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. Carfrew

    “Oldnat is fond of saying that once Independent, you would be free to negotiate as equals.”

    I may, indeed, have said that. It was also, doubtless, self-evidently true in the context in which it was said.

    However, unless you have evidence otherwise, i would suggest that you are mistaken if your implication is that I have argued that Scotland could negotiate as an equal of the 12 member state alliance known as OPEC. Indeed, individual members of OPEC are not equals in that context.

    In a later post, you state that ” the UK as a whole could fund and pioneer the technology for North Sea oil.”. I have seen such claims before, but never seen them justified.

    My understanding is that, since the privatisation of Britoil in 1982, the UK has contributed little or nothing to the funding of the pioneering technology changes required for commercial exploitation of deep water fields.

    That work has been funded by companies in the oil and gas sector through monies raised on the international money markets.

    What makes you think that the Norwegians are “doing the Arctic thing” (whatever that odd phrase means) “alone”?

  2. “Oil prices fall to five-year low; 250,000 jobs at stake in 8 states ”

    Jeez! If only the USA had clout, and WMD and things like that – they might be as glorious as the UK!

  3. @oldnat

    Hello again, hope you’ve been enjoying Xmas after your stay in hospital etc.

    You said the “equals” thing on a number of occasions in a variety of contexts as I recall, hence it seemed like something of a general principle. I do recall the EU thing as being one of the contexts… (I was quite taken with it at the time, pondered on it quite a bit…)

    Regarding the North Sea thing, I was obviously thinking of the initial development, BEFORE 1982. Obviously they may not have needed to do much development after 1982, when much of it was already developed.

    Of course, things are changing now,.with the need to try and recover oil from more difficult fields etc.

    As for the UK as a whole funding part of the development costs, remember that the British initially used state-owned groups in the North Sea, like the British National Oil Corporation, and the partly-state-owned BP. Of course, since then we have sold off our stakes in those companies, and lost control in the process, not necessarily to our benefit, as Sam points out.

    The Arctic thing was more of a contention… one way of reading the article is that it is difficult because doing it alone, another is that it is not economic to build all the necessary infrastructure for a single field in the Arctic because the others are currently uneconomic with the oil price what it is. Either way, would be easier if possible to share the load with other countries. Other countries, including possibly Norway, have been able to benefit from reduced costs after we pioneered deep sea driiling in the first place, something which I think Sam could take account of. I think he’s right about more – and better – state involvement tho’…

  4. @OLDNAT

    “Oil prices fall to five-year low; 250,000 jobs at stake in 8 states ”

    Jeez! If only the USA had clout, and WMD and things like that – they might be as glorious as the UK!”


    Lol oldnat, we don’t have enough clout with oil prices, ‘cos we don’t dominate the sector. We have had rather more clout when it comes to banking though.

    Incidentally, while still on the subject of oil prices, the 64 million dollar question is that of whether the crash is short term or not.

    And it seems to me it rather depends on Opec’s motivation. If it is mostly a political act, to perhaps chasten the likes of Russia, send a message, as some on here contend, it may be short-term, depending on the response. Americans didn’t necessarily respond to Opec’s liking in the Seventies, so it continued for quite a while…

    If it is an economic act, intending to secure market share, as Colin has argued, and as Saudis appear to be saying themselves, maybe it’ll last longer, or maybe it’ll be sporadic, whenever fracking looks like gathering momentum again…

  5. Carfrew

    “Regarding the North Sea thing, I was obviously thinking of the initial development, BEFORE 1982. Obviously they may not have needed to do much development after 1982, when much of it was already developed.”

    I think, if you look back to the early technology used in the early development of the North Sea, you’ll find that most (if not all) of it had already been developed by the 1940s in the offshore exploitation in the Gulf of Mexico.

    I believe it to be a total myth that “the UK” significantly funded the development of the exploitation technologies at any point.

    The reason that I mention the date of the privatisation of Britoil, is that they were one of the firms raising capital to invest in the technology – as was Statoil in a country that managed a one-off resource sensibly.

