Since the Scottish referendum we’ve had Scottish polls from MORI, Panelbase, YouGov and Survation and they’ve been consistent in showing large leads for the SNP over Labour in Westminster voting intentions. ICM now have a new Scottish poll out and it shows the same as other companies – topline Westminster voting intentions are CON 13%, LAB 26%, LDEM 6%, SNP 43%, UKIP 7%, GRN 4%.

The 17 point SNP lead is smaller than the 24 point lead that Survation recorded at the start of the week (and without tables yet we can’t really speculate why) but would still produce a landslide win for the SNP if repeated in the general election next year. In the Guardian write up they mention some analysis by John Curtice suggesting that Labour may do even worse than uniform swing suggests – looking at responses from areas where Labour was over 25% ahead of the SNP in 2010 shows the Labour vote dropping more there than average. I’d be wary of reading too much into sub-samples of voting intention in a poll that’s only 1000 people to begin with, but nevertheless this seems perfectly plausible for the reasons I mentioned here – when there is a huge drop in support for a political party a uniform swing does start to become untenable due to a floor effect… there are simply too many seats where a party doesn’t have enough support to begin with to lose that much, so they have to lose more votes in places they had more votes.

UPDATE: Full tabs are here, and reallocation of don’t knows did happen and did help Labour – it would have been a nineteen point lead otherwise.


453 Responses to “ICM Scottish poll gives SNP 17 point lead”

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  1. Meh, we all know they would creep back into the other parties. Especillay SNP to Labour will increase as the GE draws near.

  2. Presuming that Ashcroft’s seat polling in the New Year confirms Curtice’s initial analysis, then it’s going to become much more difficult for the SNP to manage expectations about May.

    Given the considerable overlap between SNP and SGP voters, I wonder if the Greens will expand the number of seats that they plan to target?

  3. Skippy

    What’s that Skippy? Nicola is trapped in a billabong with Angus, and they need Jim Murphy to ride to the rescue?

    I’d alert the Flying Doctor to call for help, but Cameron has cancelled all the Maritime Patrol Aircraft!

  4. What’s that Skippy? Swingback is real, but only in places like Scotland where they tried having the natives in power for a while?

    Thank God the POMEs are OK!

  5. is there anyone in the house who can translate scotsbabble into English :(

  6. What’s that Skippy? You don’t know about the 1960s TV series starring you?

  7. Oh right.

    I was born in 1993. Have fun dealing with that information ;0)

  8. More Scotland! Back to the food. New year polls will be interesting.

  9. @Skippy

    Wow.

    I seriously have shirts older than you.

    I feel old :-(

  10. Don’t feel bad. I’m getting there. I recently taught English to a kid born in 2008 and he could converse perfectly well even though it was his second language.

  11. I had to double take at the date on his passport.

    I mean

    2008

    That just happened!

  12. Skippy

    Alas being young is no excuse for saying “we all know” – a phrase rather frequently used by those who actually don’t.

    There may be all kinds of VI movements between now and May. By definition, they are unknowable.

    If you are still in the education system, I do hope that your use of evidence improves.

  13. ICM Scottish polls are awesome. Will we ever forget their 12th September one which gave Yes an 8 point lead for the referendum?

  14. Amber
    Quality. Have a good New Year.

  15. @OldNat

    I think that could become a very real problem: SNP do brilliantly in May with a 12 point lead (for example) and it’s seen as a failure because of the 24/19/17 point lead now.

    In many years that might not be a big issue, but if there is another hung parliament then presentation and perceptions could make a difference in the back room negotiations.

  16. The Guardian editorial on the ICM poll is intriguing. I’m sure that they consider themselves as “dispassionate analysts”, and hence the reactions of most Scots to be wrong-headed.

    The rather condescending tone is revealing.

    Labour is being punished by Scottish voters for having campaigned with the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats against independence. Its former voters in the west of Scotland and other onetime heartlands believe that Labour has abandoned them and their interests, while believing the SNP’s converse claim to have embraced them. Neither of these claims actually stands up to forensic examination in the light of day: on many points, Labour’s prospectus remains more redistributive than that of the SNP. But this view is nonetheless the mood of the moment.

