Lord Ashcroft has done another great big chunk of polling, this time focusing upon the rise of UKIP. Over on his site he has the results of a big poll of 20,000 people plus a series of focus groups with UKIP supporters and considerers.

Looking first at the demographics of who is supporting UKIP, amongst the 1000 people who said they would vote UKIP at the moment in Ashcroft’s poll, 45% say they voted Tory in 2010, 27% UKIP, 15% Lib Dem, 6% Did not vote, 4% Labour and 4% other parties. The demographic breaks show UKIP supporters continue to be heavily skewed towards elderly men – 43% of their support is from over 65s, just 8% from under 35s. 66% is from men, 34% from women.

Lord Ashcroft headlines his article on one of the most persistent myths about UKIP, that people vote for them over the issue of Europe and, therefore, winning the support of those people is all about offering policies related to Europe.

Past polling has shown this to be nonsense – a huge YouGov poll of voters in the 2009 European election found that Europe was only the fourth most important issue for UKIP voters after the economy, immigration and crime; a 2010 YouGov poll of UKIP voters at the 2010 election found the issue of Europe trailing behind the economy and immigration – and Lord Ashcroft finds the same now. Amongst people considering UKIP (he doesn’t provide a crossbreak for people saying they actually would vote UKIP) 68% name the economy as one of the most important issues facing the country, followed by immigration on 52% and welfare dependency on 46%. Europe is fifth on 27%… meaning almost three quarters of UKIP considerers really don’t see the issue of Europe as that important. Ashcroft found a similar pattern in his focus groups – Europe was mentioned comparatively little compared with immigration, welfare and general disatisfaction with modern Britain.

Asked which party people think has the best policy on particular issues, UKIP come nowhere at all on most issues. Even people considering voting UKIP don’t think they have policies on the economy, health, crime or whatever. There are only two issues where even UKIP considers think they have good policies – Europe and immigration. Essentially, UKIP have managed to break out of the ghetto of being a single-issue party to become a two-issue party, or a three-issue party if you count being generally dissatisfied with modern life.

As I endlessly say here though, policies really aren’t that important in determining voting intention. Ashcroft’s UKIP considerers say that they think the economy is the most important issue and they overwhelmingly think the Conservatives are the best party on that, they think David Cameron would be the best PM, they would prefer a Conservative majority at the election… yet they say they would consider voting UKIP. Why?

Crunching the data Ashcroft found the strongest correllations with considering voting UKIP were statements associated with values and party image – people who thought UKIP reflected their values, or was prepared to say the sort of things other parties wouldn’t. Lord Ashcroft also asked UKIP considerers whether they agreed with various reasons people might support UKIP. The most agreed with statement was to send a message about immigration and Europe (sadly lumped together in the same statement), followed by agreement with UKIP’s immigration policy, wanting to “take Britain back in time when things were done more sensibly” and the “bigger parties seem more interested in trendy nonsense than listening to ordinary people”.

Putting aside European elections (when much of UKIP support is from otherwise loyal Conservative voters sending a specific message over Europe), UKIP support is not particularly connected with Europe, it is an anti-immigration vote and protest vote against some aspects of modern Britain, a general reactionary vote in support of taking Britain back to a status quo ante.

Ashcroft also asked how some of the things that might stop people voting UKIP. The statements that UKIP considers agreed with least were the statements that UKIP seem “quite old fashioned”, or “seem a bit racist” – hardly surprising given the elderly age profile of UKIP supporters, their support for things being as they used to be and opposition to immigration – such voters are highly unlikely to see being anti-immigration as racist or being a bit old fashioned as a bad thing. The most agreed with statements were tactical ones about voting UKIP letting a party they didn’t like win their local seat or form the government.

So what of the future? The fact that UKIP support is not primarily driven by attitudes to Europe suggests that a referendum on EU membership is not the sort of elixir that some people seem to consider it to be. That’s not to say it wouldn’t shift votes, or appeal to people with the sort of values that lead them to support UKIP… just don’t expect it to magically lure all those votes back to the Conservatives overnight.