    If, however, you have evidence that the UK State invested taxpayer money in field development, I’d be happy to see it.

  6. @oldnat

    Certainly the Gulf of Mexico saw early steps in offshore oil in the era preceding the North Sea, but the Deepwater stuff came later and the North Sea is generally a harsher regime than the Gulf, hence requiring additional tech. to cope with more challenging wind/waves/temps etc.. But I can’t find anything definitive on the matter – if you can of course it will be gratefully received.

    As for specifying the investment of taxpayer money, this is a case of needlessly over-specifying. If the state owns a company that is profitable, it can simply reinvest the profits in R&D without troubling the taxpayer.

  7. @oldnat

    p.s. It’s possible the US does have a bit more clout regarding the oil, but may prefer to see a rival chastened and be prepared to see fracking take a hit to that end…

  8. The other point to bear in mind as regards Oil is that if we are assuming 15-20 years until the next Referendum then Oil is likely to be a smaller part of the Scottish economy and a declining sector in terms of extraction in Scotland.

    So Oil may be much less important as an issue by the time we have another referendum.

    If the economy has not been able to diversify to other sectors (Thorium? ;-) ) then this will help unionists.

    If there is more focus on sectors with long term value & stability then this may help nationalists.

    However trying to make economic predictions 15 years in the future is a mugs game so we’ll just have to wait and see.

    Anyway I’m going to be out of the country for a few weeks and may or may not be able to post. Happy New Year in advance.

  9. Speaking of small countries with sunny dispositions

    the only way out for the Greeks from the loan-sharking operation they were lured into was for things to get so bad they started electing politicians who couldn’t be bribed. It looks like they might be getting close to that point now which is likely to have a knock on effect here if it reaches critical before the election.

  10. Carfrew

    Alas, the convention is that those asserting a particular set of circumstances to be true, must be able to justify that statement when challenged.

    I would suggest that your assertion that the UK state funded North Sea Oil and Gas Exploration and exploitation, is somewhat lacking in that crucial aspect which we pedants require – eg any substantiation whatever. ( (:) )

    Not that I am making any suggestion that you made it up, or deliberately introduced a falsehood into the discussion – simply that you made the pardonable error of repeating something you had heard without checking its accuracy.

    I’ve done the same myself from time to time.

  11. @Roger M – “[2] Obviously if anyone actually did predict the recent movements in the market, we’ll all be interested to see the fortune they made on the futures market.”

    You might have missed my posts during the campaign where I pointed out commentators suggesting the oil sector was in the midst of an unsustainable bubble, with a huge crash likely that posed a systemic risk to the global finance system?

    This has been predicted by some of us for quite a while now, but we were dismissed as doom mongers.

  12. Carfrew

    Alas, the convention is that those asserting a particular set of circumstances to be true, must be able to justify that statement when challenged.

    I would suggest that your assertion that the UK state funded North Sea Oil and Gas Exploration and exploitation, is somewhat lacking in that crucial aspect which we pedants require – eg any substantiation whatever. ( (:) )

    Not that I am making any suggestion that you invented the idea – simply that you made the pardonable error of repeating something you had heard without checking its accuracy.

    I’ve done the same myself from time to time.

  13. I see Oliver Letwin made the suggestion that the polltax be trialled in scotland.The tory head of policy is now monitoring the nhs and will probably write the conservative manifesto.

  14. Carefree,

    Thanks for NOT answering my question.

    I wanted to know if the impact of an oil price fall was proportionally larger or smaller than the banking crisis and you gave a rambling load of assertions about the UK and it’s supposed influence.

    If you don’t know say so, if you don’t want to answer don’t post about something else pretending it’s an answer.

    I don’t know if this current fall in the price of oil will last or will be proportionally larger for Scotland than the banking crisis for the UK, leading to more than a decade of cuts and the lowest share of public spending since the twenties, or as bad as what Ireland, Portugal or Spain face.

