Tonight is the long awaited Scottish debate between Alex Salmond and Alistair Darling. STV released their latest Ipsos MORI at the start of the debate – topline figures there are YES 40%(+4), NO 54%(nc), don’t knows just 6%. Excluding don’t knows that works out at YES 42%(+2), NO 58%(-2).

MORI tend to be one of those pollsters who show more favourable figures for the NO campaign, so by their standards its a favourable poll for YES. Then again, if MORI are right, then a sixteen point lead for NO is still a a big gap to close with only six weeks to go.

Following the debate the only instant poll I’m aware of is ICM for the Guardian, due to go out about 9.40 (results will hopefully be before ten, but it obviously depends on how quickly people respond!)

UPDATE: ICM’s instant poll crowns Darling the winner – 56% for Darling, 44% for Alex Salmond. The figures are, incidentally, very close to the sort of NO/YES figures ICM report in referendum voting intentions. We’ll know properly when we see ICM’s tables, but I suspect we may find that people who were voting YES anyway thought Salmond won, people who were voting NO anyway thought Darling won.

UPDATE2: Full figures including don’t knows were Darling 47%, Salmond 37%, Don’t Know 15%. Sample size was 512.

UPDATE3: Tabs are here. People’s perceptions of who won were, as suspected, largely in line with their pre-existing dispositions towards independence, though not entirely. Amongst people who were voting NO before the debate people thought Darling won by 83% to 6%. Amongst pre-debate YES voters people thought Salmond won by 72% to 16%. Amongst people who said they were don’t knows, Salmond was slightly ahead – 44% to 36% (albeit, there were only 63 don’t knows, so we’re talking about the difference of 4 or 5 people). Bottom line is that there was no big knockout blow here – the large majority of both sides thought their own “champion” won, don’t knows were pretty evenly split.

417 Responses to “Salmond v Darling debate”

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  1. Postage,

    There is a lot of campaigning activity going on in marginals which isn’t happening elsewhere. That could explain why marginals register a different swing in polls.

  2. @James Peel

    I think that a lot of Tories are hoping they’ll retain at least some of these seats!

    I’m answring my own question here, but I think both Government and Oposotion train their sights on marginals. Policies are devised to appeal to them, or trimmed to avoid offending them. I’m doubtful about whether this makes much difference, and I think the “marginals polls” try to test if it has. A negative result is still a result.

  3. @Hal
    Thanks for that, I was working it out for myself while I replied to James and you posted.

    One of my biggest failings, not seeing the wood for the trees.

  4. carfrew

    Well as I pointed out to Pressman, there has been some health concerns plastered across the front pages recently, including Telegraph and the Sun. And if, as suggested, people really are finding it tougher to get Doctors appointments, that might have some salience…

    Indeed. If a topic is boosted by a very high profile news story the increase tends to last for only a few weeks. This seems to be driven more by a dripfeed of lower level stories (including at local and regional level) and personal experiences. It’s going to make it more difficult to deal with – even if a compliant Press only prints the ‘right’ stories, there’s too many other sources of discontent.

    The Survation marginals poll that was linked to last night[1]:

    had a linked question (of a length and balance that Anthony would be proud of) about the TTIP and its effect on the NHS. When we’ve discussed this before, we’ve concluded that it was too abstruse to ever have an effect on polling. But if simplified down to ‘They want to force you to sell off the NHS”, it’s clear that there may be some traction (opposition is 68-14) and it could perhaps especially benefit UKIP and Labour if they make an issue of it.

    [1] It was of ten Con-Lab marginals and three Con-LD ones, though from a wider range than Ashcroft’s ultras. The total sample was 2644 with a minimum 200 for each constituency, though with probably an effective sample of only 100 in each (it’s a telephone poll), there won’t be much you can deduce at the individual constituency level. They also don’t appear to have asked the ‘candidates’ question. The link isn’t to full tables but to an analysed summary of the sort that gets sent to journalists.

    The general combined VI in these seats was:

    Con 31% (-8)

    Lab 41% (+10)

    Lib Dem 4% (-17)

    UKIP 17% (+14)

    Other 6% (+1)

    Changes on actual combined results in 2010.


    Which of these seats, do the tories think they’ll hold?

