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. Regarding violations of the comments policy I think I should just address the elephant in the room and say every time the focus is on Scotland we get a minor re-run of the Indy Ref. This is understandable given how big a deal it is but I think everyone here should be intelligent enough to talk in an impartial manner without dropping a snide remark about how Scotland will be independent by next week or Scotland will be bankrupt within minutes of obtaining FFA or even fairly innocuous but nonetheless inaccurate and partisan comments pertaining to Scotland or England’s political leanings. I’m serious we should all be able to tell what will set others off and I get the distinct impression some posters (not naming names) are intentionally trying to p**s off the other side.

  2. @Cloudspotter

    It may save you some work if you look at Statgeek’s site.


    Have a look under the polling menu – he has all the regional crossbreaks graphed and also with different averages.


    Good post.

    Books will be written about this earthquake.

    I think your last sentence is on the money. I can almost hear NS paraphrasing the Adams warning about the IRS-” it hasn’t gone away you know”.

    I watched her closely the other evening on tv-she is one determined lady . Those small neat teeth look very sharp to me.

    With a nod to Greg Wallace-Politics doesn’t get tougher than this .:-)

  4. CATMAN.

    I agree.

    Say what you like about the attractions of PR-but FPTP is brutally unforgiving on failed politicians & has a terrible attraction .

  5. Well, the best Labour can hope for is a “shy labour” turn out in Scotland so they can atleast retain about 5 seats.

  6. Coupar:
    “The SNP voters believe that Scotland could have a successful economy and why not the Republic of Ireland growth is forecast at 5.4% double the forecast for the UK.”

    Yes the Irish economy is a shining example of how not to run a country and how German fiscal prudence has saved the country from bankruptcy. Just a pity (another) generation of young Irish people have been forced to emigrate across the world.

  7. BIGD

    Thanks. No harm done, enjoy your weekend.

  8. Onto the polls the green vote does really seem to be dropping off a cliff….

  9. @ Ian Bailey


    People are angry, this is all over Europe, this anger is coming out in different ways. In Scotland SNP. In England, UKIP, in Europe is a similar story, with different variations.

    Politics has too change, in the UK both Lab and Con.
    Something which I do not like, proportional representation.

    People want their voices heard, that is a without a question of doubt. How the big three/ four (have to include SNP) go about doing it, is another matter.

  10. @Couper

    That was ‘NOT’ a real dip.

    Are your sure?

    The methodological change took place on March 12 and for at least a week the margins were averaging in the high teens.

    The lead then dropped away for the rest of the month before the modest recent rally.

    So, effectively the whole of the dip I was talking about came after the changed methods had established a new baseline.

    As I said, I don’t think it makes the slightest difference to seat projections but I do think there was a dip thst can’t be attributed to the methodological change.

  11. Labour finally lost a bigger lead in a certain poll, Conservatives still have this great result according to ICM. Some people here use polling averages as a tool to show trend lines and swings. Are Tories now ahead?

  12. @ Lagavulin

    Back to the polls, it seems that Ashcroft may have been polling in other areas over and above the ones that he’s published (notably in Edinburgh).

    What makes you think Ashcroft is polling Edinburgh seats?

  13. @McClane

    Are the Tories ahead? Well most polls this week have had Lab ahead. My guess is that we will soon see all polls approximating to the YG numbers – it’s been level give or take for over 6 months.

  14. @Interested

    Survation’s methodology always scores the Greens badly.

    YG are scoring the Greens at about 5% at the moment (vs this last Survation 3%).

  15. Catman
    Ian Bailey

    We do indeed live in turbulent and exciting times.

    I have previously regarded the outcome in Scotland as largely irrelevant, as I have, I think correctly, assumed that the SNP will always side with Labour rather than the Tories.

    But a 50 seat Scottish wipe-out rather changes things. I cannot quite see how Labour can assume power if they finish a mile behind the Tories ( notwithstanding that is not the current prediction ). The public in England will be as disenchanted as the Scots are with the Tories.

    It must end in tears.

    My conclusion is that a comprehensive reform of the way in which the UK is governed is very likely.

    This does not mean independence for Scotland – they just voted against that, remember.
    But at the very minimum it does mean major constitutional reform, and at the very least the ‘devo max’ promised, but thus far not implemented. There is a strong argument for interpreting the SNP surge as ‘no’ voters expressing their dissatisfaction with Westminster failing to deliver its promises.

