I’m out this evening so won’t be around to write about the new ComRes/Independent on Sunday poll we are due or the regular YouGov/Sunday Times poll, but in meantime just to note the latest YouGov Scottish poll in this morning’s Sun. The topline figures don’t suggest the surge in SNP support is fading at all, quite the opposite – topline figures for Westminster voting intention with changes from the previous YouGov Scottish poll at the end of October are CON 16%(+1), LAB 27%(nc), LDEM 3%(-1), SNP 47%(+4), GRN 3%(-1), UKIP 3%(-3).

Needless to say, the poll was conducted before Jim Murphy was announced as Scottish Labour’s new leader. He would appear to have quite a job on his hands.

125 Responses to “YouGov/Sun Scottish poll gives SNP twenty point lead”

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  1. BILL

    Labour is turning right. ‘Red’ Ed just to us to cut the deficit through cuts. We’ll never cut it without increasing earnings, Labour were too aggressive to Brown’s administration and have given too much ground to the Tories. The Blairites let Brown lose the election as they didn’t want the hassle of relaxing him and trying to win and now their arguing against a Blarite across the floor.

    In another note the reason Scottish politics take precedent here (and they do over Westminster) is they are alternative. A successful opposition is alternative which is why governments boost on election – most oppositions don’t play alternative

  2. Bill P
    The fight between Labour and SNP seems to be blcking the light from others for the present. Labour are fore-grounding their slightly left policies quite correctly to differentiate from the SNP but J Murphy is also very clearly setting out a middle ground economic programme to appeal to a wide audience. I believe that it is very difficult to predict exactly what the response of the SNP will be. Crossbat has so far not even had his expected re-joiners. J Murphy phoned N Sturgeon today to say how closely he hoped they could work together. The vacuum at the heart of any portrayal of the SNP as left is that on tax they only have cuts in mind. They may move to under-pin their current left repatation but may move in quite a different direction.

  3. Has anyone seen the story about campaign financing in the Guardian?

    Cameron has increased the allowances – and has a jaw-dropping £78 million to spend – under the new rules this is enough to cover two elections.

    Just to put that in perspective, in the 2010 election, spending was as follows:

    Con: £16,682,874
    Lab: £ 8,009,483
    Lib: £4,787,595
    SNP: 315,776
    UKIP: £732,780

    Figures from electoral commission site:

    I’ve no idea how they’ll spend it all – they can’t do TV ads, so what do you need that amount of money for?

    (P.S. The fact that well-heeled donors have dug so deep is a sign they’ll do anything to try and stop EdM.)

    [This is one of the reasons I ask people not to play “bad story for the party I don’t like show and tell”. Stories like that are normally incredibly badly written as well – nothing untrue, but written in a way to overblow them that means casual readers misinterpret them as being vastly more meaningful than they are. For example, the Conservatives couldn’t spend £78m as a poster above has assumed, as that would be twice the new limit. More importantly, they don’t have that much money. That figure is their total donations for the last four years… so they would only have £78m in the bank if they hadn’t spent a penny on running costs, staff, etc over the last four years. The original piece is written to allow this misinterpretation in order to make it sound better. Equally, it would be bizarre for govt to use primary legislation every time it needed to update the figures in a Parliamentary Act, so using secondary legislation to update these figures is perfectly normal and *intended* – in Section 155 of the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000 which set up spending limits powers were provided for the government to update the figures using secondary legislation (and indeed, governments can only use secondary legislation in this way when it it provided for through primary legislation).

    Strip away all the crap, and that story boils down to “Government has increased election spending limit using the normal method of doing so. Spending limit has been increased by £6m, but the Electoral Commission recommended only £3m. Government said it was because cost of fighting elections has risen.” Actually that would probably still be an interesting story without the hyperbole and buying election crap, but such is the state of the media.

    – AW]

  4. Pat Kelly former STUC leader has decided to leave the Labour Party after 35 years on account of Murphy’s election. Some left leaning members were waiting to see if Findlay would be elected but now say they intend to join the Scottish Socialists. Murphy is a Blairite, right-winger, he is not expected to move Labour to the Left. If Scottish Labour had wanted to move Left they would have voted for Findlay.

