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”

1 2 3
  1. @ Chrislane

    Sure, that’s one possibility. Others have been put forward too: economic competence, or not left enough, not right enough etc. etc.

    So… who’s right? Look at the polling and where the votes went. Labour were polling as high as 45% at one point. Leadership, economic competence etc. did not inhibit this.

    Sure, some will say that it was swing back to Tories as electoral reality dawned and they had to put that “x” in the box (I think that’s what you do…) and that may have happened a bit, but then how much due to last minute concerns about SNP holding balance of power instead?

    Labour had big vote losses to other parties besides Tories, over issues that transcend traditional left-right concerns, and economy, leadership etc.

    You have to consider ALL the potential reasons, and the timings and circumstantial evidence etc.

    When votes suddenly went to UKIP, was that because suddenly a bunch of Labour voters suddenly had an epiphany and decided Ed was carp, or was it the press campaign and the vans that coincided? Along with Immigration becoming the number one concern in issue trackers?

    When Scots Labour voters suddenly went SNP, was that because they all suddenly had an epiphany and realised Ed was carp, or Labour suddenly lurched to the right and announced a return to slavery, or to the left with a programme of denationalisation, or was it because Scots post-ref wanted to press for more devo and saw voting SNP as the best way of forcing Labour’s hand on that?

    Some say Lab need to become more left wing now in Scots, but if even Tories are switching to SNP, maybe that’s not really the issue. Devolution is the issue.

    Of course, you’re free to think it’s leadership if you want. It’s just that one needs to deal with these other inconvenient facts for it to be credible.

    Change the leader, or move left or right economically, and the immigration problem doesn’t go away. Nor does the devolution problem in Scotland, nor fears of SNP hegemony in England…

    It’s very hard to make these problems go away, or to trump them, which is why Labour are in a hole…

    Thanks for your post.
    I think that Ed and his team did not come across as competent on the economy, about which he forgot to speak at the 2014 Conference. He did not come across convincingly over the charge of being in thrall to the SNP.
    I agree that ‘left’ and ‘right’ wings are not helpful terms.
    Immigration was another issue which was forgotten in the 2014 speech.
    COLIN has pointed us to the TIMES articles this morning which confirms your view that Labour is in a hole.
    BTW, as kids say on text, I think it cannot just be the leader, since the Party voted for that leader, so there is a cultural issue.
    However, Labour have more MP’s at the moment than Tories had in 2005 after that GE, which was the third Labour election win in a row, under Tony Blair.
    The rise of SNP-ism was warned about by John Major, and it is reminiscent of the rise of Parnellism and later of the original Sinn Fein tide.
    In terms of the economy, I think Liz and Yvette ‘get’ the fact that when Labour spoke about equality and fairness it suggested that Labour was going to help the bottom 1% on food banks and 8% on zero-hours contracts, but at the expense of the people, our people, above the line of welfare receipts.

  3. Bill Patrick

    “Let’s not exaggerate my merits.”

    Surely that is beyond the capabilities of everyone?

    Your merits are legion – though whether it’s the IXth legion is unknown. :-)

  4. @chrislane

    “I think that Ed and his team did not come across as competent on the economy, about which he forgot to speak at the 2014 Conference. He did not come across convincingly over the charge of being in thrall to the SNP.”


    Sure, that’s a hypothesis, but do the facts back it up? Did the votes go to UKIP because of the speech, or had they already gone because of immigration? Did votes go to Greens because of not hammering the deficit? To SNP?

    The point is, the votes actually vanished over immigration and Devolution primarily, and a bit to greens and over SNP hegemony.

    If instead they had flooded to Tories over economic competence, you might have a point.

  5. @chrislane

    “Immigration was another issue which was forgotten in the 2014 speech.”


    Sure, but what could he say? He can’t do much about it while we’re in the EU. And anyway, what’s reported is not entirely up to him. If the press wanna push a different immigration line, then they will.

    I think perhaps you are putting a bit too much faith in speeches. Some good words about immigration are unlikely to solve the problem. Because can’t back it up with policy.

