Here’s something interesting. Normally the best prediction (or at least, the least flawed prediction) of how votes translate into seats is a uniform swing projection – that is, if a party has increased it’s national share of the vote by 5 percentage points, you add five percentage points to the share it gets in each seat, and vice-versa if it loses support.

Broadly speaking, uniform national swing has been a pretty good predictor of elections – or at least, a good starting point to analyse elections and where parties have done better or worse than average. However, it is mathematically inelegant, particularly when it comes to the extremes. Say a party loses 5 percentage points in its national support – what happens in a seat where they only had 4% at the last election? On a UNS model they’d get minus 1% support, which is clearly impossible. Generally speaking though UNS doing odd things to parties with minimal support doesn’t matter, as it is all about the marginal seats and predicting overall seat numbers, how well it models changes in support in safe seats is irrelevant.

However, it has been playing on my mind how it will work with the Liberal Democrats at the next election if they maintain their present low levels of support. How would it cope with a drastic collapse in support for a party? It varies from pollster to pollster, but roughly speaking the Lib Dems have lost about half their 2010 vote, about 12 points or so. To start with there were 57 seats where the Lib Dems got less than 12% support in 2010, they can’t lose 12% in those. Equally, if their vote did collapse to what extent would their sitting MPs be insulated from the fall?

The Scottish Parliamentary election gives us a chance to see. Below is a scatter chart of the Lib Dem performance in 2011 – plotting the change in the Lib Dem share of the vote in each seat against the share of the vote they recieved in 2007. Gold dots are those seats that were notionally or actually held by the Lib Dems in 2007, blue dots are non-LD seats.

The green line is what we would expect to see if there was a uniform swing – the Lib Dem vote falling by 8% in each seat. The red line is what we’d get if the Lib Dem vote fell proportionally to their support in 2007 – basically if they lost half their support in each seat. The actual distribution of dots is clearly closer to the proportional line than the uniform swing. If this was repeated at a GB general election then the Liberal Democrats would do even worse than a uniform swing would predict.

On the other hand, look at the distribution of the blue and gold dots – in seats where the Lib Dems had incumbency the Lib Dems did better than a proportional loss would have suggested (and they do worse than than this in seats without incumbency) – while the Lib Dems did end up losing all their mainland seats in Scotland, they did actually perform somewhat better in the seats they held… just not by enough to save them.

I wouldn’t presume to make models or predictions about what would happen to the Lib Dems at a general election on this basis… just that UNS national swing may not be a very good predictor if the Lib Dem vote does remain in dire straights at the next general election.


183 Responses to “The Lib Dem collapse in Scotland”

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  1. Crossbat11,

    – “Thirdly and lastly, the Westminster v Holyrood voting pattern differences are likely to persist, aren’t they? A Scottish Labour vote in Westminster elections is far more likely to prevent a Tory UK Government whereas an SNP vote is almost certain to guarantee one. This dilemma will pose itself in 2015 and I’m inclined to think Scotland will laregely vote Labour once again.”

    Don’t underestimate the “Gordon Brown Effect” at UK GE 2010. He was pure electoral poison south of the border (with an English leader Labour would have won an Overall Maj, or at worst been clearly the largest party), however, north of it he was an electoral asset.

    Please note: Gordon Brown (nor any other Scot) will be leading the Labour Party into UK GE 2015.

    If Edward Miliband and Ed Balls front your GE campaign (as seem highly likely): expect carnage.

  2. Speaking as an ethnic half-Dane, I have already renounced my viking heritage over their earlier decision to ban Ovaltine.

    How very dare they!?!

  3. typo: “GB will NOT be leading…”

  4. @ Neil A

    “Speaking as an ethnic half-Dane, I have already renounced my viking heritage over their earlier decision to ban Ovaltine.

    How very dare they!?!”

    They banned Ovaltine? Why on earth would they do something like that? I love the stuff. Can’t really have it anymore thanks to the diet but it still tastes great.

    @ Stuart Dickson

    “Don’t underestimate the “Gordon Brown Effect” at UK GE 2010. He was pure electoral poison south of the border (with an English leader Labour would have won an Overall Maj, or at worst been clearly the largest party), however, north of it he was an electoral asset.

    Please note: Gordon Brown (nor any other Scot) will be leading the Labour Party into UK GE 2015.”

    I think Labour would still have lost even with an English leader. I think Gordon Brown became an asset in Scotland when it seemed like he was being attacked for his Scottishness. If I remember correctly anyway.

