The Independent this morning carries a new TNS-BMRB poll on the AV referendum. It shows a much tighter race compared to the recent polling by ICM and YouGov, with YES on 32%, NO on 34%, 21% don’t kmow and 13% won’t vote.

Leaving aside their Scottish polling, I think this is the first TNS GB polling we’ve seen since the election, though notably this poll was conducted online, rather than the face-to-face methodology TNS was using for political polls before the election.

There are no tables available yet, so I can’t really speculate on the difference between what ICM and YouGov are finding and the TNS findings. Note that the fieldwork was conducted between the 14th and 18th April, so covering the same period as ICM (15th-17th), and slightly earlier than YouGov’s fieldwork (18th-19th), so the differences are likely to be methodological or due to the question, rather than timing.

The Independent’s headline for the poll – “Voting referendum neck-and-neck as Yes campaign gains support”, incidentally, wins our coveted “crap media reporting of polls” award by claiming this shows the YES campaign gaining support. It does not – there is no earlier TNS poll to compare it too, and it predates one of the polls showing a bigger lead (Andrew Grice’s actual article does not make the same error!).

UPDATE: Tables for the poll are here, all appears to be above board and shipshape. The topline figures aren’t adjusted by likehood to vote, but that doesn’t make a massive difference anyway, so no obvious explanation as to why it is showing a different picture.


141 Responses to “TNS show narrow NO lead in AV race”

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  1. “This nasty No campaign will prove to be the death rattle of a right-wing elite who want to keep things the way they are”

    Nick Clegg, Independent on Sunday. He also says he and Cameron ‘are not mates’.

    Clearly an attempt to distinguish himself from the Tories and try to revive the Yes campaign. I rather think this attack on the right may well help in the referendum vote. Painting Cameron as the traditionalist reactionary won’t help the coalition tensions, but could be effective in rallying left of centre support.

  2. I gather the YouGov Scottish poll details are due out at midnight.

    I wonder if Anthony will be home by then?

  3. I think the whole internships “spat” has all the hallmarks of a pre-arranged disagreement. You can see NC saying to DC, “Can’t you please disagree with me on something – although not too important – then we can seem like we’re not so chummy”.

    I’m surprised at DC though coming down on the side of the privileged passing on a leg-up to their children. Think maybe his party are getting a bit p-ed off with NC.

  4. Some of you may think that the Scottish election is simply a quarrel in a far away country between people of whom we know nothing. Shetland is far enough away for the nearest railway station and nearest capital city to be in another country.

    So those of you who delight in Nick Clegg’s situation may have missed this critic who is a bit cross with those who cause him grief

    “Why would I pay any attention to London on this issue where we fought a campaign having to deal with the consequences of London for the last six, seven weeks. The last thing I’ll pay any attention to is whatever London thinks on this issue. That’s a decision for Scottish MSPs.

    “If [a Labour-LibDem Scottish coalition] happens that’s their problem not mine. My desire is a stable Scottish Government. That’s not London’s call in any way whatsoever.”

    Good and riled, he goes further and says he’d be willing to join an SNP or Labour partner in fighting Coalition decisions from Westminster.

    “Damn right,” he says.

    Tavish Scott, who is the MSP for Shetland and leader in the Scottish Parliament is the only LibDem everyone agrees is not at risk in the Scottish Parliament election.

    The good thing about that from his point of view is that there will be no call for the leader to resign.

    So Nick Clegg joins Margaret Thatcher and Tony Blair in the select group of leaders whom their party in Scotland doesn’t want to see or hear or speak of during an election campaign.

  5. @Adrian B

    That internship actually went a young girl from a local comprehensive school in camerons constituency.

    I wish you labour lot would stop jumping to conclusions.

    Plus Labour aren’t exactly squeakly clean. Harriet Harman got her son a job at her friends pr firm and Ed Milliband himself was given an internship with Tony Benn thanks to his parents.

  6. Iain Gray under fire after poor show in new poll
    http://news.scotsman.com/politics/Iain-Gray-under-fire-after.6756937.jp

    “The Scotland on Sunday/YouGov poll shows that the SNP’s constituency lead over Labour has rocketed from 3 per cent to 13 per cent in the space of just a week, suggesting Gray’s hopes of succeeding Alex Salmond as First Minister are receding further. The SNP’s lead over Labour on the regional list vote has also snowballed, from 2 per cent last week to 10 per cent now.”