    Jim Murphy is well known in Scotland and comes with a lot of baggage so this is not a ‘fresh start’ as some suggest.

    The actual number of Labour members remains shrouded in secrecy – but it is thought to be around 10k so any movement of the 3-4K who didn’t vote for Jim will not be a surge to the other parties but will further weaken the Left within the Scottish Labour Party – so even less likely to move left.

    By Left in a Scottish context I mean – no Trident, no Fracking. against ATOS, benefit sanctions, workfare, pro-Trade Union. No Tuition fees, No PFI, No HoL etc

  5. Peter


    Think Tiote might be in for a retrospective 3-match ban – an appalling tackle.

    re. the lads I am really looking forward to a fit Walcott – I think he is lovely player and a lovely young man also. Hard to believe he has missed three world cups [including the one he actually went to given that he then never played.]

  6. Kelly is one of the leaders of Labour for Yes almost all of whom have already left. He is in a union which is not affiliated to Labour. The unions who are affiliated may surprise many in Scotland. Pat Rafferty of Unite already has out a statement saying that N Findlay fought a good campaign, that Murphy seemed to have listened and the movement would want to ensure he stuck to some of the things he has said all of which is fair. The truth is that the main unions know exactly how much they need a Labour government.

  7. @ Colin,

    Judging by the previous thread it isn’t the SNP supporters who are saying Murphy will be an “utterly disastrous leader.”

    It is the Labour supporters on UKPR :-)

    I don’t think any of us said that? Hannah said Murphy might not mind if he turned out to be an utterly disastrous leader, and I said I might not mind.

    I don’t have a prediction on his disastrousness, at least not relative to his competition in this leadership contest. He has real strengths and serious liabilities and it’s not clear at this point how they’ll balance.

  8. @ Barney,

    Kelly is one of the leaders of Labour for Yes almost all of whom have already left.

    Surely this is, in itself, a massive problem for Scottish Labour?

  9. Barney Crockett,

    I think that it would be very difficult for the SNP to NOT move to the left, having (a) fought the referendum from the left and (b) having had a huge influx of enthusiastic new members as a result, many of whom don’t regard themselves as nationalists but do regard themselves as left wing.

    Part of the success that all the centre-left parties had in Scotland in the nineties and noughties was in securing the centre/centre-right ground. Labour becomes Blairite (though less so than in England) while the SNP wooed business and the Lib Dems were never far left to begin with. Thus there was absolutely no room for a moderate Tory party.

    However, if the new battle in Scottish politics is who can be the most authentically left-wing party, then triangulation is unlikely to be an option for either the SNP or Labour. And it may well be a zero-sum game, in that there is limited room for the two parties to compete over now that they’ve lost the independence issue to differentiate themselves.

    “There can only be one!”

  10. @Ann in Wales

    “Very interested to see that Kier Stamer is standing for Frank Dobsons seat in the general election.Now there’s charisma.”

    Someone who definitely has done a proper job or two before embarking on a parliamentary career.

  11. @Candy

    From the same article:
    ” The Observer has learned that ministers changed the law through a statutory instrument, the terms of which were not debated in the Commons, and which is more usually a vehicle for consensual changes in the law. A Labour source said that the move had not been spotted by them at the time and so they missed the chance to force a vote in the Commons.”

    Had not been spotted? I had rather assumed that there was some group in the PLP who was responsible for watching what the government was doing rather than it just being left to casual observation. With this and the Individual Voter Registration fiasco the Labour leadership have allowed themselves to be hobbled. The polls are now pretty irrelevant to the outcome of the election. Even if Labour is ahead in the polls on election eve (unlikely after £78,000,000 worth of carpet bombing) unregistered Labour voters will swing heavily to the Tories, giving Cameron a majority and the pollsters a headache ( they will probably decide it was a last minute swing).

    Still, we can only keep calm and carry on. If the worst happens I’m digging out my dungarees (pink) and forming a revolutionary cell. You’re welcome to join.