  5. @Crossbat

    I agree with much of your post. But I am surprised by the big deal being made of the finding that:

    LD vote holds up most in LD areas.

    On the issue of dipping your toe into the Old Nat and Stuart Dickson-infested waters of Westminster predictions, I would urge caution.

    We are in uncharted waters. Salmond is the most adept and politically astute politician on these islands and is supported by a strong front bench and a polished and well financed backroom staff. 2015 is a long time away and he has an unprecedented mandate between now and then.

    A lot depends on what happens to the labour party in Scotland; who the UK leader is, do they bavarianise?

    How will the coalition pan out, what will the economy do? How will the Scottish economy fair compared with the UK?

    When will the referendum be, and what will be the questions? What will the result be?

    What degree of increased self-determination will Scotland have by 2015 and will it be perceived as enough?

    Once you have the algorithm for sorting that out, I’m sure the voting intentions of the Scots will be very predictable, just like it was a few weeks ago……..

  6. SocLib,

    – “I think Gordon Brown became an asset in Scotland when it seemed like he was being attacked for his Scottishness.”

    Indeed. John Smith House have very good reason to be grateful to Jeremy Clarkson:

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1137242/Im-sorry-calling-Brown-eyed-Scottish-hes-STILL-idiot-says-Clarkson.html

  7. Denzil,

    – “… who the UK leader is?”

    Edward Miliband.

    Thank God.

    – “… do they bavarianise?”

    Nope.

    Thank God.

    – “… How will the coalition pan out?”

    Not in any way likely to please Willie Rennie.

    Thank God

    … you get my drift…

  8. @ Stuart Dickson

    “SLAB leader race -> Macintosh goes solo FAV.

    Stan James have just shortened their Ken Macintosh price, thus moving him from Joint-favourite to Favourite. Hard to believe that he started out at 8/1 a couple of weeks ago!

    There is now no doubt whatsoever: Ed Miliband and their London HQ want Macintosh in the hot seat, leading the ‘No’ campaign, come the referendum. Baillie and the “Scottish wing” are not going to be happy bunnies.”

    See now this is some clever real politik by Miliband who is watching his own back from those who might try and depose him and replace him. One such potential replacement (who disputes any desire to do this but has some fans) is Jim Murphy who, as you know, comes from the same constituency as Ken Mackintosh, campaigns regularly for him, and works jointly with him on local constituency matters. It’d be politically difficult to have the Labour Party leader and the Scottish Labour Party leader coming from the same overlapping constituencies and the prospect would probably turnoff some potential anti-Miliband MPs.

  9. @ Crossbat11

    Interesting post as always. The only parliamentary system I’ve seen where you ever have a real incumbency or anti-incumbency factor is Canada (I think they borrowed it from us). Gisela Stuart’s victory was impressive for sure but I think it was in line with a lot of the smaller than expected swings to the Tories in thsoe constituencies and she, through her good campaigning, was able to minimize the swing to pull of a win.

    In terms of the Tories benefitting from the Lib Dem collapse, you strike me as a pretty loyal Labour voter. If you lived in a constituency where Labour had no chance of winning against the Tories but the Lib Dems did, would you vote Lib Dem tactically? Or what about your Labour voting monarchist wife? And if so, after the coalition, would you be inclined to do so. Without tactical votes from Labour voters and other left leaning non-Conservative voters, doesn’t that explain Tory gains of Lib Dem seats?

  10. @Mike N

    The 40% is applied above the tax-free threshold (much like income tax). Not sure what the is right now, but let’s say it’s 300k. So on a 1m estate:

    Currently:
    tax = 0.4 * (1000k-300k) = 280k
    estate after tax = 720k

    With 10% discount for 10% charitable donation, one way it might work is:
    donation = 100k
    tax = 0.36 * (1000k-300k) = 252k
    remaining estate = 648k

    The key is the definition of ‘charity’. I suspect there are multimillionaires already looking at ways to set up the ‘George Osborne Inherited Fortune Charitable Trust’ as a means of avoiding inheritance tax…

  11. Crossbat11

    Denzil has already made the comments I would have made, but I would add this further note of caution.

    There are the died in the wool Unionists who will never vote SNP. As real Brits, they probably do vote for what they see as best for the UK.

    Most Scots, however, vote for what they see as best for Scotland (the Tories and now LDs are not seen as being “best” :-) ), whether they are voting for Holyrood or Westminster.

    I have long argued that VI depends on the prism through which they happen to be looking at politics.

    If people increasingly look at Westminster through a Scottish prism, then “not being Tory/LD” might not be enough for them to vote Labour for Westminster.