    I do know that like the UK, Ireland, Portugal and Spain we’d still be an independent country at the end of it. Even at it’s deepest no one in Portugal, Ireland or Greece was suggesting the go into a union with the UK, Spain or Turkey.


  15. Mike Smithson is suggesting that the SNP are sitting on a GE voting intention poll that they would rather not publish:

    “Over the last three nights the SNP has been emailing me detailed findings from its latest Panelbase poll on things like Devomax – which have all reinforced its position. The latest email was headed “POLL – LAST FINDING, DEVO MAX” doesn’t include any voting figures which seems very odd. It is hard to believe that a poll that was commissioned by the party did not seek to find out how Scottish voters were currently thinking about the May 7th general election just four and a bit months away. Doing well in that election has become a key objective following the party’s double digit defeat in the IndyRef. Yet there is no information about GE15. If the numbers had shown that the party was maintaining its lead then I’ve little doubt that this would have been published. The Panelbase survey is a private poll and the SNP is free to issue whatever it likes. Draw your own conclusions.”

    The previous Panelbase poll had SNP 45%, Lab 28%, Con 15%, LD 3%, UKIP 7%, Green 1%.

  16. Alternatively the SNP may be sitting on good news until after the Xmas / New Year period. If I had major news I wouldn’t waste it in this period – after all come January 1 with all the celebrations / new Year’s Honours and so on any earlier news would be lost. Now is the time to bury bad news – January 3 on is the time to announce good news when as it would resonate for far longer…

  17. And, as I have often said about oil. Who cares? Nationalism is an emotion based on history / language / culture and so on. It’s not a rational decision.

    Eire started out totally bankrupt. Many countries are totally bankrupt. Should Greece disappear as it has no money? Greece disappearing is the logical extension of those who ramble on about oil… Oil/ economy is the unionist argument which actually misses the main point of nationalism.

  18. Agree Jack.
    The SNP may be sitting on it.
    Yippee – after a couple of UK wide polls it willl be realeased and this board becomes Saltire Polling Report again.

  19. Now is the perfect.time to release news if you don’t want other news competing with it, is another way of looking at it.

  20. Mike Smithson:

    “Both the SNP and Panelbase have confirmed to me that there were no GE15 voting intention questions in their poll.”

  21. 07052015
    “Oliver Letwin suggested trialing poll tax in Scotland”. The fact that the Scots did not like it, made the whole thing a disaster. That is your point I take it. The Scots don’t like nuclear subs either, but like poll tax, millions of other British people think both are are fine. Letwin is a right wing intellectual, his political instincts will be acceptable to the average Scot when I win “rear of the year”, or the LD’s form a majority government. None of this means that 3.5 million Scots out of 67 million British, should decide anything.

  22. @Tony / Oldnat

    “two sites, one for Scotland and one for the remainder of the UK.”

    “My personal preference, however, would be one site for Cornwall, and this one for everybody else.”

    Better Together in action (i.e. stay in the UK, but please do shut up, there’s a good chap).

  23. Scottish GE polling is clearly important. A small change of vote share concentrated there (in terms of GB aggregates) could scupper Labour’s chances and transform the GB result much more than would similar changes in other parts of the UK.

    However, we do seem to have reached a point here where wider discussion is focusing on all things Scottish and next to nothing else. Every thread on this site since 22nd December has had a Scottish flag on it so I suppose you could argue that AW is party to that. The problem is the almost total absence of comments on anything else, so it seems that others are choosing to vote with their fingers and comment and browse elsewhere, and as a consequence this site really is in danger of becoming Scottish Polling Report.

  24. Phil,

    There really is no reason for anyone not to post a polling related post on a Scottish section if they want. You can post on anything actually even if there is a Saltire at the top….even Thorium!


  25. Lol, yes we can see what you’re trying to do guys. Try and quibble needlessly and throw in the odd impossible question, and then try and use this to avoid and discredit the stuff about oil prices you can’t deal with. Really ain’t gonna work…


    I was open about not being able to find anything definitive. Meanwhile, you have not substantiated your claim about the Gulf. It’ something of an achievement if you can, given the harsher conditions in the North Sea.

