Tuesday round up

There are a few interesting bits of polling news today. First there is a new chunk of Lord Ashcroft polling, this time on the Conservative’s position in Scotland. Full results are here. I won’t summarise the whole report here, but essentially he segments up the Scottish electorate and as well as that poor sorry rump of Tory support left in Scotland, he also finds a group he calls “reluctant Cameroons” – primary Scots who approve of Cameron, trust the Conservatives on the economy… but don’t vote for them because they don’t see the Conservatives as caring about Scotland and view the party as irrelevant to Scottish politics, or a wasted vote. Therein lies the Conservative problem not just in Scotland, but in much of the urban North too. There are people with some sympathy towards Conservative policies, but they live in places or communities where voting Conservative is simply not done, no one else does it, there’s no point doing it, there’s no longer a recent history of it, what would be the point of it? It’s something people in the South do.

Anyway, I’ll leave you to read Lord Ashcroft’s report for yourselves, but for the record it also contained Westminster voting intention figures for Scotland, concucted earlier this month. CON 18%(+1), LAB 40%(-2), LDEM 6%(-13), SNP 31%(+11), UKIP 2%(+1). Changes are from the 2010 election and reflect a big swing from the Lib Dems to the SNP. If it was repeated as a uniform swing across Scotland the Lib Dems would be reduced to three seats in Scotland, the Tories would gain two seats, Labour would gain two and lose one, the SNP would go up to 11 seats.

Secondly there is the regular YouGov poll for the Sun. Topline figures today are CON 31%, LAB 40%, LDEM 9%, UKIP 12%. While it’s within the normal margin of error of YouGov’s recent polling, the nine point lead is the largest YouGov have show since the start of October. My hunch is that this particular poll is probably a bit of an outlier, but that the issue of energy prices coming back into the news agenda following the energy price rises has boosted Labour’s lead a bit. Full tabs are here.

Finally the Electoral Commission have issued advice on the referendum question contained in the referendum bill currently before the Commons. The Bill currently contains the wording “Do you think that the United Kingdom should be a member of the European Union”. The Electoral Commission have recommended that the “do you think” bit is dropped, so the question is shorter and more formal, and that the wording reflects that the UK is already a member of the EU, as some people thought the question read as if it was whether Britain should join the EU. As such the question would become “Should the United Kingdom remain a member of the European Union?” They’ve also floated the idea that it might be better to move away from a Yes/No question, and instead have a Remain/Leave question, along the lines of “Should the United Kingdom remain a member of the European Union or leave the European Union? Remain a member of the European Union/ Leave the European Union”.

As a pollster you tend to get asked questions about referendum wording. It makes some sense, as writing fair questions is the bread and butter of being a pollster, but in many ways the considerations really aren’t the same. As a pollster I hardly every write questions with just a straight Yes/No as options because there is a fear of affirmation bias, so as a polling question the Electoral Commission’s Remain/Leave is definitely better, giving both sides of the campaign equal prominance. However, it’s NOT a polling question, it’s a referendum question. With a polling question, people are rung up out of the blue (or get an email out of the blue) and get a few seconds to answer the question – those small differences in wording undoubtedly make a difference. In a referendum people have weeks to decide, and will be influenced by the whole campaigns, personalities, arguments, advertisements and so on. What the Yes and No votes mean for the country is something that voters will form their own perceptions of long before they enter a polling station. In that sense, as long as the question is clear and unambiguious, I doubt whether it says yes/no or remain/leave matters much.


423 Responses to “Tuesday round up”

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  1. I suspect that if the result was so close (either way) that the wording turned out to be important then we would be in for a disaster. Either ‘remaining’ or ‘leaving’ without a significant majority either way would poison the body politic for years.

  2. @Anthony

    “There are people with some sympathy towards Conservative policies, but they live in places or communities where voting Conservative is simply not done, no one else does it, there’s no point doing it, there’s no longer a recent history of it, what would be the point of it? It’s something people in the South do.”

    Wouldn’t there be potential Labour voters taking exactly the same view in the South of England outside London?

  3. I think it’s fairly safe to say that the major effect of FPTP is a plurality of people vote for a party they don’t support much in the hope of keeping ‘the other lot’ out.