  12. Spearmint
    No. i am referring to a tiny group with that name who were essentially entrists with a wholly destructive agenda. In fact it was quite funny in my area because their materials were handed out either by people bussed in or by SNP members including an MSP who said he was doing it in “solidarity”. Of course it is quite different with those large numbers of voters who voted Yes. J Murphy is quite aware of how hard he has to work to win more support from that quarter.
    In Pat Kelly’s case, he said that he had been an inactive member for a long time before taking up Labour for Yes

  13. @Couper

    “If Scottish Labour had wanted to move Left they would have voted for Findlay.”

    It’s quite possible that much of the ‘left’ of Labour are already away to other pastures.


    I preferred Pat’s end shot:

    “Jim now needs to turn words into action if he wants to start the process of re-building Scottish Labour.”

    Or just as I said the other day, the vow need to be delivered on. In other words, politicians need to start talking on things they can deliver, then actually deliver them.

    Murphy, quoted in the Independent:

    “Mr Murphy, who was Minister of State for Employment and Welfare Reform from 2006 to 2007, said that his aim is to end poverty and inequality.”

    Laudable, but not realistic, and not deliverable by a devolved parliament, if the financial levers are controlled from elsewhere (well not without sacrificing other things).

    Instead of ending something that always been present throughout history, why not try for something more achievable, like winning the 2016 election? He hasn’t worked that bit out yet. He has to get elected, then win an election before aiming to end poverty.

  14. “I’ve no idea how they’ll spend it all – they can’t do TV ads, so what do you need that amount of money for?”

    My guess is they don’t have enough volunteers to do all the canvassing, delivering leaflets type stuff any more.

  15. In fact, it looks as if Murphy has moved straight into top gear:

    From the Grauniad:

    “Scottish Labour’s new leader: we won’t lose a single seat to the SNP”

    “Jim Murphy has been elected the new leader of the Scottish Labour party, pledging to make Scotland “the fairest nation on the planet” and insisting that he will not lose a single seat to the SNP in May’s general election.

    Top gear indeed. I must get some of that top gear myself!

  16. Keir Starmer: Attorney General in waiting?

  17. Valerie

    So Jim Murphy won by a substantial majority which means a lot of Scottish Labour supporters have no idea?

    Well we don’t really know because we have no idea how many votes were involved. We know how individual MPs, MSPs and MEPs voted[1]:


    but there’s no list to show how many of the members voted by constituency and similarly for those in the Unions, societies etc. So there’s no way of knowing what ‘a lot’ is. It’s actually the worst of all worlds, with MPs etc losing the secret ballot but without the democratic check of seeing where most of the votes came from.

    I was actually very surprised at how poorly Murphy did. He had the overwhelming support of the Labour establishment, in London and Scotland; almost exclusive and uncritical coverage by the media; he was the only candidate well known to most of the public and so ordinary Labour members. Under such circumstances it should have been a coronation not a contest. So only 56% is not really that impressive.

    In particular not winning the Union/societies section should be a worry. This almost certainly contained the largest number of votes, and although some Unions had recommended a voter for Findlay the votes still had to be cast by individuals.

    [1] It’s worth pointing out that just voting ‘1’ and ‘2’ is of course exactly equivalent to using ‘3’ as well and probably indicates that you know how AV works rather than ‘you couldn’t bear to vote for’ a particular candidate.

  18. @ Couper2802

    “Johann Lamont voted for Boyack 1, Findlay 2, and snubbed Murphy – Oh Dear”

    Well I’m not surprised. Lamont ran against Murphy’s ally, Ken Mackintosh and won. And if she resigned, declaring Scottish Labour to be no more than a “branch office” where London dictated down to them, it makes sense that she would snub Murphy. He’s London’s choice really. Ironically, he may be London’s choice but he may be the one with enough gravitas to make it more independent of the main party.

  19. And Wiki’s all polls for 4 years


    Blue & Purple correlation is striking in both graphs-mirror images.


    @”I don’t have a prediction on his disastrousness, at least not relative to his competition ”

    I love the caveat. :-) :-) :-)

    I hope he will be pleased lol.