More pertinent is the degree to which UKIP sympathisers who prefer Cameron and the Conservatives to Miliband and Labour will end up returning to the Conservatives once an actual election arrives, and the degree to which UKIP has replaced the Liberal Democrats as a vehicle for mid-term protest votes from people unhappy with both the government and the opposition. Right now there is no good way of measuring that.


259 Responses to “Lord Ashcroft’s polling on UKIP”

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  1. I heard Farage saying some very disparaging comments about the future of the Tories yesterday.

    The last bloke who did that in UKIP did not do so well thereafter did he – remember?

    Anthony – you ask rhetorically why UKIP voters are are so fond of Cameron / Osborne, etc, but I think you know why many will still vote UKIP. I think it is because, demonstrably, voters do not understand FPTP. Remember how so few voters knew, for instance, whether they were in a marginal seat?

  2. I suppose the other currently unanswerable question is to what extent DC and the Tories need to change their policies to attract back current UKIP voters. At present, it’s assumed by many on here that the Tories would have to radically change their policies to attract them back during the next GE….but that isn’t necessarily the case (or is it?).

    I guess it’s impossible to say.

  3. I’m not so sure it’s not about Europe. Immigration policy is a lot to do with Europe and economic policy somewhat. It could be that voters are worried about these issues but like to blame Europe for the perceived mess.

  4. Some of youwith good memories will remember Dr James Gordon Brown, who used to feature on these pages?

    He hasn’t been heard of for some time, but here is some news of him from Avaaz:

    “Remember Malala, the incredibly brave young girl who was shot in the head by the Taliban for campaigning for girls education? In a week, the Avaaz team worked with partners in Pakistan to identify an ambitious plan to get all kids into school, and after 886,000 of us signed the petition for this plan, the UN education envoy Gordon Brown presented it directly to President Zardari who himself signed the petition!

    Malala was “thrilled” to be greeted in hospital with the news that Zardari had approved funds to get 3 million more children into school! Brown called our mobilisation “crucial”.

  5. A UKIP candidate has suggested blanket abortions for all foetuses with Down’s Syndrome or spina bifida to cut costs for the NHS.

    UKIP have said they disagree with what he has said, but still it was on his manifesto!

  6. @Alec

    “you can’t even smack your children”

    Given the average age of UKIP voters their children will be in the mid 30s, so that’s probably a good idea.

  7. I think offering an EU referendum would help DC’s cause with a wide range of voters beyond just UKIP, but I agree with the findings of this report that UKIP voters don’t just say they’ll vote UKIP because of Europe. It’s more complicated than that. Many are disgruntled Tories.

    @Hal,

    “I’m not so sure it’s not about Europe. Immigration policy is a lot to do with Europe and economic policy somewhat. It could be that voters are worried about these issues but like to blame Europe for the perceived mess.”

    I agree to a large extent, Hal. They are all interlinked.

    Personally speaking, offering an EU referendum (with an agreed date) would be the difference between me voting Tory (if offered) and not voting Tory, even though I don’t class either immigration or Europe as the most important issue facing the UK right now.

  8. Bail
    I have met a large bunch of UKIP people when attending the Regional Assembly (RIP). They used to parade outside with union jack and so on. They had the opinion that the regional agenda was an EU plot to break up the UK (actually England was all they really cared about).

    Undoubtedly the core members then were more than off the wall on many issues, (some actually scared my LD colleague quite severely) but in fairness I have met quite a few loonies in the Lib Dems and other parties.

    It seems to me that a party has to banish that image before it will obtain a breakthrough. Despite her victory in Brighton, I do not consider the Greens to be an FPTP-relevant party. There just happens to be a useful concentration of those voters in Brighton (only just, remember).

  9. They might not prioritise Europe, but they are concerned about immigration, and to satisfy their concerns about immigration, Europe would have to be a major factor.

  10. The reason for my view is simple – the economy is the single biggest issue affecting the UK at the moment, but I don’t trust the Tories, Labour or Libs to make a difference (like the vast majority of people, in fact). I think that the Tories have done a pretty bad job with the economy, but so did Labour before them, and I certainly don’t think we’d all be any happier/richer if we had a Labour government in power now. It would be pretty much the same.