    It may well be (NB not a prediction!) that by 2015, Labour would have to be seen to be arguing for further change in the constitutional settlement to hold onto votes.

    Now that the LDs have wholly abandoned a Federal/Devo Max/FFA stance, there is a “gap in the market” for that policy (one which would probably attract majority support).

    SLAB could go back to its roots, argue for that (while accepting that Scots MPs would in future have little say on English domestic issues) and keep/increase its vote in Scotland.

    Alternatively, it could stick to its minimal change/Britishness policy and structure. However, it would then have abandoned all of the popular positions to the SNP. It is already clear that the SNP would be willing to put Devo Max on a referendum beside independence.

    We could see the remarkable position of Con/Lab/LD all arguing for minimal extra powers for Scotland, while the SNP and Greens are saying to the people “here is the road to travel that most of you agree with. Which stopping place do you prefer at the moment?”

  12. Robin

    In your second calc the IHT amount was based on the full 1000k, but I wonder whether in fact it would in reality be due on the residue after the donation to charity.

    On the one hand this idea to encourage donations to charity looks good, but unfortunately creative accountants and tax advisers make their living exploiting loopholes in the legislation. This one looks perfect for creativity!

    I’m just cynical.

  13. @Robin – would be difficult, if not impossible to establish a charity as a vehicle for tax avoidance. The individual/family would not be able to benefit and the Charity Commission have to approve the charitable objectives of the organisation.

  14. Those who are interested in Scottish politics need to keep an eye on James Mitchell’s work.

    Most SNP members don’t think of independence in the same way that we thought of it 20 years ago, or how UKIP think of “UK independence” now.

    It is a far more nuanced debate and Mitchell is right in saying the the nationalist movement hasn’t developed the language to communicate what independence means in an interdependent world.

    However, that is comparatively minor. As Mitchell says “The SNP may be linguistically challenged but its opponents are conceptually challenged. Fundamentalist unionism finds the complexities of modern politics confusing and wishes for a simpler yesterday. Robert Hazell, former Home Office official and director of the Constitution Unit think-tank, exemplified this in comment that: “Defence, macroeconomic policy and foreign affairs are key features of statehood. Does the SNP want Scotland to be independent or not?” This may be “fuzzy” to those schooled in black letter law but it is the real world.”

    http://www.scotsman.com/scottishnationalparty/James-Mitchell-Breaking-up-has.6771212.jp

    Well worth a read.

  15. @Mike N

    “In your second calc the IHT amount was based on the full 1000k, but I wonder whether in fact it would in reality be due on the residue after the donation to charity.”

    Could be. The effect is to change the relative contributions of the estate and the exchequer to the charitable gift.

    @Alec

    “would be difficult, if not impossible to establish a charity as a vehicle for tax avoidance”

    Won’t stop people trying. More serious though is that it would be likely to severely skew people’s charitable behaviour later in life. Why give to a charity now, when you can benefit the grandkids by storing it all up and leaving it as a bequest instead?

  16. I wonder how likely it would be for the SNP to actually control EVERY constituency seat in the Scottish Parliament?…given that the other three parties are clearly in disarray to an extent.

  17. R Huckle,

    – “I am right in thinking that the Lib Dems would lose out more, when the constituencies are equalled out at around 75,000 electors. Surely in Scotland, this would make the current Lib Dem seats more vulnerable to Labour and SNP”

    Yes, you are right.

    It also means that the sole Tory seat in Scotland – Dumfriesshire, Clydesdale & Tweeddale – will disappear. (It was the oddest, most illogical seat in Scotland.) It is very hard to see the Tories getting any Scottish seats at all if there are 75,000 electors per seat. Scottish Tory voters live in small enclaves, surrounded by vast oceans of SNP/LAB voters. If the constituencies are too big, they will quite simply be swamped. Same with their Lib Dem chums.

  18. Calum Smith

    “I wonder how likely it would be for the SNP to actually control EVERY constituency seat in the Scottish Parliament?”

    Unlikely I think, and also undesirable. For a decent democracy we need the Greens and SSP to win some constituencies and make advances on the list at the expense of the Unionists.

  19. Rob Sheffield

    ”’Particularly when their posts continuously reveal a deep antipathy to Labour above all others.”

    Labour have indeed edged ahead of the Conservativesin my affections lately, and my sympathy for the underdog has, despite my better judgement, weakened my antipathy to the Conservatives. As for the LibDems, I could not possibly compete with Tavish Scott in producing a critique of the failings of the London leadership of the LibDems.