    In other times, he could at least offer to ameliorate effects, e.g. With housebuilding, more infrastructure.

    But peeps don’t want their house price to fall, and the austerity meme means can’t easily offer to spend loads to ameliorate without incurring opprobrium.

  6. Giving votes to 16-17 year olds works – as does doing courses like Modern Studies at school.

    How many would have voted in the general election?
    ?67% of 16 and 17- year-old Scots surveyed said they would have been “very likely” to vote had they been eligible to do so.
    ?39% of those in England, Wales and Northern Ireland said the same.

    How many took part in non-electoral political engagement? (ie petitioning or writing to an MP)
    ?57% of Scottish people reported that they had done so.
    ?40% of those in England, Wales and Northern Ireland said the same.

    How many used three or more different types of information sources to learn about the general election?
    ?60% in Scotland.
    ?43% of those in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

    How many discussed how the UK is governed with members of their family, during the three months preceding February’s survey?
    ?63% in Scotland.
    ?39% of those in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

    In Scotland, 50% of adults expressing a view felt that young people should be allowed to vote in all elections, compared with 30% in England, 33% in Wales and 34% in Northern Ireland.

  7. @chrislane

    “In terms of the economy, I think Liz and Yvette ‘get’ the fact that when Labour spoke about equality and fairness it suggested that Labour was going to help the bottom 1% on food banks and 8% on zero-hours contracts, but at the expense of the people, our people, above the line of welfare receipts.”


    That’s because the economy tends to be seen as a household budget, so if you spend on welfare, others have to pay. The idea that government spending can be an investment is a more difficult thing to convey, especially with a media keen to convey the opposite.

    And even if it’s accepted as an investment, it then gets trickier because you now have to talk multipliers. The return on investment. Welfare has a multiplier of 0.5, whereas stuff like infrastructure can be 2.0 or more. So do you spend on welfare or summat else? Especially if spending on infrastructure indirectly takes people off welfare? This is something Tories are aware of: IDS pointed out infrastructure gives a bigger return than welfare…

  8. @Chrislane

    “He did not come across convincingly over the charge of being in thrall to the SNP.”


    Soz, forgot this key bit. It’s quite difficult to come across convincingly when the media don’t want that and will ignore anything convincing.

    Look what happened to the Tories over the Omnishambles budget, when press wanted to chasten over Levinson. Fifteen point gap to Labour resulted.

    I mean, was the pasty tax really that big a deal? (Storage Tax was, obviously).

    In any event, how he comes across on the matter is largely irrelevant. He could have been the most charismatic Leader ever, and if Scots held the balance of power, they could ignore any charisma. Same problem as with immigration. Little power to do things in practice.

  9. Carfrew

    Labour has to select the leader that the Conservatives are most afraid of and who appeals to the 2015 voters of parties to its right. As Prescott said the day Blair was elected “he scares the hell out of the Tories”!

    The last thing they should do is listen to the minority interest that is the Greens, CND espousing Lib Dems and the varied PFJ Trots and Stalinists.

    I’m not sure whether any of the currently nominated candidates do scare the Conservatives (though that’s partly due to their irrational exuberance at having a 12 seat majority that’s going to bite Cameron again and again).

    But I think it’s clear which candidates- as it was when EdM was elected- they would “prefer to face”.

  10. “especially with a media keen to convey the opposite”

    And politicians keen to prove the opposite.

  11. @ Old Nat

    It is hugely disappointing that the franchise for the EU Ref is not being extended to the 16-17 age group. Getting people to start voting while young is likely to establish a habit that will stay with many of them for a lifetime.

    With a high stakes, high profile political event like the EU Ref, there was a huge opportunity to get a generation of rUK youth politically engaged in the same way that the IndyRef did for their Scottish equivalents. Sadly neither Con nor Lab are interested in doing so.

  12. @Rob Sheffield

    Not that I think leadership is irrelevant, but I think it’s oversold. Atlee triumphed over Churchill, and Ed managed 45 points before erosions due to immigration, devolution etc.