    @Peter Cairns

    Do you guys actually read other people’s posts? Your assertion that I didn’t answer your question is untrue: I did answer it. I made clear I couldn’t answer it. I even gave a reason why: that we don’t know how long the oil price crash will last.

    So when you then go on to say “If you don’t know say so, if you don’t want to answer don’t post about something else pretending it’s an answer” you are not only being unfair but also making no sense at all, because as already indicated, not only did I make clear I didn’t know, I even explained why.

    However, the fact one cannot precisely quantify the effect of the oil price crash, cannot fairly be an excuse to dismiss the other concerns raised in my post. I wasn’t just plucking up stuff out of thin air: oil prices really do impact on things like growth, currencies, investment etc… if you doubt this just look at what happened in the Seventies.

    Or look at what is happening to Norway and Russia. You can’t just wish this stuff away by constructing some impossible question about a comparison with the banking crisis.

    Nor can you just wish away the fact that Scotland would not have the resilience of a larger economy like Russia, or an oil fund like Norway, thus would have less protection. Or that in not controlling their own currency, may not have mitigating instruments like the dropping interest rates or injecting QE.

    You can try and pretend these are just random assertions, but they really aren’t. You asked me a question, which I answered. The question for you is to explain how Scotland would be immune from the effects the likes of Norway and Russia are experiencing, and how they would also be immune from the effects befalling countries like Greece who didn’t control their own currency and so couldn’t slash interest rates, or devalue, or enact QE when an economic crisis hit.

  26. Phil Haines

    Mike Smithson is suggesting […] “If the numbers had shown that the party was maintaining its lead then I’ve little doubt that this would have been published. The Panelbase survey is a private poll and the SNP is free to issue whatever it likes. Draw your own conclusions.”

    Actually I think if you’re a BPC member like Panelbase, then you have to publish the tables relating to whatever gets out[1]. After all most polls are commissioned ‘privately’ by newspapers and the tables appear a day or two after they have put up the articles. So I would expect the relevant parts of the tables to be up pretty soon. It may just be that Ivor Knox was on his hols.

    That said, there’s no obligation to publish tables for everything that’s asked, just what has been published. So we have the situation that the Evening Standard hasn’t published the London VI figures and so they don’t appear in the tables for the other London questions that YouGov asks, even though there are cross-tabs showing VI was asked[2]. Why the Daily Boris does this I don’t know, presumably because they fail to show that their hero hasn’t transformed London into a Tory-voting paradise.

    Interestingly YouGov still insist on updating their London tracker with the VI figures, but only a month later, when the next set of questions are asked :

    We know they did a December poll because they asked some questions about ‘hipsters’

    ht tps://

    – even UKIP voters have heard of them. Though the ‘open-ended responses’ to “If you had to describe hipsters in one word, what would it be?” sadly remain hidden from us – presumably on the grounds of taste and decency.

    [1] Even if it wasn’t originally intended for publication as with the Oakeshott polls in the Lib Dem seats.

    [2] You used to be able to work out VI from these, but now they’ve removed the weighted figures from the headings. Me and my big mouth.

  27. @Anyone regarding oil prices

    If the impact of the drop in oil prices is great enough to impact on Scottish lives, then it will have cause for concern. However, I have a feeling that the majority of Yes voters were not directly involved in the oil industry, so there will be little impact. In other words, they weren’t getting much out of it in the first place (or not enough to make it worth a No vote).

    One thing that seems to be constant in this is that real and nominal prices narrow more and more, and the ‘record low’ with each successive oil price drop is never as low as the previous one.

    Nations which shift to renewables ought to have some protection from prices, but it’s interesting how this oil curse that Scotland has continues. It was a curse when prices were high, and now it’s a curse if prices are to drop.

    We also forget that Brent was at $30 p/b back in 2008 and back to $120 pb in 2010. The price will always be volatile. It’s the nature of the product, and it’s in the nature of nations with that product to plan accordingly. Yes, Norway has hit some snags, and no it hasn’t meant that their oil fund has been wiped off the map.

