TNS Holyrood poll

TNS have released what I think is the first Scottish voting intention poll since the election. Prior to May Scottish polls concentrated on Westminster voting intentions (though many asked both Westminster and Holyrood), the focus now shifts over to Holyrood intentions ahead of next May’s election.

Voting intentions for Holyrood in the TNS poll are:
Constituency: CON 15%, LAB 19%, LDEM 3%, SNP 60%
Regional: CON 14%, LAB 19%, LDEM 5%, SNP 50%, GRN 10%

This is a big increase for the SNP on top of the 45% they received at the 2011 election where they won a majority in a electoral system designed to avoid them. These figures would only build upon it. Note also the dire state of Labour’s Scottish support, just four points ahead of the Conservatives, who are marginally up on their 2011 performance.

Full tables are here

115 Responses to “TNS Holyrood poll”

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  1. The big discussion in pro-independence circles in Scotland at the moment is whether it’s a good idea to split one’s vote, i.e., to give the constituency vote to the SNP and the list vote to the Greens (or the SSP).

    This could either work spectacularly well, by giving all the constituency seats to the SNP and up to half the list seats to the Greens (leaving only 1/4 of the seats to the Unionist parties), or it could backfire by denying any list seats to the SNP without any list seats going to the Greens.

  2. As I pointed out on the previous thread the Green vote in 2016 will be vital. Personally I see no chance of the Greens ending up with no List MSPs, as they are the obvious alternative for nationalists who are aware of the need for Governments to be held to account.

    The TNS figures are truly worrying from a democratic point of view. I would normally be inclined to say that ‘the figures will change as time goes by’, but we said that throughout the autumn and winter – and they didn’t! Unless Labour gets its act together very rapidly and elects a GB leader acceptable to the Scots (so no Blairites, please!!!) as well as a good leader in Scotland, and the LDs manage to revive themselves in the Highlands and the Borders, the only alternative will be to vote Green in the List. That’s fine by me, of course, and Mrs. B would do that anyway; but the prognosis for May 2016 from a democratic point of view is not looking good – unless you are someone who wants to see the SNP tear itself apart on how to use the powers it will be receiving over the next months and years………..

    So – let’s hope that someone will be able to bring the SNP’s feet to the fire……. (!!!!)

    Having said all that, Nicola is still a very good FM……

  3. Thomas Widmann

    On these figures, SNP would get 70 constituency seats (Con 2 : LD 1) according to Scotland Votes.

    On the List Lab would get 21, Con 13, Green 10, SNP 8, LD 4.

    For Green supporters there has never been a better opportunity to vote SGP on the List without risking a Unionist coalition in government.

  4. TNS poll on EU referendum by vote for constituency –

    Party, Stay, Leave, Undecided

    All : 49% : 19% : 26%
    SNP : 53% : 21% : 24%
    Lab : 55% : 19% : 24%
    Con : 52% : 23% : 25%
    LD : 64% : 22% : 15%
    Oth : 64% : 21% : 15%
    ?? : 42% : 19% : 36%

    My YES signs and badges will get another outing. :-)

  5. TNS poll on Independence more/less likely by vote for constituency –

    Party, More, Less, No Change

    All : 43% : 9% : 39%
    SNP : 60% : 4% : 33%
    Lab : 47% : 12% : 32%
    Con : 32% : 19% : 46%
    LD : 26% : 16% : 51%
    Oth : 46% : 13% : 39%
    ?? : 32% : 9% : 49%

  6. @Oldnat: Indeed, if you’re a Green supporter, you can definitely vote for your party this time without worrying too much about wasted your vote (in most regions anyway). However, the question is whether people who are actually closer to the SNP than to the Greens will vote for the latter on the list simply to exploit the system.

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but I believe that in Germany (where they use the Additional Members System, too), they increase the number of seats in parliament to avoid this from happening, i.e., if a party gets all the constituency seats but only 25% of the list vote, parliament gets increased until the number of constituency seats makes up only 25% of the total number of seats.

  7. I said before I believed Labour would be replaced by the Tories as the main pro-Union opposition in Scotland. I still think that’s going to happen. This poll is dire for them.