    That’s because the SNP is deemed to speak for Scotland while Labour is deemed to have sold its soul to Westminster. As the poll shows, voters take the SNP line on most things, including Trident renewal. Even more seriously, in the short-term, voters believe that the Smith commission’s proposals on fresh powers – the so-called “vow” – are a letdown and not, as Labour claims and dispassionate analysis confirms, a big devolutionary package. In Scotland, the lack of confidence in “London-based” politics trumps everything. The taint of the Tories disables Labour’s counter-claims. Dismiss it as unfair and even irrational if you wish. But it is a political reality. That reality currently stands between Labour and a possible return to power in next year’s general election. It may also even imply that, in spite of the referendum, the UK’s days as a nation state are once again severely numbered. Scotland overshadowed everything else in 2014. It may do so again in 2015.

  17. The Sheep

    Expectations Management is a critical aspect of campaigning for any party doing well (or badly) in the polls.

    Mind you, when the response of LiS activists is just to rubbish this particular pollster (and conveniently forgetting all the other pollsters that have been producing similar numbers) then LiS should probably learn from the mistakes of the SNP (and others) in the past of over-egging their pudding..

    When all the evidence is that your party will lose seats at the next election, to maintain the opposite simply looks as if you are in denial.

  18. Poor Anthony, no day of rest where Scotland is concerned. Admittedly even Christmas Day was treated as a normal working day in a lot of that country up to at least the 50s, but still.

    The ICM poll seems plausible enough, though the Guardian article seems oddly lacking in fieldwork dates which suggests that they have been sitting on it for a while – possibly waiting for Curtice’s analysis. But it’s perfectly in line with all the other polls – as I pointed out on the Survation poll, it’s the consistency of recent Scottish Westminster polls that is surprising, give the political volatility there over the last year.

    Curtice’s suggestion that the swing against Labour will be especially strong in its traditional heartlands is also plausible. Some of this will be the sort of proportional swing that commenters such as Unicorn have discussed in depth, but there may also be the high-Yes, low-affluence connection that we seen in much polling and indeed the referendum result which may intensify it even further. The Guardian suggests that while UNS would leave ten Labour MPs, the more sophisticated model would give them only three – ironically the same as the Lib Dems (ain’t FPTP great).

    This is an online poll by ICM and most of those during the Referendum (done for the SoS) were decent enough. The only rogue was the small and hurriedly organised one for the S Tel which ICM apologised for almost as soon as published. We don’t know what weightings they are now using and it’s possible that, as with YouGov, the results are slightly Yes-friendly, but on these figures that’s not going to help Labour much.

    And I never got round to wishing everyone the best for whatever seasonal festivals they are celebrating, please accept them now and of course our perpetual thanks to Anthony for providing this forum and his wise guidance in leading it.

  19. Visceral?
    You can say that again.
    They may have managed a seasonal truce on the Western Front but that doesn’t apply in the Scotland of the moment.
    The Guardian may be right that Scotland may well continue to dominate the coming year.
    However it is not true that “the UK’s days as a nation state are numbered”. Despite the truly visceral nature of the politics, the UK is safer than at any time in my adult life time. The SNP White Paper was predicated on oil priced always over $100 dollars per barrel. There were also hyperbolic hopes for green energy which have to be re-assessed and population projections were based on high levels of migration which are not happening. So in practice the SNP is now a party of devolution
    On many points Labour is more redistibutionist?
    I think on all ?
    Labour has a mountain to climb but must try patiently to explain in the midst of the visceral threats

  20. @ Old Nat

    But the four polling firms which Anthony mentions had an average No lead of just 3% from all their September referendum polling. And ICM’s referendum polling was particularly iffy.

    As to your thinly veiled comment about LiS activists being in denial, I’ve never denied that LiS could lose seats at the 2015 election. Therefore, it seems odd that the UKPR YeSNP supporters feel the need to make snide comments about me.

  21. Amber (fpt)

    It’s actually fairly easy to find out what proportion of No voters intend to choose the SNP in May from the YouGov poll that Scotslass referred to:

    https://d25d2506sfb94s.cloudfront.net/cumulus_uploads/document/19n7gw3lt9/Sun_Results_Scotland_December_2014.pdf

    At that time (f/w 9-11 Dec) 9% of No voters said they would vote SNP – no a lot, though up from 5% in the previous YouGov (27-30 Oct). But then only 10% of Yes voters will vote for any of the No Parties.

    Those figures are of those who gave a preference. What is also true is that No voters are much more likely to say that they don’t know who they will vote for[1]. At 16% this is much higher than for Yes voters (only 6%) and similar to October (Yes voters have got more decided). This may indicate some No voters thinking of going (back?) to the SNP or possibly uncertain of which No Party to vote for (if any).

    So there may be a little hope there for Labour, but it could also be bad news if these are No voters who make up part of the 20% or so of 2011 SNP voters not currently supporting them who may be considering them again.