  7. You Gov Poll gives SNP 13%!!! lead-

    The new YouGov poll today reveals yet another dramatic shift in popular support just two months after Labour held a commanding lead over the Nationalists ahead of the 5 May poll.

    The SNP is now put at 45 per cent on the constituency vote, up 5 per cent from a week before. Labour is on 32 per cent, down 5 per cent. The Conservatives drop one point to 10 per cent, while the LibDems remain on 8 per cent.

    Similarly, on the regional list vote, the SNP is on 39 per cent, up 4 per cent on the previous week. Labour is now on 29 per cent, down 4 per cent. The Tories and LibDems stay level on 12 per cent and 7 per cent respectively, with the Greens now matching the LibDems, also on 7 per cent.

    Support for the SNP on both the constituency and regional vote is now running at record levels on YouGov polls. By contrast, Labour’s support is now back to where it was this time last year, prior to the UK General Election.

    Translated into seats, such a result would give the SNP 61 seats, 14 more than it has at present.

  8. YouGov

    Constituency

    SNP 45 : Lab 32 : Con 10 : LD 8

    List

    SNP 39 : Lab 29 : Con 12 : LD 7 : Green 7

    Seats

    SNP 61 : Lab 42 : Con 11 : Green 8 : LD 7

  9. That poll is absolutely staggering. Obviously we still shouldn’t get ahead of ourselves but the idea that the MORI poll was an outlier seems to be wide of the mark. Whether the lead can be sustained or not is a different matter but it is a real indication of the gap in class between the SNP and Labour campaigns.
    Constituency:
    SNP 45%
    Labour 32%
    Con 10%
    LD 8%
    List:
    SNP 39%
    Lab 29%
    Con 12%
    LD 7%
    Green 7%

    A second poll in which an SNP/Green coalition would be feasible also.

  10. @ LeeTay

    Ed Milliband himself was given an internship with Tony Benn thanks to his parents.
    —————————————-
    Could we keep in mind, Ed M’s father was a recent immigrant who was neither wealthy nor part of an established elite. And Ed lived in an, at that time, unfashionable area of London & attended the local comprehensive.
    8-)

  11. Robert Newark

    The old Tory vote was perceived to be One-Nation Conservative but a better description would be Scottish Presbyterian Christian Democrat.

    Thanks to television, these decent middle class burghers found they were in the same party as repellent English nationalists of the Primrose League and free marketeer fundamentalists as well as the merely insensitive and ignorant within the Conservative party.

    They were a geberation ahead of the English party on colonies, hanging, and floggng as well as the issues you havn’t forgotten. On colonies and race, African missionary contacts were an influence.

    Some went to the LibDems in the North, some to NewLabour in the West (See OLDNAT’s comment) and those who prioritised an ethical objection to nuclear weapons found comfort for their consciences in the SNP.

    It would be wrong to blame Margaret Thatcher entirely for it started befor her time, but she certainly accelerated the trend by encouraging greed and saying there was no such thing as society.

    Without her, the SNP would be where the Green party is today. John Curtice credits her with only three enduring acheivements, one of which is persuading the Scots of the merits of devolution. Cack-handed governments since her time have continued the process and the drift to independence is now unstoppable.

    The other day someone threatened to sue a candidate for defamation on account of being described as a Tory.

    If you were the brand manager of the Scottish branch of a company which had once been the most successful in the group and more successful than any competitor. After losing up to four fifths of your customers what would you do?

    You’d find out why.

    You’d try to do something about it, and you would think there was a good prospect for a recovery of a significant proportion of your previous market share.

    Part of the answer is Bavarianisation.

    The other part is to reform Westminster as a unicameral federal parliament modelled on the Scottish parliament.

    It’s probably too late now to prevent independence because there is no sign of any movement in the right direction.

    You can understand that party leaders whose attention was elsewhere or who were ill informed about Scotland might not see what was happening, but some of those concerned with management of the party must be guilty of culpable negligence and really stupid.

    The situation now is that members numbers and ag profile, availability of candidates, electoral prospects and finance are dire. Some of the no-hope candidates are very young and inexperienced, maybe at risk of bananaskins.

