Today’s YouGov poll is up on the website here. Topline figures are CON 36%, LAB 41%, LDEM 10% – this is pretty typical of YouGov polls of late, but if the elections were to have a big impact on public opinion we wouldn’t necessarily see it yet anyway – the fieldwork for the poll would have been conducted between Thursday afternoon and Friday, so not really in time to pick up any effect.

Looking through the discussion yesterday there were lots of questions about vote shares in the locals – here’s a brief summary of the various different figures that will emerge, and what they mean

Firstly there is the BBC’s Projected National Share – which I think ended up at CON 35%, LAB 37%, LDEM 15%. This is based on a selection of key wards across the country, not the sum of all votes, and are plugged into a formula to produce a projected national share of the vote if there were local elections across the whole of the country. It is important to note, therefore, that this is NOT skewed by there not being any local elections in Scotland, London or Wales – it is adjusted to take account of this. It’s also important to note that it is a projection of local support across the country, not Westminster support across the country – people do vote differently in local elections (and indeed, if you poll people on their voting intention in Westminster and local elections they give significantly different answers – in YouGov’s final pre-election poll they asked local voting intention and found the Lib Dems on 15%, compared to 11% in the standard Westminster question).

Secondly there is Rallings and Thrasher’s National Equivalent Vote. This is calculated on a similar basis to the BBC’s projection, and is intended to give a picture of what the vote shares would be if there were local elections across the whole country (i.e. it is adjusted to take account of there not being elections in London, Scotland, Wales etc). All the caveats about the BBC one also apply here – it is not intended to be a projection of Westminster vote and is not comparable to Westminster polls. Ralling & Thrasher’s NEV does not come out on the night – it normally takes them a few weeks to collate the data. (Actually, they’ve produced it already! CON 38%, LAB 37%, LDEM 16%. It is normally slightly different to the BBC’s due to different wards being used and different formulas being used for the projection).

Thirdly there are the actual shares of the vote, the sum of all the votes cast in all the local elections. This is again done by Rallings and Thrasher and takes a considerable amount of time to collate. In many ways this is the least useful data, since it is skewed by things like there not being local elections in London, Scotland and Wales and (depending on how the figures are calculated) people in councils with all out elections will often have three times as many votes as people in councils that elect by thirds.

UPDATE: More on the difference between the BBC’s PNS and Ralling & Thrasher’s NEV. The reasons seem to be the number of wards used (NEV apparently uses a larger number of wards from councils declaring on Friday, since R&T have an extra day to work out the numbers), different baselines (R&T base the figures on change from previous years election results, I think the BBC’s PNS does much the same, but over time the two baselines will diverge).

As well as adjusting for the different parts of the country having elections each year, the BBC’s PNS also attempts to adjust for the different pattern of candidates standing, so is a projection of what would happen if the whole country had elections that day, and if every ward had candidates from the three main parties and one other standing. I’m not sure if R&T’s NEV tries to do this or not.


320 Responses to “YouGov/Sunday Times – 36/41/10”

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  1. Huge boost for the SNP in the Westminster vote, but to be honest it is meaningless.

    Just as I didn’t trust a Westminster poll as a true indicator of the SNP’s prospects at Holyrood so too I don’t think that in the wake of the SNP’s result on Thursday we can predict the SNP overtaking Labour in Scotland at UK a general election.

    Having said that if some of the Scottish Libdems, like Campbell and Kennedy, were to break ranks, effectively split the Libdems, then if Clegg couldn’t deliver Cameron might have the excuse I think he wants to go to the polls.

    He could say;

    ” i don’t want an election at this time but without a reliable partner I have no choice.. it’s not my fault it’s Cleggs”.

    This only works if the Libdems who jump ship make the calculation that they have a better chance of survival gambling on an anti Tory stance and there personal popularity than going the distance with the Tories.

    I think this is a more likely scenario for an early election than Clegg walking away.

    If this happened then we have a possibility that in the autumn the anger to the Libdems will still be such that the SNP could well pick up many of their votes in Scotland.

    In UK terms i’d say the most likely to break ranks would be long standing sitting MP’s who would face a Labour challenge, but I don’t know if there are enough of them as opposed to Orange Bookers to deprive the coalition of it’s working majority.

    Peter.

  2. “in YouGov’s final pre-election poll they asked local voting intention and found the Lib Dems on 15%, compared to 11% in the standard Westminster question”

    That seems to answer that particular argument.

    It also seems to suggest that YouGov polling (both local and national) is working pretty accurately. I don’t think it’s any great surprise that there were larger errors some of the other polls (Wales, Scotland, AV), since there is a less well-established set of data to describe where there potential polling errors may lie – in the case of AV, none at all.