    Lab voters in Con/LD marginals, Cons in Lib/Lab marginals, LDs in Lab/Con races, the list goes on…

  4. “Therein lies the Conservative problem not just in Scotland, but in much of the urban North too. There are people with some sympathy towards Conservative policies, but they live in places or communities where voting Conservative is simply not done, no one else does it, there’s no point doing it, there’s no longer a recent history of it, what would be the point of it? It’s something people in the South do”
    ______

    Well in UK terms (excluding welfare) reforms I can be quite sympathetic towards the Tories and equally broadly supportive of the SNP in Scotland and independence does tick my box.

    Yes voting Tory in Scotland (UK election) is a lost cause and I can’t see it changing anytime soon even in the event of a no vote.

    SLAB pull out the Thatcher bogyman mantra at every election and to an extent has most Scots petrified.

    It would be interesting to see polling data on why Scots vote Labour, one would expect to see “To keep the Tories out) feature quite high.

  5. CROSSBAT

    “Wouldn’t there be potential Labour voters taking exactly the same view in the South of England outside London”
    ___

    I would say of course but not to the same extent you would find people not voting Tory in Scotland, North England and in Wales.

  6. @Allan Christie

    “I would say of course but not to the same extent you would find people not voting Tory in Scotland, North England and in Wales.”

    We’re both being anecdotal a bit here, and I’m not sure there’s much available evidence to support the calculation of precise numbers of disenfranchised voters by region. Mind you, the South is a heavily populated area with lots of seats.

  7. CROSSBAT

    I’m not sure what the true natural Tory vote in Scotland is but if you look at the demographics of Scotland the North of England and Wales then they don’t have large clusters of seats you would call affluent clustered together which would be natural Tory territory.

    Don’t get me wrong, Scotland has a lot of very affluent areas but they tend to be clustered in the same seats as large working class areas and with the exception of David Mundel’s seat in the South West I think most Scots who would vote Tory don’t because it’s a wasted vote. You can also blame the FPTP voting system for this too.

  8. The interesting thing about Thatcher and Scotland is that in the 80s when the rest of the UK including the North Of England was swinging towards the Cons – Scotland always swung against.

    This was a rejection of the principles of Thatcherism and I don’t think Scots actually ‘get’ the Tories. The only thing that might revive Tory fortunes might be independence – even then it is a long way back.

  9. @ALLAN CHRISTIE

    Perth, Angus, Aberdeenshire, Tayside

    Most of rural Scotland should be natural Tory territory but have long since been hoovered up by the SNP – I don’t think you can blame it on the composition of seats.

  10. Scotland did actually swing to the Tories in Feb 1974 – 1983 -and 1992!

  11. Most of the Ashcroft polling is more data from the mega-poll he did back in the Spring (the 10k telephone poll) if you remember we all thought it a bit odd that be did all that and then asked so few questions. But it appears that be got more bang for his buck that John Curtice thought.

    A lot to go through and he does this marketing-type segmentation that always strikes a rather full of circular reasoning at best. But we even have two Westminster VI polls though of course the Spring one is six months out of date and there looks like a big swing to SNP since.

    One little thing struck me. In the first tranche released in September the only info from the mega-poll, apart from the referendum question, was to do with the favorability of a selection of Scottish Party leaders: Salmond -5, Lamond +4, Rennie -7, Davidson -20. However they did also ask about some UK ones as well even though it wasn’t reported then:

    Cameron -25

    Clegg -32

    Miliband +8

    Yes, even back in the Spring not everyone thought that Miliband was carp. Funny we weren’t told in September

    Comparing with Sunday’s YouGov (-22, -52, -31) it’s interesting that even Cameron and Clegg seem to do better than expected in the theoretically much more hostile environment of Scotland. This may be due telephone polls being kinder to politicians, the YouGov Scottish cross-breaks (for what they’re worth) are -50, -69, -30.

  12. @ Crossbat 11,

    Wouldn’t there be potential Labour voters taking exactly the same view in the South of England outside London?