    The key point is that better communication skills cannot change the reality of being unable to stop immigration, or losing votes to SNP over Devolution (since if Labour offer more Devo, SNP can still get votes to make sure they do it, and more Devo may weaken Labour anyway). Equally, charisma cannot alter the fact that if Scots hold the balance of power, then they will have voting power to outweigh charisma.

    It’s not a leadership issue, it’s that the actual situation is screwed up for Labour. A new leader won’t change that.

  13. Exile

    “Sadly neither Con nor Lab are interested in doing so.”

    I gather that both SNP & Lab intend to put down an amendment to the Referendum Bill to allow 16-17 year olds to vote.

    Whether that is genuine interest from Lab – or just an awareness that 16-17 year olds will have the vote in Scotland next May? – I couldn’t possibly comment.

    EU citizens, who will also have a vote in May, may (or may not) notice that Kez’s plea that they also be allowed to vote in the EU Referendum was slapped down by GB Lab.

  14. Or to put it another way, given the limitations in terms of responding via policy, peeps are expecting voters to believe that charisma will magically put a stop to immigration or Scots pressing for Devolution…

  15. @ Carfrew

    What if a lot of the UKIP vote came from ex LibDems? In places where there was anyone but labour vote, also where LibDems gathered protest vote?

    The notion that (apart from some places) that labour took LibDem votes to the extent of UKIP and Green increase (that is, labour losing to these to to the same degree – more or less – as it gains from LibDems) seems to me a bit stronge assumption.

    Yes, they there was such a churn, but not to the extent of being a major explanation. In some constituencies (we have a FPTP) it was significant, in others it didn’t matter (unless the assumption is made that all UKIP or Green votes came from labour).

    Also, not in your post, there is a hidden undercurrent of blaming the (white) working class for various social defects that made them vote for UKIP (which has a parallel assumption that the party of the working class is Labour).

    One of the interesting characteristics of the elections was that all parties (except LibDems and perhaps the greens) were fairly broad social coalitions, although varying geographically.

  16. @Laszlo

    Basically, the collapse of the LDs was associated with a big rise in the Labour vote.

    Subsequently, the Labour vote declined, alongside concomitant rises in UKIP, SNP, Greens etc.

    It’s possible some who left Labour for UKIP were formerly LDs, but dunno how many…

  17. Carney sticks the boot into bankers at mansion house

    Meanwhile his boss is up to some rum economics to further confuse the labour leadership candidates.I would expect young liz as a fellow historian and bean counter to fall into his trap .

  18. Old Nat

    I was misinterpreting Labour position. They voted against the SNP amendment to include the 16&17 year olds in the vote, but that amendment also contained the double majority and was in effect a “kill the bill” amendment so doesn’t really tell us anything.

  19. @ExileinYorks, @OldNat

    What makes you think that 16-17 year old would actually vote in England (where the EU Ref will most likely be decided), when 18-25 year olds who told pollsters they were 10/10 certain to vote last month did not actually do so?

  20. Exile in Yorks
    “misinterpreting Labour’s position”
    Correct and thank you for the correction. The most pertinent point is that the sole focus of the SNP was to attack Labour. This is the biggest problem for Labour in that at every turn the Conservatives can rely on the SNP to make attacking Labour the main priority. Even visually in the Commons this is going to be a constant sore for Labour.
    I was in London recently and met up with experienced Labour councillors from England and Wales and those from the north felt that the SNP threat had been a crucial late factor quoted constantly on the doorstep. I do though take on board the suggestion that some may have wanted to hang their reluctance to vote Labour on this.
    Interestingly Labour councillors from Wales felt that Plaid had never been so deflated as they expected some of the SNP’s appeal to rub off for them.

  21. @ExileinYorks @OldNat

    I think there is some merit in votes at 16 though not for the reasons often quoted and not as a one-off for a referendum.

