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. The paradox in a site like this one is that away from the fever of elections, it is mostly a place where the principle of rationality is preserved and any issues of partisanship are kept to a minimum. As the election nears, people by their nature get slightly more fevered in argument and in addition this site tends to collect mmore and more people who are not I Teresa ed in the concept of discussion without bias of polling and the effects of our and on polls.

    I’ve been a long time lurker on this site. 8 years roughly and remember well the craziness that seemed to take hold on here in the weeks and months before the 2010 Election.

    The Scots have already apparently lost their ability to keep to the rules and the quality and relevance of discussion here has suffered as a result. It’s still far more rational than most places though!

    Think I’ll go back to being a lurker for a while.

  2. @Sven

    Got it! “I Teresa ed” is spellcheck for “interested”!

  3. But more seriously…

    @ Adge3 (re: the very last comment on the previous thread)

    Thanks for directing me to the Swingback update posted by @Robin Hood on December 7th. Yes – I agree that he seems to be much more guarded in offering his projection on this occasion. According to his own figures, half of the original 5% Swingback should have been notched up by that point early this month. So, stasis over the time since July 7 doesn’t speak well for the theory – either to date or for the remaining period before the election.

  4. Anyone know why the “report post” facility has disappeared?

    There have been some really nasty ones and the usual arrogant ones and now not only can’t you reply to them you can’t request their removal.

  5. Sven,

    “The Scots have already apparently lost their ability to keep to the rules and the quality and relevance of discussion here has suffered as a result.”

    Not all of us yet, but yes we’re already seeing both Labour and SNP supporters digging in for the next batch of trench warfare before “The Big Push”

    I don’t know which I dislike most; Labour and my own Party arguing over “Angels on the Head of a Pin” about who is the most progressive or the way so many people from outwith Scotland who make observations are accused of “Knowing Nothing about Scotland!”

    I know we have to expect this kind of thing near elections but seeing the “Usual Suspects” from Scottish Labour and the SNP bicker over there mutual distortion of the facts is an unedifying sight.

    Like I said earlier it may well be time for me to join the ranks of the lurkers till June!


  6. @amber – so what is your feeling on the ground? We know online polls attract the already engaged (me being one of them) and overstated the ‘yes’ vote by a fairly considerable margin. Do you think the same is happening now? And do you think that you can compete with a ground operation of 90,000 new SNP members?


    IIRC AW said he was looking for a better ‘report’ button – the original one was a lot of work.

    However, as is usual, I agree that some posters should take a long hard look at their behaviour and ask themselves if they really want to present themselves to the world in that nasty light :(

  8. Chatteringclass,

    “We know online polls attract the already engaged (me being one of them) and overstated the ‘yes’ vote by a fairly considerable margin.”

    Do we?

    Online polls do include a slightly more engaged demographic, but we don’t really know if they better represent the “Voting Public” than the “General Public”.

    Given that only six out of ten voters vote and the ones that do are both the most engaged and decide the result, it may be that on line polls could be more representative of those who actually vote.

    As to overstating Yes by a considerable margin, if I remember Anthony’s post referendum summary correctly there was little or no difference in accuracy between the final on line and phone polls for the referendum with most getting it more or less right.


    Did the on-line polls “overstated the ‘yes’ vote by a fairly considerable margin”?


  9. @Peter Cairns – I would much prefer if you stayed active. Welcome your poss, and the refreshingly un partisan nature of them

  10. “* Labour won’t win because their Scottish base is dead.
    * Conservative won’t win because Ukip will sap their vote in the south east, and labour will win in the north
    * Liberals are dead because obvious
    *:Ukip won’t win cos of FPTP”

    Yes. Therefore, the next UK government will have Nicola Sturgeon and Ian Paisley Jnr. leading a coalition.

  11. @ Chatterclass

    I’ll start with this one:
    And do you think that you can compete with a ground operation of 90,000 new SNP members?

    The Yes team had nothing like 90k members on the ground during the referendum.

    The SNP (understandably) doesn’t disclose how many of its registered supporters actually live in Scotland; I know they have considerable numbers of international supporters/ well-wishers. LiS only has members who are on the electoral role in Scotland.