    I have no complaint with any of the Scottish led parties (other than perjury and the like). It is the ignorance and maladministration of the London-led ones that has firstly brought about the demand for devolution and now the rise of the SNP.

    If the three Westminster parties had devolved twelve years ago, the SNP would not be where it is today. They ask us to let them run the government, yet they cannot organise their Scottish branches.

    If I judge Labour hardly, it is because I remember what it was like at its best before it was dominated by London focus groups, Oxbridge think-tanks and PR “experts.”

  20. Denzil

    I used to vote Labour in Cathcart when Teddy Taylor was the MP. He held on long after the tide had turned against his party and Labour carried out an investigation to find out what had gone wrong.

    He was particularly prompt and effective in dealing with constituents issues and was respected and admired in St Andrews house for his knowledge and skill in this part of his work. He knew what to ask for, who to ask, and how to make the case. Many other MP’s didn’t.

  21. @ Old Nat

    All the talk is of electoral pacts between the Tories & Dems.

    4 years is a long time in politics. If the Coalition form a right-leaning pact, Labour & the SNP might form a pact/ coalition plan for Westminster. They are both Parties of social democrats, so there isn’t the ideological conflict that there was/ is between the left of the Dems & the rest. Maybe Alex will fancy being FM for Scotland & deputy prime minister of the Uk. ;-)

  22. Rob Sheffield

    ”’Particularly when their posts continuously reveal a deep antipathy to Labour above all others.”

    Further to John B Dick’s comments, many SNP supporters have no antipathy to Labour in England (when comparing it with its Tory adversary).

    Labour in Scotland could return to its Home Rule roots – but won’t.

  23. Amber

    An interesting concept. Of course, it would rely on the SNP having the remotest inclination to rule England against the democratic wishes of its people.

    I think we can leave that aspiration to Labour.

  24. @OLDNAT

    “Well worth a read.”

    Indeed! Far better than what I expected.

    One thing I find of particular interest is how politics seems to be moving more to a theme of “Us versus [insert popular political party of the moment]”. Be it Unionists versus nationalists, Cons and Libs versus Labs, or anyone but the Tories, a lot of political cynicism, hyperbole and mistrust seem to prevail. A reflection of the quality of some politicians / political partes?

    Thanks for the link!

  25. @old nat/ @amber

    IMO there won’t be any pacts at the next UK election- whether Con-Lib/ Con-orange bookers/ Lab-SNP/ SNP-Grn-SSP etc etc- because Westminster elections are FPTP and don’t premium pre-election pacts.

    Indeed the worst of all the above would likely be the Con-Orange book faction idea (suggested earlier on in the thread) which would probably destroy the Lib Dems and also shear into the Tory vote where there is no official Tory candidate put up by CCHQ against an orange booker.

    This non-pact scenario will only change IMO if the next election is also a hung parliament and ends up in a coalition government that does not contain the Tories.

    Parties might then decide to hedge positions for the election after next with pre-election pacts.

    Though- IMO- in that scenario it’s more likely only to be a UK-wide pre election pact between the Lib Dems and Labour that is workable (and- importantly- would actually be an electoral asset).

  26. I think the dynamics of the voting intention (and relatedly the narratives and small political moves) will radically change in the next two-three months (and it will affect Scotland) – due to the truely frightening economic figures that came out today. Except if the ONS got it completely wrong, there is either a massive swing from the coalition on the card if they carry on with the economic policy or huge U turns.

    Essentially, the first quarter detailed figures show that the economy was carried by government spending and temporary foreign trade activities. These figures are worse than anything since the beginning of the recession. For the sake of the living standards of so many people, I sincerely hope that ONS got it wrong or alternatively that GO has some self-criticism that would stop his plan A and B.

    If not, I believe all the speculations about the current voting intentions are for historic archives only :-). I was genuinely shocked when I saw the details – it is a major change – not directly (there is no proper analysis in the popular media), but indirectly when those figures and stories come out on which the aforementioned media can chew on.

  27. Lab 41
    Con 37
    LD 10
    UKIP 4

    Govt approval -20

    The 4 point lead continues. Not much else of note.

  28. Crossbat11

    Denzil & Oldnat have given you good insights but you wern’t far away from the truth.

    The extent of the inertia in the Lab (UK) & SNP (SP) split voting is a known unknown. I did not say that it would unravel completely, but it presents challenges for Labour, the SNP and for pollsters alike.

    The size of the SNP majority, the condition of SLAB, the extent to which Labour can address their problems (Stuart gave you a view on that) are all factors.