  21. Colin (8,16am)

    I have been looking at this Wikipedia graph for a while. Agreed that the Blue/Purple correlation is striking – up till the autumn of last year. Since then, to my eye, it looks as though there is a closer Red/Purple correlation. This graph doesn’t show the complex ‘churn’, but a simple explanation might be that in the past year voters who previously expressed an intention to vote Labour are (just a few percent, admittedly) telling pollsters they intend to vote UKIP.


    Yes, I see what you mean.

  23. @StatGeek – Wasn’t there a book and film about “Scottish gear”?

  24. Maybe it’s the season but UKPR seems a lot better these days – less childish perhaps?

    Anyway, on polls, it is looking as though it will start properly in January sometime now with the Cons at a disadvantage in numbers and polling reality and Lab at a disadvantage in numbers and finance.

    A bit like Man U vs Liddypool today – both rubbish.

  25. The two main parties continue neck and neck and most of the discussion continues to be about how Scotland will vote. All a bit boring really, reminiscent of the “phony war” late 1939 early 1940.

    Sun is shining, off for a walk and then a granddaughters birthday party. Isn’t life grand.

  26. Times red Box:

    YouGov polled on the Labour contenders, exclusively for Red Box. The result was a similar margin between the top two, with David Miliband leading Alan Johnson by 8 per cent.

    But there is a significant difference between the two polls: Johnson and May are seen as “good leaders” by 29 per cent and 23 per cent, while Miliband and Johnson score 35 per cent and 27 per cent respectively. That superiority runs all the way down the order – the Labour leadership contenders are more highly regarded than their Tory counterparts.

    YouGov polled 1,941 UK adults.


  27. @Colin

    Thank you for the graphs. :-)

  28. There is an inertia at the moment

    Can those with long memories recall a soon to be GE with the main contenders so uncertain?

  29. If any of you are appallingly bored and want to hear my views on politics and football (along with about seven other people we’re apparently cramming into the studio in a probable fire code violation) you can do so 12-2 this afternoon at http://forgetoday.com/player/

    Jim Murphy does seem to have gone into overdrive immediately after his election. I’m just very curious what the strategy will involve.

  30. @AW – @Postageincluded beat me to it, but your comments on the party funding story missed the obvious rejoinder that it’s actually a story that highlights Labour incompetence, more than anything else.

    The ability for oppositions to completely fail to understand what a government is doing continually amaze me, regardless of which party we are talking about. A very few backbenchers genuinely seem to be able to take an issue and research it properly, but in many ways I blame oppositions for the poor quality of so much of our governance – it’s their job to pick up on problems, and they are the ones who should have the time and expertise to do this.

    [Alec- well, I missed out the rejoinder because I thought it wouldn’t be in line with my own comments policy to make that point! – AW]

  31. @Statgeek – “Laudable, but not realistic, and not deliverable by a devolved parliament, if the financial levers are controlled from elsewhere (well not without sacrificing other things).”

    ‘Calling Scotland, calling Scotland – we are receiving you loud and clear.

    Hello Edinburgh and welcome to the Real World – over.’

    Seriously – I smiled when I read your post. The SNP, Yes campaigners, and most everyone else in Scotland appears to think that there are some magical things that can be done to solve everyone’s problems without harming anything else, if only those dastardly Westminster elites would let us.

    Anyone who attempts to solve these problems will have to make sacrifices elsewhere. The big lie of the SNP is that somehow, Scotland is the exception – like some some kind of quantum effect nation where all good things are possible simultaneously.

  32. Colin

    That graph

    Net movements over the past 15 months

    Lab -6
    Con -1
    LD -2
    Green +3
    UKIP +5.5

    Do you one of those mirrors that makes you look like an athletic 20 year old? I’ve got one of those. They’re great for your spirit on a rough winter morning.

  33. On a serious issue I wonder when – if ever – the conflict between Sunnis and Shia [and others] can be resolved?

    And how?

    It does seem set in stone now and I find it impossible to visualise [as with the IRA for example] any “negotiated” settlement.

    Since one side will be unable to murder the entirety of the other it could go on for thousands of years: a very depressing thought.