    LiS is probably still outnumbered but not by as much as it appears at face value.

    We know online polls attract the already engaged (me being one of them) and overstated the ‘yes’ vote by a fairly considerable margin. Do you think the same is happening now?

    To some extent, I think it probably is. Roger Mexico did a good write up of the YG poll which seemed to include too many Yes voters. But that’s at the margins; over-all, LiS are facing a huge task.

    In Edinburgh, where I am, it’s still considered likely that LiS can hold its four seats here & possibly add a fifth, provided that the candidates & activists put enough effort in.

    For Scotland as a whole, all I can say at the moment is: Brian Roy, the new general secretary, is a strong campaigner with lots of experience; as is Jim Murphy, Kez & Sarah so LiS has a much stronger core team than before.

    Right now, it’s too early to gauge the scale of the challenge. By the end of February, LiS will know whether it’s a hill or a mountain that’s looming for 2015.

  12. @petercairns

    I was referring to the fact that the indie polls had the parties neck and neck – the end result was 45% yes. I know that the yougov exit poll was close, but the others not so close.

    As far as online polling goes, you might find this interesting:

  13. As always, John Curtice’s comments on Scottish polls are worth reading.

    “There has so far perhaps been something of a reluctance amongst those working on London newsdesks to accept that the SNP could emerge as the third largest party at Westminster in May” [1]

    “If anything, the swing appears to be even greater in such seats. In seats where Labour is defending a majority of more than 25 points the swing in the poll from Labour to the SNP since 2010 is 24 points, rather higher than the 19.5 point swing for Scotland as a whole.”

    “Meanwhile what this poll particularly makes clear is the impact that this alignment of Westminster vote intentions with referendum vote has had on Labour support. Amongst those who say they voted Labour in 2010, 34% say that they voted Yes in the referendum. No less than 68% of this group of Yes voting 2010 Labour supporters now say that they will vote SNP in May. Just 28% remain loyal to Labour. In contrast no less than 87% of those 2010 Labour voters who voted No in May are still backing the party.”

    Useful observations too on the role of WMD, constitutional change among different groups of voters.

    [1] Peter NB. Suggestions that London commentators are often woefully poor at interpreting political events in Scotland, are not restricted to those seeking greater Scottish autonomy! :-)

  14. Amber

    The SNP seem to regularly publish their membership. The last figure I can see on the net is for late November and was 92,187. That is stated as a membership figure not a “registered supporter” figure.

    I can find no reference to an official Labour in Scotland membership figure only controversy as to why it was not being published, a Herald article of 9 December claiming it was 13,500, and an estimate from Jim Murphy on television two weeks ago who said he “didn’t know” and it was around 20,000.

    So is there a membership figure and is it 20,000?

  15. Is the period between now and frankly forever in Scotland just going to be Labour vs SNP carping?


  16. God this place has gone to the dogs.

  17. While bearing in mind Anthony’s warning about wee crossbreaks – ” 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” – we don’t often get much insight into what happens in LD “safe” seats.

    One of the ICM sub-samples is “LD seats with a 25+ point lead over SNP”. Those are
    Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk
    East Dunbartonshire
    Edinburgh South
    Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey
    Orkney and Shetland
    West Aberdeenshire and Kincardine

    FWIW, VI in that group is (2010 vote share in brackets)

    Con 26% (21%) : 15% (22%) : LD 8% (44%) : SNP 39% (11%) : Oth 9% (3%)

    If that is anywhere near reality, my prediction that Michael Moore would hold his seat could be well adrift!

  18. ChatterClass – “I was referring to the fact that the indie polls had the parties neck and neck – the end result was 45% yes”

    Microsoft did an article comparing the Bing Predicts forecast with YouGov, and reckoned they did better than YouGov because they never once forecast Yes winning (They predicted 52% No and the final result was 55% No). See the following for their analysis:

    They also did the US midterms, and beat Nate Silver’s prediction. See

    I really really hope they attempt the UK general election.

  19. Ignore last post!

    The cross break is of “LD seats with a LESS THAN 25 point lead over SNP”.

