Lord Ashcroft has released a new batch of Scottish constituency polling. Full details are here. As regular readers will know, national polls in Scotland suggest an SNP landslide with no sign of the SNP lead narrowing as the election approaches. In fact the most recent Scottish polls from YouGov and TNS showed the SNP lead growing. Lord Ashcroft has previously carried out two waves of Scottish polling, both showing the SNP winning in seats that were previously thought very safe.

Across the two previous waves Ashcroft polled nineteen Labour seats, finding the SNP ahead in all except East Renfrewshire and Glasgow North East. He has also polled four Lib Dem held seats (finding solid SNP leads in three and a narrow SNP lead in Ross, Skye and Lochaber) and the one Tory seat in Scotland where he found a tie.

In this latest wave Ashcroft has returned to the five of the tighter races he polled earlier, and polled three more Lib Dem held Scottish seats for the first time. Most of the close races are no longer close – in Glasgow South West (where Labour have a 46% majority) Ashcroft found the SNP 21% ahead. In Paisley and Renfrewshire South, Douglas Alexander’s seat, he found an SNP lead of 11%. In East Renfewshire he found a 9% SNP lead – this is the seat of Labour’s Scottish leader Jim Murphy and one of the two seats where he previously found a Labour lead.

People commenting on the Scottish election seem to fall into two groups – those who expect an almost complete SNP walkover, and those who expect them to merely do extremely well, to take “only” thirty or forty seats. I think the logic of most people in that second group is simply down to the scale of the SNP landslide looking unrealistic – the belief that they can’t be doing that well. I am often the first to advise caution towards polls showing huge shifts, so it’s fair to be sceptical – with a landslide of this scale perhaps the polls could be overestimating the swing… but they are consistent across national and constituency polling, online and telephone, and if they are correct the SNP are headed for an overwhelming victory and Scottish Labour towards something close to wipeout.

The polling in the sole Tory seat in Scotland remains extremely close. In his last poll Ashcroft found a dead heat between the Conservatives and the SNP, this time he found an SNP lead of two points.

Turning to the Lib Dem held seats, last time round Ashcroft found only a five point SNP lead in Charlie Kennedy’s seat in Ross, Skye and Lochaber, that has now grown to fifteen points. He has now additionally polled North East Fife (Menzies Campbell’s seat) where he found a 13% SNP lead and East Dunbartonshire (Jo Swinson’s seat) where he found an 11% SNP lead. Finally he polled Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk – here he found a 20 point boost for the SNP, which is enough to make it into a three way marginal but not to put the SNP ahead – the poll found the Conservatives ahead on 30%, SNP 29%, LDEM 28%.

Note that the East Dunbartonshire is one of the seat where the Lib Dems have recently released their own private polling (which may or may not be a co-incidence!). Their own polling showed figures of CON 13%, LAB 16%, LDEM 35%, SNP 32%. The SNP are 8 points lower than in Ashcroft’s poll, the Lib Dems 6 points higher. I wrote about the Lib Dem’s own polling at more length here. The primary differences are that the Lib Dems prompt using candidate name, which is fair enough, and ask about how favourably people see their local MP before they ask that voting intention question, a more questionable approach. We shall see which is the better guide. The Lib Dems have not released any of their private polling for the other three Lib Dem seats Lord Ashcroft released polls for today, from which one must draw one’s own conclusions.

164 Responses to “More Ashcroft Scottish polling”

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  1. @Neil A

    Not necessarily. All of the Spanish Autonomous Communities have regional parliaments (with varying degrees of power as set out in their Statutes of Autonomy). I don’t think anyone living in Murcia believes they are in a different country that Castilla La Mancha or Aragón.

    I do agree that imbalance of country size does not matter as much as some think.

  2. Omnishmables
    Well I think you have hit the nail on the head with your last point. Already there is talks of a Labour PM in battle with a Tory English First Minister with pretty much the same level of power, it just wouldn’t work as well as not addressing the deep seated disaffection outside the home counties. Thus ANY other solution must be examined.