  8. Thomas Widmann

    I had to look up Wiki for the German system! A bit different from our system, but not quite as you suggest –

    The Bundestag has 598 nominal members, elected for a four-year term. Half, 299 members, are elected in single-member constituencies by first-past-the-post voting, while a further 299 members are allocated from party lists to achieve a proportional distribution in the legislature, conducted according to a form of proportional representation called the Mixed member proportional representation system (MMP). Voters vote once for a constituency representative, and a second time for a party, and the lists are used to make the party balances match the distribution of second votes. Overhang seats may add to the nominal number of 598 members: for example, in the 2009 federal election there were 24 overhang seats, giving a total of 622 seats. This is caused by larger parties winning additional single-member constituencies above the totals determined by their proportional party vote.

    (IF I understood it right – which I don’t guarantee to be the case! :-) )

  9. SSSimon

    Some support for that in the constituency VI from the age & SEG crossbreaks –

    16-34 : SNP 68% : Con 15% : Lab 12% : LD 2%
    35-54 : SNP 67% : Con 10% : Lab 16% : LD 2%
    55+ : SNP 46% : Con 21% : Lab 27% : LD 5%

    ABC1 : SNP 55% : Con 20% : Lab 17% : LD 5%
    C2DE : SNP 65% : Con 10% : Lab 21% : LD 1%

  10. I see that Labour is behind the Conservatives in the 16-34 section. Sampling or a point of interest?

  11. Yet more grim figures for the LDs.

    Projected seats down to 5 vs 17 in the current parliament, and only half the number projected for the Greens.

  12. Labour abstain on vote for 16-17 year olds to vote in EU ref.

  13. Exile

    LDs currently have only 5 MSPs.

    From the crossbreaks, that endangered species is most likely to be a 55+ professional/managerial male, living in the Highlands or Fife.

    We could probably name a lot of them! :-)

  14. Old Nat

    Oops – I read the 2007 seat numbers by mistake. Thanks for the correction.

  15. Exile

    While we don’t have a seat calculator for Holyrood other than Scotland Votes, I’m not convinced that the LDs would actually hold their 5 seats. While it shows them losing Orkney, it has them hanging on in Shetland.

    Reports from the UK GE count suggested that the LDs actually lost in Shetland. Carmichael’s decision to fight the court case and not go for a simple resign and fight a by-election option could be damaging for Tavish Scott, regardless of the outcome.

  16. Good evening all from an incredible warm Giffnock,

    FTPT…(It’s on Scottish polling so its a legit carry over)
    @Allan Christie: I live in Eastwood (Newton Mearns, to be precise), and there’s no way the Tories will win it — their voters are slowly dying off, and nobody wants to vote tactically for them.

    What will happen here next year is that Ken Macintosh (the sitting
    Labour MSP) will lose a lot of the support to the SNP, but in return he’ll get tactical votes from younger Tories (just like Jim Murphy did last month). He might survive if enough Tories do so, but my money is on the SNP to take it”

    You’re not that far away fae me, I’m just at Eastwood Toll.

    Yes I agree with you Ken Mac will most likely lose his seat. It’s a trend in East Ren that Labour leaders/hopefuls lose the seat and I can’t see it being any other way for Ken.

    Turn out will be a factor and if the SNP can get the vote out then it should be a comfortable win for them. Also unlike JM Ken Mac doesn’t really command a presence in the constituency.

    I was speaking to the lovely ole bean next door to me and mentioned Ken Macintosh to her and she said “he sounds a bit fruity” ;-)

  17. On today’s Scottish poll (and mind the polls do tend to underestimate the support for the SNP) if indeed the SNP do poll 60% on the constituency vote then they will surely stack up some incredible percentages in individual seats.

    What’s more, it could be conceivable that the SNP win over 50% in every seat they win and just for comparison they won over 50% in 36 of the 56 seats they won for the Westminster election.

  18. @Allan Christie: I’m in Crookfur, so we’re really not far from each other at all! :-) Anyway, so do you agree the Tories can’t realistically win here?

    @Oldnat: Thanks for the wiki quote, but wasn’t that what I said? At least it looks like what I was trying to say. :-)


    ” so do you agree the Tories can’t realistically win here?”