  34. So while we were all discussing “Jim Murphy: Saviour or Snake” in a rather desultory manner, we finally have the tables for the YouGov Scottish poll that this thread is nominally about[1]:


    as with their last poll at the end of October there is a slight bias towards Yes voters[2] – 47.1% said they voted Yes rather than the actual 44.7%[3].

    This means that although it (again) looks as if Scotland would vote Yes by 52%, once you correct for the sample it reduces this to 49.1%. It shows where the movement is though – 97% of Yes voters would still vote Yes while only 85% of No voters are still No. The remainder have moved to Yes or uncertainty. A similar situation to October.

    So the Smith proposals seem to have made little difference 51% say they “Do not go far enough, and do not devolve enough extra powers to the Scottish Parliament”, though more detailed examination of what people think about the detail (and if they know it) would be nice. As you’d expect 87% of Yes voters want more, but so do 21% of No voters (42% are happy, 23% think they ‘go too far’). Clearly there were Devo-maxers who voted No.

    The response on Which of the following do you think would make the best leader for the Scottish Labour party? mirrored the actual result:

    Jim Murphy 29%

    Neil Findlay 13%

    Sarah Boyack 6%

    But Don’t know at 52% seems very high for a topic that received a lot of coverage (YouGov panelists, especially Scottish ones, normally have views on everything). Even 32% of Labour voters had no opinion. SNP voters were the most uninterested at 59% though the remainder backed Findlay rather than Murphy (22-10) which suggests they see themselves as on the left. This may make it difficult for Murphy to win them back – a few vague words about inequality being a bad thing may not be enough.

    The scale of Murphy’s task is illustrated by similar figures in this poll to those we saw in October. 86% of Yes voters will vote SNP, only 49% of No voters will votes Labour. No supporters have been loud and frequent in proclaiming that 55% is more than 45%. But 86% of 45% is a lot more than 49% of 55% and FPTP which has worked so well in Scotland for Labour for so many years will nearly wipe them out.

    [1] Obviously the tables for the usual YouGov-ST poll are up too, but I’ll leave that to Anthony’s thread later.

    [2] I don’t know if YouGov have by now asked all their panel members in Scotland how they voted, so that the record is filed to prevent false recall.

    [3] Also as with the previous poll, the unweighted figures are more accurate (45.8%) which suggests that there may be a group of hard to reach voters who mainly supported Yes – presumably the ‘2010 Lab, 2011 SNP’ ones who are as usual nearly double-weighted. This may introduce a bias (possibly due to false recall depending on when YouGov collected the data) or could just be that other biases in the original sample happen to compensate each other with respect to the Referendum question. In other words to get the sample to balance for other reasons you may need to through it out for Yes/No.

  35. I wonder is, as “insiders” the warnings about future Tory policies coming from the Lib Dems, will impact on Tory VI but without helping the Lib Dems at all?

    I’m sure that they would enjoy the irony if it resulted in a Labour OM and no more ministerial positions for themselves.


  36. @Alec

    I don’t think that budgetary constraints are a Scottish or even Yes / SNP thing; rather a universal fact.

    If you believe Murphy, fair enough.

  37. Leftylampton

    Looking at those numbers won’t tell you much about the correlation. Effectively you’ve reduced the data to two selective points and thrown the baby out with the bathwater.

    There might well be some anti correlation between labour and UKIP as well. Your point would be better served if you could show that labour was more strongly correlated with the UKIP vote, which you haven’t.

    I’d expect some negative correlation with all parties due to the way multivariate distributions work, if UKIP picks up 15% of the vote uniformly, you’d expect losses from the other parties proportionate to vote share. Showing it’s stronger than expected would go a long way to identify how much from each party UKIP is costing other parties.

  38. @ Alec,

    The really mysterious thing about Tory campaign finance reform IMO is not the incompetence of the Opposition, which by this point is a long-standing parliamentary tradition (and actually I’d say Miliband’s Labour has been more successful at foiling government than most, although that’s a low bar to clear and obviously this was a colossal cockup), but the Liberal Democrats.