    Frankly, I believe this football will be kicked around until the oil is gone, and then the commentary will be “It’s too late now”. Such is the position of selfish people with selfish ideals.

    As I said previously, if it is fashionable to accuse the Scottish Government of what could have been, and then call them up on their record of bad predictions, I suggest we also look at every UK chancellors’ predictions for the UK economy over the past 10-20 years. the consistently talk up the economy, talk down the debt and re-position their golden rules.

    The difference is that the latter ought to have more sources of information, while they do possess the financial levers, and they can influence the economy directly. Sadly, the Scottish Government cannot do this, and yet we expect them to be more reliable than the chancellor of the exchequer when it comes to predictions?

    Is it the site owner that occasionally says “mote and beam”? I wonder why?

  28. @Peter Cairns, Roger Mexico et al…

    Clearly there are issues concerning perceptions of risk. The fact that one cannot precisely predict an outcome or quantify it, does not mean there is no risk, or that one cannot anticipate some risk.

    To make this clear, lets try and put it as simply as possible. Suppose some utopian Pro-Yesser, perhaps intoxicated by feelings of invulnerability after spending too long on WoS, or reading the Yes campaign oil projections, elects to cross a busy road while blindfolded.

    Others, horrified, counsel caution, but the pro-yesser will have none of it.

    “Can you say for certain if I’ll get hit by a bus?”, asks the Pro-Yesser.
    “Er, no.” Respond those advocating caution.
    “Why don’t you answer my Question!!!”
    “Erm… we just did!!”
    “oh, well anyway… can you quantify the extent of any damage then if I do get hit?”
    “Well, you may scratch the paintwork, or put a dent in the bodywork…”
    “No, I meant damage to me!!”
    “Ah, well we can’t say for sure. Could be anything from mild abrasions, to fractures, to stuff a whole lot worse”.
    “Right, so you can’t say if anything bad will happen, nor can you say how bad if it does happen. Clearly you are just doomsaying and making stuff up!!”
    And off toddles the Yesser across the road, with unfortunate results…

  29. @070515

    Yes, the release of those 30 year embargoed Cabinet papers at this time of year always produces some fascinating revelations although, in Letwin’s case, it’s highly unusual for someone mentioned in despatches all those years ago to still be in front line politics. The poll tax, and the use of the Scots as guinea pigs to trial its implementation, was one of the great follies of British post-war politics, killing the Tories as a viable political force in Scotland, and contaminating the Tory brand throughout the UK. The VAT hike required to fund the costs of replacing the poll tax with the Council Tax had severe deflationary consequences too, contributing to the deep home-grown recession of the early 90s.

    It was interesting to see from these recently revealed papers that senior Tories like Lawson and Hurd always thought the tax was a disaster waiting to happen, predicting it would leave 7 million people worse off and lead to widespread payment avoidance. Their wise strictures were ignored by Thatcher and her acolytes, including Lord Rostchild and Oliver Letwin who both thought it was a surefire “winner”.

    I gather that Letwin is currently Minister of State for Government Policy at the Cabinet Office, Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster. Who said all political careers end in tears?


  30. @Hal

    It seems the narrative of “why haven’t they published the (obviously bad) voting intention data?” has shifted to “why didn’t they commission voting intention data? Are they frit?”

    I think we can assume that the ‘get the SNP’ narrative from Jim Murphy’s camp has started. Negative politicking never works (referenda aside).

    I came across a tweet by WoS:

    “The startling fact about that new Panelbase poll is that nearly twice as many Scots want a Labour/SNP coalition as a Labour majority.”

    With added chatter about how the SNP won’t have a formal coalition with Labour anyway. I did notice earlier on PB that someone was annoyed that Labour (it’s supporters perhaps?) take the May 2015 support of the SNP (and ergo the Scottsih voters) for granted.

    All interesting stuff.

  31. @Carfrew

    If I may take your analogy a step further.

    We are all going to cross the road blindfolded. Some of us wanted to choose a different time and a different road, because we feel our destination is slightly different.

