With the window for taking part in Labour leadership election closing and ballot papers going out there were several polls over the weekend asking about the leadership candidates, though no fresh polling of people voting in the actual contest. ComRes, Opinium and Survation all had polls asking about the general public’s perception of the candidates. While the polls weren’t presented that way, I’ve seen various people writing about them as evidence of which candidate would actually do better as leader. In particular the Survation poll had Jeremy Corbyn ahead among the public after they were shown video clips, so was taken as a sign that he may not be as damaging electorally as the commentariat widely assume.

Questions about how well different leadership candidates would do in a general election are always popular and sought after, but extremely difficult if not impossible to make meaningful. Asking the general public who they think would do better or worse is perfectly reasonable, but is a different question. Who people think would do better is not the same as who would do better, it’s just asking the public to answer the question for you and a poll is not a Magic 8 Ball. Asking the general public who they prefer doesn’t answer the question either, it contains the views of lots of committed Labour and Conservative voters who aren’t going to change their vote anyway, and preferring is not necessarily the same as changing your vote.

If you ask how people would vote with x, y or z as leader, or if people would be more or less likely to vote Labour with each candidate as leader then you are getting a little closer, but the problem is still that people are expected to answer a question about how they would vote with the candidates as leader when the general public know hardly anything about them. A fair old chunk won’t even know the candidates names or what they look like, the majority will have little real idea what policies they will put forward. None of us really know how they will work out as leader, what the public, press and political reaction will be, how they will really operate. How can respondents really judge how they would vote in a hypothetical situation with so little information? They can’t.

Some polls try to get round that by giving respondents a little more information about each candidate: a run down of their main policy positions perhaps, or in the case of the Survation poll a little video clip of each respondent so people could see what they looked and sounded like. This is better, but it’s still a long way from reality. It’s like the famous market research failure of New Coke – in market research tests people liked the taste, but release it out into the real world and people wanted their old Coke back. A video clip or a list of policies won’t factor in the way the media react, the way the new leader is reported, how they actually handle leading, the way their party and their opponents react. There is no really good way of answering the question because you’re asking respondents something they don’t actually know yet.

Is there anything polls can really tell us about how the leadership contenders would do? Well, firstly I think we can be reasonably confident in saying the polls don’t suggest any of the four candidates is any sort of electoral panacea, the most positive net rating in the ComRes poll is Andy Burnham and just 19% think he would improve Labour’s chances, 14% that he’d damage them (Corbyn gets more people saying he’d have a positive effect (21%) but much more saying he’d have a negative effect (31%). None of them have obvious election-winning magic like, say, Blair did in 1994.

They can also tell us some things about people’s first impressions of the candidates, something that shouldn’t be underestimated (people probably made their minds up pretty quickly that Ed Miliband didn’t look Prime Ministerial, for example, or that there was “something of the night” about Michael Howard. Those early impressions are hard to shift.). On that front the Survation poll is pretty positive about Jeremy Corbyn with people saying he came across as more trustworthy and in touch than his rivals (though such polls are always a bit tricky because of the choice of clips – Survation tried to iron out any potential biasing effect by having clips from each candidate being interviewed on the Marr show, so they were all interviews, all the same setting and same interviewer… but even then you ended up with two candidates defending their position on the welfare bill, one talking about the EU referendum and one talking about rail nationalisation. It’s almost impossible to do such things and have a truly level ground).