    [1] Those who say they won’t vote at all only make up 2% of both Yes and No voters – unchanged since the end of October. It’s significantly lower than we see for GB-wide polls and indicates the higher level of engagement that we have seen from Scotland this year.

  22. @ Roger Mexico

    Thanks for that; 9% is, I believe, by far the highest which any poll has shown.

  23. Amber

    Your initial response to the early polls, indicating a massive LiS -> SNP swing after the referendum, suggested that you took a principled stand that preferred sacrificing your party, as long as it had saved your country.

    Still, you need to move on. Your side won the referendum, and we are now looking at polling which suggests that, as Scots decide how to vote for the House of Commons that a majority decided should exercise sovereign dominion over Scotland, most Yes voters will support a single party, while the No voters will splinter their votes among the varieties of unionist parties.

    Given that situation, can you suggest under what conditions LiS would not lose FPTP seats?

  24. @ Roger Mexico

    This is an online poll by ICM and most of those during the Referendum (done for the SoS) were decent enough.

    The two ICM referendum polls during September 2014 had Yes at -2 & then +8. They’d been doing okay up until September, then something went wrong.

  25. @ Old Nat

    Given that situation, can you suggest under what conditions LiS would not lose FPTP seats?

    Of course not. You’ve set parameters which, taken at face value, preclude any other result.

  26. Amber

    Oh! If only all the pollsters had continued to suggest a No lead, then your leaders would never have had to panic themselves into using language that suggested far more than they ever intended to offer Scotland in terms of autonomy.

    Bloody pollsters! It was all their fault!

    Of course, some folk might feel that honest politicians would have looked at providing a constitution for the UK that was based on principles like subsidiarity, instead of calculating how they could get away with offering the minimum amount of devolution that they thought they could get away with.

  27. Amber

    I didn’t set the parameters – the poll respondents did!

    It’s called evidence,

  28. Don’t think the Guardian editorial was condescending. To imagine it was tends to demonstrate the immaturity of much of Scottish politics at present.

    The ‘visceral fury’ is a symptom of that. It’s OK for the SNP at Holyrood to collaborate with Tories to get their budgets past, but it isn’t OK if Labour happens to believe in the union, as the Tories also do. As the editorial says, that’s the mood of many, however unsensible it might actually be. Thinking that a party committed to reducing taxes on big corporations is somehow left wing just because they are anti Tory for me, demonstrates the fact that too many of my fellow Scots have failed to grow up.

    The time for us to define our nation with reference to the English has long past, yet still we cling to the identity lifeline. It’s so corrosive and unhelpful, leading too many to wild imaginations and false certainties, and is thoroughly divisive to boot.

  29. @ Old Nat

    I meant that you are setting the parameter which assumes that nothing will change from now until the 2015 election. There could be changes. I’m certainly not saying there will be – but it’s possible.

  30. I think @Oldnat’s point regarding SNP expectation management is interesting. Indeed, I said as much a few days ago, when I mused that Jim M might yet be seen as a hero for losing a few seats, while the SNP views as ‘the loser’ despite significant gains. All very interesting.

    Normally, big poll movements have a tendency to unwind to a degree, suggesting that the above scenario is likely. There are other possible reasons also. With the SNP the runaway leader now, it’s extremely hard to return to their default psychological position as the underdog – Labour has firmly bagged that tag now, and the SNP is now the Scottish establishment.

    However, the dynamics of nationalism are often ugly, and rarely logical, and the atmosphere of mistrust that has been engendered by the Yes campaign is powerful. The denigration of information sources incompatible with the belief system, the belittling of contrary views, and the willingness to adopt the classic siege mentality of blaming outsiders are extremely powerful, and look like having a lasting influence.

    I guess the key question here is whether the SNP surge really has peaked. If it has, then Labour is likely to pull something back, but it still faces some very powerful emotional forces, and doesn’t at this stage appear to have the weaponry to overcome these.

  31. @ Old Nat

    Bloody pollsters! It was all their fault!

    You know that’s not what I said. I said that the September polls didn’t reflect the result on the day. So, either all four polling firms got it wrong… or something changed.

  32. Alec

    That you don’t consider the Guardian editorial “condescending” doesn’t surprise in any way at all

    Such matters are not issues of fact, but of perception.

    People vote on the basis of how they perceive the world around them.

    Many will see your self-description as “grown-up”, while those of us who disagree with your view of the world are but children, as arrogance, verging on delusion.

    I wouldn’t go quite so far.