    Was there evidence for a similar variation in voting intention in Scotland, with Lab-SNP split VI?

  3. I thought that Clegg looked completely stressed out on Marr this morning. You could read that he was struggling to believe what he was saying.

    Clegg is hoping that in four years time the economy will have turned around and this will help the Lib Dems. This is a real gamble that may pay off, if the Lib Dems have been able to publicly show how they have benefitted their voters, by changing the policies of the Tories, The trouble for Clegg is that the Tories will claim all the credit for popular policies and won’t give any plaudits to their coalition partners. As Cable put it, the Tories are ruthless and tribal.

  4. I am very happy to say that my constituency voted Yes2AV [when we finally got round to counting the ballots] Yeehhaaa! :)

  5. 2010 GE: Con 36.1%, Lab 29.0, LD 23.0%

    Leicester South 2011: Con -6.3%, Lab + 12.2%, LD -4.4%

    Notional GE: Con 29.8%, Lab 41.2%, LD 18.6%

    Conservatives look a little low, and LDs a liitle high on this projection.

    How do I go about adjustments (serious question)?

  6. Regardless of the differences between local and national it is still worth dwelling on the fact that 15-16% of voters would/did vote LD at local… Clearly, the LDs haven’t gone away you know.

  7. @Billy Bob

    The problem is that there was probably an appreciable amount of tactical voting by Con voters, just as there was in Oldham East & Saddleworth. You’re not going to be able to reliably correct from that on the basis of a single seat.

  8. @ Thegreenbenches.

    Hi buddy. Have not been doing much blogging lately because have been involved with the census, but just signed up for your website.

    If you remember my predictions back in December they are comming pretty true. Predicted most unpopular day for Tories was 23rd Jan, recovery for Tories when the Spring and Royal Wedding arrived and No to AV to win. :D

    Didn’t see the SNP win though. Guess my crysatl ball only works for England LOL

  9. @Eoin – “Clearly, the LDs haven’t gone away you know.”

    I guess the key question will be if any LD recovery is across the board or differential. My guess (only a guess and I’m notoriously bad at these things) is that any LD recovery will be more pronounced in LD/Tory areas (ie the south) while they will struggle to win back much support in the north. On this basis I am suggesting that any LD recovery (and I’m sure there will be one even if it’s very small) will assist Labour.

  10. Yes Robin, curious/coincidental that the Lab (notional) projection matches their latest YouGov 41% VI though.

    Shifting 7% of the notional LDs back to Cons would give Con around 37% and LD 12%.

  11. Re Scotland – we’re involved in an interesting discussion among the dying embers of the last thread, but I’m reading today that Milliband has described independence as ‘dangerous’. Looks like Labour making the same mistakes all over again.

    If Labour don’t support independence say so and say why not, with logical, thought out reasons. There is a strong case against idependence, as there is a strong case in favour, but just shouting hysterically just turns people away, as we’ve just witnessed.

    Personally, I think Labour should seize this chance and argue a logical case. If Scotland wishes for independence then it should have it. Effectively, a side effect of this is the establishing of an English parliament. When Labour established devolved governments they ensured that the electoral system was established to prevent a FPTP whitewash – and they should argue the same for a new English only parliament.

    To fit with their own beliefs they could argue for an English parliament on such a basis, with the strengthening of Welsh and NI powers to align with Scotland, with agreed supra national functions remaining with a Westminster parliment. Effectively finish what they started but falling short of independence. It also opens up options for regional devolution of power in England. It would be more logical and my guess is this would be supported by most Scots.

    English Tories wouldn’t support it, partly out of genuine concern for the union but mainly as they don’t want an electoral system where seats reflect votes in England.

  12. With all the talk yesterday of these elections somehow having been very disappointing for Labour and remarkably good for the Tories I think it needs to be remembered that, apart from in his own constinuency in Witney, David Cameron has still never won an election outright.

    The projected national share of the local election votes that Anthony details above show him winning with Rallings/Thrasher but losing with BBC, pretty much a tie perhaps in the share of the vote then but certainly not a win.

    But then he didn’t win the General Election either and now has to rely on the support of the LDs.
    And he didn’t win on the first round of voting in the Tory leadership contest but had to rely on transfers from defeated candidates in order to be “a runner-up who ends up winning” (exactly the type of horror that he then refused to countenance for the country!)
    But then he didn’t win the referendum vote either without relying on the support of half the Labour party.

    For all this aura of a “winner” that is somehow being created he is in fact only able to “win” elections when he is bolstered by the – perhaps fragile – support of people with opposing political persuasions.