  20. @ Old Nat

    Edinburgh South 2010, the LD candidate had 34%, SNP 7.7% but Labour’s Ian Murray won with 34.7%.

  21. @ Scotslass

    Are you an SNP member?

  22. Not good for Labour, but the unionist parties (Tory, Labour, LD and UKIP) combined are on 52%, still ahead of the nationalist parties (Greens and Nats) on 47%

  23. I think I have the LD numbers right this time (whether they have any significance is another matter!)

    LD seats where the LD lead over SNP is less than 25% are

    Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey
    Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross
    Argyll and Bute
    West Aberdeenshire and Kincardine
    Edinburgh West

    VI in this wee crossbreak is (2010 vote share in brackets)

    Con 26% (21%) : Lab 15% (22%) : LD 8% (37%) : SNP 39% (18%) : Oth 9% (2%)

  24. Regarding the Scottish polls people are getting so emotional about :-)

    It’s only been three months since the referendum! The Yes people are still cycling through the stages of grief.

    We’ve seen denial/disbelief in the immediate aftermath when they realised winning a decibel contest is not the same as winning a secret ballot. We’ve seen the anger phase – directed squarely at Labour.

    Now they are at Bargaining – they intend to vote SNP to hold the UK govt to ransom to force another referendum.

    At some point they’ll hit Depression and Acceptance, but who knows what will help that along.

    In theory the oil price should, but though Colin and Alec both mentioned it on here as early as October, the mainstream media didn’t cover it till December.

    The Yes people are experiencing grief over the oil price too – denial (“the oil is still in the ground so there is no problem”), anger (“there may be a problem but do the No people have to be so smug about it”) and some bargaining (“the UK govt should provide tax breaks to offset the loss”).

    Depression and acceptance on oil will depend on what happens to oil dependant countries. Not Russia because they are quite unique, but Norway and Canada.

    The Norwegian krone is being dumped, it’s at 7 year lows, as is the Canadian dollar. The Norwegian central bank has done an emergency interest rate cut and Stattoil has announced job cuts. But we won’t know till about Feb how it has affected this quarter’s growth. If even Norway struggles in the current climate, the game is up for the Yes denialists.

    The Lab people need to accept that time is not on their side. It normally takes years to work through traumas like referendums, and it’s less than five months to the election… If I was EdM I’d write off Scotland for the moment and concentrate on the English marginals.

  25. @HFYUFD

    This poll is a car crash for the unionist parties. Adding up the unionist vote is pointless, as no one votes for them as a group, and the SNP are streets ahead of them all separately.

  26. Personally I rather enjoy reading partisan comments provided they are courteously expressed. However, it would clearly be sad if those who are not partisan stop posting because of the comments of those who are. So I hope they stay to improve the balance and standard of the contributions.

  27. @Oldnat

    If the swings are universal across those seats, West Aberdeenshire and Kincardine could be a very tight race – in fact I’d say the Conservatives have a very good chance of winning.

    Lib Dem: 9% (38%)
    Conservative: 35% (30%)
    SNP: 37% (16%)
    Labour: 7% (14%)

  28. Calum Findlay

    Not that I’d put much reliance on such wee numbers – but I suspect that the current LD seats will be pretty individualistic in how the voters respond in May, and a lot will depend on the characteristics of the candidate rather than just party label.

    While in most seats, it looks like the question will simply be one of how close will the SNP Lab struggle be, the LD seats could provide us with much more interesting contests.

    Close run things between 4 parties are not unknown in Scottish elections. It would be fun if we get the odd 5-way (or even 6-way) tussle under FPTP!

  29. I wonder what odds you could get on the Conservatives to win 5+ seats in Scotland in 2015?

    Hold Dumfriesshire, benefit from Lib Dem collapses in WAnK and Berwickshire, come through the middle of Labour losses to SNP in Eastwood and Edinburgh South West without their big name incumbents?

    Maybe slightly far fetched but 3+ seats for Conservatives not that unlikely.

  30. Northumbrian Scot

    Maybe an outside bet, but not far-fetched, I think.

    Certainly worth finding out the odds on offer!

  31. @Amber

    “Because the SNP can’t form a government in Westminster.”