    Success engenders success and self-confidence which might help the SNP in presenting themselves to the electorate.

    Mostly the SNP must rely on the opportunities presented by their opponents.

    The key fact is that these voters are members of the anti-Con shadow party. They owe no loyalty to Labour or to the SNP. Some of them would insouciantly vote Communist to displace the Tory and perhaps the greatest joy would be to vote for the Looney and put the Cons in last place to lose their deposit.

    It has very little to do with the SNP, and even less to do with independence.

    Barney gave you another snippet of information. Nobody has a second preference for the Cons. They have their core vote which is dying off. Like the Greens were disadvantaged by the SNP overtaking the compensation point and the result (losing 2) was at the worst end of the range of what they might have expected (+0 to -2).

    To put it at it’s simplest: For those who are not much impressed with the big two, the LibDems cornered the market in England, but by going into coalition with the Cons sacrificed the Scottish party because Scottish voters had another choice. In the SP they have two or three other choices too.

    Some of the LibDem voting anti-Cons moved to Labour, but a broadly similar number of anti-Cons formerly voting Labour thought that SNP was where the smart anti-Cons were headed and joined the flow.

    There is a tranche of anti-Cons who voted Labour for the first time who could easily be persuaded to move again. Others, who had always voted Labour would not vote for “Tartan Tories”, but the SNP should address that problem and try to shed that image by 2015.

    There are not many people in Scotland who vote for any political party: most vote against, and the largest group are anti-Cons. The SNP core vote is less than the independence vote. Many, perhaps even most, of their voters are anti-Cons.

  29. Mike N

    “…16% of those who voted put a cross in our box this month. That is 8% fewer than at the General Election. Or put another way, only 8% fewer than after the most high profile and positive campaign in the history of our party.

    Er no, actually it’s 33% !! fewer. But hey ho, don’t let facts get in the way.”

    8% fewer should strictly have been 8 percentage points fewer. 16% of voters put a cross in the Lib Dem box in May this year and 24% did in 2010. Perhaps his speeches need to be copy edited by a statistician.

  30. Rob Sheffield

    “Though- IMO- in that scenario it’s more likely only to be a UK-wide pre election pact between the Lib Dems and Labour that is workable (and- importantly- would actually be an electoral asset).”

    UK-wide? Not in NI obviously where neither Labour nor LD stand, so maybe you mean GB wide?

    GB-wide? Not in Scotland where LDs are now toxic after the Coalition, so maybe you mean E&W-wide?

    E&W wide? What possible advantage would there to be for Labour to have a pact with the LDs? so may be you mean England -wide?

    England-wide=UK-wide? Rather an Anglo-centric view in a UK which never had a single political system and now has four distinct ones.

  31. Calum Smith

    “I wonder how likely it would be for the SNP to actually control EVERY constituency seat in the Scottish Parliament?”

    That is only in Labour’s gift.

    Stuart can tell them how to go about it.

    I could tell them to reverse the trend too.

    A Apoligise for purile negativity
    B Bavarianise
    C Contrition for having only London inspired policies

    ..
    .
    . (I could do the rest down to

    V for vision

    .
    .
    but it’s late)

  32. Does anybody else feel that the Tories will get a bit of a poll bounce from the Obama visit? Plenty of excellent photo opportunities for Cameron and some evidence of personal chemistry between him and Obama at the joint press conference. Obama’s stardust spreads far.

    Personally, I think they might and I predict Labour and the Tories will be neck and neck in tomorrow night’s poll. Probably short lived and of no mid or long term political significance, but I think it will bolster Cameron’s standing and, quid pro quo, his party’s too.

    As for Obama; what a class act he is. I think he carries a lesson for left of centre political leaders across the globe and that is how essential it is to have an appealing personal narrative, emotional appeal and charisma. Centre left technocrats quite often fail to win the “management of the status quo” argument with their centre right opponents. If I’m interested primarily in a managerialist politician to sit on the Board of UK plc, then I might as well go right. Technocrats aplenty there, but I need a centre left politician to make an emotional connection with me, to actually embody the “audacity of hope”. That’s the essence of Obama’s appeal, especially to the young people we saw packing the middle of Dublin and London to catch a glimpse of him over the past few days.

    If you look at the wasteland that European politics has become for the centre left, then it could be summarised as a crisis of leadership. To wrest the political initiative from the centre right, it’s no good arguing on their ground that you’re a slightly kinder and gentler version of the same thing. Instead, you have to offer something much more potentially uncomfortable and uncertain; a challenge to and departure from orthodoxy. To do that successfully you have to make, essentially, an emotional offer to the voters, and that requires Obama type skills of communication. In truth, and sadly, very few pull it off. I can only think of JFK, Mitterand, Blair and now Obama in recent times. Some uncomfortable home truths for Ed Miliband, methinks, as he looks to roll that heavy boulder up the very steep political hill that lies ahead of him.