The argument against Corbyn isn’t about his personal image and manner though, it’s that he’d put the Labour party in a ideological and policy position that wouldn’t win votes, that the Labour party itself would risk ripping itself apart under a leader with little support among the Parliamentary party and a long history of rebellion. On individual policies I’ve seen Corbyn supporters taking succour from polls showing, for example, that a majority of the public support rail nationalisation or much higher taxes on the rich and drawing the conclusion that there is a public appetite for much more left wing policies. Be careful – look at this YouGov poll which shows a majority of people would support renationalisation of the utilities, increasing the minimum wage to £10 and the top rate of tax to 60%… but also a total ban on immigration and benefits for anyone who turns down a job, making life mean life with no parole in prison sentences and stopping all international aid. There are some policies to the left of mainstream public debate that are popular and some to the right that are popular, it no more means that the public are aching for a far-left political party than for a far-right one. Essentially you can pick a list of appealing sounding policies from almost any ideological stance, from far-left to far-right, and find the public agree with them. In reality though policies require trade-offs, they need to be paid for, they are attacked by opponents and the press. They are judged as a package. In terms of how well the Labour party would hang together under Jeremy Corbyn, polling of the public can’t really tell us – a poll of Labour MPs perhaps!

Bottom line? There is no way of doing a simple poll that will give you a ready packaged answer as to how well or badly a potential party leader will do, and the things that Jeremy Corbyn’s detractors worry about are not things that are easily tested in a poll anyway. My own guess is that those who think Jeremy Corbyn would struggle electorally are correct, though it does depend on whether the Conservatives also pull themselves to shreds after the EU referendum. I am a little wary about arguments about parties not winning because they are too left or too right. While putting yourself broadly where most voters are is sensible enough, those voters themselves don’t necessarily see things as ideologically left and right and specific policies aren’t really that important in driving votes. However, broad perceptions of a party, its perceived competence and the public’s views on how suitable its leader is to be Prime Minister are incredibly important. It will be an extremely hard task for Labour to succeed if it is seem as taking up a risky and radical route, if it’s trying to rebuild a lack of public confidence by selling an approach that is radically different from what a normally risk-averse public are used to, if it is seen as being riven by internal dissent and splits, if their leadership patently doesn’t have the support of its own MPs. Maybe he’ll surprise us, but I wouldn’t count on it.

On other matters, the ComRes poll also had voting intention, their first online VI figures since the election (rather to my surprise. Their online polls for the Independent on Sunday dried up during the election campaign itself and I’d wrongly assumed they’d come to halt as part of ComRes moving their phone contract from the Independent to the Daily Mail. I’m pleased to see I was wrong, and the ComRes/Indy on Sunday relationship continues!). Topline figures are CON 40%, LAB 29%, LDEM 8%, UKIP 13%, GRN 4%, and ComRes have adopted the same socio-economic based turnout model for their online polls that they have started using in their telephone polls.


922 Responses to “Can polls tell us how well Corbyn would do in a general election?”

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  1. Phil Haines

    I have just had a look through this.

    SNCF (via Keolis subsidiary) have stakes in Southern/Thameslink, South Eastern and Transpennine Express. Nederland Spoorwagen also have interests in Great Eastern and Northern (via their subsidiary Abellio).

  2. @Phil Haines

    You don’t get the discipline of the market if it’s state owned.

    This is very important. Without the market and the profit motive, we wouldn’t have the service we get now, where you have to book months in advance negotiating the evils of price comparison apps for a seat at five am (that isn’t really a seat ‘cos you’ll have to stand) that might be vaguely affordable (cos all your disposable Income’s gone on the cheap and efficient provision of rent and energy, thanks to the rigours of the market), and try and figure out the connections between different companies cos it’s not integrated any more.

    Without the market, it just wouldn’t be the same. It takes away the challenge…

  3. To be fair, you don’t necessarily have to go early in the morning, you can try later in the evening, if you have an armed escort and stuff …

  4. @Carfrew – 2.29

    The Indyref was, of course, very different from a GE.

    For a start, most Indy supporters are in it for the long haul – Independence didn’t arrive in 2014 but it is likely (though of course, not certain) that it will have been achieved within the next twenty to thirty years. I’m not sure that the present Labour Party (JC and co. excepted) is capable of any long-term thinking on that time-scale

    Also, GE campaigns are fought on a maximum vision timescale of five years and therefore to lose a GE is to be thrown into the depths of despair – especially when you were convinced that you were going to come out at least on an equal footing with your chief rival.