  33. Alec,

    Actually, I find the way that being “anti-Tory” has become more important than having left-wing policies as such rather amusing. Labour in particular is reaping the whirlwind of the 1980s and 1990s, when tactical anti-Toryism was where it was at.

    It’s fascinating how the left got such an issue to be blown up out of such proportion. It would be as if the right could caught in a tangle over some issues that weren’t very big with the public as a whole, like immigration or the EU, and ended up waging war with each… Oh.

    I like your point about how the SNP has got absolutely no flak for co-operating with the Tories on budgets in Scotland, but Labour got into trouble for being in the same No campaign as them. Of course, I regard the SNP’s ability to not only enact Tory policies, but even to sometimes claim them as their own, to be one of their better features, and the Tories seemed to master devolution and PR better than almost any other party (the Greens are a possible exception) in the 2007-2011 parliament. It was a rare case of two parties talking about grown-up co-operative politics… And doing it.

  34. And ICM did get it very wrong.

  35. Alec

    “However, the dynamics of nationalism are often ugly, and rarely logical”

    True. Yet I forgive you and all the other Brit Nats for that. You are the victims of the constant propaganda of the British state.

  36. @ Old Nat

    Your initial response to the early polls, indicating a massive LiS -> SNP swing after the referendum, suggested that you took a principled stand that preferred sacrificing your party, as long as it had saved your country.

    Of course. And I stand by that.

  37. The following article from the political dept of University of Southampton was interesting regarding Quebec and what it tells us about how things will play out in the next decade in the UK:

    http://sotonpolitics.org/2014/09/20/what-can-the-uk-learn-from-the-aftermath-of-quebecs-two-independence-referendums/

    Quote:

    “The final, and perhaps most significant lesson that the UK can take from Canada, is that Quebec is still in the confederation. This seemed extremely unlikely to most Canadians in 1995. Paradoxically, by devolving more power to Quebec in response to the demands of the nationalist movement, the Canadian government has made Quebec secession less likely.

    “…the longer that the SNP is a governing party, the less it will be able to appeal to voters as an attractive alternative to politics as usual. The more the SNP appears to voters as just one political party among others, the less the Scottish electorate will see independence as offering an alternative to politics as usual.”

    End Quote

    Bloc Quebecois got whupped in the 2011 Canadian federal elections. They got less than a quarter of the popular vote in Quebec. Instead pan-Canadian federal parties are back in fashion in Quebec (New Democrats, Conservatives and Liberals).

    Turns out that in time nationalistic urges burn out and fade. The big question is “Will it happen more quickly in the UK given that the margin of victory for the No side was 10 points instead of less than 1 point as in Quebec”.

    I think it will happen more quickly in Scotland than in Quebec, but not quickly enough for the general election which is in just five months time.

    The real battleground for the two main parties (Con and Lab) is England. Scotland is now like NI in that they are marginalising themselves by focusing on parties that don’t contest seats in the next election. This is what Quebec did too in the aftermath of their referendum – they ceased to influence the make-up of the Federal Govt in Ottawa for a period.

  38. @Oldnat – very droll. At no point have I ever campaigned for the British state to be retained. You’re description of me as a ‘Brit Nat’ shows how corrupted your own personal politics have become, once again seeking to define yourself against something, not simply as being something.

    I don’t think it’s particularly arrogant to say what we each believe in. I do believe politics in Scotland needs to mature and move away from the ‘blame Westminster/hate Tories’ culture. I do believe that it displays a failure to politically grow up.

    Does someone having a contrary view to yours make them arrogant? Who knows, but in attacking me personally, while leaving the issues to one side, you’ve graciously made my point for me.

  39. Amber

    “And I stand by that”

    Good for you!

    Like many aspects of politics, nationalism/patriotism (unless it is of a form that wants to dominate others) is not a bad thing, of itself.

    Hopefully, we can both have a willingness to share some aspects of sovereignty in a wider political union with other parts of Europe.

  40. That should have read “Scotland is now like NI in that they are marginalising themselves by focusing on parties that don’t contest seats in the rest of the UK.”

    Don’t know what happened there!

  41. Old Nat – “Like many aspects of politics, nationalism/patriotism (unless it is of a form that wants to dominate others) is not a bad thing, of itself.”

    Not everyone agrees with you on that!

    “Nationalism is an infantile disease. It is the measles of mankind.” – Albert Einstein

  42. Brit nats? Visceral?
    There is someone I know stating on my facebook page that the no voters have to leave Scotland. Murphy will I think want to counter-pose himself and Labour to that kind of extremism.