    Therefore the only way I can, in theory, truly differentiate the parties on issues that matter to the country and myself is to move further down the list and consider issues such as Europe, pensions etc. etc.

  11. Anthony

    ” a three-issue party if you count being generally dissatisfied with modern life.”

    You have got something there, except having to deal with foreigners (here or in the EU) is also part of modern life.

    “Modern life” now seems to include women clergy and same-sex marriage.

    I remember when it as women drivers and Sunday trading and travel.

    People openly living in sin and even having children out of wedlock was a shock.

    The Conservative party used to be the natural home for people like that, but it is now led by PR men, luvvies and people who want to appeal to a younger demographic.

    That’s their choice, and they have a right to make it.

  12. That’s why offering an in-out referendum would affect my vote, even though Europe is only about 3rd or 4th in my list of the most important issues affect myself and the UK right now.

  13. AS
    Not that any of us here could give a fig, but I assume my party is now high on your choices list, as it has been its policy for yonks. (demonstrated by my use of the last word).

  14. @Howard,

    I have voted Lib Dem at previous elections (as well as for the Green Party). I honestly don’t know who I will vote for next time….depends, I guess.

    The problem with the Libs is that at a local level they have some very good candidiates, but at a national level they don’t appeal as much to me.

  15. Amber Star

    I’m hearing that one UKIP by-election candidate favours eugenics.

    Indeed according to the Guardian he also suggests “giving free euthanasia advice to all folk over 80 years of age”. Which, being UKIP, probably counts as the most effective way to get rid of your electoral support since, well since whatever Nick Clegg did last.

  16. JBD

    “I remember when it was women drivers”

    Blimey! So you mean they’re acceptabe now? I must have missed that.

  17. Alec

    “the SNP were classic malcontents, until they came second, and then first.”

    What is remarkable about that, is the complacency of Lab+Con who let it happen without taking any action to prevent it. That was because they Cons won UK elections and Lab were dominant in Scotland.

    They just didn’t notice or didn’t care. Does that give you confidence that any of them were fit to form a government? Well that’s a hard judgement. What I mean is could they do it within the Westminster culture?.

    I think Harold MacMillan could have done that , but none of his successors. The change was only emerging in his time and he had other distractions, drunks, and fornicators, though either fewer incompetents or better civil servants.

    As I keep saying Donald Dewar had the answer in 1954 – devolution followed be reform of Westminster on the same model.

    It took 44 years to get the first bit done.

  18. Once again UKIP support is being given to much credence. They have become a protest vote for appears to be mainly disgruntled Tory pensioners and some Labour voters, and as such should do well in local elections, although I note not that well enough to gain a single seat, people preferring them more as MEP’s.
    However come the GE those people who support UKIP will not one presumes want to see a Labour Government and will have much more in common with a Conservative agenda, rather than a coalition agenda, so we may see a sizeable drift back from UKIP to the Tories.
    Personally I think voting is almost as tribal as it ever was and those flirting with other parties will return to there respective traditional voting pattern come the next GE which will boost Tory and Liberal votes but not so much the Labour share of the vote. Still only another two years and five months to go so anything could happen even the most unexpected result after all who would have predicted a coalition government last time.

  19. Actually if you want to do anything radical, such as end immigration, tear up equality laws and workers’ rights, smack your children, nationalise the banks, direct the Bank of England, end the privatisation of public services, etc etc (PS: I’m not advocating all of these!), it is probably against EU directives and therefore can’t be done.

    So you can see why Europe could be a big bug-bear to a certain demographic.

  20. Quick and rough figures for how much each party could ‘at the moment’ gain or lose, according to Ashcroft’s polling –

    Basic assumptions:
    Those who’ve said that they’re sure of their vote will be considered the ‘base vote’ and ‘maximum vote’ is base vote plus ‘serious considerers’.

    So VI of all those expressing a VI, which is what the figures would have to be based upon, is –
    Con 31, Lab 42, Lib 9, UKIP 9

    The only difference between this and the weighted headline VI is that Con is down 1.