  32. Panelbase/SNP poll

    “Do you agree or disagree that the Scottish Parliament should control all areas of government policy except for defence and foreign affairs, which is sometimes referred to as ‘Devo Max’?”

    All – Agree 51% : Disagree 29%
    Male – Agree 57% : Disagree 32%
    Female – Agree 45% : Disagree 26%
    ABC1- Agree 51% : Disagree 34%
    C2DE- Agree 51% : Disagree 25%
    Referendum Vote
    Yes – Agree 69% : Disagree 16%
    No – Agree 36% : Disagree 40%
    DNV – Agree 52% : Disagree 8%
    2011 Vote
    SNP- Agree 73% : Disagree 14%
    Lab – Agree 41% : Disagree 38%
    Con – Agree 18% : Disagree 66%
    Oth – Agree 50% : Disagree 36%
    DNV – Agree 43% : Disagree 21%
    Country of Birth
    Sco – Agree 52% : Disagree 28%
    Eng – Agree 43% : Disagree 41%
    Oth – Agree 49% : Disagree 26%

  33. @Phil Haines

    I can’t see based on the published answers that SNP are any less than mid-forties. I imagine it is a good VI for SNP and they are desperate to dampen expectations. I imagine a lot more questions were asked than were published.

  34. It’s pretty clear from the questioned asked was that the SNP panel base poll was designed to “Test the Narrative”.

    Broadly speaking the SNP to fight a campaign on giving Scots what they want and asking questions they were pretty sure they knew the answer too and publishing the result they suspected serves that very well.

    Not quite “Push Polling” but certainly setting the tone for the up coming campaign. VI figures would focus the story on seat numbers at this stage which isn’t what you want this far out rather than the campaign theme…

    “Tell You What I Want What I Really Really Want!”


  35. @CROSSBAT11

    I was surprised to hear that David Willetts was concerned about the deregulation of the banks with ‘Big bang’. He suggested that the changes might facilitate criminogenic behaviour!

    I doubt that he actually envisaged the money-laundering, Libor/Forex fiddling, the loans frauds or the Credit Crunch, etc. However, it increases my respect that he was cautious about the dubious proposition that deregulated ‘free markets’ would be self-cleansing. Nevertheless, the Thatcher gov’t went ahead anyway.

  36. Had to smile at a Doctor’s comments on the Ebola screenings:

    “Doctor exposed to Ebola patient attacks ‘utterly illogical’ quarantine system”

    “He said nurses were herded into several overcrowded “tiny poky little offices” and had to wait up to an hour to be checked over. The temperature testing kits that health workers are given to take home had run out by the time he got seen, Deahl said. “The facilities for doing temperatures and the suite of rooms they were using were totally inadequate for the numbers coming through,” he said. “We were all crowded together and queueing together so given what’s happened the chances of cross-infection, just from that experience, were high – just from being herded together at Heathrow in a ridiculously small space.” ”

    It sounds like another day in a UK doctor’s surgery. You walk in to get a repeat prescription and come out with the flu.

  37. Carfrew,

    “Do you guys actually read other people’s posts? Your assertion that I didn’t answer your question is untrue: I did answer it.”

    I did read it……I just didn’t believe you.

    I’ve trawled through more than enough of your posts over the last few years to know that if it suits your argument you can’t help yourself proving so by letting your keyboard pour forth like a waterfall.

    Equally when you can’t prove your right or don’t want to answer you let loose at equal length on something else or at a tangent.

    You learn as much from the questions people dodge as the ones they answer.


  38. I think the Scottish situation is going to be very important to the election result and UK policy afterwards, if the Labour position is in as much trouble as current polling suggests, then the SNP (acting on behalf of Scotland) will be heavily involved in UK government. Otherwise polling suggests a coalition government between the LD’s and one of the two main UK parties.

    I think there’s quite a difference between these two options, therefore the Scottish question is very important: for one thing I would be surprised to see a formal coalition involving the SNP along the lines of the current one, more likely C&S. That means legislative objectives peculiar to one party only are going to be even harder to push through than now.