    I wouldn’t go as far as that because they did come in second in 2011 with 34% of the vote and were only 4% behind Labour.

    I think what will happen is that Labour really stand a good chance of coming 3rd and the SNP will snatch the seat but on saying that, despite the SNP’s landslide in 2011 they only won around 24% of the vote in Eastwood.

    I think tactical voting might surface in our seat in 2016 with some red Tories going over to Jackson Carlaw but of course that will be useless if the SNP are polling anywhere between 45% and 50% of the vote.

    My guess….SNP win Tory second and Labour 3rd.

  20. #SNP are polling anywhere between 45% and 50% of the vote.

    In Eastwood that is!!

  21. Re. the 1st SNP / 2nd Green vote: Talking to folk there are a fair few round here who may be assuaging their consciences with a 2nd vote for the Greens, as they are pro-independence but are not fans of the SNP as a party — though in my circle that seems to have diminished a little now that Sturgeon is in charge, and Salmond has been sent back to London. If one wanted SNP in government but not a majority, it would be perfectly rational to vote 1st SNP 2nd Labour, though I don’t know how many will.

    There are of course also that sizeable minority among Green supporters who are not fans of independence at all, who will presumably give their first vote to someone else (unless in Kelvin where I believe a Mr. P Harvie is standing for the constituency).

  22. Old Nat

    I am sure you are right that Carmichael’s tactics are giving Tavish Scott a problem he could well do without. Given the small electorate in the Northern Iles, it doesn’t take may votes to tip the balance.

  23. Unfortunately, in the TNS poll we don’t know how people voted previously, in any election, so it isn’t clear who the “undecideds” are – though given the low Labour figures, I’d guess that 2015 Lab voters provide a lot of them.

    How they vote next year may depend on what kind of party Lab is –

    SLab? LiS? right-wing? left-wing? pro Devo-Max? anti Devo-Max? etc etc

  24. Statgeek,

    I wouldn’t begin to infer anything unless it becomes a trend.

    I also think anecdotal evidence is not only worthless but has negative worth for this age group, given the social pressures that exist against open Tory support in the 16-34 age bracket, especially in certain middle-class circles like academia and parts of the public sector.

  25. @ OldNat

    Yes, the development or egress ion of the opposition will have a major effect, but …

    I don’t think it is the case, but considering the wave and the time, wouldn’t it be also a question what sort of party the SNP becomes? Although probably the time is too short until the elections.

  26. Ironically, and perhaps hopefully for Scottish democracy, SNP dominance may be diminished somewhat if they get what they say they want from Westminster, i.e. full fiscal autonomy at this stage.

  27. Lazlo

    Parties rise and fall as they engage or disengage with voters.

    The evidence in Scotland (as in the “Which party do you see yourself as”) seems to suggest that the engagement with the SNP is proceeding to a wedding on the banks of Loch Lomond! :-)

    No doubt, at some point, love will fade and the voters will get bored with their political partner and seek new excitement elsewhere – but probably not in the next 11 months.

    The debate within Labour as to how they change their style to make themselves more attractive, however, is somewhat urgent.

    Can they rebrand successfully? – If so, are there enough potential matches on the dating website?

    When folk like Andy Kerr (former LiS Finance Secretary) are suggesting that they need to cut the links with their old mates “dahn the Dog & Duck”, in order to attract new lovers, then you know their frustration is reaching danger level! :-)

  28. In looking at Shetland it’s worth nothing that the success of an independent candidate (Bily Fox) in 2011 will mess up seat projections – the SNP didn’t see the same rise in Shetland as it did the rest of Scotland as much of the anti-Lib Dem vote went to Fox. Assuming there isn’t a similar phenomenon regarding an independent candidate, my guess is that this will serve to underestimate the SNP’s chances in Shetland.

  29. Before we all get carried away with the demise of Scottish democracy (which is a weird system in which people have a choice as to who to vote for), it’s worth comparing 1999 and 2016 (if this poll is correct!)

    1999 – Only 4 parties had elected Parliamentary representatives : 2016 there would be 6.

    1999 – Unionist parties had 81% of the MSPs/MPs/MEPs : 2016, pro-indy parties would still only have 75%.