    Con Base Vote: 29%
    Current VI: 31% (+2)
    Maximum vote: 35% (+4)

    Lab Base Vote: 35%
    Current VI: 42% (+7)
    Maximum vote: 46% (+4)
    So ‘at the moment’, using these [1] figures, Labour’s base vote is equal to the maximum the Tories would achieve.

    Lib Base Vote: 6%
    Current VI: 9% (+3)
    Maximum vote: 14% (+5)

    There isn’t the available data to work out the UKIP figures – but the ‘serious considerers’ make up around 7% of voters.
    So very rough estimates [2] would put base vote at around 6-8%, meaning maximum vote 13-14%. [3]
    So basically UKIP in the same position as the LibDems.

    [1] Important to point out that these are very, very rough figures based upon certain flawed assumptions – but should give a rough indication of current support.
    Important emphasis on ‘current’ – this is obviously subject to change – if Cons became more popular again, the people who would seriously consider them would likely rise and the inverse for Labour.
    [2] 66% being the lowest figure of party voters (LibDems) who’re sure that they’re voting, 84% (Labour) being the highest.
    [3] I realise that 7+8 is 15, but there’s roundings going on here.

  21. UKIP’s demographic sounds a bit like the US Republican Party – in spades – with similar overtones of Tea Party – complete with mad hatters and march hares.

    The trouble with being the Party of angry old(er) white men is that it is a demographic that it is heading towards Cemetery Junction with a one way ticket.

    what may be more damaging to a Conservative party slowly bleeding activists – who themselves tend to be more middle aged or elderly is that is may create a hole in local campaigns – but this may only be in constituencies where the Conservative is likely to win in any case. Equally it may have the effect of all but wiping an active conservative party from northern counties in the same way as it has in northern towns.

    It seems likely to me that the closer the next election looks the more likely this group are to vote Conservative but if the election doesn’t look close they may feel they can safely vote UKIP.

  22. turk

    The importance of ukip is not bound in to the narrow measures of whether they can form a government – or even gain a single MP.

    Its the effect they have on Tory morae and tactics and that is al that is being discussed here.

  23. Are the Met police effing plebs after all?

  24. Evening All. Beautiful on the beach earlier; Tobias Ellwood is the MP here.

    PAUL: Tory morae?

    OLD NAT. Compared to Eton boys, perhaps, yes.

  25. cHRIS:

    ITS NEARLY CHRISTMAS AND I AM HAVING A PROB WITH MY L’s unless i remember to press very hard

    we’ve already done the NOel joke and had a good laugh [well, Amber did]

  26. Turk

    “However come the GE those people who support UKIP will not one presumes want to see a Labour Government and will have much more in common with a Conservative agenda, rather than a coalition agenda, so we may see a sizeable drift back from UKIP to the Tories”

    A lot of people assume that, but if you are a Con tribal partisan who believes that FPTP is the best of all possible worlds, then you are missing out on a key factor.

    UKIP, (and SLAB) have their equivalent of the Cyberats. They have a limited number of issues and always the same mantras and key phrases are repeated.

    Windfarms are always pollution, and subsidised Nuclear is always “clean nuclear”. In this tribal language Cons are the enemy, but LAB are JUST THE SAME.

    Most people would not agree. Even to those on the left, Labour are Tory-Lite but not QUITE as bad.

    UKIP voters may not understand tactical voting or whetherthey are in a Con-Lab marginal. If they truly believe that Lab are JUST THE SAME even where their votes could stop Lab getting in.

    This suits the UKIP leadership. If they can grow their vote and show x%, the next time they can aim for X+%
    and tell their supporters that the promised land is just around the corner.

    This make sense to a leadership that has no expectation of winning seats (as several here aware of the effect of FPTP say) but it can make it look more as if they were on their way, if few of their sympathisers
    vote tactically.

    Alec compared them to the 1960’s SNP, but they followed the Liberals example of bottom up growth in a regional enclave. The SNP had sporadic success in and around Glasgow where half the population of Scotland live, until after they had a solid base in Pictland.