    They must have signed off on this. They have no money. A disproportionate number of the Tories’ top 40 targets are Lib Dem-facing. What were they thinking!? Even my Clegg-as-a-double-agent theory doesn’t explain this, unless he doesn’t work for either of the main parties but for David Owen, who is still bitter about the Liberal-SDP merger and is employing Clegg to destroy the Liberal Democrats by any means available.

  39. Bill P

    “To NOT move”

    A split infinitive, surely?


    Sorry to be childish but it is Xmas :)

  40. LEFTY

    No I haven’t got one of those-mine makes athletic 20 year olds look like geriatric basket cases :-)

  41. Talking of SNP filled pastry products in the upper atmosphere, perhaps Labour might not go too far wrong in revisiting some of the referendum issues in light of developments since September.

    Labour seems to have been punished for daring to suggest the economic case for independence was more difficult that the SNP/Yes team claimed.

    While rehashing old arguments is possibly dangerous for Jim Murphy, I do wonder quite whether the 45% really appreciate where iScotland would be right now, had independence been won.

    The oil price has crashed by 45%. On a straight like for like basis, this means Scottish GDP will be falling by 6.75% straight away. Based on figures from the Full Fact, and using tax revenues averaged over the last 5 years (so more favourable to the SNP case) this would mean a shortfall in public spending of £3.6B or 6.8% – that’s a huge, instantaneous hit to government budgets.

    However, the impact would be greater than this. Collapsing oil prices hit profits first and fastest, so my guess would be oil and gas tax revenues will fall faster than the % decline in prices, as the price falls will come straight off the bottom line.

    Worse still, we are a couple of dollars on the barrel prices from billions of pounds worth of North Sea investments being cancelled, and Osborne has just announce measures to ease the tax burden on producers – further eroding state income.

    Whether Labour chooses to highlight this is a moot point, but events since the summer expose the complete fallacy within the Yes campaign that lots of nice things could be done with not adverse impacts. The oil price and output projections have been exposed as wildly optimistic already, and no satisfactory argument was ever as to how such swings could be handled, other than building up two oil funds. As the IFS pointed out though, even before the price crash, this couldn’t be done without cutting spending elsewhere or raising taxes.

    As I say, it’s a moot point that Labour would want to return to the referendum debate, but they could very justifiably argue that the SNP credibility on a central part of the economic case has been shot to ribbons. Murphy is currently trying to argue likewise over SNP left wing claims over tax, but somehow they need to puncture the air of certainty around the SNP leadership and make voters doubt what they are hearing.

  42. @Statgeek – “I don’t think that budgetary constraints are a Scottish or even Yes / SNP thing; rather a universal fact.”

    Appreciated, but your original post at least implied that there wasn’t such an issue if you controlled your own financial levers, and that somehow the devolution settlement was the problem.

  43. @ Pups,

    On a serious issue I wonder when – if ever – the conflict between Sunnis and Shia [and others] can be resolved?

    Romans vs. Visigoths is pretty much over (unless you count the conflict between Germany and the Mediterranean nations within the EU). Give it some time.

  44. For SNP supporters, enjoying lower petrol prices AND supporting independence is the kind of internal mental paradox that sent HAL off of ‘2001’ round the bend, so maybe they will all melt down before the election.

  45. It’s interesting that there are opinion polls on this site taken at a similar period prior to the last election. Comparing like with like, the swing from Labour to SNP during 2009-2014 is 18%. Massive as it is, many Labour-held seats can actually survive this surge. Also, beware uniform swing projections! When you look at local factors in Labour-held seats which would be lost in an 18% swing, such as high LD votes which might defect to Labour, only a few Labour-held look vulnerable in reality. It is also widely expected that the swing will erode as the real poll approaches. Some of the 2009 polls gave the SNP a significant lead over Labour which evaporated. My best projection at the moment based on this analysis is that Labour will suffer losses within single figures.

  46. @spearmint

    I don’t know — The European Civil War has been going on a long time — the latest bit was the trouble in the Balkans in the 1990s. The bit before that resulted in the near destruction of the entire continent in 1945.
    The current truce caused by the emergence of a new Franco-German Empire known as ‘The EU’ can’t last!
    Meanwhile, we are eyed up jealously by the Russian Empire in the East!