    Now this could suggest the workings of a very skilful political operator who utilises the votes of other parties as and when it suits him. Or it could suggest that his and the Tory party’s electoral strength is resting on some pretty shaky foundations.

  13. @ Alec

    If Labour don’t support independence say so and say why not,

    _________________________________________

    Half of Labour and the Tores have just run the very successful campaign for No to AV.

    Would it now not be logical for both parties to put their narrow short term self interest behind them and instead put their weight behind and independent “No to Separation” campaign for their greater long term self interest.

    If they can do it once then why not again?

  14. Alec,

    “There is a strong case against independence, as there is a strong case in favour, but just shouting hysterically just turns people away, as we’ve just witnessed.”

    If there is a strong case against Independence I haven’t heard it….

    I’ve heard a lot of what you talk about; hysteria about what a disaster it would be, but I heard the same about the impact of an SNP government and there was nothing in that either.

    for years now people have been saying what about this or that but if asked i’ve always been able to give as good or better arguments for as those against.

    A big problem that those who oppose Independence will have is that much of their opposition is predicated on the idea that because it would be bad for Britain so it shouldn’t be allowed.

    Thats not an argument against Independence thats an argument against democracy and free choice.

    Peter.

  15. Alec,

    12.36pm I agree… Reds could not win a single MP in the SE [excl. London] and still form a Majority.

    John F,

    I do recall you were less fatalistic about blues than some of your erstwhile companions. Roy Hattersley as with most things put it better than anyone.. HE said that a significant portion of England were salivating at what George Osborne was currently engaged in. I think a minor % of reds forget that just because they don’t like like what the Tories are up to, it does not mean that a good 8-10 million voters across the UK do not.

  16. A small side-issue that, I confess, no-one else seems bothered by: the extension, without a parliamentary voice raised in opposition, of the Scottish parliamentary term to 5 years.

    If the Westminster coalition founders this year and a new general election is called, would the following one then be in May 2016 (assuming the new government proceeds with set 5-year terms) and would the Scottish Parliament then be extended to 6 years as a result?

  17. @ Eoin

    I do recall you were less fatalistic about blues than some of your erstwhile companions
    _________________________________________

    Perhaps it my cynical view of human nature. Yes households will loose disposable income over the next few years. An yes, for some this will mean real suffering and I in no way belittle this.

    However for many it will mean the difference between one foreign or two foreign holidays each year, or a new car every 3 years insead of 2 years. This is not suffering and they only really mind if they can’t affford the holiday or the car whilst the Jonses next door still can.

    So for middle England a cut in luxuries will only upset them if it only applies to them. This is the audience that DC and GO are addressing when they say “we are all in it together”.

  18. @OldNat

    If you are reading this then again you have totally misread my argument.

    If you actually READ my argument I said that the SNP SHOULD if they are to have a proper debate and possible victory over Scottish Independence then they should hold a referendum as soon as possible before they become unpopular when having to make big cuts which the Scots will hold them to account because all the main Scottish Parties were promising the earths gold in terms of public spending and were all too chicken to state what they would cut. I again repeat that all the main parties did it with a few exception of the Scottish Tories but the SNP used the anti-cuts lark as their main backdrop.

    If they do not hold one soon they risk making the independence referendum more about giving the SNP a good kicking than having a proper debate and discussion of Scotland’s future.

    I did not at any time said that a independent Scotland would be worthless at all but everytime the SNP get asked the question what would you do to stable your finances after the event of independence they keep banging on about North Sea Oil like it’s never going to disappear. What I argued is that the SNP needs a more advanced economic argument than North Sea Oil that isn’t saying they haven’t got one but North Sea Oil is always shouted the loadest.

    Finally, I don’t believe the SNP Eliet….NOT members, but the guys within the SNP heirarchy want independence or have no real need. I don’t know why but you just get a sense of it from the SNP MSP are not really bothered about it as made clear from the SNP deputy’s speech when she won her seat. This is not an economic debate but a politcal one because politcally the SNP or any party governing in Scotland have got an advantage in blaming the Westminister Government come difficult times including Scottish Labour unless it was a Labour Government. Clear now?

  19. @Alex

    Alex has made the only sensiable argument throughout this debate about Scottish independence.

    Like Alex said, if the Scottish Labour Party, Scottish Lib Dems and Scottish Tories want to win this debate about a independent Scotland would not be good then they should test this in a form of a referendum. By denying them a referendum then thats just purely making the assumption that they know the argument would be lost.

    Labour should go out in the referendum campaign with sensiable arguments about it and hopefully, should the SNP decide not to hold a referendum until another three years then that will give Labour a long time to reflect where they went wrong with the campaign, change their image issue, get a charasmatic leader etc. Because the referendum will be as much as personality as about the situation and the debate which is why I genuinly do not like referendums, not oppose to them, but suspicious and thinks reform is needed in the future to hold things to account that we have experianced by the recent AV referendum.