  6. @James

    All of them, barring a scandal or other calamity for their candidate! They can’t lose these seats and win the election, and many of them believe it’ll all come right on the night (The Other Howard has the full gen on this theme).

    If they don’t believe they can retain all these seats they might as well pack up and go home – or join UKIP wher at least they can have fun while they lose the election!

  7. To judge from Roger Mexico’s report – the big losers seem to be the Lib Dems, followed by the Conservatives and the big winners UKIP followed by Labour.

    On these figures I would have thought that the Conservatives have very little hope of retaining the Lab-Con marginals where UKIP would take away a bit of their vote and labour’s loss to UKIP would be more than compensated by the defection of Lib Dems to them.

    By contrast the Conservatives may well have a good hope of holding on to the Lib Dem marginals where Labour have more to make up and would be damaged by UKIP.

    Obviously these things will depend on the details in each constituency but at 4 per cent it is hard to see how the Lib Dems can hang on to anything. Or for that matter how anyone could form a credible coalition with them if they did.

    OK equal 3 Month High Captain Pedantic.

    News Coming out of Russia regarding banning EU Vegetables.

    In response let’s ban those awful Russian dolls…they’re so full of themselves!

  9. james peel

    those marginals polls are useless. no surprises: i mean who honestly thinks the tories are going to held any of those seats they polled…

    they would have been better off polling seats like Kingswood, Gloucester and Warwick…then we’d actually know whether labour had a chance of a majority….

    What you really need is a mix, but these ultra marginal polls are probably a bit better than a normal poll as they are more likely to be similar to to the wider marginals than a general poll including lots of safe and very safe seats.

    Survation’s list is slightly wider that Ashcroft’s on UKPR marginal rankings, but not much:

    Amber Valley (Lab target 11)

    Warwickshire North (1)

    Broxtowe (8)

    Lancaster and Fleetwood (9)

    Lincoln (18)

    Morecambe and Lunesdale (14)

    Sherwood (5)

    Thurrock (2)

    Cannock Chase (51)

    Camborne and Redruth (Lib Dem target 1)

    Truro and Falmouth (7)

    West Dorset (29)

    Ashcroft’s last (and bigger) poll of Con-Lab marginals:

    found a swing of 4.5% over a period just before this one but similar VI figures (31/37/4/23/6), though his mix was more UKIP-friendly.

    But we do really need polling based on a wider spread of marginals.

  10. @ Hookeslaw

    Sorry I can’t have made myself clear.

    Since 1945 with a few exceptions the UK has got the Westminster government which England voted for. The 13 years of Labour government which you refer to is a case in point as Labour had a working majority with its English seats.

    That wouldn’t matter if everyone in the UK saw themselves as solely being in one political unit, the UK. Scotland by history has been a separate state and that is still significantly reflected in things such as its legal system which in turn means that many people in Scotland see it as another political unit which they belong to which is more than just a region of the UK.

    That in itself might not matter much if the UK parties were reasonably well represented in Scotland. Since the mid 1990s ( ie two decades) the Tories have become an irrelevant force in Scottish Westminster representation. Consequently it exposes any Tory government elected mainly on English votes to the charge that they don’t have popular support in Scotland. In (my English) opinion that is very corrosive of the Union fabric.

    Scotland has been over represented in terms of seats in Westminster but that has largely been addressed. In any event it has not had a significant political impact.

    The West Lothian Question does need to be addressed. The SNP do that by not voting on English matters. However defining what is an English matter is not entirely straightforward because of the UK centralised tax and finance system. In my opinion devo max is the only solution to that other than independence. Unfortunately the Unionist UK parties denied us Scottish residents a vote on devo max (which of course would then have to have been negotiated with rUK)

    I note that you are outraged by Scottish MPs voting on English matters but not apparently Welsh and Northern Irish MPs which can do the same!

    We need to try to generate more light than heat in what will be an on going constitutional debate. Understanding the complexities of the situation is important to that.

  11. This petition has been going around a bit – it proposes that the Labour Party begins to stand candidates in Northern Ireland.

    The logic is that the politics of Northern Ireland needs to be normalised and no longer dominated by sectarian parties as it currently is. Not sure how the SDLP would feel about it mind.