    People often reel off a list of things people can do at 16 that they claim entitle them to vote. I’m not at all convinced of this case, not least because modern 16-18 year olds are far less likely to be doing ‘grown up’ things like paying income tax, getting married, joining the army, living away from parents and so on than in the past. In fact modern 16-18 year olds are largely sheltered from the decisions that governments make. Besides, there are also plenty of things we don’t let people do until 18 so it is wrong to say that 16 year olds are treated as adults by the law in every respect other than voting.

    The reason I have come to be more favourable is largely on engagement grounds. I have reason to believe that, given a good engagement campaign, 16-18 year olds would be more likely (perhaps considerably more likely) to vote than 18-24 year olds are. This is because they are more likely to be living in the family home – making registration easier and meaning their parents can encourage them to vote – and will also be subject to peer pressure at school and can be encouraged by teachers and so on. Should this thesis be correct they could be expected to be more likely to vote again having picked up the habit. A strong counter-argument might be that peer pressure might influence votes to too great an extent but I’d be inclined to think that 16-18 yos. being in the habit of education, might actually take more interest in policy platforms than their older peers. My experience as an A Level politics student a few years ago was that 16-18 year olds were all too keen to take opposing positions to their classmates. I don’t want to see turnout decline as our current high turnout groups die out so we need to take some actions and votes at 16 could achieve this.

    Having said that I think that any decision to extend the franchise needs to be taken on a free vote of the House of Commons and apply to all types of elections and referendums. One-off extensions on the grounds that a particular decision is ‘important’ make little sense to me. Somebody should either be enfranchised or not, not only enfranchised when politicians think they might help them win.

    As a side-note I think the Scottish referendum was unique in its capacity to engage. The EU referendum won’t ignite passions as that did – 50% turnout is probably about as good as is possible.

  22. Aberdeenshire Council?
    Power has indeed shifted there but it should be noted that this is not a huge surprise as the SNP had close to half of the councillors. Why they were not in power until now is that they insulted the Tories, the Lib Dems and the independents in turn in negotiation which led to them all coming together against the SNP and the SNP having three leaders in 40 minutes.
    In the meantime the Lib Dems have rather fallen apart and the SNP leader has been much less aggressive allowing a change to take place.
    In contrast the SNP have lost power in neighbouring Highland as the centralising agenda of the SNP has produced more cohesiveness amongst the Independents and frankly more hostility to the SNP. In Aberdeen the Labour-led coalition remains firmly in place which I am sure will please many.

  23. @ Jack Sheldon

    “The reason I have come to be more favourable is largely on engagement grounds…”

    I am in complete agreement with the points you make in this paragraph.

    I also agree that extending the franchise shouldn’t be a one-off for a referendum. However, the EU Ref does give an opportunity to open the door. As events in Scotland have shown, once you make the case for a voting age of 16 in one election, it becomes much harder to make a case for excluding them from other elections.

  24. Memo to all:

    IndyRef works as it’s a snappy abbreviation. However, EU Ref does not work as it is too cumbersome.

    May I suggest “E-Ref”?

  25. RAF

    Since you live in England, no doubt your questioning as to whether 16-17 year olds engaging with politics and voting, there would be less likely than in Scotland, is doubtless based on evidence, so I won’t assert differently.

    However, it all sounds a bit culturalist/ geographicist – even racist (for those who imagine that “race” has any useful meaning) to me.

    As often before, I’m with Alec on this. In such matters it seems unwise – even contrary – to assert that English 16-17 year olds would behave differently from their Scottish cousins.

    Unless, I suppose, they are particularly beaten down by parents and their particular [1] education system. That would explain why they still haven’t got past that indoctrination till their mid 20s

    [1] I intended the word “pecul-iar” as it has a useful double meaning. Alas auto-mod pounced!

  26. Barney

    “Even visually in the Commons this is going to be a constant sore for Labour.”

    Bloody SNP! Turning up in the Chamber to do their job instead of skiving off to the bar. A disgrace that should be instantly stopped. They should be told firmly that the proper stance for MPs from Scotland is to appear in the Chamber only on rare occasions.

    :-) :-)

    It’s probably just as well that you never got elected to any Parliament. The framing of motions that your opponents can’t vote for, and then making mileage of that is something that parties in Parliaments do all the time.