    Party branches are so weak that they could be open to entryists, though there are defences.

    The only good thing about the situation is that the party leader is well respected outwith the party more widely than any since Donald Dewar who was in a class of his own in that regard. Ignorant English Conservatives sought to blame her for the 2007 result. She looked in good form when she sat beside me in the train last week, but she could do a John Smith at any minute considering her weight.

  12. OLDNAT

    Re Labour Party ID

    This is perhaps a more measured atmosphere to discuss it than is “the other place” , but it strikes me that it would be entirely consistent with the known facts for this week-end’s poll to have struck a “pure” seam of “Holyrood disloyal” whilst last week-end’s happened to strike a similar seam of “Holyrood loyal”. Impure seams may have given rise to some of the anomalies we have seen in plurality vs regional leads.

  13. It just gets better and better. Okay they are polls but good ones lol.

  14. JOHN B DICK
    The other part is to reform Westminster as a unicameral federal parliament modelled on the Scottish parliament.

    I’ve long thought that the only hope of a long-term UK would be for the HoC to become the English Parliament and to have the HoL as a confederal assembly with equal representation for each nation. I fear that hope has now triumphed over experience for long enough to make that no longer possible.

  15. TGB

    “Voters at the next GE election were not alive when Blair won in 1997. He’s the past, not the future.”

    I remember thinking that the 1997 manifesto was distinctly unambitious compared with what the Attlee governments achieved.

  16. Barbazenzero

    That is entirely possible. Though at this stage of the campaign it may become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

    Curtice’s analysis of the shift in us “more mature” voters may suggest otherwise, however – if you buy in to his analysis , which I think dodgy.

    Also, I want to revel in the numbers toonight! I’ll be more balanced tomorrow. :-)

  17. OLDNAT
    Also, I want to revel in the numbers toonight! I’ll be more balanced tomorrow

    Understandable. As it’s approaching 02:00 CET, blanket bay beckons.

  18. oldnat @ John B Dick

    “There is no need for a Conservative party representing the urban midde class in Scotland, bcause the Labour Party filled that role for a long time.

    That places like Eastwood voted Labour has long astonished those looking at politics here through English eyes.”

    It also astonished Donald Dewar who was if not quite speechless was incohrent and clearly unprepared when invited to comment on Labour winning Milngavie and Bearsden.

    Eastwood was gradual enough to be able to see it coming this time/next time.

    Actually, with the SNP more or less where middle-class Labour used to be on the Scotland Voting Compass, if the Conservatives returned to their Presbyterian Christian Democrat roots and Bavaranised, it would be NewLabour that was redundant.

  19. To add another twinge of realism to what seems like a total fantasy for us cybernats I do wonder if ICM will be doing another poll as they were the closest to the mark in 2007, when other polls tended to slightly exaggerate the SNP lead. However, how much of this is down to a specific problem with overestimating the SNP vote share or whether it was simply that there was a shift back to the incumbent party in those final days is not fully clear, but it is something for us to be wary of (not that there’s much we can do other than campaign incredibly hard for an SNP government).

  20. John B Dick

    It’s always been clear that Scotland didn’t really have the space for two centre-right and/or two centre/left parties – unless they followed a Catalan model in which both of the left/right specrum parties had equivalents on the autonomy/unionist spectrum as well.

    Labour could default to an entirely British Unionist position, catering for those with a largely Brit identity who want to be led from London. That seems likely to be a minority position. Their equivalent on the right would presumably be UKIP – if the Tories in Scotland have the sense to Bavarianise, they would probably lose part of their Anglicised support.

    While the Scottish Democratic Alliance doesn’t field candidates (as far as I know) one could foresee a situation where they could provide a base around which Tories seeking autonomy could rally, if the Tories fail to Bavarianise.

  21. BZ

    I’ve long thought what you’ve long thought.

    What I don’t understand is why those who oppose independence have watched us slide down a slippery slope when competent government and a parliament designed for purpose would have “seen off the Nats”.

    Is it that they were

    stupid

    lazy

    ignorant

    were suited by the current arrangements

    only focused on the short term

    several or all of the above?

    Your pick.