    We call them Lib Dems. ;)

  13. couper2802

    @ALLAN CHRISTIE

    Perth, Angus, Aberdeenshire, Tayside

    Most of rural Scotland should be natural Tory territory but have long since been hoovered up by the SNP – I don’t think you can blame it on the composition of seats.
    _____

    I would say Perthshire, Morayshire and parts of the South west were natural rural Tory areas but most of rural Scotland (at least in UK terms) is/was natural Lib/Dem territory.

    Even if all the rural seats turned blue then that would be around 15 seats excluding the 3 island seats. One of the most affluent areas not just in Scotland but the UK (Eastwood) should be true blue but has been Labour for well over a decade but this seat also tales in more working class areas.

    I think in urban Scotland the Tory vote is almost diluted into larger working class areas. If you take the more affluent areas in the west of Glasgow then they are all split up in with 4 large working class areas. It’s like Tory areas in urban Scotland are not allowed to breath. ;-)

  14. @Graham

    Between 1979 – 1992 The swing from Cons to Lab in Scotland was 3.2%

  15. @Couper2002

    I agree that over 1979 – 1992 period there was a swing from Tory to Labour , but in the specific elections of 1983 and 1992 the swing was from Lab to Con.. Labour had an excellent result in 1987 – but lost Aberdeen South in 1992.

  16. Colin Davis

    I responded on the last thread if you are remotely interested in taking a look

  17. Can people please not let off-topic conversations carry on from past threads – by all means continue them on their original thread, but don’t let them infect new ones

  18. What’s wrong with:

    Should the United Kingdom be in or out of the European Union?

  19. Somebody just moved in a mysterious way !
    (Sorry Anthony ).

  20. Unfortunately a referendum question on the EU is not straight forward. For example if put now I would certainly vote YES to stay in Europe. However, if Cameron re-negotiates our potential continued membership to mean we have to abide by all the business comptetition rules and compulsory privatisation of Europe, but without the social protections for workers, with that style of membership on offer I would vote NO in the hope that a future Socialist government of a non-EU Britain could legally bring back the commanding heights of the economy back into public ownership. As far as I am concerned EU membership is a trade-off between the interests of business and labour (what the Germans call the Sozialmarktwirtschaft) – if that deal is broken by a one-sided re-negotiation then I wouldn’t want to have just one irreversible side of it alone.

    Perhaps for democratic clarity we should have three options in the referendum?
    1. Status Quo
    2. Re-negotiated deal
    3. Withdraw

  21. “However, it’s NOT a polling question, it’s a referendum question. With a polling question, people are rung up out of the blue (or get an email out of the blue) and get a few seconds to answer the question – those small differences in wording undoubtedly make a difference. In a referendum people have weeks to decide, and will be influenced by the whole campaigns, personalities, arguments, advertisements and so on. What the Yes and No votes mean for the country is something that voters will form their own perceptions of long before they enter a polling station. In that sense, as long as the question is clear and unambiguious, I doubt whether it says yes/no or remain/leave matters much.”

    I’m sure Anthony must have had a view on the Scottish referendum question. Was it similar to the above? (Can’t be bothered to look, but a comparison might be interesting.)

  22. ” don’t let them infect new ones”

    Anthony: That is no way to talk about ole Jesus,

  23. We should have 4 options

    Status quo
    Renegotiated deal
    Renegotiated deal
    Withdrawal

  24. The English Party would probably prefer:

    “Now we’ve got rid of the Jocks do you really want to carry on paying out to look after the rest of Europe?

    Please tick “NO” against the big NO that fills the rest of this page or, if you prefer, we can tick it for you.

  25. John Curtice pointed out that only a wealthy individual like Ashcroft, or crowd funded activists like Wings Over Scotland can afford to do detailed polling these days..

    The timing of this Ashcroft release of old data is interesting, since it immediately follows the total release of the Wings data.

    Methinks Ashcroft’s gas was somewhat peeped! Revealing old information is somewhat less than impressive, but then anyone in the House of Lords may have little connection to the here and now!

  26. @Tony Dean
    ” Perhaps for democratic clarity we should have three options in the referendum?
    1. Status Quo
    2. Re-negotiated deal
    3. Withdraw”

    Renegotiation happens all the time. What you appear to.be after is renegotiation of the aims and objectives of the EC Treaty (I still call it thay as the term EU Treaty is ambiguous). This is unlikely, and indeed impossible without unanimity in the Council.