    Didn’t you know that? You should. LiS do it on a regular basis too. It’s called “politics”.

  27. @OldNat

    Whilst, as I said above, votes at 16 could have potential for improving engagement I think it must be recognised that Indyref was a very unusual type of vote and we shouldn’t expect the EU referendum or regular elections to have nearly as much of an impact.

  28. Jack Sheldon

    Did you read the report of the research?

    It wasn’t about 16-17 year olds just voting in referendums, but in all elections too.

    From 2016, they will be voting in all Scottish elections – local, Holyrood, and any other elections/referendums organised by the Scottish Parliament. They will only be disenfranchised where Westminster has control of the process.

    This has unanimous cross-party support in Scotland.

    The research does suggest that adults in rUK (as opposed to the Crown Dependencies) are far less generous in their assessment of young people’s capabilities than adults in Scotland, so I suppose we may have to wait until England ceases to impose parental restrictions on other young people’s rights before Westminster moves on.

  29. @OldNat

    I support extending the franchise to 16-17 year olds.

    My assumptions about the English youth vote is based on the fact that at the last GE a much larger proportion of 18-24 year olds said they were certain to vote than actually voted. ComRes actually states recently that this was one of the main reasons that their eve of election poll flopped.

    I suspect that these youths were enthused enough to tell phone pollsters (and maybe online ones too) that they were dead keen on casting their ballot, but were not quite as keen to actually get out and vote.

    Is Scotland different? I really don’t know. Can you recall what proportion of 16-17 years old actually voted in the IndyRef? If so is the IndyRef sufficiently similar to the EU Ref to expect turnout in the latter to be roughly equal to the former? I have my doubts. A referendum for the Independence of a country is not the same as for remaining part of a supranational union. The latter may be equally as important – perhaps more so – than the latter. But I doubt many see it in quite the same way.

  30. Something of a bond market collapse going on it seems. Talk of booming money supply again, and inflation hitting in 6 – 12 months.

    It’s highly likely that the circumstances against which the next election will be fought could be very different to what people expect.

    Games in parliament about not allowing deficits or who supports budget surplus’ may be a little academic by 2020.

  31. RAF

    We are at cross-purposes.

    My post concerning the Edinburgh Uni research was about 16-17 year olds voting – not just about a referendum.

    I suspect fewer people of all ages will vote in the EUref than did in the indyref.

    Incidentally, as if we didn’t know it already, Cameron is ignorant about the effect of combing the EUref with the elections for the non-English nations.

    It was bad enough last time, when Returning Officers had to combine two different registers – with different numbers of voters, and consequently some have different polling stations.

    Next time, if he runs it simultaneously, it will be much worse in Scotland because of all the 16-17 year olds who will be on the electoral roll for Holyrood, but not for the EUref.

    That Cameron doesn’t give a damn about disrupting proper democracy, (through ignorance, myopia, or foolishness) should not, sadly, surprise anyone.

  32. “We are at cross-purposes”

    To the contrary: you seem united in a purpose which I don’t think is helpfully pursued here, which is to discuss the merits of democratic systems, and at least one of you wants to make a few points about politicians you dislike.

  33. Bill Patrick

    Quite right! Democratic systems and their effects on voting and polling have no place on this site.

    I’d have thought that 16-17 year olds turning up to vote for Holyrood, but banned by the Tories from voting on EU membership, might have lots of things to say about voting Tory – few of them positive.

    Of course, if Cameron behaves sensibly on the timing of the EUref then at least the Returning Officers will not be joining them! :-)

  34. Tspiras met angela tonight -compromise is in the air.

  35. @07052015

    “….Tspiras met angela tonight -compromise is in the air…”

    I’m sure that they met. I’m sure Merkel told him to stop messing around and sign, and I’m sure Tspiras declined to do so. I wouldn’t use the word “compromise” to describe that process.