  22. JOHN B DICK
    several or all of the above?

    Something of all, but in addition: underestimating their “enemy” and misguided self-confidence.

    But really late now so goodnight.

  23. I formerly had great respect for John Curtice but I fear his method is unsound and unfit for the Scottish Parliament however reliable he may have been in the past in the simpler UK FPTP elections.

    I stand by my previous judgement. The SNP are improving their position but we don’t know how much or which will be the largest party. Seat predictions which don’t take account of regional list compenstion by region are likely to show around twice as many changes.

    I can see the difficulties. Regional cross-breaks are not robust enough to be used and predicting list outcomes is either very complex or subjective.

    The Green list vote must have a big MoE and they could do better or worse by a couple of seats though my guess is that they are more likely to do better rather than worse.

    Calum W makes a good point which could easily be forgotten. That gives us more confidence in the apparent direction votes are moving.

    Apart from the shy Tories, if the Constituency votes are where they can be effective and the list votes are elsewhere, there could be several more CON MSP’s if con voters use their votes efficiently.

    If we ask, Is this level of change possible? We can look to see where the gains can come from and there are just too many to be feasable.

    The balance of probabiliy must be that SNP are the more likely to be the largest party.

    Maybe they will even double their lead over Labour.

  24. John B Dick

    The two remaining leader debates on 1st and 3rd May are likely to have a fairly large audience.

    Of course, it is possible that Salmond and/or Goldie will do something stupid and throw away the advantage. However, the likelihood is that both of them will far outshine Grey and Scott.

    A reasonable prediction would be that SNP will be the largest party : that Greens will increase their MSPs : that LDs will lose most of their constituency base : that Goldie’s power basae within the Tories will be unassailable : that Labour will lose many of their front bench people, to be replaced by inexperienced and unknown list MSPs.

  25. When Anthony opens a new thread on Scottish polling, I’m sure he’ll highlight that the Sunday Mail’s PSO poll was sampled before the Times MORI poll – so obviously held back to create a false picture of Labour “recovery”.

    Not that I would ever want to put words in Anthony’s mouth, of course! :-)

  26. Anthony….

    “The Independent’s headline for the poll – “Voting referendum neck-and-neck as Yes campaign gains support”, incidentally, wins our coveted “crap media reporting of polls” award by claiming this shows the YES campaign gaining support. It does not – there is no earlier TNS poll to compare it too, and it predates one of the polls showing a bigger lead (Andrew Grice’s actual article does not make the same error!).”

    Lol. I love that title “crap media reporting of polls award.” :)

  27. @ Old Nat

    “YouGov

    Constituency

    SNP 45 : Lab 32 : Con 10 : LD 8

    List

    SNP 39 : Lab 29 : Con 12 : LD 7 : Green 7

    Seats

    SNP 61 : Lab 42 : Con 11 : Green 8 : LD 7”

    That’s staggering really. Not just the SNP’s lead over Labour but for the fact that the Greens would have more seats than the LDs and almost as many as the Tories.

    “The two remaining leader debates on 1st and 3rd May are likely to have a fairly large audience.

    Of course, it is possible that Salmond and/or Goldie will do something stupid and throw away the advantage. However, the likelihood is that both of them will far outshine Grey and Scott.”

    The race appears to have been enough of a seesaw that Gray could get back some momentum if he performs well. I’m kinda surprised that you guys hold the debates so close to election day. Of course you guys don’t have high rates of absentee voting so perhaps that’s a better way to do things.

    @ John B Dick

    “It also astonished Donald Dewar who was if not quite speechless was incohrent and clearly unprepared when invited to comment on Labour winning Milngavie and Bearsden.

    Eastwood was gradual enough to be able to see it coming this time/next time.

    Actually, with the SNP more or less where middle-class Labour used to be on the Scotland Voting Compass, if the Conservatives returned to their Presbyterian Christian Democrat roots and Bavaranised, it would be NewLabour that was redundant.”

    I think that is due partly to Tony Blair and his influences. He broadened the party to include people who never once considered themselves Labour or to think of voting Labour.