    It does depend on how you define the issues of most import to the voters.

  30. @Oldnat

    Also how you define the parameters to what makes a given party / government ‘legitimate’.

    In Scotland, 50% of votes and 95% of seats is an affront apparently.

    Meanwhile, the Conservatives had 49.6% of votes in the South of England and managed 94% of the seats, which is obviously legitimate and above board.

    In other words, beware the person that moans about the electoral system, when prior to election ‘x’ they were in favour of it.

  31. Statgeek

    I reckon both are an “affront” to democracy – but apparently for the UK, “strong” stable government” is more important than representing the choices of the electors.

    Scotland, on the other hand, is assumed to benefit from “weak unstable government” it would seem.

  32. The last two paragraphs of this report are wonderful.

    It seems a truism that there is nothing really new in UK politics.

  33. Regarding the question of Amber’s absence, perhaps even Scots eventually get tired of contributing to a blog where comments increasingly seem to focus almost exclusively on Scotland.

  34. The Times has an extensive report on Miliband’s failed campaign. Lots of interviews-fascinating stuff.

  35. @Statgeek

    As the person who first opined on this thread that SNP dominance was bad for democracy, I hope I didn’t come across as in any way ‘affronted’. My point was technical, rather than emotional. In a democracy all governments need to have someone capable of asking the questions. Scottish Greens are good at that (Patrick is one of the stars of the current political scene IMO) and (again IMO) a good Green representation will be positive, as would a strong LD group – but that may be 10 years off yet. I just don’t think it is good for anybody to have one party as dominant as the SNP currently is.

    This thread is about Scotland, as you will, perhaps, notice from the top of the page! :-)

    That, however, in no way makes up for the absence of Amber. Let us hope that her energies are going into the revitalisation of the Labour Party in Scotland.

  36. @John B

    Despite the top of the page, judging from the comments it looks no different to any other.

    It might alternatively be that Amber is masterminding (mistressminding?) Andy Burnham’s campaign.

  37. @John B

    No not you. I was referring more to the comments elsewhere of how the SNP got what they did and UKIP didn’t get, despite their share of the vote. The comparison was made with those dratted Scots separatists, rather than the very party that blocked UKIP in the South.

    Remote, unseen targets can be easy targets.

  38. The elder Miliband is not coming across very well, IMO. It just looks like he’s sulked for the last five years and is now proclaiming “told you so”. While still refusing to re-engage actively with UK politics.

  39. @Colin

    “It seems a truism that there is nothing really new in UK politics.”

    Thankfully the politicians do – after all if Cammers and Osborne had been in charge back then they would have let old Bony win, on the grounds that the national debt was the far greater evil ;)

  40. “Patrick is one of the stars of the current political scene IMO”

    Let’s not exaggerate my merits.


    “The elder Miliband is not coming across very well, IMO. It just looks like he’s sulked for the last five years and is now proclaiming “told you so”. While still refusing to re-engage actively with UK politics.”


    Would love to know how DM would have:

    – stopped the press campaign associated with seeing Lab’s vote going to UKip

    – stopped SNP taking votes off Lab. Even if Lab had not campaigned with Tories, would have resulted in a confused campaign, with mixed messages, un-co-ordinated action that might have seen them lose the vote

    – stop the left going to the Greens with more Blairite policies like ATOS, PPI etc.

    – stop what remained of the soft Lab. vote recoiling over fears of SNP hegemony.

  42. The point being that Lab did not lose many votes over being not “right” enough, or Blairite enough. And only lost a few percent to Greens over not “left” enough, and you can argue picked up more in the centre to compensate. Until fears of SNP were hyped.

    They lost votes over things like pressure for more Devolution, immigration, and fear of SNP. Things that were not in play previously, because press weren’t hyping immigration, and the Indy ref hadn’t happened.

    Also, it’s possibly a little easier to respond to some if this when in power, which is what Blairires were used to. At the very least you can threaten to cut a media outlet out of being in the know over what you’re gonna do next etc.

  43. Anthony,

    “won a majority in a electoral system designed to avoid them.”

