starting to take shape within Labour. Obviously, from both a constitutional and political point of view, Labour has to oppose, and this obligation carries short-termist considerations, but the far more important goal is to recover from a long period of carrying the weight of office, learn from both the good and bad of what you’ve done, and then renew, refresh, re-position so that you can present a different and more relevant proposition to the electorate.

    That’s why I find it so disappointing to see some people already talking in tabloid-esque terms about “Blue” and Purple” Labour and trivialising the intellectual vitality of what these people are doing. The flotation of new ideas, many or even most of which, may never see the light of day, is exactly what the party should be doing at this point in the electoral cycle. Maurice Glasman is putting forward some very interesting ideas, as are Jon Cruddas, David Miliband, John McDonnell and James Purnell. More power to them all, I say, even though I might find some of what they say and propose unappealing. Policies should come much later, and I’m mildy impressed that Ed Miliband is resisting the call from his enemies to produce a list of gleaming new policies now. An elephant trap very sensibly avoided.

    I think he’s adopting the right approach. Steady as she goes, eyes on the long game and allow the electorate some breathing space from a party they became to see as the natural one of government; with all the pain that subsequently results for that party when the long-running government it formed dies a natural political death.

    Beware the siren voices; they’re rarely either helpful or well-intentioned!

  45. @ John B Dick

    Well said sir. Although I am a former LD member who was turned off by the illiberal and undemocratic antics after the last SP election I fully endorse your sentiments regarding Labour.

  46. This from the Herald election diary:

    “TORY is clearly a four-letter word in Eastwood, where a stushie has erupted between David Jesner, chairman of Newton Mearns Community Council, and Labour candidate Ken Macintosh. After Mr Macintosh claimed the chair was a leading member of the local Conservatives, Mr Jesner demanded an apology, failing which he would instruct his solicitor to sue Mr Macintosh.

    Only in Scotland would the label Tory be considered defamatory.”

    Like all good funnies, it’s based in truth.

  47. JOHN B DICK

    Great post, with which I concur almost entirely.

    Re your “That’s not the perspective of Scottish Vote Compass or of many voters (many ex Labour members among them) who perceive the SNP to be further left than Labour. It doesn’t ring true, and it won’t help Labour.

    It’s interesting to note that whilst it would be generous to describe BBC Scotland’s coverage of the general election as better than lacklustre, their chief twit [or should that be twitterer?] is making a fairer fist of it on @BBCScotElection.

    At the time of writing, two of the three most recent tweats link to the scottish vote compass and Stuart Campbell’s Who are the Tartan Tories? with its analysis of where the parties themselves stand in relation to each other.

    I’m not sure us oldies fully understand what technology actually influences the young – even ones like me who have been involved in information technology for more than 40 years – but could it be that the BBC is inadvertently helping younger electors to see for themselves the real differences between the parties?

  48. Oldnat,

    Is Denmark now officially a model for Scotland under independence? Will we see privatised fire services?

  49. Socal Liberal

    You ask why is it that an overall majority is by design unlikely and perhaps you also want to know how it is that the system produces the desired result.

    One answer is that It’s the way it is because Donald Dewar wanted to achieve, or partly achieve, several disparate objectives and he found a balance between them that he considered satisfactory.

    For example, the constituency link was valued, but FPTP results in disproportionality. Minor and potential new parties are disadvantaged and radicals can be controlled by party management on threat of deselection even though they may have the overwhelming support of their constituents. Independents and regional issue campaigners are rarely elected.

    In a wholly FPTP system there is no safety net for a valued senior politician in a highly marginal constituency subjct to population shifts and boundary changes.

    Minor parties, by crosssing the threshhold that allows them to be elected, receive the public exposure and support staff funding that allows them to compete fairly and the dependence on powerful interest groups for funding is reduced.

    Another underrecognised aim was to give “a proper job” to backbench MSP’s.

    I used the cricket analogy above. Opposition backbench MP’s are like unengaged members of the batting side.

    Having two kinds of MP’s gives a range of roles. Ministers may be better off on the list without the constituency workload. Other list MSP’s can focus on areas of their special knowledge or interest and enrich the committee procedure.

    I saw this in action during the BSE crisis when knowledgable farmer-MSP’s quizzed academics by the half dozen. The chance of getting the right answer on a complex and technical matter is very high.

    There is a highland list SNP MSP who has a special interest and knowledge of road and rail safety in particular and rural transport in general. He is “my” MSP so if I have such an issue, I’m in luck as I can raise it with him.

    He is certain to win a constituency and may give up involvement in these issues because of the constituency workload. In any case, he won’t be my list MSP or have responsibility for my constituency any more. I wish him well, for he is a good MSP, but we are all worse off if his role changes.

    In the mixed system, the power of the parties is constrained if a constituency MSP (John Farquhar Munro, Denis Canavan) builds up personal support in his constituency over a long period.

    There will be no Reginald Sorensen debacle in the Scottish parliament.

    If there is sufficient proportionality to ensure that a majority government is only possible when there is a majority of the popular vote, (and even then other parties still get a voice) then coalitions or minority government are the norm. This also means that the power of the party leader to dominate the government and party, and in turn parliament, is restrained.

    Government is more about consensus than alpha-male domination.

    Coalition or minority government is itself a consensus choice, and Donald saw merit in having that choice and alternative ways of working. You could say that this too was a step in the direction of more politicking compromise and negotiated consensus rather than the exercise of power and dominance.

    The Cons and the Greens understand how to play this game against the SNP and the SNP rise to the challenge. Labour don’t know what they are supposed to be doing or why.

    OLDNAT would point to the fact that this is because Labour are led from London where the Scottish parliament dynamics are not understood and that the Greens are a Scottish party while Cons are left to go their own way for a variety of reasons. The UK party knows that it does not understand Scotland; the Scottish Leader understands the situation very well and her judgement is rightly trusted; they have little left to lose.

    The second part of your answer is how the arithmetic produces the result Donald wanted.

    Look at Mid Scotland and Fife last time round.

    Voters in this region cooled towards Labour and three marginal constituencies went over to the SNP. There wasn’t a huge anti-Lab swing, and the regional vote was such that Labour gained three list places, two of which were vacated by the SNP. The net result was LibDem -1, SNP +1

    Though there is regional diversity, Scotland as a whole is fairly evenly divided between Labour and the SNP, and it works the same way overall. Only if there really is a significant move in the popular vote towards an overall majority will the parliament reflect that.

    In summary Donald Dewar wanted to limit the power over parliament which a government party leader has through FPTP disproportionality and patronage and at the same time make a “a proper job” for backbenchers which would maximise their potential while providing the conditions in which new parties and independents could flourish.

    You could call that democracy. There is a lot more to it than a vote counting process.

  50. Raf
    Whether the Scotland polls are right or wrong, it’s certainly the most interesting election in town.

    The Salmond/Sturgeon factor simply trumps all. Great names for Scottish Nats too
    __

    Aye they’re big fish alright!! ;)

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