    So yes, like I have argued, give Scotland a referendum. Lets finally have this debate and a proper clean, sensiable debate about Scotland’s future because I believe in democracy and this should be best praticed to give the Scots a say on their future.

    And finally, i agree with Alex. The trouble New Labour did was that while it was quick to put in place a Scottish Parliament and Welsh Assembly all in the name of petty political point scoring and getting strong votes and seats there by denying a proper drawn up federal system like in Canada and the US in giving an English Parliament Labour were basically ignoring the voice of English voters which is why personally Labour started to lose support in middle-england as early as 2005.

    Personally, I would go one step further and have all regions to have elected Parliaments or Assembies simliar to what happens in Australia and Canada where these regional parliaments have devolved powers and responsibilties as well as taxation varying powers and control of own finances.

    This would mean North-East, North-West, Yorkshire, W-Midlands, E-Midlands, South-East, South-West all having federal like parliaments with Westminister being the national government.

  20. @Cllr Peter Cairns (SNP)

    I feel I had to correct you because all you SNP supporters seem to either misinterpreting what some people are saying here or just simply wanting to pick up a fight.

    Alex does not say there is an argument agaisnt the referendum which is what you are making out but an argument agaisnt independence. He did not once say Scotland should not have a referendum but that an independence argument would be better fought under a referendum to have a proper debate and argument.

    Personally, I do not know what the arguments are for independence but perhaps Alex could enlighten us and tell us what they are and one a final note I think most English people would be more upset by a No vote of Scottish independence than a Yes because recently relationships between the Scottish Government and English citizens have deteriorated.

  21. Wonderful quote from an unsurprisingly un-named “senior Labour figure” [but clearly a member of their Pte Frazer tendency] at the end of the Hootsmon’s Labour won’t parachute in ‘big beasts’:
    It really is a case of ripping everything up and starting again. We have got to accept that this is our 1997 and we are the Tories. There is no policy, no strategy and no leader. We need to find a way of establishing people who we can get into the parliament and find a way of making them spokespeople in the run-up to the next elections. We will only win this referendum if we sort out the party first.

    In fact all three pages of the article are worth a read to get some idea of how confused “Scottish” Labour are.

  22. Sorry if im making a stupid statement here, but if the oil is outside territorial waters, why would England let an indepednat Scotland have it?

  23. @peter cairns – “If there is a strong case against Independence I haven’t heard it….”

    You probably have, but your inherent beliefs mean that you either didn’t agree with it or chose not to listen to it.

    “I’ve heard a lot of what you talk about; hysteria about what a disaster it would be, but I heard the same about the impact of an SNP government and there was nothing in that either.”

    That’s exactly my point – it’s a ‘what have the Roman’s ever done for us?’ moment for Scottish Labour.

    In terms of those arguments against independence, I would say that it is pretty clear that there are greater economic risks for smaller countries – if disaster strikes you are always better off with a bigger exchequer behind you – like the banking crisis.

    In terms of global influence, being part of the 5th largest economy with one of the largest militaries in Europe has it’s advantages (as well as plenty of disadvantages if they keep making wars you don’t agree with).

    Being independent and an immediate but peripheral neighbour of a very big economy also has substantial disadvantages. Your trading abilities are protected by the EU for sure, but so are those of your much more powerful neighbour, so you will face a variety of opportunities but significant economic threats from south of the border. Under independence, you lose the chance to both influence economic policy decisions in the country that will still have a very substantial influence on your economic capacities as well as lose entirely the right to any capital transfers to help balance things like UK wide exchange rates as at present. You ability to differentiate tax policy could be hampered as well.

    Currency options would either be to retain sterling, but with no influence on English economic decision making.You could adopt the Euro, but be very prone to all the problems experienced in the Eurozone alongside the very significant potential for economic divergence between England and Scotland with no ability to adapt other than through employment levels. You could adopt your own currency, which gives you a second mechanism for economic adjustment but with all the significant risks that a very small currency would bring. As in all things, ensuring stability gets harder with a smaller scale, and good economies need stability.

    These are just part of the arguments I have with myself over independence – there are a lot of good points in favour in independence and certainly it is a much safer option now than it was 60 years ago. Will it be the same in the next 60 years though? Who knows. I do think you need to get out more if you really haven”t heard one or two decent arguments from the opposite side.

  24. @Joe – it isn’t. The point is that is was excluded from calculations of regional economies for internal UK purposes. In terms of international maritime law between 90 – 98% of the UK North Sea oil would belong to Scotland.