  28. So I read this article on the Guardian where Vince Cable calls for enacting AV as a way to ensure a progressive majority of Labour, Lib Dems, and Greens in government. It gives me some pause.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2011/apr/22/vote-for-av-vince-cable

    Since you guys are all about the big picture, analytical, philosophical, questions, I thought I’d ask one. Is it really progressive to enact a voting system solely on the basis thatthat voting system will increase the political power of a political party or grouping of political parties?

    Also, is it a fair characterization of voters? Having taken the “which party should you vote for in Scotland?” test, I found that none of the parties really matched my political views but the two that came closest, Labour and the Lib Dems, did so for very different reasons (and in areas where they completely disagreed with each other).

  29. @ Amber Star

    “Could we keep in mind, Ed M’s father was a recent immigrant who was neither wealthy nor part of an established elite. And Ed lived in an, at that time, unfashionable area of London & attended the local comprehensive.”

    What is the deal with the whole anti-intern philosophy that Brits seem to possess? I read an article on Labour Uncut where one young activist proposed banning all unpaid interns. That seemed a little extreme to me even accepting the premise of the article (that numerous companies were starting to take advantage of unpaid workers and were getting loads of free labor).

    And also, if Ed Miliband came from a background that was as wealthy and privileged as David Cameron, what would be the problem with that? Frankly, I never saw internships as a hallmark of wealth and privilege.

  30. Astonishing polls from Scotland. The Green support is almost as breathtaking as the SNP support. Far too distant from where I sit for me to claim any kind of understanding of what’s going on up there. Clearly there is something rumbling, however…

  31. Internships for “comprehensive” kids, bursaries for children from “poor” families to attend top public schools/universities etc are about providing some marginal social mobility – a conservative feature that seeks to preserve stratification. Elites have always been hungry for new recruits because they have such a high drop-out rate.
    Social mobility should not be confused with equality of opportunity or closing the disparity of wealth and status that goes with differing occupations.

    On AV, the debate seems to have descended into “pants on fire” territory this morning, which will surely extinguish any sparks of public enthusiasm for this topic.

  32. Sunday Times is reporting a poll which predicts 1300 gains for Labour in the locals, but it’s behind a paywall. Anyone got the skinny?

    On internships, I am pulled two ways on this. On the one hand there is clearly an issue, as Clegg identifies, with certain professions being staffed by those “in the know” which is bad for both the unconnected who wish to join those professions and for the rest of us who rely on the performance of those professions (anyone feel let down by the bankers?)

    On the other hand, it would be very hard to legislate against the practice of involving friends and family in your working life. Would we have to ban things like “Bring Your Daughters to Work Day?” And the practice is just as widespread in the skilled trades (probably more so) and even in some unskilled occupations.

    My first paid job was on the farm next door to my house – secured by my mother after a quick chat with the farmer. My next job was on the building site for an extension to a hotel – owned by the family of my schoolfriend. My third job was as security guard at the company where my dad worked. I didn’t go through any kind of selection process for any of these. I imagine that experience is almost universal across the country.

    Where would be draw the line? Would we come up with a list of companies/job titles that had to operate blind selection for “interns”? What would be the criteria?

  33. Iain Gray is responding to all the polls by a hastily arranged ‘relaunch’ on monday.

    Hard to see what he can do at this late stage but it may be that he he will refocus from his unsuccessful “send a message to the westminster coalition and bash the tories and Cameron” to actually focusing on the scottish elections now.

    He may even try and scaremonger about independence but that didn’t work the last time so is even less likely to work after an SNP administration has been in charge.

    The two last debates will be crucial so there is a chance that the relaunch will be a relaunch of Gray himself to try and improve his public image with some Miliband style ‘talking with the ordinary folks’ PR. I do not envy SLAB that task.

    Not much sign of any of the other Parties changing their strategy at this late stage but now being the frontrunner means Salmond will be taking fire from them all.

    Interesting times.

  34. @ Amberstar

    “Could we keep in mind, Ed M’s father was a recent immigrant who was neither wealthy nor part of an established elite. And Ed lived in an, at that time, unfashionable area of London & attended the local comprehensive.”

    Ed Miliband’s father, although originally a refugee from the Nazis, was a successful academic and trying to paint Primrose Hill as unfashionable is a complete distortion – I know because I grew up very near by in North London. To give you some idea of the type of area it was, Ed Miliband attended primary school with Zoe Heller and Sam Mendes. At the time, among the North London leftwing intelligentsia it was fashionable to send your offspring to a comp even though you could afford private school fees.