    Finally, this all has implications for the way in which England is administered. We too are fed up with London dictat, and I suspect that this will be reflected in election results, with the North showing diminished Tory support.

    London politicos should take note: the peasants are revolting

  16. @mcclane

    Safe to say it’s still a tie.

    If the Survation poll is right, we should start seeing other pollsters show Tory leads. Because this is only the second Tory lead Survation has *ever* shown since 2011 according to NC (the other was in January: Tories 31% Labour 30%).

    But if we don’t see more Tory leads, then it’s just another blip.

  17. @Amber Star

    I’ll field that.

    May 2015 (New Statesman) tweeted before the Ashcroft release today that they thought the polls were Edinburgh seats + Lib Dem defences elsewhere in Scotland. Second part of that was true (4 of the 8 are Lib Dem incumbents).

    I had read comments on Scot Goes Pop a few days ago from people in Edinburgh constituencies saying that they had been contacted by Populus, which usually means Ashcroft.


    As you can see, the list predicted nine Ashcroft polls, seven of which happened. The two exceptions being the two Edinburgh seats. The one missed out that did happen was the Paisley / Renfrewshire South seat.

    There is another (outside) possibility, which is that Labour may be conducting internal polls in Edinburgh. Populus were the internal pollster for Better Together.

  18. Richard
    Yes nice trend graphs, which are useful – but do they tell us whether the cross breaks are meaningful in themselves?
    That’s why I want to compare to with constituency polls.

    Yes, that’s the same reaction as mine.
    It’s mainly due to a Labour increase from only 17% in 2010 to 29% in the crossbreaks.

    I have also deduced the most recent Welsh poll from the Mids and Wales Yougov region.

    Swing in Mids only: +3.9%

  19. @Millie

    Yep, spot on.

    The only viable structure I can envisage is a federal UK.

  20. The Survation poll is a classic for this election. Just when you think one party might be getting on top (last few days you may think pointed to Labour perhaps establishing a 1-point lead), a poll goes a long way to disproving it.

    Still neck-and-neck. Two and a half weeks to go. Except that many people will be starting to vote by post very soon. I think you now have to be an extremely optimistic (or pessimistic) partisan to believe there will be a clear national winner.

  21. @ Jamie

    I think there is a higher % shy labour voter, there would be a % who do not want to offend there neighbour.

    I was canvassing for a Conservative PPC, back in 2005, the candidate had number of house displaying his posters, I was walking with one of the Councillors (Conservative), they pointed, out that some of these houses were Labour. They did not want to be seen out of sink with their neighbours.

    If sturgeon wants a total wipe out of Labour in Scotland, she should be aiming for 60%, then she might be lucky.

  22. @catmanjeff

    Federal UK is the ideal and seems a perfect fit for our country with its different component nations. The difficulty is England. It would completely destabilise a UK federation with 85% of the population. But dividing it up is hard because there is a cohesive English identity.

    An obvious move is to take London out of England, make it an autonomous “free city” and have a separate Parliament for the rest of England. But RoE is still too big, it would be an unstable federation.

    IMO it’s a difficult problem to solve. I’ve suggested the Heptarchy idea on here before but others pointed out the problems with that.

  23. Millie, Catman
    Yes I would agree with both of you. I don’t mean to be partisan here but Labours policy of a constitutional convention is massively overdue and I think its a real shame that the Tories have been so political regarding a constitutional settlement.
    The only plausible and sustainable solution for the UK is a federal structure but that also means devolution within England (regional assemblies? a northern English Parliament?) pretending that all 55 million English share a similar political position and are content with London is frankly laughable thus EVEL has to be the tip of the iceberg not as the Tories and UKIP seem to think the solution for England.

  24. @Cloudspotter

    I think at least they can tell you if your averages were a blip or represent a consistent trend – Oldnat has been tracking Scotland crossbreaks for many months now and we noticed there was one week where they suddenly went haywire for no apparent reason, then the following week they reverted to normal.

    One thing I have noted is that when comparing crossbreaks to proper weighted polls the averages don’t match – London for example generally overstates UKIP and understates Labour on the London crossbreak of GB polls when compared to Yougov London only polls.

    Roger Mexico has also mentioned the Scotland crossbreak in GB polls overestimates the Cons when compared to Scotland only polls if I remember correctly

    He explains it as an averaging over the whole country, meaning overall the GB polls are still correctly weighted, but the crossbreaks end up showing higher figures in some regions for parties that are weak in that area. I’m sure he can explain it better than I have done here, but that is something you should be aware of.