    @Andy C – “Personally, I do not know what the arguments are for independence but perhaps Alex could enlighten us and tell us what they are…”

    Presumably you refer to me, but I’m no spokesman for the union. I just have my own opinions, like everyone else.

  25. So the estimated percentage of the Tories is actually at 36-37%, whether one looks at the (notional) result of Local Elections or at the average of all polls. By the same reckoning, French UMP is around 20%, Italian PDL at 27-28% and German CDU-CSU at 31-33%. So:1) The Tories are slightly better off than their continental “counterparts”, but then again they are in power only 1 year. 2) The European right is “a bout de souffle” (“out of steam”, is, I think, the English expression), for governing it relies on unstable allies whom in eventually destroys by projecting on them all the failures (LD in UK, FDP in Germany etc). This “politique de la terre brûlée”, will, in my opinion, be the conservative’s undoing in all 4 countries. Furthermore, they draw their strength mostly from non-urban areas and from 65+ age group, which is not encouraging for them in terms of vitality and modernity.

  26. ALEC
    I just have my own opinions, like everyone else.

    Quite so, but just out of interest, is your green background indicative of support for the E&W Greens or for some other party?

    The Scottish Green Party proclaims support for independence, but I know it attends kingdom wide meetings with the E&W Greens. What’s your party’s line on all this?

  27. What is interesting about this is that basically, according to both R&T and BBC,

    1/ Cons polled pretty much what their voting intention with YG has been, within margin of error.

    2/ But the LDs polled around 4-5% better than their voting intention has been,

    3/ And this was at the direct expense of Labour.

    So I think there is a strange paradoxical situation going on. When voters get the chance they are punishing the LDs harsher than predicted, but their vote share (when people get a chance to actually vote) is about 4% higher than their VI suggests.

    No sure what this means long-term. And would be interesting to see if LDs VI numbers slip further.

    But I do think we now have enough evidence that Lab are benefitting directly at the expense of Labour and have yet to make significant (if any) inroads into Tory support.

    If you were a Tory supporter in 2010 you still are now.

  28. Is it possible to work out from either of these figures (R&T or BBC) what sort of swing this is from when these seats were contested in 2007?

    A

  29. Now I know I am going to get into trouble here as Anthony keeps telling us this is a forum for discussing polls not independence…… but here goes anyway.

    Andy C,

    “Alex does not say there is an argument against the referendum which is what you are making out but an argument against independence.”

    Thats what I want to address;

    He said there are good arguments for and against but my point was that we haven’t heard enough of the good arguments against and that I have never been that troubled by the ones put forward.

    That for me either means that they haven’t put good arguments forward or they don’t have them.

    Alec.

    Excellent… lets start the intelligent debate here….

    “I would say that it is pretty clear that there are greater economic risks for smaller countries”

    Proportionality…

    The risk you take is governed not by your size as such but how big it is relative to your size. Iceland and Ireland took disproportionate risks in letting their banking and property markets get out of control. Greece did the same with its public sector.

    The answer is prudent sound economics and good fiscal management… Ireland and Iceland all but collapsed but Luxembourg and Switzerland didn’t.

    The US banking system came a lot closer to collapse than the Swedish one even though Sweden is a lot smaller.

    Why…Because the US, both privately and publicly, acted in a short term way where it was about making profits and keeping people happy without due regards to the level of risk or the long term consequences.

    The lesson, and given that quite clearly we got dazzled by the celtic tiger as much as others is that you keep an eye on the fundamentals and get the basics right.

    Some people blame the Euro for Ireland and Greece’s problems but the truth is that it wasn’t the Euros fault. The Euro necessitates financial disciple and if you don’t have it you can’t run away like in the past.

    Greece needed to up productivity and cut its public sector to what it could afford when it joined the Euro, but that meant doing unpopular things so it ducked the hard issues and stoked up the conditions for its own failure.

    likewise everyone said that with lower Eurozone interest rates Ireland risked inflation as with the same money people could afford to borrow more and spend it particularly in the booming property market. The prudent thing to do would be to cool property by raising property taxes and using the money to cut debt rather than spending it in an over heating economy.

    What did the Irish do they abolished property taxes. But that can’t be blamed on their size as the US handled its property market just as badly.

    Its not size its proportionality.

    “In terms of global influence, being part of the 5th largest economy with one of the largest militaries in Europe has it’s advantages”

    But also its disadvantages. I am not sure the UK welds any more influence than say Japan or Germany and I think we place to much emphasis on it.

    I’ve heard the top table argument often enough but we seem to be so caught up with our perceived status that we don’t seem to be prepared to use it. When was the last time we voted against America on the security Council?