    A popular misconception that I keep having to correct.
    The Holyrood Constituency/List system is broadly proportional but it it was designed to do anything it was to give a marginal advantage to the party or Parties doing best in the Constituencies.

    As an example in order to stop a Party that wins all the constituencies getting more than half the seats (a majority) the list has to be bigger than the constituency part.

    (If in a 100 seat Parliament with 60 FPTP and 40 list and parties getting 40%, 30%, 20% & 10% respectively one party can win all the constituencies on a 40% vote as no other Party wins one, thus it gets 60% of the seats on 40% of the vote).

    In Holyrood the ratio is 9:7 73 FPTP and 56 List. So the list isn’t big enough to stop a Party that wins all the constituencies getting a majority.

    It goes without saying that there is nothing to stop a Party that gets a majority of the vote getting a majority of seats and stopping that would be a bit of a challenge to democracy.

    As ever I will add that the System was drawn up in the Constitutional convention that the Tories ( didn’t want any devolution) and the SNP ( wanted the option of Independence included) didn’t take part in.

    That left Labour and the LibDems in the forefront of drawing up the electoral system and by sheer coincidence they came up with one that had an in built bias in favour of Parties that got more than their share of the seats FPTP.

    No prizes for guessing the two Parties that got more than their share under FPTP and which two did worst.

    Oh and finally the 9:7 ratio would be 128 seats the 72 westminster ones and 8 regional list of 7 (or is it 7 regions of 8, I can never remember), but we actually have 129!

    That’s because the libdems insisted and Labour agreed that Orkney and Shetland the safest LibDem seat in Britain be split in two to become the two safest Libdem seats in Scotland.

    I genuinely liked Donald Dewar, but a measure of his ability as a political operator is that more than a decade after his death most people still accept his spin on the Holyrood Voting system

    Don’t get me wrong it’s a good system and far better than the Westminster one, but it was never designed to stop one Party getting a majority. it was designed to give Labour and the LibDems, the people who drew it up an in built advantage.




    Actually , I am confirmed in my view about fundamentals in economics & politics.

    One of them is that if you borrow money & don’t pay it back, you are unlikely to get a sympathetic hearing when you want to borrow more.

    The thing about fundamentals like this is that they are still there, waiting for those who thought they had discovered a different law -even after decades of “revolution” :-


  45. Good afternoon all from a sunny and warm Mount Florida.

    Looks like the SNP are tightening their grip on Scotland at local government level and have just taken control of Scotland’s 6th largest council from the Tory lead anti SNP alliance.

    Hard to believe the Tories just won 14 seats on the council to the SNP’s 27 yet they manged to lead the council, oh yes that would be the LibDem (13) and Labour’s (2) forming a pan unionist alliance.

    Aberdeenshire Council: SNP chief takes provost job as Tory-led alliance is ousted

    I did get excited at first thinking it was the current administration in Aberdeen City council that got the boot but I rather expect that will happen at the next local elections.

  46. @Peter Cairns

    I’m not sure where the “system designed to stop a majority” line originated. As you say, it doesn’t really stop majorities – after all, the SNP got one with ~45% of the regional vote.

    One thing worth noting is that the proportion of regional seats is much higher in Scotland (56/129 = 43.4%) than in Wales (20/60 = 33.3%). There must have been a conscious decision at some point to have a greater proportion of regional members in Holyrood than Cardiff (or the other way round).

    I suspect this may have been more of an effort to keep the numbers in Cardiff down (i.e. limiting the damage from the “more politicians” attack line), rather than pushing the numbers in Holyrood up.

  47. Theres a tsunami coming on the EU referendum -maybe or maybe not.

    Good Afternoon to you and everyone, on a hot day at this Premier League sea side town, at the moment.
    Thanks for the link.
    I think the Out campaign would need to be led by a national figure of repute and charisma in order to challenge the pro EU consensus.

    It will be a tricky issue for Liz Kendall and her Now Labour Team to handle, I think.

  49. @sunreada

    With any luck.

  50. CARFEW.
    Good Afternoon to you.
    I think that the GE is lost when a leader and the people around the leader are perceived to be incompetent, out of touch with where ‘most’ people are in terms of their own ambitions and views about society, economics and the world.

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