  33. @tLaszlo – “… the economy was carried by government spending and temporary foreign trade activities.”

    Or as the Guardian reports:

    “Danny Gabay of Fathom Consulting said the UK was already back in recession if exceptional items were stripped out of the Office for National Statistics’ revised GDP figures.”

  34. OECD have criticised the speed of the spending cuts, saying that perhaps it’s time for them to be slowed down, after downgrading their growth forecast for the UK.

    How long this starts to have a knock on (the weak GDP figures, downgraded forecasts, higher than predicted deficit) in the financial markets.

    If the markets start to take tumble then Osborne will have to push forward his plan B or take a tumble in the polls – since his deficit reduction argument relies on ‘the markets demand it!’

    I don’t think Osborne’s stupid enough to ignore these things but they’ll find something to blame (Japan, Ashcloud, Summer heat, the Euro, Greece) as an external issue that they have no control over which ‘forces them to rethink’.
    So IMHO, if that happens, the Tory VI will hold steady.

  35. Another downgrade for UK growth by the OECD today, although as Stephanie Flanders points out, they certainly aren’t infallible. However, she also points out that the failure of consumer spending to pick up as has happened at this point in past recessions is very worrying, especially when all the signs are that the big income squeeze will continue this year.

    If business investment keeps slipping as in Q1 then we start to get into a really nasty potential spiral, with neither consumers nor government spending taking up the reins.

  36. Anthony:

    Is the lowest blue dot Argyll?

    Local factors were a LibDem candidate councillor in No1 target seat imbroiled in a badly handled school closure issue (4th from 2nd); a heavyweight SNP minister candidate replacing a hugely popular colleague who won the seat last time with a tiny majority; generation long decay in the Conservative vote (up to 2nd from 3rd); Labour campaign lacking in resources.

    Had the previous MSP not retired, he would have got even more votes.

    If it is Argyll, that would account for it being an outlier.

    SNP are certain to win the UK seat from low profile LibDem in 2015.

  37. denzil @Crossbat

    I am surprised by the big deal being made of the finding that:

    LD vote holds up most in LD areas.

    Except it doesn’t where an independent-minded very local and very very long-serving MSP retires as in Skye, or Caithness.

    That accounted for bucketfuls of constituency votes on top of any UK or Scottish issues.

  38. @Crossbat

    “Does anybody else feel that the Tories will get a bit of a poll bounce from the Obama visit? ”

    yes: but pretty short-lived though (maybe even just tomorrow night)

    @Lazlo

    “Essentially, the first quarter detailed figures show that the economy was carried by government spending and temporary foreign trade activities. These figures are worse than anything since the beginning of the recession.”

    Do you have any view on how- if these figures are correct- this is likely to impact on the political popularity of the SNP majority administration?

    @alec

    “If business investment keeps slipping as in Q1 then we start to get into a really nasty potential spiral, with neither consumers nor government spending taking up the reins”

    The horrible ‘S’ word (stagflation) is being cited more and more often.

    If we get that there is no way that Osborne will get anywhere near a wiping out of the deficit: but households incomes and individuals jobs and the communities services will all have been slashed in the name of his plan A.

  39. More steady figures in tonight’s poll, with the Lib Dems back at 10% again, it looks as if the locals had very little long-term effect. Perhaps the Tories have pulled a point back from UKIP, the Lib Dems lost half a point to the Greens – it’s all marginal at most.

    As has been happening recently the tables are already on the YouGov site:

    http://today.yougov.co.uk/sites/today.yougov.co.uk/files/yg-archives-pol-sun-results-250511.pdf

    We also have to welcome the return of a couple of old friends. How well or badly do you think the government are meeting their aims of… Reducing the government’s deficit is 45% to 43% in favour of the government; a smaller gap than when last asked (22 March), though it has only ever been negative once back in February.

    Allied to whether the cuts are ‘necessary’ this indicates an area where the government and the Tories in particular cannot afford to lose. It’s probably also the main thing keeping their popularity at current levels. Even Lib Dems agree 2 to 1 – which explains why they will not quit the coalition unless they can be seen to be forced out and/or take the public with them.