    Again, the Yes campaign was behind in the polls from start to almost finish and although it was disappointing for many that the Yes side failed to win, this was a further move in the direction sought (the Vow etc.).

    It seems to me that the rise in SNP support post Indyref comes in part from the wish to impress on those down south that this debate is not over and that the political structure of the UK is something which has to be addressed in a serious manner. The Smith Commission, of course, and with it the proposals presently going through the Westminster Parliament are nowhere near adequate in addressing the real issues.

    But I’ve bored you all before with my views on this matter……

  5. @Hawthorn

    Spoorwagen (Abellio) now also runs Scotrail.

  6. @John B

    Lol yes John, the knowledge you’ll get another crack at it every five years is surely gonna throw a party into despair…

    As opposed to hoping to secure independence in the next thirty years before the oil runs out.

    Or Thorium renders it academic!!

  7. ROGER MEXICO

    @”Next time you go into the polling booth you will be unable to stop your hand inexorably moving towards the box marked “Labour”.”

    I suppose that’s possible :-). But somehow I think he was trying to persuade a different electorate entirely.

    Like the stranding of a mighty whale , it is sad to see these Labour Giants ,: Blair, Brown, Mandelson, Johnson et al tthrash about , impotently twitching on the beach of history as a fresh Labour tide leaves them behind to the irrelevant fate of all bleached bones.

  8. Re: Railways

    Is the argument that, had the pre-Privatisation railway received the amount of UK government subsidy/investment currently lining the pockets of the present Franchise owners, then things would have been far better?

    My own approach to the railways would have been for half of the Vehicle Excise Duty to be spent on railtrack/station maintenance, for mainline station terminals to be greatly increased in size (e.g. underground or double deck platforms) and for the operators of trains to run along the tracks for free, without ‘franchises’ – thus reducing the cost of fares to the public….. Or are there problems with that?

  9. @John B

    “It seems to me that the rise in SNP support post Indyref comes in part from the wish to impress on those down south that this debate is not over and that the political structure of the UK is something which has to be addressed in a serious manner.”

    ————-

    I think we’re aware by now John, of this reality. That’s why some peeps were worried about Scots hegemony in the GE. Scots are more insulated from Westminster now owing to devolution and Barnett so can vote without having to worry as much as others if Tories or whoever get elected.

    Thus, whatever they secure, they can keep pressing for more. Because insulated.

    The irony here, is that the more devolution they secure, the more insulated, so it is safer to then press for even more.

    Not that I am saying they shouldn’t. Just that they have surely impressed this situation on many of us.

    It is possible, there are a few south of the border who aren’t aware, but I have every confidence that you’ll find them and let them know!!

  10. Afternon everyone, nice to see that everyone’s in happy form :) Just to add my tuppence to the debate on Trident abolition and railway nationalisation. Naturally enough, there’s objections to Corbyn’s view on both, but from my point of view, I would reverse the way the question is generally posed.

    On Trident, I would say, why spend 100 bn+ on renewal when this could be invested in other public services and/or lead to lower taxes? And above all, I’d ask the question (stolen from Yes Prime Minister), can anyone think of any possible situation in which the UK would *use* the nuclear missiles? I’m relatively agnostic on Trident renewal, frankly, if a UK government decides to put money in defence expenditure, that’s fair enough. However, I find it difficult to envisage a real world scenario when the system would actually be used.

    On railway nationalisation, it is often opposed on the basis that British Rail were inefficient and useless and terrible in the 1970s/1980s. However, that’s not the reason why British Rail was privatised – the real reason was part of an ideological experiment in state shrinking and a belief that the private sector did things better (and perhaps also to reduce the amount of exposure that the government had to the unions). In some sectors, particularly telecommunications, it’s difficult to argue against the benefits that privatisation gave. However, in that sector, there is genuine national competition between the various ISPs, mobile phone providers, tv providers etc. In rail, electricity and water, the UK has been left with a mish-mash of private companies running services for profit, but with very little genuine competition between them, and very little oversight.