    A decline in the average quality and public profile of the LibDem candidates certainly helped.

    That approach will eventually win a seat. If UKIP inclined voters vote for them next time, their best shot will be identified and resources can be focused on it in later years.

    “Labour is just as bad” is to discourage tactical voting. Since UKIP voters are authoritarian followers, they will do as they are told.

    The interest in their prospects will also boost their prospects. Voters will hear what they want to hear if what they hear is discouraging, they will assume bias.

    Bad news for the Cons. No seats for UKIP.

    What can they do about it? Persuade their voters to accept some aspects the modern world (but don’t attempt too many.)

  27. @Howard
    “Despite her victory in Brighton, I do not consider the Greens to be an FPTP-relevant party. There just happens to be a useful concentration of those voters in Brighton (only just, remember).”

    The Green vote in Brighton has been built up over time in much the same way as the Lib Dem vote in most of their current seats. What I’m seeing from inside the Green Party is that the groundwork is being laid to build up our vote in a lot of places besides just Brighton. Whilst we’re only competitive in a couple of Parliamentary seats now, it’s certainly possible that we’ll become a significant player in years to come (which, incidentally, will help with the change to PR – which usually follows the shift to genuine multi-party politics, rather than preceding it).

    Which is a significant contrast to UKIP – whose support seems much more akin to the Green surge of 1989. It’s wide, but thin, and can only win seats in a proportional system. Furthermore, it’s been won by circumstance rather than hard work. Actually, 1989 is probably a closer historical parallel for the impact it will have than 1983.

  28. on the assumption that this polling gives us a profile of UKIP supporters and there concerns, what do UKIP need to do to both turn this support into votes and to widen it to get more votes from others.

    Some suggests;

    Supply and Support;

    A pledge whatever party can form a government on key votes in return for action on the key issues of like immigration and crime.

    To be effective it needs to apply to both Labour and the Tories, while making the point that they won’t “sell out” like the LibDems. the main benefit would be to make it safe for Tories to vote UKIP and still get a Tory government.. a bit like the DUP.

    Tough on Crime;

    A referendum on the Death Penalty, let the people decide and referendums are always popular. If this runs counter to EU treaties and Human Rights legislation so be it. Longer sentences for serious crime with Labour.. the income from which would go to victims.

    Tougher Immigration rules;

    A system on bilateral immigration agreements with individual countries, a charge for entry in the region of £10-25k. New immigrants and families disbarred from benefits other than pension and NHS. This would include access to social housing. No entry for relatives such as parents.

    Defence & Foreign affairs;

    A referendum on EU membership, UKIP would campaign for withdrawal but again the peoples choice.
    Withdrawal from selected UN agencies.
    Mandatory service in Territorial reserve for those between 17 and 35 who are not in Education, employment or invalidity. This is not conscription as such just TA service but could include service abroad.

    Energy & Environment
    Local votes on Major planning applications; Housing estates, out of town shopping, wind farms, roads, incinerators, waste dumps… all those things that Nimby’s hate. Backing nuclear as the only route to National Energy Security.

    Government;

    A Smaller house of commons with only 600 MP’s. A lower limit for MP’s expenses and an end to payments for second homes. Ex Army accomodation to be made available to MP’s in London.

    A smaller House of Lords with no political affiliation. Members selected from Englands authorities plus the same from Scotland, wales and NI. this could go down to parish level.

    Service would be voluntary and unpaid. Lords would be barred from being a member of a political party.

    I would stress I don’t agree with or support any of the above but they might appeal to the 50+ white male demographic.

    Peter.

  29. Every 5 years we have a EU referendum called the EU elections. Some voters use it as a method of recording their dissatisfaction, but there is good evidence (Ashcroft above) to indicate that it is a scapegoat exercise much like (no mustn’t get into Godwin).

    It has been a nice little (actually not so little) earner for the successful UKIP members. One would hope that they make generous donations to their party from what they garner there).

    It’s one thing to bite the hand that feeds you and other to take the largess proffered in the other hand.