    Please, don’t try to distort the argument by pretending that Ed Miliband came from an “average” background. Ed has as much claim to be working class as I have to be a member of the Royal Family.

  35. I’ve got one word of caution to any Nats who are breaking open the champagne.

    Cleggmania

    AS has always been a lot more popular than his party – perhaps what we are seeing is that people saying SNP, are actually saying Alex Salmond – which is of course the SNP strategy.

    But will they REALLY vote SNP? At the GE, the Lib Dem vote share was virtually unchanged since last time, yet the polls were showing a reflected glory.

  36. ‘He may even try and scaremonger about independence but that didn’t work the last time so is even less likely to work after an SNP administration has been in charge’.

    Indeed, he will have to try and say that independence is not right at the current time and make a positive case for the scottish parliament within the union.

  37. oldnat @ John B Dick

    “The two remaining leader debates on 1st and 3rd May are likely to have a fairly large audience.”

    It’s not often I miss having TV

    “A reasonable prediction would be that ….

    Goldie’s power base within the Tories will be unassailable : ”

    … or that idiots within the UK party leadership will blame her for not winning the election because DC “won” in the other place. After the first Scottish Parliament election, Sources “close to No 10” said that Donald Dewar would get one term and then they would replace him with someone more suitable.

    You underestimate how ignorant of Scottish politics these Westminster party managers are. Also, they operate a leader cult. Like the Aztecs, if the leader/rainmaker doesn’t do the magic that brings rain, they kill him and get another. The party members fall into line every time as Bob Altemayer explains.

    Some people believe that Scottish political parties should be independent of other organisations in another country. Actually, I’ve heard recently that there are some people who think Scotland should be independent. Whatever next!

    Tavish Scott is the one who is unassailable. He may be the only one.

    “….that Labour will lose many of their front bench people, to be replaced by inexperienced and unknown list MSPs.

    No great loss there, then.

  38. Neil A

    “Astonishing polls from Scotland. The Green support is almost as breathtaking as the SNP support. Far too distant from where I sit for me to claim any kind of understanding of what’s going on up there. Clearly there is something rumbling, however…”

    Scottish Voting Compass has the answer. It explains all in one image. The Greens and the SNP are where middle-class Christian/ethical non-tribal-class-warrior voters were half a century ago. They havn’t a party in England, but they have two in Scotland and neither of them is Labour.

    Labour has the working class tribal voters who havn’t left for non-voting and an uneasy mix of New Labour leaders who say what the focus groups and PR people in England think they should say. That’s the opposite of whatever the SNP say.

    Sometimes they are wrongfooted (alcohol pricing) when the SNP does something, they automatically oppose it and then UK labour proposes doing the same thing.

  39. Likelihood to vote? Huge in Scotland, minimal in England. This will impact on the result.

    I will be voting for it, btw; it’s a far more sensible way of electing people (an MP must be supported to some degree by AV by his electorate whereas at the moment that is not true. The government as well must also be supported by the majority of the population which would be a nice change as it’s not true by FPTP.

  40. @Neil A

    The ST poll is not a regular poll, but predictions based on recent local council by-election results. Clearly Labour will do well. The result will be a reflection on Coalition rather than Labour. If you vote Labour, what are currently voting for.?By there own admission they have no policies.

    What will be interesting is not how many seats they gain but where they win them. Labour are starting from such a low base (25%) in 07 elections they cannot fail but improve. Tories have opposite problem 43% in 07 they can only go down.

    ST poll predicts Tories get 35% of vote. I imagine Tory HQ would be delighted with that. They only polled 36 in last year GE .

    I predict No 2 AV campaign to win easily. When people see the detail, they will realise what utter nonsense AV is…

  41. It does look like GO has drilled a rather large hole in the bottom of the coalition. There seems to have been an understanding that none of the front benches were to campaign one way or the other. To compound this by announcing some disputed figures for how much AV will cost, is not going down at all well. Chris Huhne is threatening legal action, but it’s unclear on what grounds. It’s not quite clear if there is any legal recourse for someone telling ‘untruths’ during a referendum campaign, even verifiable untrue untruths.

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