    One final point, I think the last Prime Minister with a full beard (as opposed to a moustache) was probably the Marquess of Salisbury – but I’m pretty sure that Boris could grow one in time for 2020 :)

  11. Ac, on the interwebs in wk time? Bloody private sector slackers. Tsk.

  12. @Carfrew

    Why do you keep going on about the oil? Whether it is right or not for Scotland to be an independent country is quite separate from the economics of the matter.

    Take Austria as an example. According to your logic, all the Austrians would be longing to become part of Germany. After all, they have a common language and culture, and a predominantly common history. The Austrians, if you are to be believed, ought never to have opted for independence in 1945 (actually, of course, they never had that choice), but they could opt now to vote for an Anschluss party, which your logic would assume to have overwhelming support because the only thing that seems to matter to you is economics.
    Except, of course, that there is no overwhelmingly popular Anschluss party for the simple reason that Austria is a nation and the Austrians wish to follow their own path, even if that means not being as rich as the Germans.

  13. @John B

    “Why do you keep going on about the oil? Whether it is right or not for Scotland to be an independent country is quite separate from the economics of the matter.”

    ———–

    Bet you’ve talked about the oil more than me in your life John!!

    You may feel, that there are reasons for Independence beyond the oil. And there are.

    But of course, by switching it to the issue of reasons for Independence, that dodges a few things.

    It’s possible this wasn’t deliberate and you just can’t see any significance in the oil, so allow me to fill you in. This will help you understand the mysterious economic debates around independence and the oil price and stuff!

    See, the oil may not be a reason FOR Independence, but it has an impact on the economic outcome.

    See, if you have the oil, you have a more money, see? And your economy is more viable. That’s why Independence peeps often insist on including it in their calculations.

    So if you’ve been wondering why your Scotty friends keep on about “Scotland’s Oil!!”, that’s why.

    But wait, there’s more…

  14. @John B

    Now, I know for you, the economy post-Independence may not be important to you. Whatever it takes to rid yourself of those commentators who slip up in the heat of the live action moment right? Or people who quote Salmond. Understandable.

    But I know this is hard to believe John, but the majority were opposed to Independence. It is not you the Indy peeps have to persuade, you already want Independence. It’s the peeps who voted no, who need persuading.*

    And not being as keen as you to detach themselves from the evil English who patronised you by supporting what you wanted, they may be quite concerned about the economic outcome. It’s possible not everyone wants to eat grass, to refer back to the earlier analogy.

    If you’re wondering why Salmond crazily tied himself to an oil price of $99, and wouldn’t let Darling explain the currency without interrupting, that’s a reason to chew over.

    * Similarly, most on this board don’t need persuading, because not Scottish. Don’t have a vote on the matter, etc.

  15. @Carfrew

    Are you going to address the root of the issue or not? What do you say to the Austrians who prefer independence to economic well-being?

  16. @John B

    I already addressed the Austrian thing. You just can’t see it. I’ll make it real simple.

    Yes, the oil is not a reason for Independence.

    Yes it is possible peeps, like the Austrians, would take an economic hit to secure Independence.

    BUT YOU DON’T LIVE IN AUSTRIA YOU LIVE IN SCOTLAND WHERE PEOPLE VOTED AGAINST INDEPENDENCE.

    And in addition, there is a difference between taking a bit of an economic hit, and the kind of hit Scotland would take without the oil.

    What would Scotland’s economy look like without the oil? Got the figures, John?

  17. @Carfrew

    “@COUPER2802
    “The stages of grief is a far more appropriate analogy. In sympathy with my grieving Labour friends, what you are feeling is entirely normal and well documented.”
    ———-
    So how did that play out for Indy peeps after the Referendum, Coups?”