    Arguably, nor can Labour or the Conservatives…well not without help. :))

  32. @Peter Cairns

    “In this respect I think what the politicians including the SNP might be missing as they fight each other is that the people are taking the lead and using the Parties to get what they want, more for Scotland.”

    That sounds fair. Personally I can take or leave independence if as part of a union there’s the option of federalism. The only way to deliver that is to get Westminster devolving things accordingly.

    I think it’s also fair to say that many Scots just don’t trust Westminster / London media / English politicians any more (I offer options, as there is no one thing, but an assortment of things that seem to be part of the problem). Whether this lack of trust is fair or not is neither here nor there. It is a fact. The only way to repair it is for politicians and parties to demonstrate their trustworthiness over a period of time.

    Given that both Con and Lab parties will tell the voters that the other can’t be trusted (in general or specifically on issue ‘x’), I don’t think that trust will come any time soon.

  33. My! Looks like there’s another Scottish poll in tomorrow’s Sunday Herald.. What fun.:-)

  34. Statgeek,

    “I think it’s also fair to say that many Scots just don’t trust Westminster / London media / English politicians any more”

    Not just Scots, lots of people in England are just as fed up, that’s why Party’s other than Labour, Tory and Lib Dem are also doing well.


  35. @Chatterclass

    “And do you think that you can compete with a ground operation of 90,000 new SNP members?”

    I doubt that figure is anywhere near the likely ‘boots on the ground’ number (90,000 pairs amounting to 180,000 boots in total – jokes aside). That’s just the membership. Most of the SNP’s support has been financial and for the next 12 months in my humble opinion. In some cases even a runner-up prize, if you like. I want to see the SNP’s membership in October-December 2015. Will the retention be there?

    Having said all that, there will be some very active people, both on the streets and on-line. We’re seeing it here already. This site has SNP supporters, but it also has a fair amount of Labour folk who are directly involved in the the Labour Party (politicians, candidates, staff and activists). If there are SNP politicians and similar types, other than Peter Cairns, I’m not aware of them. I get the impression they are keen and involved supporters (members perhaps?).

    Perhaps Labour has been pared down to its really devout support base. I doubt it will bode well for their short-term future, since we’re really talking the current crop of politicians and their close supporters, and regardless of what’s in store for May’s result, many will retire or get defeated.

    Having said that, there are many ‘supporters’ of all parties that are not members. Then there are the non-aligned folks that lend their support to a given party for a given cause. I think that Labour could rely on may votes from non-Labour aligned voters for the ABT vote. Less so now, and with the ABT vote going elsewhere, they are looking less like a party of protest / opposition, and more like a party of the establishment.

    Maybe the less devout Labour supporters have just gone a bit quiet for now (not renewed their subscriptions), and are waiting for the right leader to follow.

    All my humble opinion. Not trying to annoy anyone; rather am throwing out ideas to get more informed opinions in return. This place is my most politically active contact with the world, so am shielded from 99% of it.

  36. Candy
    You are right that five months isn’t long for the healing process. SNP MP, P Wishart may not help. He is calling for us all to get together in Scotland…”Yessers or Nawbags” The latter being a fairly dramatic insult based on a central Scots term for scrotum.
    Its unlikely that former ambassador, Craig Murray is too far along the process either given the news he is sharing today.
    News also from Sweden that will also puzzle many of us. With a wobbly minority Social Democrat government having threatened to go to the polls if their budget did not get the green light from the centre right, the PM pulled back from the brink with an announcement that there is an agreement encompassing 6 parties
    that the budget will pass on an the understanding that after the next election the centre right will get first chance to form a government even if the Social Democrats are still the biggest party. Unusual to have an eight year pact. My reason for mentioning this is to show the kind of pressures mainstream parties are under across Europe from populist parties.


    I can certainly confirm that membership does not translate into boots on the ground. Even during our high profile by-election in Clacton only about 10% of our Clacton membership had their boots on the ground canvassing and leafleting plus another 5% or so active in other ways. Of course we had a lot of help from elsewhere given the nature of the election but being a member certainly doesn’t translate to active support.