    The Commission’s choice of wording seems the most appropriate.

  27. @Tony Dean – “compulsory privatisation”

    After Ed Miliband’s success with ‘predistribution’, perhaps he should start a “what do we want?/remunicipalisation!/when do we want it?/now!” meme.

    It seems to be increasingly popular in the EU:

    h
    ttp://www.epsu.org/a/8683

  28. Oldnat – I don’t think I did write anything here, but my view on the Scottish referendum question was indeed exactly the same – the criteria for what makes a good polling Q are not the same as what makes a good referendum Q

  29. Wales and the North are quite different to Scotland in their non Tory voting habits in that they are quite a bit poorer than the UK average, so a l8t of the refusal to vote is economic first then cultural. If they were raised to the UK average I’m not convinced the Tory voting habits would be that different – certainly my ultra marginal Tory constituency of Cardiff North doesn’t feel like it would be that much more safe if it were located im Gloucestershire or Herefordshire. Conversely wealthy Scotland votes so differentky to its demographics.

  30. @Tony Dean

    That’s not to say the rules on State Aid is straightforward. Far from it. There are plenty of exceptions.

  31. “In that sense, as long as the question is clear and unambiguious (sic), I doubt whether it says yes/no or remain/leave matters much.”

    But if you took an extreme case – e.g. Do you think the UK should stay in the evil EU or leave and gain freedom? or Do you think the UK should send itself into isolated darkness or stay in the comfortable and prosperous EU? – I should imagine it would make quite a big difference. Therefore even subtle nuances in the wording might make some difference.

  32. @Spearmint

    “Wouldn’t there be potential Labour voters taking exactly the same view in the South of England outside London?

    We call them Lib Dems. ;)”

    Not any more you don’t!

  33. I don’t see any prospect of an EU referendum. First, the Cons have to win in 2915 outright. Otherwise there will not be one.

    As things stand, no point in continuing my subsequent points to that scenario is there?

  34. Talking of Europe, what happened to our regular updates on how poorly France is doing under Hollande?

  35. Just spotted the Back to the Future typo as I pressed enter.

  36. Paul Croft
    Colin is away.

  37. France and Germany jointly boycotted Cameron’s “balance of competences” review earlier this year… only Italy and Sweden seem to be participating.

    This follows “a clear private warning from Merkel that, if re-elected in September, she would grant little of substance to Cameron in his demands for a renegotiation of the terms of Britain’s EU membership before the UK’s referendum…”

    The review was scheduled to report in stages from this summer’ but you have to wonder whether we’ll hear much about it:

    h
    ttp://www.theguardian.com/politics/2013/apr/01/david-cameron-eu-survey-merkel

    If anything, Berlin’s position has hardened since the election.

  38. Head of the CIA is apparently fighting back with ‘they (er, the allies) are spying on us too’.

    What a lovely bunch they all are.

  39. @DW

    Wales and the North are quite different to Scotland in their non Tory voting habits in that they are quite a bit poorer than the UK average, so a l8t of the refusal to vote is economic first then cultural.

    Peter Kellner of You Gov wrote about his….and he would disagree with you…

    http://yougov.co.uk/news/2013/10/21/why-northerners-dont-vote-tory/

  40. Prediction lab 38 con 33 lib 11 Ukip 12

  41. CATMANJEFF

    Kellner’s analysis that –

    “Their trouble is their brand. They lost Scotland because they lost their reputation as a unionist party and came to be seen as an English party. They are losing the North because they are seen increasingly as a Southern party.”

    – also explain’s Cameron’s desperation to avoid debating with anyone in Scotland on independence.

    His suggestion (based on a total lack of understanding – or honesty – take your pick) that Salmond should debate a back bench MP, instead of the UK PM, seems fairly obviously based on the reality that his doing more than sniping from the sidelines would be a deficit for the No campaign.

    Little else supports the evidence from the Panelbase poll that only Yes supporters consider that the UK PM is “the most appropriate person to make the case for the UK” – which would seem to be the obvious default position.

    No supporters think a Labour back-bench MP is the most appropriate person, which would doubtless surprise any disinterested observer.

    By far the largest group opting for Darling as “the most appropriate person” are Coalition supporters (especially Tories) who seem desperate to avoid Cameron opening his mouth.