    It might be a bit harsh but I sometimes feel that its like the Emperors New Clothes. We fear to point out the obvious for fear of falling out of favour.

    Yes we sit at the top table but our actions their seem governed by the need to stay their that we defend the status quo even when it stinks. Sure we carry the big sword but we fear to use it even when its needed.

    Equally I just can’t actually tell how being at the top table makes the average Scot better off that the average Dane or Belgian?

    They seem to have longer healthier better lives than us with more money and better schools roads and services so not being at the top table doesn’t seem to hurt their damage their daily lives or future.

    People talk about the benefits in general terms but I rarely see anyone quote and example that would change the average Scots life one iota.

    “Being independent and an immediate but peripheral neighbour of a very big economy also has substantial disadvantages. Your trading abilities are protected by the EU for sure, but so are those of your much more powerful neighbour, so you will face a variety of opportunities but significant economic threats from south of the border. ”

    That’s nothing the Canadians haven’t dealt with for a century and more and yes they might not be as wealthy as the Us but I don’t particularly think they have suffered economically and indeed i’d argue that they are in many respects a healthier society.

    How much has portugal suffered as a direct consequence of being smaller than Spain or Denmark by being small but bordering Germany?

    “you lose the chance to both influence economic policy decisions in the country that will still have a very substantial influence on your economic capacities”

    It’s my view, and that of many Scots, that our ability to influence UK economic policy at the moment is about zero.

    I’d rather have broader economic powers of our own to use as I chose than only be able to ask someone to consider what we would like.

    “You could adopt the Euro, but be very prone to all the problems experienced in the Eurozone alongside the very significant potential for economic divergence between England and Scotland with no ability to adapt other than through employment levels.”

    As I’ve said that depends on how you manage your economy. Peripheral or small economies with poor economic management have suffered, but ones like Finland and Austria haven’t.

    The Euro isn’t a panacea but it is as stable a Sterling and we would have more economic powers to adapt and tailor our economy to meet challenges as a full member of the EU than as a devolved part of the UK.

    “As in all things, ensuring stability gets harder with a smaller scale, and good economies need stability.”

    I see it the other way;

    Good economies bring stability not the other way round, if you build a good economy stability will follow.

    Learn from Browns mistakes…

    The UK economy nearly went into melt down despite its size because the boom r and he was happy to finance public services on credit driven growth which couldn’t last for ever.

    If you manage your economy badly you will run into trouble.

    Its not that small economies have big crashes and big economies small ones, its that good economies have small ones and bad economies have big ones.

    “These are just part of the arguments I have with myself over independence”

    Well if you have other ones lets here them too.

    I hope no one thinks I am being aggressive here, as often difficult in blogs to judge what people emotional response is.

    I am a great believer that the same phrase can have two meanings and one of my favourite is;

    “What do they know”….. it can be followed by an !, and be dismissive or a ? and be enquiring.

    Labours problem and part of the reason they did so badly (Look Anthony IO am back to poling analysis don’t hit me) is that they went for the ! and just dismissed INdependence and didn’t listen or enquire.

    I genuinely want to here good arguments against Independence because I think we need to go into this with our eyes open ready for the challenges it will inevitably bring.

    I’ll be honest and say I’ll be hard to convince but I promise I’ll listen but so far, like I say, most of the arguments I’ve heard have been weak at best and at worst just scaremongering.

    Alec’s arguments aren’t bad as they raise some legitimate concerns , that I have tried to address and they are a lot better than the scare stories Labour tried to use, but they represent anxieties that I feel can be allayed and challenges that we can meet just like any other country rather than obstacles.

    Peter.

  30. @Adrian B

    “So I think there is a strange paradoxical situation going on”

    No paradox at all. LDs *always* poll 3-4% better in locals than in national elections. Labour *always* poll 3-4% worse.

  31. Peter Cairns is absolutely right that it would be in Scotland’s interests to join the Euro. The impact this would have on England is a very interesting speculation. But it is just one amongst a list of spectacular political bombs an unfolding campaign for Scottish independence will plant for English politics. Only a very foolish Englishman would dismiss the credibility of such a campaign and thus should be preparing for a very rough ride south of the border too.

  32. @Anthony Wells

    What is the situation if Scotland Votes for indepenence – what kind of swing would Labour then need to win an England/Wales Westminster government, given that their swathes of Scottish MP’s would disappear ???

  33. Most commentators state that there is no chance of the Lib Dems leavingthe coalition as they would just get massacred in any subsequent GE.