    I’m unsure as to whether or not I totally agree. I think it runs the risk of being seen as simply a Unionist party and if it’s possible to run a Northern Irish Labour Party as a collaborative effort between the Irish and UK Labour Parties it might work best.

  12. @ Steve. No it isn’t. see YG of 9.7.2014.

    @ Phil Haines

    “the week’s worth …are actual figures, and I think a five poll moving weekly average is a fair indication of the current state of play from YouGov, the only caveat being the potential for distortion via rounding.”

    I think there is good reason to believe that Greens have been rounded down more than up over the last week by YG. There has been a Green share at 6% only a week ago (29.7.2014), and a 5% in the week preceding that, while the last 3% I have recorded for YG was on 19.6.2014.

    “I don’t think that most polls we get are from YouGov”

    I counted up those I have record of over the last couple of weeks.

    “If you ask very nicely, Spearmint might include the Greens her YouGov tracker graph. You’ll hit the big time if AW does likewise – but don’t hold your breath as even UKIP haven’t managed that yet.”

    AW did on his combined YG/Populus graph at, and I would love to see an update, even though they are the two pollsters who constistenly rate the Greens lowest.

  13. Thanks for the help guys,I am just checking this out on wiki.Nice to see it put out for a novice like myself to understand.

  14. There’s a pro-union petition on that is whizzing along, 6,000+ signatures in just over an hour.

  15. Roger Mexico

    I can think of no logic by which West Dorset could be seen as either ‘marginal’ or LD Target. What were they thinking of, as it’s not clear from the tables write-up? I could understand them taking Mid Dorset or Wells; in other words Conservative targets against LD. Actually Taunton Deane, being less marginal, would be a better choice, as it is less marginal.

    Who in their right electoral and polling minds thinks that LD has a chance of taking a Con seat in 2015, unless the incumbent has made some appalling faux pas.

  16. Sorry about tautology, got carried away.

    Good poll research on the beach.

    Tim M was writing about the Cons needing 1m more voters, and that Boris J might be able to help to reach parts which DC cannot. He cited the fact that BJ won two mayoral elections while Londoners voted more for Labour in the GLA elections.

  18. Mr N – I think the LP position on a united Ireland changed to one of neutrality away from ‘working towards a United Ireland’ under Blair and in fairness may have been a small price to pay for what many people would see as his Governments major positive legacy.

    Putting candidates up in NI would be seen as tipping away from neutrality so hard to see how it can be done without a specific policy change.

    Personally, I would not sign the petition and would probably sign a contrary one if anything.

  19. @ Charles,

    Obviously these things will depend on the details in each constituency but at 4 per cent it is hard to see how the Lib Dems can hang on to anything.

    But no one- except possibly Nick Clegg*, who seems to operate on a different political planet from the rest of us- thinks the Lib Dems are going to win seats. The question is how many they are going to lose, and the incumbency and local campaigning effects that might allow them to retain seats obviously don’t apply in these Tory-held marginals.

    So Howard’s question of “Why on Earth was Unite paying to poll these seats?” is a very good one, but I don’t think we can take this poll as evidence for how they’ll fare overall in the election.

    * Although he did have a good quote about Boris’s hair, to be fair to him.

  20. Spearmint
    “So Howard’s question of “Why on Earth was Unite paying to poll these seats?”

    I don’t remember writing that. My post is at 13.48.

  21. @Hireton “That in itself might not matter much if the UK parties were reasonably well represented in Scotland. Since the mid 1990s ( ie two decades) the Tories have become an irrelevant force in Scottish Westminster representation. Consequently it exposes any Tory government elected mainly on English votes to the charge that they don’t have popular support in Scotland. In (my English) opinion that is very corrosive of the Union fabric.”

    We haven’t had a Tory government elected purely without representation in Scotland though, have we?

    Thatcher’s 1987 govt had 10 Scottish MPs and 8 Welsh MPs

    John Major’s 1992 govt had 11 Scottish MPs and 6 Welsh MPs

    The current 2010 govt is a Tory- LibDem COALITION, and the Coalition has 12 Scottish MPs and 11 Welsh MPs.