  25. @Dave 84

    It’s one of the defining features of the campaign – no-one can establish a lead, and even things that look like leads only last a few days before the other side reacts.

    In truth the polls are telling us what we have known for a long time, the election will be decided by the toss of a coin (call Heads – always call Heads) or on penalties.

  26. @ James

    I live in Edinburgh & people I know have recently been polled by Populus.

  27. @Rivers10
    “…pretending that all 55 million English share a similar political position and are content with London is frankly laughable..”

    Even London isn’t content with London. There are at least two London’s in London, and one of them doesnt even consider itself part of London, dragged as it was against its will from Kent, Essex, Hertfordshire, Surrey etc in 1964/5.

  28. I know someone has attempted to answer this question before but I’m still puzzled. If, as suggested, approx 3% of Labour’s vote share comes from former Lib Dems what is that really worth? I mean surely these are mainly returning tactical voters whose votes mean little in real terms of achieving seats? In would, in conjunction with the lower turnout Labour often experiences, surely lead to less good results than are expected for them according to current polling? In addition these returnee Lib Dems are likely to actually increase Conservative gains in places like the West Country so a double whammy.

  29. Omnishambles
    I have to disagree with you about a “cohesive English Identity” being an impediment. Culturally Northern and Southern England are very different places but the important thing to state is that “breaking up England” isn’t on the cards, England would still exist it would just be governed from numerous locations. Think of it as a federal England within a federal Britain :) Many here in Merseyside still think of themselves as part of Lancashire although they have not being linked politically for over 20 years.
    Speaking as a Northerner I can tell you that there is NO appetite for being ruled from the home counties and the divide politically should make that fairly apparent. In my opinion regional assemblies is the best solution.

  30. that should be regional assemblies ARE the best solution…..bloody grammar

  31. @Unicorn

    YouGov didn’t admit to anything but suddenly the SNP dropped as low as 32% with most xbreaks in the 30s. There was a 47+% down weighting of SNP identifiers compared to normal 20%, Nothing was picked up in any other xbreaks or polls.

    My theory for what it’s worth is they were polling folk that joined the YouGov panel later so more SNP identifiers, in any case definitely something wrong that week that YouGov then corrected.

  32. @RIVERS10

    Hopefully regional assemblies would be PR based.

  33. If England had regional assemblies, would every region have to vote ‘Yes’ in a vote to leave the EU? I foresee difficulties if (say) West Midlands was outside the EU and the rest inside.

  34. RAF
    Lol I agree its all a big mess which is why we as the public should be consulted. Split London in two, lump Norfolk in with Scotland, twin Sunderland with Exeter, do whatever we as the citizens want rather than performing a crude administrative division based on ancient kingdoms and short term political gain.
    I honestly think its kinda lucky that Britain is as politically polarised along geographic lines as it is, if the South East want to treble tuition fees let them but don’t force it on the North East or anywhere else that clearly did not vote for it.

  35. @ Omnishambles

    There is an English identity, but it is far from homogenous (I’m a true foreigner, so I have to be rather sensitive to it to survive). It crisscrossed by regional identities, class identities, professional identities (e.g. Didsbury near Manchester), North and South (don’t think that song about driving down on M6 has gone), East and West, etc.

    It is actually fascinating to see that the country that had a national market for the first time in history (including labour market) preserved local identities so much. Thatcher actually got very close to undermining it, but because of the resistance she abandoned it. Had she continued after 1987, it probably would have gone (a kind of halo, but not a force), but then Conservatives would have lost the 1992 elections.

  36. @rivers10

    Well two points

    1) I would say the division is not between Northern and Southern England, but is in fact between London + Home Counties and “the Rest”. That’s a big chunk of the South however there are other parts of the South which feel just as disaffected and ignored as many areas in Northern England.

    2) “but the important thing to state is that “breaking up England” isn’t on the cards”

    Indeed but that’s the issue. How do you kill England’s massive influence over the other parts of the federation while convincing people you’re not “breaking up England”? People can be pretty hostile to any hint of damaging England’s collective power.

    I agree regional assemblies are the best solution, but how do you get there? And if the English do want to remain a nation (we should assume they do), how do we ensure the English First Minister isn’t constantly in power struggles with the PM as, on the face of it, he/she would be almost as powerful.

  37. To be a meaningful solution, “regional” assemblies would have to be proper parliaments, like Scotland’s. That would inevitably lead, over time, to the fragmentation of England into different countries. Yes they’d all still be “part of England” but “England” would become a geographic concept, like “Iberia” or “Central America” rather than a country in her own right. In that sense it would be quite definitely a step back 1,000 years.