    I get your point and inevitably the Labour voters in the South East or Tory voters in the North East will be nervous but as we have seen in the Scottish and Welsh assemblies the minority party simply has to adapt. Surely you agree it preferable that a couple hundred thousand Tories in the north East are perpetually ruled by Labour rather than 10 million or so Labour voters in England perpetually being ruled by the Tories.

    Interesting point and I think that its all the more reason to ask the people. As it stands I’m sure the people of Dorset or Devon would rather be ruled by Bristol than by London , indeed the point has been made that the folks of Anglesey probably think Cardiff is remote, and the folks of the Western Isles probably cant relate to Edinburgh but its a couple hundred miles closer than London.

  3. MIKE N

    “Yes this GE will be decided in England”

    Possibly but not in all possible scenarios e.g. If Tories significantly ahead of Labour e.g. by 30 seats (following a poor result for Labour in Scotland) theTories without an overall majority may well form a minority government or
    Rely on Lib Dems support on key votes


    Oh this all going to be very difficult for me. I had been hoping that we were moving away from nation states let alone returning to Anglo-Saxon kingdoms.

    I suppose I’ll have to think about Detroit and the way localism has worked for the community there. Its obvious that for Scotland for instance they can’t go on being dominated by Southern English parties. I would just have preferred a PR system and a more flexible government formation to increase representation.

  5. The Black Country is up in arms about being part of a ‘Greater Birmingham’ authority


  6. @catoswyn

    Think of it as a more flexible nation state.


    Australia, Canada, Germany, Switzerland… they’re pretty functional

  7. Catoswyn
    That would somewhat help in as much as it would be in the case of Scotland a Tory government with 10 or so MP’s in Scotland rather than 1 but the deep seated problem is still there. Scotland, like Wales or Northern England will never have voted for a Tory government and the Home Counties will never vote for a Labour one so why should all be governed by a government they did not choose. Short of breaking up the country the answer is Federalism.

  8. A most interesting conversation.

    Of course, all this talk of regional government and reform is inextricably linked with House of Lords reform. Can we really go on as we are?

    The Scots are doing us all a massive favour.

    A Constitutional Convention is perhaps the answer, but who will appoint those who attend? It will be another set of party-political worthies and some academics who are ‘on message’.

    Power to the people!

    I’ve always wanted to say that. I feel better now.

  9. Millie
    “Power to the people”
    I make it an aim to say that and/or Viva la revolution at least once a week :)
    I digress, as for who would be involved in the Constitutional convention its an interesting question, how does one solve this? Why of course a convention on the constitutional convention!!!!

  10. Raf
    FFA would be catastrophic for Scotland and their is no chance of the SNP or anyone else voting for it. It seems N Sturgeon has kicked it in to the longest of the long grass.

  11. Is it just me who would like the Lords to stay unelected?

  12. Sorrry Raf I don’t think it was you who mentioned this possibility

  13. Barney Crockett

    That is reassuring. Despite what I said earlier, it would be preferable not to have it.

  14. @Omnishambles

    Me too. Second chambers should do something different from first chambers, adding to the scrutiny process and ensuring better legislation comes out the end of the process. Moving to just about any form of elected arrangement would thus make little sense because it would remove experts (who wouldn’t stand), remove one of the Lords’ great strengths (that they don’t have to face election and so don’t have to ask ‘what will the electorate think?’) and largely replicate the Commons by introducing more professional politicians. Most elected second chambers are in federal systems where the second chamber either gives equal representation to each district in contrast to a first chamber representing the population or represents powerful local decision makers. Even under a ‘federal UK’ I can’t see how you would create a workable federal second chamber because England is so much bigger than everyone else and in any case you’d only have at most four regions.

    This isn’t to say that there doesn’t need to be further Lords reform. They are doing an increasingly good job since 1999 but their numbers have ballooned out of control (should be kept to 600 IMO) and the convoluted appointments process favours major parties to too great an extent. How you achieve the change is rather a puzzle it must be said…

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