    I think that a substantial proportion of UKIP voters would not be capable of being told that they should vote tactically for the reasons I opined to AW earlier.

    For those people, as indeed many in other parties, every election is a referendum, even if it isn’t.

  30. In the next election I will either vote Labour or Ukip.

    But that’s because of 2 widely different issues.

    I lean Labour because I hope in this dire mess they will help poor people more, and I personally feel the coalition cabinet (both tory and ld) out of touch and all rich well off millionaires (there is nothing wrong with that as long as you remain in touch with those less fortunate than yourself)

    and UKIP yeah as highlighted above, immigration is a big factor, and that is tied to the EU obviously. My concern is EU migrants that either lower wages for the working class, or increase unemployment amongst the working class.

    But and here’s the key, the idea of the EU overall I’m in favour of, there are so many achievements to embrace such as on the environment or working time directives etc just not the free movement of people to actually live and settle part.

  31. Peter Cairns
    You missed out dealing with the sink estate people. Perhaps however, you might consider them a target UKIP voter. (Waste of time, that, they don’t vote).

  32. MITM (and AS)
    Why is it you young people are so anxious to tell us about your VI?

  33. Paul Croft
    It’s a good job you are not a Bristolian.

    How would you get on with ‘bananals from Africal’?

  34. HOWARD

    “(and AS)”

    It may be ungentlemanly of me to say so – but Amber Star isn’t that young!

  35. OldNat

    :-)

    Oh dear, homonyms -excuses Amber (or ‘Amb’ as PC would put it).

  36. @Richard in Norway

    “It’s a bit of a mystery that there are more ex dems than ex lab amongst the ukip voters, it would seem to defy logic. Perhaps these are the permanent protesters or could it be folk looking for politican with principles any principles!!!!”

    It doesn’t surprise me at all, to be honest. There is a lot of nonsense talked about the make-up of the Lib Dem vote at General Elections; Orange Bookers, traditional Liberals, old SDP members, centrists, leftists etc etc. Sure, their vote is partly composed of such political types but a surprisingly high proportion of it has always been a “sod the other two parties” inoffensive protest vote. Unsoiled by power, until now, they’ve tended to attract the “look at me I’m different” type narcissist voter; the sort of person who delighted in telling people after the election that “you can’t blame me I voted Lib Dem.” An element of self righteousness was usually part of this rather sanctimonious package, but what, when you analysed it, did many of these people actually believe in?

    My conclusion, having talked to many, and being the father of one such first time voter at the last election, was that they didn’t really have any serious political views at all and saw the Clegg sweetened Lib Dems as a bit of harmless frivolity; a vote devoid of serious purpose. On that basis, I can well imagine many of these sorts of rootless voters pinning their colours to virtually any sort of party, from the EDL to the Greens and with all points in between! The fact that quite a few are now attaching their votes to UKIP doesn’t surprise me in the least. A good proportion of their vote at GE time has always been made up of people who are, albeit benignly, taking the mickey out of established politics. Many of the 2010 Lib Dem voters were probably utterly appalled to see that their whimsical vote had resulted in Lib Dems appearing in an actual Government!

    In many ways, the Lib Dems have been a sort of pompous and self important version of the Official Monster Raving Loony Party, but always with a rather less charismatic leader, certainly until the great Screaming Lord Sutch prematurely and sadly took his leave of us all.

  37. MinM

    Of course, should you vote for UKIP your reasons won’t matter a lot as it will make no difference at all to which party becomes the next government.

  38. GC

    I wish you well, knowing what a struggle it is under FPTP.

    However, I think unwritten deals need to be made in places where the only victim is one of the two parties that do not espouse PR (or some variation). Of those two, the Tories have the most to lose, so one would expect party managers to – well, manage.

    My experience is that party hacks just do not have the nous (so not really effective party managers at all).

  39. Paulcroft

    I think you over estimate the effect on Tory Morea much like the use of the word Pleb which in light of today’s revelations seems much exaggerated.

  40. I was interested in the deselection of the UKIP guy for saying Downs Syndrome children should be aborted. I wonder how many voters agree with him ( not that it’s a question likely to be polled.)