    This is a short sighted approach. Two scenarios come to mind –
    1 – the Lib Dems abandon the coalition saying they want to save the c ountry and its people any more pain (see Will Hutton in today’s Observer) and they get credit for such a brave act – even more credit if they ditch Clegg at the same time.
    2 – Milliband does a deal with Plaid, the Green and 5 or 6 Norther Irish possibilities and puts together a viable Rainbow Coalition if only the Lib Dems would join in – the Tories are then defeated in a vote of no confidence but Milliband recommends to the Queen that there’s no need for an election because a new coalition is ready to take over.

  34. @ Robin,

    The paradox is that they both seem to do better and worse that expectations at the same time. Better than their VI would have predicted, but worse than they hoped in terms of loss of seats/pride/referendum.

    The only party to have been roundly thrashed in all corners of the UK.

  35. I think the debate about Scottish independence is absolutely fascinating. The economic benefits or disadvantages, the timing of the referendum etc.

    But who will be would be allowed to take part in said referendum? Like many people, I have English born friends with Scottish spouses who live and work in Scotland and Scottish friends who live and work here in Manchester. Could the former vote, but not the latter ? – or visa versa, or both? Should all UK residents have a say?

    I really don’t know the answer to these questions but long time advocates of Independence must surely have thought this through.

    And as for what currency…………………..

  36. ADRIAN B
    The only party to have been roundly thrashed in all corners of the UK.

    Great Britain, I think but not the UK. The L-Ds don’t seem to appear on any candidate lists in Northern Ireland.

  37. Different sources are giving different figures for the numbers of councillors gained and lost for each party last Thursday.

    The BBC are showing
    Con +81
    Lab +800
    LD -695
    Other -199

    The Association of LD Councillors site is showing
    Con +44
    Lab +858
    LD -804
    Green +21
    BNP -12
    Ind -62
    Others -54
    These results are also usefully broken down by class of authority.
    http://www.aldc.org/elections/local-elections/

    These are not minor differences. Does anyone know which is right and which is wrong?

  38. @Barbazenzero – “What’s your party’s line on all this?”

    No idea. I am a Green Party member but I don’t speak for them here and only show my colours out of fairness to other posters. They are the nearest party to my own views, but that’s all. My guess is they would supoprt independence as in general greens are about bringing power down to the lowest level available.

    @Peter cairns – a truly wonderful post. Agree with much of it. Whatever size you are, being well managed really is the best option. My worries would be when you are badly run – as with Ireland and Iceland etc. While I am not saying the SNP would make these basic errors now, a future Scottish government might, and at this point the risks of being small are very substantial.

    This is the point I am making about risks. It’s not necessarily related to size as you correctly point out, and there are of course issues about whether the current arrangement is low or high risk with periods of poor UK government. But disasters do happen, and part of a larger economy with triple A credit rating helps at such times.

    The point about Canada and the US is valid, but of course they have different currencies.If I were an independent Scotland I wouldn’t touch the Euro with a Viennese gondola pole – it breaks all the fundamental economic rules and will be the scene of repeated disasters, regardless as to whether governance in the zone is good or bad. So this would leave me with a headache if I were contemplating an independent Scotland.

    The other issue is the frictional expense of seperation. Whatever you say, the costs of organising and negotiating a settlement will be very long winded and expensive – every single hour of civil servant’s time on both sides of the border will have to be paid for out of taxation. As an taxpayer residing in England, I would fully expect my government to charge every single penny of such costs to the Scottish taxpayer – if you want it, pay for it. The bill will be very substantial and will take income away from pressing demands for all kinds of budgets, all to satisfy some people’s sense of nationhood with unclear practical benefits.

    For my money, as a fervent Scot, I really can’t see what’s so bad about gaining more devolved powers and staying within the UK. I’m interested that no administration in Scotland has ever yet considered using the tax varying powers it already has, so I really question the need for independence when existing powers lie on the shelf unused and unwanted.

    But all in all, a very good post and by a country mile some of the best debate around seperation that I have come across in a good long while.

  39. @Phil – the BBC figures stopped being updated at a late stage when there were still some councils to declare. My guess is that the BBC figures are wrong.

  40. @Neil Turner

    If Scotland does leave the UK, I think you’ll find the rules governing Westminster elections might have to. change a bit.

    People living in Northern cities won’t tolerate everlasting rule by Conservatives in the South.

    We will demand independence too! 8-)

  41. ALEC
    My guess is they would supoprt independence as in general greens are about bringing power down to the lowest level available.

    Thanks. I thought that would be the case. It’s more or less what the Scottish Greens say and national and EU level, but they don’t say anything about local governance on their website.