  42. Gotcha, B Crombie. Replied again!

  43. The predictable outcome of the Health Sec being told that his actions over Lewisham were unlawful is to try to change the law.

    Sometimes, I wish politicians would realise that changing laws to allow them to enact whatever ideas they have means that if they are no longer in charge, the other team will also use those laws, and they almost certainly will not like that.

  44. It’s quite odd, almost as though the Tories actually believe in unionism, because from a purely self-interested position presumably they would want Scotland to secede?

  45. Rosieanddasie.
    Talking of Europe, what happened to our regular updates on how poorly France is doing under Hollande?

    He’s as popular as ever.

    Hollande least popular French president in 30 years: poll | Reuters
    http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/02/28/us-france-hollande-idUSBRE91R0PI20130228
    28 Feb 2013 … PARIS (Reuters) – Ten months into his mandate, President Francois Hollande
    scored the worst of any French president since 1981 in the TNS …
    Hollande is most unpopular French president since Charles de …
    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2312906/Hollande-unpopular-French-president-Charles-Gaulle-height-1968-riots.html
    22 Apr 2013 … French president Francois Hollande has become the most unpopular …. Model
    fires off angry tweet after ‘waking up to bad news’ that R’n’B star …
    François Hollande’s annus horribilis | World news | The Guardian
    http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/may/02/francois-hollande-french-president
    2 May 2013 … François Hollande always said being president of France in its worst economic
    crisis in decades was not going to be easy. But his first year in …
    Top ten: Worst moments in Hollande’s first year – The Local
    http://www.thelocal.fr/20130502/top-ten-nightmare-moments-of-hollandes-first-year
    2 May 2013 … From camels to corruption, we count down the worst moments of his first year as
    president of France. Hollande defends record in TV speech (29 …
    Opinion: Why Hollande must show clearer leadership – CNN.com
    http://www.cnn.com/2013/01/14/opinion/opinion-gaffney-hollande-leadership/
    11 Jan 2013 … French President Francois Hollande has been in power for eight … Now he faces
    the worst situation possible because no one believes a word …
    Hollande is already considered the worst president of France in …
    http://www.godlikeproductions.com/forum1/message2226483/pg1
    Just saw on Euronews. Mass protests all over the country and the French claim
    he’s only worried about promoting the homo agenda and won’t …
    President Obama Mispronounces ‘Hollande,’ French Leader’s Last …
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/07/02/president-obama-mispronounces-hollande-french_n_3535104.html
    2 Jul 2013 … That’s not how you say the French president’s name. … “If I want to know what
    President Hollande is thinking on a particular issue, I’ll call ….. I would say he is
    tied with Carter for being one of the worst presidents we ever had.
    Dithering Hollande leads France to ‘worst humiliation since war …
    http://www.thesundaytimes.co.uk/sto/news/world_news/Europe/article1184741.ece
    30 Dec 2012 … Dithering Hollande leads France to ‘worst humiliation since war’ … THE French
    president, François Hollande, is to address the nation tomorrow …
    Prev12345678910Next

  46. It seems clear to me that, whoever it is, the person debating with Salmond whether Scotland should leave the Union or not should be a Scot.

    Its really not a lot of our business from an English perspective, sad though we may be if it happened.

  47. ROSIEANDDAISIE

    ” The person debating with Salmond whether Scotland should leave the Union or not should be a Scot.”

    Why? If the UK is a worthwhile institution, and we are “Better Together”, why should the origin of the defender of the UK be an issue?

  48. Girls
    Isn’t Cameron a Scotch name? i.e. He must be Scotch by ancestry?

  49. @Chris Riley
    My wife passes Lewishan hospital on the bus home. Apparently, there was lots of tooting of horns and cheers from passing motorists. The people of Lewisham have fought this hard and feel vindicated.

  50. @Oldnat

    Cameron is wise to avoid debating Independence with Alex Salmond.

    Cameron knows that every word an English Conservative PM (and probably English Labour PM too) utters in that debate would drive people to the ‘Yes’ camp.

    It is quite startling that in my lifetime (40 odd years) Conservatism has died in Scotland, Labour’s grip is slipping and the SNP have risen to the position they find themselves.

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