    It is, after all, the largest poll movement we’ve seen in the polls since the LD’s shifted over to Labour (and anyone else not Conservative).

  39. Carfrew
    You are learning what political discussion is like in Scotland. Congratulations on your resilience

  40. P Haines
    As you say the Scottish issue has its own relevance to the coming UK election but it also has a wider interest as showing the intrusion of populist politics which may be seen in other forms. across Europe this style of politics has its target the “establishment” in theory but in practice mainly moderate left of centre parties.

  41. Jack
    I would be surprised if nationalists made as their central argument lets be bankrupt. However it is quite untrue to say that the Free State started in a bankrupt position. It was I was surprised to discover the 11th wealthiest per head country in the world. It just had many decades of very poor economic performance. During most of that time more than half of the babies born would go on to leave Ireland mainly for England.
    There was earlier comment that Scotland may eventually resemble the Republic of Ireland in having two parties in Scotland’s case the SNP and Labour whose differences in fact are minimal and rooted to positions taken in a long past referendum. In fact the differences between the parties in Ireland are not based on yes and no but between the yesses. This division created a situation where Ireland was the only country I believe in western Europe where a social democratic party was not one of the two main parties.

  42. Oil price and the UK?
    Someone (apologies can’t remember who) asked about this. The received wisdom is that normally decreasing oil prices have positive impact on the UK’s wider economy with the proviso that if they go too low it may hint at very big problems in global recovery especially questionmarks over China’s economy.

  43. @carfrew

    Your reference earlier to “their banks” Are they the UK wide banks regulated by the UK authorities under legislation introduced by the UK Government and voted on by the UK Parliament?

  44. Alec

    You might have missed my posts during the campaign where I pointed out commentators suggesting the oil sector was in the midst of an unsustainable bubble, with a huge crash likely that posed a systemic risk to the global finance system?

    Oh no and there’s an interesting case to be made that changing energy markets and new sources of supply and energy saving make it a less valuable commodity that it was – though uses in transportation and petrochemicals still need to be taken into account. And any threat to global finances may be more to do with the way those markets are structured, and if oil was not the focus of such risky behaviour, something else would be.

    But my point here was more about the latest particular price drop caused by the Saudis flooding the market for whatever reason. That wasn’t expected and anyone who had known about would presumably have done very nicely out of the price crash.

    In fact there’s paradoxically a danger that those highlighting this particular change actually reinforce the impression that the long-term prospects are more stable, because such interventions as from the Saudis will dismissed as rare and extraordinary by their very nature. In contrast the underlying situation comes to appear as more regular than it is.

  45. An interesting chart, showing the current favoured Westminster situation in Scotland . Not sure how accurate or representative it is, but if true, it suggests that just 32% of Scots favour an overall majority of either Labour or the Conservatives.

    42% prefer a coalition of some sort (35% being SNP related).

    If data is fair and accurate, it does make me wonder if FPTP is no longer favoured in Scotland, due to the use of AMS (which is not to say that people inherently understand all the aspects of AMS, but they perceive it to be more democratic and proportional than FPTP).

  46. R Mexico
    I was of course admirably controlled in discussion of future oil prices. I knew that if I did express a viewI would get the kind if diversionary attacks to which Carfew has been subjected.
    I limited myself to pointing out that oil is by far the most volatile of the income sources of UK government and much more importantly it is a source of income which will as an absolute certainty decline. The present situation just, as I have said before, only brings this reality in to clearer focus. Obviously as a politician in an oil city, I believe there is a strong future for the industry but for sure it will not provide the tax flow which would allow Scotland to continue to have its disproportionately high level of public spending.

  47. A low oil price is usually good for a net importer so in UK Terms we could expect a better balance of payments an lower energy costs.

    The downsides are that it wouldn’t give us a competitive edge as everyone’s costs go down and indeed might do more good for some of our rivals.

    Europes energy costs getting closer to Americas might be good for EU exports but Germany’s costs getting closer to ours might be better for them than us.