    However, I am sufficiently wedded to the idea of a Federal UK to accept the New Heptarchy even though I personally don’t think the imbalance of country size in a federal setup is nearly as important as others seem to believe.

  38. I dread the federalism. I mean if it gets down to regional areas I’ll be left with the kind of political make up of my local council I assume. At least now there is some chance of influences from outside the area. Then there will be complaints that the local city is dominating and we should split off that etc etc. I don’t want to live in smaller and smaller silo’s.

  39. I must be going senile. I haven’t a clue what a lot of these posts are about. e.g.

    “It is actually fascinating to see that the country that had a national market for the first time in history (including labour market) preserved local identities so much. Thatcher actually got very close to undermining it, but because of the resistance she abandoned it. ”

    What’s that all about? Which policy or collection of policies do you mean?

  40. @laszlo

    Yes. It’s not homogeneous at all but it’s there, the English identity, it’s very real, so you run into massive hurdles when you go and tell it to fracture.

  41. Rivers10

    Fear not, you are not being partisan, because, let’s face it, no party has really got a clear grip on how they think reform will end up.

    References to loyalties to long held county affiliations are apposite here. I would suggest that the make-up of local government would be well advised to take account of historical ties and feelings of ‘belonging’ rather than to notional, and highly arguable conceptions of ‘viability’. The counties of Devon and Cornwall are categorically not interested in being governed from Bristol, thanks very much.

    County boundaries still have appeal, and I would have no objection to Rutland and Huntingdonshire reappearing.

    Why not go completely mad, and ask the people what they want?

    Don’t worry, I’ve already gone to lie in a quiet room, and will report back when I feel better…

  42. Catoswyn
    I would hope for that too but one step at a time :)

    Pete B
    I agree that’s a tricky one but we already have the same predicament at present (what if England votes to leave and Scotland votes to Stay?) but I think realistically that would have to be one of those national not regional decisions where regardless how individual bits vote its the nationwide number that counts.Dundee voted for Scottish independence but Salmond is not currently ruling a Dundee city state, the rest of Scotland voted against and thus they got dragged with it as part of a national decision.

  43. @neil a

    I think you’re being a bit too pessimistic. There are lots of federations in the world. Germany copes fine, for example, and it had a much more fractured history.

  44. Rivers
    Thanks. I was only joking really, though I can see that if regional results were known it might cause resentment in those areas dragged out of the EU against their will, if that’s the way it went.

  45. BTW there’s a new thread but we should probably keep discussion of federal matters in here

  46. @MILLIE

    The counties of Devon and Cornwall are categorically not interested in being governed from Bristol, thanks very much.

    Exactly. I was just saying that regional areas would start complaining about the bigger cities etc and here it is! Councils are there to represent smaller units such as counties. They are local governance. Why would we want to replicate them?

  47. Nicola is the new Nick,there seemed to be movement back to labour from the snp in the yougov crossbreaks but the debates has put paid to all that -four appearances have turbo boosted her popularity and that of her party.

    People,even english tories, like the passion and clarity.At least her nationalism is left wing unlike the english version.

    And good for the voters they always know best.

  48. I suppose from my point of view I do not have my identity based on my geographical location so federalism seems less attractive to me.

  49. Another post completely setting party preference aside. Labour are (about to be reduced to) a regional English party in urban and (post)industrial areas mainly in the midlands and north. The Tories are a regional English party mainly in rural areas and south. Plaid represent rural west Wales. The SNP are about to represent the bulk of Scotland. Northern Ireland has pretty much rejected the UUP/SDLP linked-to-GB parties and votes its own way.

    Yet we think it perfectly rational that one or other of the regional English parties should govern the entire UK alone. When Labour still dominated Wales and Scotland maybe. When the Tories still had sizeable representation in Wales and Scotland maybe. But those times have gone.

    Last night we saw the leaders of the Welsh and Scottish Nationalists saying “we want a Labour government but would like to be able to influence it more to our tastes”. The Tories seem only to have the “chaos” card left to play (and it has the pulling power of a pair of fours) – but wouldn’t a UK government which had representation from Wales and Scotland and NI be MORE representative not less as is being claimed?

  50. @catoswyn

    That’s why I like the Heptarchy idea because you’re linking to so much history and tradition not just geography. It’s easier to swallow imo. But still, it has so many problems.

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