  41. Howard

    ” MITM (and AS) Why is it you young people are so anxious to tell us about your VI?”

    I think its part of the analytical process “how does this issue make me feel” which issues are important to me” how relevant is this to polling” …………….. Nice that they are sharing their emotional reasoning with us instead of trying to dress it up as purely intellectual reasoning as most of us do

  42. Crossbat

    ” In many ways, the Lib Dems have been a sort of pompous and self important version of the Official Monster Raving Loony Party, but always with a rather less charismatic leader, certainly until the great Screaming Lord Sutch prematurely and sadly took his leave of us all.”

    Bahh humbug!!!!!!

  43. RiN

    Scottish Liberalism still exists. It’s just that Liberals don’t find the party worth supporting.

    The principles matter a lot more than the group of politicians who took their party from them.

  44. Oldnat,

    True. In an independent Scotland, I’d imagine that a sort of Liberal Party of Pictland would form, perhaps as a natural opposition to the Social Democrats of Strathclyde and Dal Riada. I’ve never found Nats and Liberals in the Highlands to be too far apart outside of the constitutional question, and even then they’re both natural decentralisers even within Scotland, given how democracy squews southwards and citywards. Meanwhile, SLAB and the SNP really seem to struggle to put clean yellow or red water between them in the central belt; the last election was full of pseudo-policies like that knife crime fiasco, and I doubt most SLABbers in the central belt have any time for Lamont’s recent ideas.

    (Naturally, various Green, socialist and post-Christian Democrats would form coalitions with these two major parties.)

    The SNP has done an amazing job of uniting voters in Aberdeenshire and Airdrie, but I don’t see it lasting beyond 2014 whatever happpens. Scottish politics will have to become entirely about non-constitutional issues again, for the first time in 40 years, and not a moment too soon.

  45. BILL PATRICK

    I wouldn’t disagree with you – though if there is a No vote and no significant further devolution, then the constitutional issue won’t go away. It’s been a part of Scottish politics since long before 1707!

  46. One link regarding Lamont’s new policy-

    http://www.scotcen.org.uk/media/788216/scotcen-ssa-report.pdf

    – the basic idea is not necessarily a vote-loser across Scotland, since Scottish opinions on tuition fees are statistically indistinguishable from English opinions, with only about 20% backing universal free higher education.

  47. Oldnat,

    It will drastically lose prominence. There’ll be some debate about devo-max, but I doubt it will hold the current SNP coalition together. No party can be popular in both Govan and Monifieth indefinitely.

    One possible dynamic would be that the SNP continue to be the natural party of government at Holyrood, while Labour’s English links make them the natural party of delegates to Westminister.

  48. BILL PATRICK

    I’m not particularly concerned about the fate of coalitions of politicians.

    We’ll wait and see what ideas SLab come up with in the event of a No vote – and whether anyone believes that they can carry ELab with them again..

    I suspect that whatever the current SLD party come up with will be considered as useful and relevant as te views of the SDA.

    Indeed, in the 19th century (and after WWII) Scots Tories were hugely influential in resisting the incorporation of Scotland into UK wide institutions.

    The mistake is in tying Scots attitudes to self-government to any particular party.

  49. Will be interesting to see how the Plebgate blowback might alter Tory VI perceptions. The story really seems to be getting messy, and it doesn’t look brilliant for the Police Federation tonight, but I haven’t followed all the details.

    I suspect however, that there won’t in the end be much advantage for the Tories, even if the allegations are proved to be complete fabrications. Once a scandal gets complicated, normal people people tend to glaze over, and the original damage was more due to the fact that the allegations fitted with pre existing stereotypes of Tories, rather than outright shock at some new revelations. As such, reversing these probably won’t do anything much to help them in polling terms.

  50. Any suggestions as to why the CCTV coverage of “plebgate” which, has apparently been circulating around Government for months, has only how appeared?

    Since it seems to be exonerative of the former Tory Chief Whip, couldn’t this have come out much earlier – or was the alleged incident useful in some internal Tory squabble?

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