  42. May I just point out nationhood is not about economic rationality; otherwise perhaps a third of all countries would never be nations. (Ireland, for example, started as a country with massive debts and most Pacific island nations never cover costs.) Nationhood is a sense of different history / culture / language all of which Scotland clearly has. And, to be honest, So do al the component parts of the UK; who has a sense of ‘United Kingdomness’ or Britshness? None of us really; we all see ourselves as NI / Welsh / English etc. So. get rid of the fiction and let independent countries recommence. (Technically, of course some parts of Scotland were never part of the -incomplete – Union; law, education, being two distinct areas…

  43. DavidB

    Most commentators state that there is no chance of the Lib Dems leaving the coalition as they would just get massacred in any subsequent GE.

    This is a short sighted approach….

    The Lib Dems would lose votes to the right of their Party. Would they now regain the trust of the left, particulalry as they broke their promise on tuition fees.

    I should not think Labour would welcome taking back government just yet, particularly as they would be vulnerable for criticism on the one side for causing the economic problem and on the other action they would have to take to address the problem.

    If the LDs wait till 2015 there is a chance that the economic position will change, and they will be able to claim some of the credit. There is also a chance that the government will sell their share in banks providing funds to increase services, benefits and pensions or to cut taxes.

    I therefore do not think the LDs will want to break the coalition, and both Tories and Labour will be happy for the moment to keep the status quo.

  44. @GREENBENCHES
    Your earlier comment about a very large number of English people being totally happy with what the “Tory led coalition” are doing, is your usual eyes wide open approach. One fully understands your passionate left wing beliefs, however you see the world very much more clearly than many of your fellows. I mean still banging on about “rainbow coalitions” with the Primative Buddists and Hackney Young Communists ect, is just foolish. Some people should take a leaf from your book.

  45. @VALERIE
    Southerners, Tory or LD’s will not accept much more of Labour either. You had better migrate to South Yorkshire and work towards independence.

  46. The points that people are making about the persistance of Tory support are very good. Looking back, Cameron & Osborne took a gamble back in late 2009: promise pain rather than pleasure and hope that their supporters wouldn’t punish them for broken promises after the election.

    On the basis of the Lib Dems deficit u-turn, we can at least hypothesise that they and Labour took a different route: promise to make the finances good (but not yet!) while switching to a more aggressive fiscal stance in the 2011 budget. Since of a Lib-Lab pact on staunchly anti-cuts parties made that option impossible and there wasn’t enough agreement between the Lib Dems and Labour on core issues, they were unable to form a government a year ago.

    (That last part is extremely speculative and quite likely wrong. We will almost certainly never know.)

    The Lib Dems are not just suffering because of the association with the Tories. They’re suffering because they’re in a government that is doing the opposite of much of their pre-election economic policies. Labour used that very effectively against them in the second half of last year.

    So perhaps one lesson of the past two years is that, if you’re going to take a fiscally aggressive stance, be clear about it beforehand. Despite some historic cuts (and tax rises that would normally make traditional Tory supporters go bananas) the Tories have held onto their 2010 support, in a way that (for example) Thatcher never did. It cost them the 2010 election, but it’s probably saved them from a 1997-style annihilation in 2015.

    The other lesson is that, if you would be generous, it’s better not to be in government at a time like this. The move back to a predominantly two-party system has clearly benefited Labour thus far because not having to make any cuts (let alone change their opinions in response to circumstances) has re-established them as the overwhelmingly dominant party of the centre-left.

  47. PHIL,
    Even stranger – Sky News is showing different figures

    BBC – Sky – ALDC

    Con – +81, +60, +44
    Lab – +800, +866, +858
    LD – -695, -842, -804
    Other – -199, -84, (see Phil’s post above)

    Wikipedia is using Sky’s figures.
    Anybody have further info?

    And does this affect the 38/37/etc vote share that the Tories are so pleased with?

  48. Seems that Sky’s figures (unless I’ve made a very basic error here in my maths) are probably the most accurate ones, since they all add up to 0.

  49. Just read Will Hutton’s article in The Observer, as well as an article on EM’s call today to LD ministers to quit the cabinet.

    WH’s final comment is that “The Conservatives should face the consequences of their misjudgments alone.”

    It is worth reading the two articles.

    A lot of predictable nonsense abut the coaltition and how it will survive has been spouted in the last two to three days. The effect of the elections and the loss of AV will drive LDs to vent their anger and fury.

    IMO, it will soon be recognised that the LDs can pick a fight with the Cons over the NHS reforms which might provide a route out of the coalition. This is the big one.

    The LDs can then argue that they could not stay in gov and allow the reforms to go ahead.

    The next few weeks are goign to be very interesting.

  50. @ Sapper

    I recognise that way with words. How’s your pile in Bucks? 8-)

    and the Cross-trainer????

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