    The second old friend is the similar question How well or badly do you think the government are meeting their aims of…Reforming Britain’s political system Here ‘TOTAL WELL’ versus ‘TOTAL BADLY’ is 27% to 63%. This is only noteworthy for not being the worst score ever for ‘Well’ – it was 24% in January and February, though unsurprisingly ‘Badly is at its highest after the referendum.

    Conservatives are 56% to 29% for ‘Well’; Lib Dems 74% to 19% for ‘Badly’.

    Another split in the coalition is shown in a poll on the important topic of which animals should be allowed on trains. 7% of Tories agree with ‘snakes’ whereas for the more libertarian Lib Dems it’s 14%. ‘Snakes on a train’ – where have I heard that before?

  40. @ Crossbat11

    “Does anybody else feel that the Tories will get a bit of a poll bounce from the Obama visit? Plenty of excellent photo opportunities for Cameron and some evidence of personal chemistry between him and Obama at the joint press conference. Obama’s stardust spreads far.

    Personally, I think they might and I predict Labour and the Tories will be neck and neck in tomorrow night’s poll. Probably short lived and of no mid or long term political significance, but I think it will bolster Cameron’s standing and, quid pro quo, his party’s too.”

    I don’t know about that. I don’t see how Obama’s visit positively effects Cameron. Seems kinda irrelevant. It’s entirely possible that both parties will be neck and neck but that’s only because of the polling seems to follow that pattern. There was a great pic of of Cameron playing ping pong with Obama (not sure if this kinda further proves or disproves the whole Wikileaks escapade) but I’m not sure that really boosts the Tories. I mean if it does, I’d say Brits are surprisingly easy to please.

  41. oldnat @ Amber

    “An interesting concept. Of course, it would rely on the SNP having the remotest inclination to rule England against the democratic wishes of its people.”

    Quite so, but after independence, when a UKIP/Con government withdraws from the EU and England bcomes a failed state with the rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer, sicker and less well educated, the oppressed may appeal to energy and water rich Scotland and the EU for the sort of help we are giving the Libyans just now.

    Surely there are circumstances when even a separatist like yourself would consent to invading and annexing England?

  42. @ Old Nat

    Alex loves Westminster; at one point, he gave up the SNP leadership & his Holyrood seat for it. If Ed M offered him DP, he’d be up for it. ;-)

  43. @ Rob Sheffield

    I think it will mean that the SNP adminstration will have to increase taxes and/or will have to cut expenditure and they will have to deal with a much more adversarial UK government. The Scottish economy is dependent on oil/gas and public expenditure more than the rest of the UK (except for NI).

    The only way to avoid such steps (which would probably have major implications to SNP – maybe even a similar split as in the case of the LibDems) if they could get more fiscal autonomy and try to compete in business tax rate cutting and finance current expenditure from incoming capital. It’s a possibility and not necessarily irresponsible.

    To put it in context: companies are deleveraging (repaying debt) – they using their windfall from negative interest rates for this partly – while supposedly they have demand abroad, yet gross capital formation is falling by more than 4% and business investment by 7%. That means that there was already signs of falling manufacturing and the tsunami on the top of this… We will probably have negative manufacturing figures in the second quarter. Households are also repaying debt in a quite grand scale. There is no domestic demand, apart from the government and if the cuts are implemented… This in combination with the Robin Hood tax on the oil and gas industry would affect Scotland more (it would restrict the output response to price changes).

    We will see, but it’s really bad.

  44. @ Lazlo

    I was (in my mind) renting out my home & heading to Singapore after seeing the ONS figures. ;-)

  45. @ Amber

    Not a bad idea. Buy some large size apples and strawberries and take them with you. Good price is paid for them in Singapore…

  46. @ Nick H

    Does anybody else feel that the Tories will get a bit of a poll bounce from the Obama visit?
    ——————————————————–
    If they don’t, they are truly a Party with core support & not much else. If Ed M had been in Dave’s shoes his ratings would likely have gone up like a rocket.
    8-)

  47. Also up on the YouGov website are two polls for Channel 4 – one assessing Obama’s visit and the UK’s relationship with the US, the second comparing the results for Obama with a similar poll done for Bush’s visit back in November 2003.

    http://today.yougov.co.uk/sites/today.yougov.co.uk/files/yg-archives-pol-channel4-obamavisitcompared_bush-250511.pdf

    The latter is mainly an exercise is humiliation for Bush; but it got me thinking about the qualities that are normally asked about (and presumably looked for) in British party leaders and how they differ from what was asked about US Presidents.

