There has been rather an interesting selection of polls out today – voting intention, polling of trade unionists and a big Scottish referendum poll. First up, and most straightforwardly, we have Populus’s twice weekly voting intentions poll, which today has topline figures of CON 34%, LAB 37%, LDEM 13%, UKIP 9% (full tabs are here.
Secondly there is a YouGov poll of Trade Unionists carried out for Labour Uncut. It found widespread support amongst trade unionists for Ed Miliband’s proposed changes to the way trade unions affiliate their members to the Labour party. 60% of members of affiliated trade unions support the proposed changes, 30% are opposed (20% because they think they go too far, 10% because they’d rather break the union link completely). The poll also found 61% of members of affiliated unions would support either the reduction (39%) or abolition (22%) of the trade union vote at Labour party conference.
Thirdly there is a new poll from Lord Ashcroft covering Scottish independence and the Scottish Parliament (or more accurately, a new package of polls – it actually included three different polls).
The polling on the referendum itself found YES on 26%, NO on 65%. While this got a lot of publicity, it was conducted back in February to May, so is of rather historical interest, though it obviously shows a much bigger lead for NO than more recent polls. There is no obvious reason why – Lord Ashcroft gets different companies to conduct his fieldwork (I believe this one was ORB), but looking at the results, it appears to have been conducted both online and by phone, was weighted by 2011 Holyrood constituency vote, and not to have had any filtering by likelihood to vote. For the record it also asked referendum VI at the end of the survey, not the beginning (though I doubt it made much difference here – a question about leadership approval where Alex Salmond totally outclassed everyone else is probably didn’t shift opinion against independence!)
Much more up-to-date (conducted in August) were voting intention figures for the Scottish Parliament, which found constituency votes of CON 15%, LAB 35%, LDEM 5%, SNP 40%, UKIP 4% and regional list votes of CON 10%, LAB 24%, LDEM 13%, SNP 36%, UKIP 11%. The consituency vote shows a modest swing from the SNP to Labour since the 2011 election. The regional vote shows the Conservatives in fifth place and, bizarrely, the Liberal Democrats more than doubling their support. John Curtice speculates that perhaps people are answering as if the second vote as a second preference, which sounds plausible to me (it would also explain the odd results YouGov are getting for regional vote in Welsh polls).
More generally, the poll found that 27% of people in Scotland thought Westminster elections were more important than those for the Scottish Parliament, 18% thought the opposite, 53% thought they were equally important. Members of the Scottish Parliament were, on the whole, regarded more positively than Westminster MPs – with significant proportions of people thinking were are more likely to do a good job representing their constituents, less likely to be careerists and more in touch. A significant chunk of people were not, however, very clear what areas the Scottish Parliament had responsibility for, neither were a large proportion of people able to say what they thought the Scottish Parliaments main achievements were. A lot of this is, however, probably more about general low levels of political awareness than any lack of enthusiasm about devolution.
The results are interesting – but they’ve been rather overshadowed today by a row about another question. The No campaign and some of the papers got excited when the poll was first published because it appeared to show that 49% of people thought that the Scottish government’s current priority was independence, while only 3% of people thought this should be the priority, suggesting a mismatch between Salmond’s priorities of and those of the Scottish people.
In fact, while 49% of people do indeed think independence is the Scottish government’s priority, the question about what it should be only went to people who said they thought the priorities were wrong. In fact 36% of people thought the Scottish government had the *right* priorities for Scotland, 61% the wrong priorities.
I’m told that this was actually the fault of Ashcroft’s team, rather than the No campaign or the company that did Ashcroft’s polling (the mistake was on the embargoed press release that went in in advance, so naturally the press and the No campaign got all excited over the contrast before the tables went up in the morning and the mistake was realised). Ashcroft’s own blog now has a mea culpa at the bottom.