    So the situation had not deteriorated with time, it’s improved, and both John Major’s govt and the current coalition would struggle badly without their Scottish and Welsh MPs – which means the system is working because you really can’t form a majority without that representation in the celtic regions.

  22. ChrisL

    Can’t see BJ making a positive difference – far too many negatives [not even in the closet] and the “Just what we need, another old Etonian” jibe will have a lot going for it , whether its fair or not.

  23. @candy

    Depends how you define “working”. The point still holds true that generally the UK gets the Westminster government which England votes for. If the rest of the UK can live with what England votes for then there is at least stability, if not we have a problem.

  24. @ Howard,

    It was a paraphrase- sorry if I misinterpreted your post, but that’s what I took “Who in their right electoral and polling minds thinks that LD has a chance of taking a Con seat in 2015?” to imply.

  25. It’s true that English votes count for a lot simply because there are so many English.

    But every single govt we’ve had since the war has included elected representatives from Scotland and Wales. It’s never been the case that the govt is purely English and there is no-one from Scotland at all. That would be a horrible dictatorship over the Scots, but it’s never happened and probably never will.

    I expect in the next election the LibDems will lose those Scottish seats, we’ll have a Labour govt – and once again we’ll have a govt that has representatives from all parts of the UK (barring N.I.)

    Which means the system is working – you can’t win focusing on just one region alone – you either have to make the effort to get votes everywhere, or go into coalition with someone who has representatives in places that you lack.

  26. Spearmint
    You got the message, indeed, the Con / LD choices were barmy. Had you not put the words in quotes, I would not have queried it. I didn’t know UNITE commissioned it, so at least I’ve learned something; it explains the obscure TTIP questions possibly?I

  27. ChrisLane
    “Tim M … cited the fact that BJ won two mayoral elections while Londoners voted more for Labour in the GLA elections.”

    One possible explanation is that BJ’s lab opponent was less popular – in the sense the London voters didn’t want Livingstone.

    BJ’s presence at GE 2015 will draw media attention. This might work to Lab’s and Con’s detriment.

  28. @R&D

    Don’t underestimate Boris. As was mentioned in previous threads he has done very little in London other than continuing most of Ken’s policies and what he has done – pointless cablecar, Roastmaster buses, dangerous cycle ‘superhighways’ – has not exactly been glorious. Plus his choice of dodgy acolytes has made the much-criticised Ken and DC look highly judicious by comparison.

    Despite this, he beat Ken more comfortably in 2010 than in 2008 and remains popular with many Londoners who forgive him anything because of his personality and un-politician image.

    I’m not sure whether that would translate to PM – someone on here suggested a contrast between London Mayor with limited powers and PM leading the country – but given many people’s level of engagement with politics, it just might. The Ken team worked hard (I was one of them) to overturn him but in the cold light of day we got nowhere.

    He’s the kind of politician who would win the X-Factor in an age when the X-Factor is seen by many as more important than politics!

  29. @ Howard,

    Had you not put the words in quotes, I would not have queried it.

    Ah. Yes, on reflection that was a formatting error. Mea culpa.

    And yeah, I assume the Unite provenance explains the TTIP stuff. McCluskey has been very exercised about it.

  30. @ Guymonde,

    I wonder if his stardust factor will help in a general election as much as the Tories hope it will, though. Because the thing is, you can’t vote for Boris in a general election (unless you’re in whatever constituency he’s standing in, most likely a Tory safe seat). You have to tick the box marked “Conservative” next to some bland Tory apparatchik or local businessman. So the fact that people will vote for Boris despite his party really doesn’t do much good in the 649 places he isn’t on the ballot paper. What they need is someone to detoxify the brand in general, and it’s not at all clear he has the capacity to do that. (Certainly the Tory result in the recent council elections doesn’t suggest he’s improved their overall position in London.)

    And to whatever extent they do try to make the 2015 election presidential, it will have to be about Cameron and not Boris, so again his stardust factor isn’t helpful.

    Clearly it’s better to have popular politicians (well, the one and only popular politician) campaigning for you than not, but I’m not sure his popularity is transferable.