    Another issue is deflation.

    With Inflation already near 1% a drop in energy costs could get us below that.

    No doubt whoever is in government would trumpet that “Real Wages were growing again that’s to their policies” but I would be because inflation was low nothing to do with them.

    Stagflation would be the risk with Interest rates and inflation low there would be no reason to spend and little incentive to save.

    You could borrow cheaply but would that be enough to kick start consumer spending as Osborne hopes and if it did, would we be sowing the seeds of the next debt crisis.

    Each way you look for every up side there seems to be a down, which in a way leads me back to the question I asked Carfrew about the relative impact of the Oil price drop to the Banking Crisis…Resilience.

    How well prepared are we and able to resist Systemic Shocks and to what extent are we building resilience into the economy.

    Hopefully without being seen as going into Indy mode most of you will know I have long advocated a 20 year plus move from Oil to renewables so that when Scotland has no oil to sell we sell electricity instead.

    Current events tend to reinforce my feeling that is the right path for Scotland and that the UK doesn’t have an equivalent strategy for the Financial Sector.

    We’ve heard a lot about rebalancing the economy, but if the TV adverts and cold calls are anything to go by we look like moving from dodgy mortgages and inflated property prices to a combination of PPI Compensation, Internet Loans and On line betting; hardly the basis for a sustainable economy.

    Right now Scotland has to deal with a real shock to an industry that employs close to 10% of our national workforce which is a challenge in anyone’s books.

    But at any time in the next decade the markets could, as they have every decade or so in the past, have another go and making money by going for Sterling. Does the UK have a plan for that and are we resilient enough to weather it.


  48. Carfrew

    I think you’re still missing my point, or rather that we’re talking about different things. You’re concerned about the actual effect of oil price movements and how they might move in future and affect the economy. You make some interesting points and may well be right, but that’s not really germane. I am merely pointing out that such things don’t seem to disturb most Scottish voters much, who see oil as a long-term asset that will somehow turn out right in the end.

    Similarly I never “claim[ed] the UK were threatening Scotland”. I just pointed out that the aggressive anti-Scottish tone seen in much of the London media (and sometimes even on UKPR) in the run up to the referendum was hardly likely to make Scots believe that their future was secure in the union. Of course it wasn’t a government campaign, just the usual suspects trying to find some group to blame things on rather than themselves, their readers and those actually making the decisions. But such things will have an effect on public opinion on both sides of the border. You can’t simultaneously try to work up resentment and hope that your target doesn’t notice when they access to your media.

    It was especially counter-productive when such attacks came from those who claimed they wanted the union to continue. Saying “You’re a sponging good-for-nothing. Please don’t leave” is at best giving mixed messages and otherwise suggests that they only want you for something else (probably your oil).

    As to whether:

    The whole point of the discussion on the matter is that a big SNP win could reasonably be interpreted, given their stance on Independence, as a mandate for a another referendum. Though given the oil price, they’d be unlikely to push for it right now

    I’m not really convinced. Even the SNP probably don’t want to go through the whole process every other year and I suspect the electorate certainly doesn’t, unless they feel they need to ‘bale out’ from a UK behaving dangerously. So neither will regard a vote for the SNP as being a referendum-trigger and

    Incidentally viewing prospective Scottish independence as being “all about oil”(which it isn’t any more than the Iraq War was) may also fuel the belief that the UK only wants Scotland for its money (which it doesn’t).

  49. Ms C
    Everyone on here can see that I am not “complaining” about the high level of public spending in Scotland but explaining that oil revenue will not support it in the future. On the contrary I spoke at the English local government association to explain why there was high public spending in Scotland and why in my opinion that was likely to continue in a UK perspective.

  50. Apologies. A line somehow got missed out in my reply to Carfrew. The end of the penultimate paragraph should have read:

    “So neither will regard a vote for the SNP as being a referendum-trigger and will probably expect a gap of at least five years before such a thing gets discussed after everyone can see how devo-whatever has had its effects.”

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