  36. Bill – yours of 1.21 lunch time yesterday

    Oh but surely you also are to be regarded as such……… in your own inimitable way

  37. Good morning all from a very sunny Giffnock.


    I don’t know why it took the SNP so long to take control of Aberdeenshire council. The council has 68 seats, 27 + 27 = 54 = 15 short of a majority so where you get the SNP taking half the seats is a mystery??

    Now..Aberdeen City council where the SNP won most votes of any party last time is stable at the moment but looking at some of the current administrations miss-handling of planning projects in the city center plus the groundswell of anti Labour and Tory in the area (as we saw at the election) then Aberdeen along with Dundee will probably be the easiest council for the SNP to win.

  38. Where you there then martyn ?

    Kendall says she might endorse osbornes surplus beancounting .Blair says the same stuff again -reckon he has factored in scotland devo max as he has nothing to say about it.

  39. Hmm. They’re talking about cutting tax credits, to encourage people to take on more work, and encourage employers to pay more instead of being effectively subsidised by the state.

    The difficulty being, of course, that people seeking more work will tend to have a depressive effect on wages…

  40. “Blair says the same stuff again…”


    Read a quote where he said Labour should occupy the “radical centre”. Sounds good, but does anyone know what this actually means? Does he think we should invade Iraq again or summat? That would be pretty rad. Have another banking crash? Has he actually come up with any useful ideas?…

  41. “then Aberdeen along with Dundee will probably be the easiest council for the SNP to win.”


    In which case it perhaps does not admit of as much interest as if, say, SNP were poised to take Saffron Walden or Windsor or summat…

  42. Tax Credit policy seems a bit odd considering the current economic climate. Not sure why you would want to reduce the spending ability of business and employees.

  43. Meanwhile down in Essex, following the split in the UKIP group on Tendring District Council less than three weeks after the election, four of the nine rebels who formed Tendring UKIP have returned to the main UKIP group while the remaining five have been expelled from UKIP by their National Executive.

    Those five have now gone into coalition with the Tories to form the governing group, with two of them being given cabinet posts. However, one of them has now resigned from the Council altogether, saying he didn’t think being a councillor was for him.

    Posters have appeared around Clacton accusing the Tendring UKIP councillors of being traitors, showing their photos and giving their contact details. One of those pictured has complained to the police about harassment and threatening behaviour but the police have dismissed the complaint.

    Well, at least there’s never a dull moment with UKIP around.

  44. Since we’re in danger of straying off an exclusively Scottish perspective on events….

    The robin has won a referendum to be Britain’s favourite bird.

    The Scottish National branch of the RSPB has expressed disappointment at the poor showing of the capercaillie, arguing that this furthers the case for an independent Scottish favourite bird. However, given that the average life expectancy of the robin is 1 year, the branch has pointed out that the branch’s commitment that there should be no further referendum for a generation of the winning bird means that there can be a rerun in 2016.


    Now now you’re posturing. ;-)

  46. @Fraser

    The tax credits story could be one that does not play well among a vast number of middle income families, a part of the electorate that the Conservatives did well in in the GE.

    Lowering the top cut off to £28,847 of gross earnings from £32,969 will affect many ‘aspirational’ voters.

    I imagine if this is to be the policy, it’s best politically get it out of the way early in the Parliament.

  47. Oldnat,

    No-one said you can’t discuss 16-17 year olds voting.

    I don’t find the rest of your comment at all helpful or worth discussing further.

  48. I see an ‘influential’ tory group are suggesting some benefits be made ‘loans’ and the scrapping of Maternity and paternity pay… together with the sell off of RBS at a 7 billion loss, post office privatization and a revised ‘snooper’s’ law you get what you vote for…..

  49. If the EURef is more than 2 years after the Scottish Ref, then all of the 16/17 year olds will be 18 and there is no problem about excluding them.

  50. The vote should be restricted to those otherwise treated as adults. If they are not considered old enough to gamble, to hold a driving licence, to marry without parental permission, to enter into legal contracts, or to buy alcohol or cigarettes or adhesives or knives or certain films and video games, then you should not be entitled to vote.

1 2 3