  38. Guardian/ICM poll of first-time voters. Good news for Green eggs and Lab.

    LAB 41
    CON 26
    GRN 19
    LD 6
    UKIP 3

    Now the bastards have just got to go out and vote in Hallam.

  39. Statgeek,

  40. Blood hell I can’t internet today.


    I second what Norbold says. Membership numbers are only a simple figure which mask lots of complicated realities underneath. For example, the SWP count among their membership anyone who has signed one of their petitions, massively inflating the statistics.

    The SNP’s membership gains are much more solid and massive than that, but they do face the issue for now of having a lot of newbies turn up. This is on balance a good thing for them, but a couple of dark clouds are the inexperience of the majority of their new members and the difficulty of sustaining the “buzz” after the GE and with the Holyrood elections still a year off.

    As a general rule, the insurgent nature of a political movement is inversely correlated to its campaigning quality. Often, the popular insurgent factor overcomes that difficulty, but that momentum can be stalled by an effective defensive campaign. The prime examples for this are Newark, Eastleigh and Wythenshawe and Sale East, to use each of the main parties.

    Getting campaigners to turn up is an ever-present problem. Numbers usually increase towards the tail end of campaigns, but almost never break about 25% of members at any one time, to the annoyance of the more assiduous volunteers.

  41. colin

    “God this place has gone to the dogs.”

    If only.

  42. mr N

    “Now the bastards have just got to go out and vote in Hallam.”

    Good luck with your



  43. @Colin – I think you mean ‘dugs’

  44. O/T but the following image of the number of scientific papers produced in 2014 was shared on Reddit

    h ttp://

    The UK is ahead of Germany and Japan despite having a much smaller population (in fact we do best in Europe).

    And Iran produced more scientific papers than Poland and Belgium, which indicates they ARE serious about trying to diversify from oil and perhaps join the world of trading nations. South Africa outperformed Malaysia and Romania.

    This is shaping up to be a really interesting century.

  45. If Plaid, Greens and the SNP can present a united progressive alliance for WM it could be very powerful. I wonder if the SDLP might also prefer to be part of that alliance.

    If that block could deliver Labour a majority, I should think that Ed M would be happy. I don’t think Ed M would have a problem with scrapping Trident renewal which they have said is the price of support & Ed M would probably get on a lot better politically with Sturgeon as opposed to Murphy.

    So UK Labour shouldn’t be too worried.

    If Labour win a majority then the siren voices that tell Ed M not to be radical will gain power but a minority Labour with SNP/Plaid/Green block for C & S plus support on a case by case basis could be ideal and enable Ed M to persue a left wing agenda.

  46. @Candy – per head, UK is miles ahead of the US too. We also have more Nobel Prizes per head than an other country (or at least we used to).

    Must be careful here though – could be accused of being an arrogant British nationalist.

  47. That ICM first timers poll has interesting aspects relevant to Scottish politics. The cross breaks will be interesting, but Farage gets a -51% net rating, while support for EU membership is a whopping 67% against just 19% for leaving.

    The Yes campaign insisted on telling us that Scotland was more pro EU than England, which appears to be true, but if younger generations of UK voters are becoming much more pro EU, it potentially removes one reason given for wanting independence.

  48. @Mr Nameless

    Even so, it’s surely better to be on the up like the SNP, than fighting the rising tide like Labour.

    Labour though has such huge majorities in so many Scottish seats that whatever the polls currently say it is going to be very difficult for the SNP to win large swathes of these seats.

    It will be very interesting if over the next 5 months Labour begins to close the gap, by say 10% or so (so the SNP are polling around 38% and Lab 30%. Will the final vote be consistent with the final polls or will Labour based on large majorities and some momentum ourpeform them?

    It will be fascinating to see either way. Even if the SNP essentially holds its 15-20% lead, how this actually translates into seats.

  49. RAF,

    Indeed. The lack of battle experience among the new recruits is simply atmospheric drag on the SNP rocket – it seems quite likely they’ll do very well in May. It’s just unlikely they’ll clear up quite so easily as polls currently suggest once the constituency-level fights of the short campaign really get going.

  50. @Alec

    There is a very strong correlation between number of Nobel prizes/10 million population and the amount of chocolate consumed per person.

    Just saying.

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