  47. @Alec

    If another controls your finances, they decide how much you can spend. While the UK looks to be sending troops to Iraq all over again, Scotland would not. That’s one example of a cost saved, and could free up monies for other things.

    When someone else spends your cash against your wishes, that person’s support does tend to drop a tad.

    The oil price is an interesting point that many of the non-45% keep highlighting. What they fail to highlight is that oil was the bonus to be used to pad out the already working Scottish economy, and that independence wasn’t likely to happen before the Spring of 2016. In that sense, the oil price wasn’t a driving force for the vast majority of the pro-Yes camp.

    Such small facts are always omitted when ‘falling oil price’ headlines are mentioned. Perhaps truffles and ‘small technical details’ aren’t compatible? :))

  48. Spearmint

    The really mysterious thing about Tory campaign finance reform IMO is […]the Liberal Democrats.

    They must have signed off on this. They have no money. A disproportionate number of the Tories’ top 40 targets are Lib Dem-facing. What were they thinking!?

    I’m not sure that they will have agreed to it at all – even though Clegg is supposed to be responsible for matters constitutional. Admittedly if he did sign it off it would be in line with his general character and in line with the general Westminster belief that the possession of money is of itself some sort of justification for actions. But the real scandal here is that such an important change could be put through by statutory instrument with any parliamentary scrutiny.

    Labour have to take a lot of responsibility for this because they set the current system up, including the weak and widely ignored Electoral Commission. It’s part of the vanity of the powerful that they never consider that the powers they hug to themselves may never be used against them later on by their successors.

  49. Half time in the footy, so time for some long overdue enunciation on polling matters. It seems to me that we have three key things going on at present that have led to the narrowing between Labour and the Tories and the appalling polling performance of both the two major parties. Firstly, and something that was almost impossible to predict three months ago, has been the rise in the SNP Westminster vote in Scotland post-referendum. Whether this sustains itself all the way until next May is difficult to say, but I guess the key will be whether the virulent anti-Toryism that exists north of the border outweighs the desire to give Labour a bloody nose in the Westminster election, thereby increasing the chances of a majority or Tory led UK government. Secondly comes the rise of UKIP, far more likely to harm the Tories in the short term. Will these voters return disproportionately to the Tories come May, as some seem sure they will, through fear of a Labour Government? There may be a strange symbiosis at play next May. Will the desire in Scotland to avoid a Tory Government prove stronger than the fear of Labour down south amongst right wing UKIP voters?

    Of course, thirdly, and probably the most fascinating of all, is the complete lack of correlation between the Labour and Tory VIs and the disappearance of the trusty old political pendulum. Poor old Eoin Clarke must be pulling his hair out! No more Reds up, Blues down. Reds down, Blues down together now!. Labour has slumped by 5-6 points in the last 9 months and yet not a jot of that lost support has gone to the Tories. They’ve actually dropped at a time when Labour has shed a significant number of votes. Conversely, Labour hasn’t been the beneficiary of this historically low Tory vote, polling only fractionally better than a Tory Party sunk almost perpetually now in the low 30s. Throw in the historically bad Lib Dem polling figures and both the Tories and Labour must be wondering why they can’t garner more support..

    The answer must lie in the widespread public disaffection with Westminster politics. I think this is deeply engrained now and I can’t foresee any political event or the emegence of a personality who will change it over the next five months. Parties are whistling in the dark if they think gargantuan cash-stuffed war chests will change it or indeed UKIP gaffes, now occurring almost daily. I don’t suppose a bit of sexism, racism and homophobia is going to worry the core UKIP vote. More likely enhance it, would be my guess!

    I think the party might well be over and May 2015 will prove to be a curtain call for the Red and Blur tribes. One will be a winners by default, probably scrabbling around for a workable coalition. Best case scenario for me would be a Labour, SNP, Greens and Lib Dem coalition pledged to bring about serious electoral, constitutional and party funding reform. Any other combination codemns us to more of the same and further doses of the very things that have driven so many millions of our fellow citizens to either apathy or into the arms of non-mainstrean parties.

    Blimey, I’ve missed a lot of the second half. Got carried away. Back to the footy!


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