    Yes, that’s the point isn’t it? Boris will almost certainly stand in a Conservative safe seat – and he’ll probably win it – but then, by definition, they would have won it anyway so what difference will he have made? I heard a Conservative politician from Sunderland saying that they would like Boris to stand there – now that would be a test of what difference he could make!

    Mind you, when he (the Sunderland Tory) was asked what he could say to attract Boris to the constituency he said they always declared first – so he’d find out he’d lost before anyone else did (he didn’t say the second bit)

  32. “Despite this, he beat Ken more comfortably in 2010 than in 2008 …”

    I assume you mean 2012 but you’re incorrect anyway – in 2012 Livingstone cut Johnson’s lead by over half. Also turnout was only 38%, meaning that fewer than 20% of eligible voters could be bothered to turn out for him.

    And if his victory as mayor didn’t translate into GLA seats it seems unlikely that his election as an MP will benefit Tories standing elsewhere.

  33. Howard

    I can think of no logic by which West Dorset could be seen as either ‘marginal’ or LD Target.

    Well at current Lib Dem poll levels it’s all pretty academic, but West Dorset is actually 16th ‘most winnable’ Conservative seat for the Lib Dems according the Anthony’s list.

    One of the odd things about that list is that while we think of potential Lib Dem gains being mostly from the Tories, 12 of the current top 20 are held by Labour.

    Actually I think if you are going to include such sorts of seats, you’re best to pick a wide variety rather than just the most marginal handful as Ashcroft did.

    The full tables are now up:

    and show the Greens getting 5%, beating the Lib Dems. The individual seat breakdowns are pretty meaningless given that they only have an effect sample of around 100. They do show the Conservatives holding Cannock Chase which reinforces the need to get more data from these less ultra-marginals.

  34. @Guymonde
    ‘Despite this, he beat Ken more comfortably in 2010 than in 2008 ‘

    I suspect you meant to say 2012- rather than 2010. But your assertion is incorrect – Boris won much more narrowly in 2012 than 2008. The final margin was just 51.4% to 48.6% I believe.

  35. Do Guardian links automatically go into mod??

  36. Did you put two or more links in your post Wes ?

    That triggers auto-mod – something I forgot last night when I posted the Survation poll.

  37. My understanding is that Johnson won his elections by the likes of Bromley voters, who don’t use public transport much, outvoting the inner suburbs’ vote for KL, who, in themselves, were really biting the hand that fed them, by not voting, or even supporting BJ on an ‘X factor’ basis. It should be remembered that Greater Londoners pay an extra tax, above their borough taxes, and Johnson would be seen as not likely to be as big a spender as Livingstone would be.

    Unless I have all the foregoing wrong, it seems unlikely that these are factors that have much of a role in the rest of the country, as Spearmint writes above.

    But do put me right if needed.

  38. Roger M
    I suppose Camborne and Redruth could possibly be seen as LD target, based on the fact that it’s a recent re-formed one, with the equally re-formed Truro and Falmouth next door, both having now Con ‘sophomores’ for 2015, but received knowledge is that they become safer for the incumbent, do they not?

    One of the replaced constituencies used to be a three way with a Labour MP (Candy Atherton) shading it. For this reason, although Labour did badly in both in 2010, I expect their increased vote from LD deserters will hand both to the Conservative incumbents.

    Again, if anyone knows different, please let us know. I’ll have a look at AW’s constituency section.

  39. I am wondering if Boris’s plan is, should the Tories win in GE15 and DC continue as PM, then he Boris will lead the Out EU campaign?

    So he can see a route to PM by 2020. DC loses GE15 Boris stands and wins leadership. DC wins Boris leads Out campaign – wins DC resigns Boris becomes PM.

    If DC wins both the GE15 and the EU referendum then he is pretty much untouchable.

  40. Couper,

    You may have identified plan B.

    However if DC wins both, then Boris is up a gum tree, which is not the plan. I think therefore Boris does not expect DC to win the GE.

    A more straightforward explanation of Boris’ EU musings is to curry favour with the activists that hold the keys to a safe seat.

  41. The most recent polling I could find on Boris as a potential leader of the Conservative Party was back in February:

    Replacing Cameron with Johnson had very little effect changing the VI to 33/37/9/22[1] from 32/37/8/23. Interestingly there was quite a lot of churn, but the extra votes that Boris brought in were nearly balanced by the Conservatives who fled at the thought of him.