  43. @ Old Nat

    There’s a point at which you can get too much of a good thing. I think the EU needs to give its members time to shape it to their needs before increasing its size &/or its geo-political aspirations. I’d also like to see the TTIP halted until a compelling case is made for it.

  44. Amber Star

    I said that the September polls didn’t reflect the result on the day. So, either all four polling firms got it wrong… or something changed.

    Well they didn’t get it that wrong. Only by a point or two. And we know there seems to have been a completely predictable (and predicted) swing back to No in the last day or so – including people deciding or switching when they voted[1]. As tends to happen with referendums, last minute votes will be cast conservatively in the sense of keeping things as they are.

    But general elections are different (pollsters have more experience with them) and even if a similar movement happens it won’t make a big change to the final result in terms of seats from these sort of polling figures.

    The ICM/S Tel poll was obviously an anomaly and was widely pointed out as such, not least on here. It had the smallest sample of any poll and an irregularly collected one at that. To try and use it to discredit everything done by ICM or even all polling is simply clutching at straws.

    [1] One other factor, not discussed much, may simply be that No voters were less willing to respond to surveys. we do know that they were less keen on hearing more debate and had a lower consumption of information about the topic, it might be that just didn’t want to think about it any more, as they have to if they answered a questionnaire.

  45. Alec

    ” At no point have I ever campaigned for the British state to be retained.”

    Well, if you say so, it must be true – surprising though such a claim might be to many who have read your posts on here.

    “I do believe politics in Scotland needs to mature and move away from the ‘blame Westminster/hate Tories’ culture. I do believe that it displays a failure to politically grow up. ”

    Oh dear. Where to start?

    ‘blame Westminster/hate Tories’ – it requires a remarkably simplistic and politically incompetent mind-set to concatenate those features into a single characteristic. Congratulations on attaining such a position!

    Lots of people hate the Tories – many of them are posters on here. Doubtless, those English anti-Tories will either be saddened to think that you consider them child-like for holding that opinion, or puzzled why you should so accuse them.

    Rational people will consider that blaming Westminster for decisions taken at Westminster, while blaming Holyrood for decisions taken at Holyrood, would be an entirely proper way in which to view the political worlds we inhabit.

    You may see the world differently from the rest of humanity.

    Far be it from me to deny you that privilege.

  46. The Guardian editorial is condescending to this reasonably balanced reader although the reporting is perfectly fair.

    the editorial suggests that this voting behaviour by those pesky Scots is irrational and that deeper thinkers (ie The Guardian leader writers) know better.

    In fact Scots as indicated over the last two weeks by first YouGov, then Survation and now ICM are acting perfectly rationally and this energised electorate has probably thought about what they intend to do (and why they iuntend to do it) next May very carefully indeed.

    Finally the detail of the switches in the former Labour areas supports the view that Labour figures like Jim Murphy will be punished for their joint campaign with the Tories while the quite devastating (for unionists) leadership ratings show that Amber and Barney’s dim view of Alex Salmond and Nicola Sturgeon is not widely shared among the Scottish people.

  47. Amber Star

    The two ICM referendum polls during September 2014 had Yes at -2 & then +8. They’d been doing okay up until September, then something went wrong.

    Just to get the figures straight, there were 3 ICM polls in September:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Opinion_polling_for_the_Scottish_independence_referendum,_2014#2014

    12–16 Sep ICM/The Scotsman (online 1,175) 41% 45% 14%

    10–11 Sep ICM/Sunday Telegraph (online 705) 49% 42% 9%

    9–11 Sep ICM/Guardian (phone 1,000) 40% 42% 17%

  48. Nigel Farage named Briton of the Year by The Times.

    Does Pressman know about this?

  49. @ Roger Mexico

    Well they didn’t get it that wrong. Only by a point or two.
    Average the September polls & there’s a ~7% difference.

    And we know there seems to have been a completely predictable (and predicted) swing back to No in the last day or so – including people deciding or switching when they voted[1]. As tends to happen with referendums, last minute votes will be cast conservatively in the sense of keeping things as they are.
    If it’s predictable, I’m wondering why the polling firms didn’t adjust for it.

    [1] One other factor, not discussed much, may simply be that No voters were less willing to respond to surveys.
    If that’s correct, doesn’t it follows that YeSNP supporters are ‘too’ willing to answer polls & the sample population doesn’t accurately represent the actual electorate?

  50. “it requires a remarkably simplistic and politically incompetent mind-set to concatenate those features into a single characteristic. Congratulations on attaining such a position.”

    Hard to believe it but it’s getting worse – I assume it must be nice to be so sure you are right about everything.

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