    Some things are common: ‘Strong’, ‘Decisive’. But YouGov also ask about qualities only for Party leaders that might be more suited to Presidents: ‘Charismatic’, ‘A natural leader’ or might apply to both: ‘Sticks to what he believes in’, ‘Honest’, ‘Good in a Crisis’ (‘In touch with ordinary people’ could perhaps only be judged by a domestic audience).

    More interesting is what isn’t asked about the Party leaders (but judged suitable for Presidents): ‘Intelligent’, ‘Articulate’, ‘Good world leader’ – Obama’s top three qualities – or even (in a different section) ‘Wise’.

  48. @ Crossbat11

    “As for Obama; what a class act he is. I think he carries a lesson for left of centre political leaders across the globe and that is how essential it is to have an appealing personal narrative, emotional appeal and charisma. Centre left technocrats quite often fail to win the “management of the status quo” argument with their centre right opponents. If I’m interested primarily in a managerialist politician to sit on the Board of UK plc, then I might as well go right. Technocrats aplenty there, but I need a centre left politician to make an emotional connection with me, to actually embody the “audacity of hope”. That’s the essence of Obama’s appeal, especially to the young people we saw packing the middle of Dublin and London to catch a glimpse of him over the past few days.”

    Yes, he is a class act. And I agree with you about the importance of making an emotional connection with voters and relating to voters. However, the throngs of young crowds are only going to come out during election season. They dry up (and so do their votes) when these same young voters (1) see no immediate and recognizable changes, (2) are still facing unemployment or underemployment, and (3) are still deeply in debt.

    I would also point out that the way your system works, it’s rare that Labour is ever going to pick an Obama or a Clinton or a JFK or even a Carter. All these presidents were elected in primaries by their voters where being an outsider and a relatively fresh face in politics was an asset, not a bar. Also, because your leaders (and not just Labour but the Tories and Lib Dems) are in safe seats, they don’t often come from a background of having to win their initial office from the opposition party. Clinton’s gubernatorial election in 1982, JFK’s Senate election in 1952, and Obama’s Senate election in 2004 were all Democratic pickups.

    “If you look at the wasteland that European politics has become for the centre left, then it could be summarised as a crisis of leadership. To wrest the political initiative from the centre right, it’s no good arguing on their ground that you’re a slightly kinder and gentler version of the same thing. Instead, you have to offer something much more potentially uncomfortable and uncertain; a challenge to and departure from orthodoxy. To do that successfully you have to make, essentially, an emotional offer to the voters, and that requires Obama type skills of communication. In truth, and sadly, very few pull it off. I can only think of JFK, Mitterand, Blair and now Obama in recent times. Some uncomfortable home truths for Ed Miliband, methinks, as he looks to roll that heavy boulder up the very steep political hill that lies ahead of him.”

    You forgot about Bill Clinton who I still think is a better politician than Obama and can still work a rope line better. I don’t know what troubles the center-left parties of Europe, Labor in Australia, or even the Liberals in Canada. I know that Democrats and Obama are troubled too. But we’re troubled by high gas prices and persistent high unemployment (the economy is gaining jobs but at a slow rate). It’s not all paradise here even with Obama and even with an undivided center-left.

    Here is my theory. It seems to me that Obama benefits from the fact the center-left of the United States supports (through governmental action and regulation):

    1. Promoting and expanding individual private property ownership.

    2. Supporting and assisting small businesses and promoting entrepreneurialism.

    3. Protecting small investors.

    It strikes me that the Democratic Party is able to naturally have more appeal to far more voters. This allows Obama to benefit and gain votes of voters who might not vote for centerleft parties in Europe and elsewhere. And even for those centerleft parties in Europe who attempt to reach out to new voters, they’re having to work at something Obama doesn’t have to work at.

    The biggest difference between a champagne socialist in the UK and a limosuine liberal in the U.S. is that a champagne socialist usually is surrounded by Tory neighbors and represented by a Tory in Parliament while a limosuine liberal often is surrounded by fellow limosuine liberals and represented by a Democrat in Congress. Provided of course that we think of the two as being synonymous.

  49. @ SoCaL

    I mean if it does, I’d say Brits are surprisingly easy to please.
    ——————————————
    President Obama is something of a star here. If some of that stardust doesn’t rub off on David Cameron than he is in trouble, IMO.
    8-)

  50. That’s the voodo poll that asks about the “British” Justice system.

    I’d like to hear the views of the footballer and his lawyer on that concept.

    I would have thought that after Megrahi even Yougov questions setters would know better. With polling questions it’s a matter of garbage out, garbage in. If the questions are badly worded what use are the results?

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