    That’s before you take into account the usual problem with hypotheticals that people claim they will change their behaviour when all they really want to do is to register their approval. So the 19% of UKIP voters who say they would switch may just be registering that they want Cameron to go.

    Boris may also turn out to be less attractive to UKIP voters than on first sight because he has been very vocal in favour of more immigration. Admittedly Boris can get away with backing contradictory policies because of lack of scrutiny from his media chums, but he may find his life isn’t quite so charmed when he goes back to national politics.

    Of course there’s the effect that his standing will have on the Conservative Party. Usually parties wait till defeat is certain before tearing themselves apart. Naturally Johnson will give fulsome backing to Cameron, but some of us know what ‘fulsome’ actually means. The positioning will start now. Some of the papers will be fighting under the slogan of “Vote Dave, Get Boris” without considering whether that is a positive thing

    [1] Irritatingly YouGov didn’t breakdown Others here. If we are seeing a similar question in the ST poll (yes I know it’s already too late to change it) the extra lines would be helpful.

  42. Howard

    Both those Cornish seats were looked at in Ashcroft’s Con-Lib poll:

    Camborne and Redruth is now a three-way marginal between Con, Lab and UKIP (Con 29%, Lib Dem 14%, Lab 24%, UKIP 26%, Green 5%).

    Truro and Falmouth is slightly more comfortable for the Conservatives (Con 33%, Lib Dem 16%, Lab 18%, UKIP 22%, Green 9%), but again anything could happen

  43. I’m pretty confident that the increased resonance of

    “Will you stand for leader when DC loses the GE?”

    “Do you expect DC to lose the GE?”

    “Are you hoping DC loses the GE?”

    etc etc etc aimed at BJ will not help the Tory party very much at all.

    Plus, those on the Tory side who actively dislike DC and prefer BJ have a vested interest in helping that result to happen in some mad, long term strategy.

  44. Thanks RM.

    I would be interested in Colin’s take as he has some knowledge of the area.

    With the data you have helpfully supplied, I can’t see any outcome, on present polling, other than LDs are stuffed, and Con is a soe-in. The Con MP is ex-UKIP. All he has to do…..

    How anyone could have classed such constituencies as “Con /LD marginals” or “LD targets” is beyond my simple mind.

  45. OK various mea culpas….

    1) Of course I meant 2012 not 2010 – berk
    2) Terminological inexactitude: you’re quite right that the mayor result was tighter in 2012 but Boris very considerably outperformed the tories in GLA elections where the opposite was true in 2008.

    I agree that him standing as an MP will make no difference (or at any rate not much) to 2015 GE but if – as I expect – Con lose and DC is deposed and BJ becomes leader (far from certain) then we are in a different place. Whilst I might think he looks as Prime Ministerial as my former cat (now deceased) I suspect quite a few voters will quite fancy the idea of him as PM.

  46. shoe-in, even.

  47. Howard

    Bromley and Chislehurst has a 15,000 Tory Majority over the LD’s people in Bromley only travel by public transport if their spare 4×4 is being used by the Nanny

  48. Johnson does a very good ‘bumbling charmer’ type of interview and often gets a positive response (I watched his Channel 4 and BBC interviews and in both cases I felt he won over the interviewers). That’s a pretty powerful ability in today’s media environment. However on those occasions when the ‘bumbling charmer’ approach doesn’t work I think he is seriously unnerved (witness his exchanges with Eddie Mair). It seems to me, and it’s only an opinion, that Boris is somehow used to being liked and expects to win over the commentators and, if that doesn’t happen, I really think he’s quite shocked. He could easily prove a double-edged sword, or a two-way missile, or a petard with which he can hoist himself….oh it’s all getting too, too, two-way.

  49. I guess really it would be DC who would be hoist with the petard – thus giving every English lecturer struggling to explain this phrase a perfect example.

  50. Wes,
    I am sorry I did not respond to your post about Addlestrop.We have just had a
    few glorious days in South Devon as we are thinking of moving there in the near future.So I may be Ann in Wales no more perhaps.I am sure your poem
    was great.

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