    I think Couper2802 is better able to spot these things when it applies to Labour people. That little smugness, we SNP people, know what’s best for you.

  18. @Carfew

    We went through exactly the same – you have no idea how many people, including in my own family, were convinced the referendum was rigged. I spent ages convincing people online and at home that it was not.

    We blamed the MSM but above all we blamed Labour and we had our revenge in May.

    We are at bargaining when we think we can have a re-run without any substantial change in the offer and get a different result.

    Depressions still to come and then Acceptence and the realisation that we need to make a better case and be better prepared.

  19. @Liz H

    It’s worse than we thought. Some of them don’t even seem to know they live in Scotland. They think it’s Austria or summat…

  20. @Coups

    “We are at bargaining when we think we can have a re-run without any substantial change in the offer and get a different result.”

    ———-

    Well, not just yet Coups, maybe wait till the oil price picks up a bit!!

  21. @ John B,

    Whether it is right or not for Scotland to be an independent country is quite separate from the economics of the matter.

    Not according to many Scots, it isn’t.

    But independence is neither intrinsically right not intrinsically wrong; the precise drawing of national borders is not something that carries a inherent moral weight. It depends on the consent of the relevant population. Currently most Scots want to remain in the UK, so independence would be wrong, but I’m sure you would agree that isn’t necessarily a permanent situation.

  22. Labour members/supporters giving their votes away! (except in the SLab leadership thingie, where few seemed to bother voting at all).

    http://www.buzzfeed.com/jimwaterson/vote-early-vote-often-vote-using-someones-instagram#.kuN7o2mDY

  23. Alec

    This link may interest you. It is to a submission to the Economy, Energy and Tourism Committee of the Holyrood parliament under the convenorship of Murdo Fraser. The topic under examination by the Committee is security of energy supply.The submission was written by Colin Gibson, former Network Director of the National Grid and Sir Donald Miller, former Chairman of Scottish Power.

    http://www.scottish.parliament.uk/S4_EconomyEnergyandTourismCommittee/Inquiries/Sir_Donald_Millar_and_Colin_Gibson.pdf

  24. @Carfew

    The oil price is not in our control so we will have to live with what it is at the time of the next referendum. I am more worried about the currency, we can’t be ‘sharing the pound’ so we need an alternative.

  25. @OldNat

    That is a fundamental security mistake, when using two factors they should never be sent in the same communication. One code should be on the ballot and the other sent separately.

    That’s just incompetence – madness

  26. The best counter factual for the original BR is the Penn Central fiasco in the USA.

    Ironic that almost as soon as it was worked out how best to manage BR (business sectors rather than geographic regions), it was privatised.

  27. @Carfrew

    “What would Scotland’s ecdonomy look like without the oil?”

    Does this link offer some insight?

    http://www.businessforscotland.co.uk/without-oil-would-scotland-already-be-independent/

  28. @Carfrew

    or Scotland’s economy!

  29. @Spearmint

    I would be less ready than you in being sure what the ‘current’ VIs on an Indyref would be. The only certainty is that in September 2014 the majority were for remaining in the UK.

    As for ‘what would Scotland’s economy look like now?’ (Carfrew), are we to believe that a huge amount of additional Barnet funding has somehow materialised out of nowhere, despite cuts to the UK government budget, to provide Scotland with 13,000 new jobs over the past few months (because we Scots are subsidy junkies), when the rUK has lost 38,000?

    Now, I would say that it is too early to know what the long-term effects of the drop in the oil industry will mean for Scotland. But at least we know, and have always known, that oil was a (very!) finite resource and that it was not going to keep Scotland’s economy going for ever. What it may have done (and it is, in my view, too early to say definitely) is give many Scots a cushion to transfer from the old heavy industries so successfully destroyed by Thatcherism into a new world of whatever is taking their place.

    And of course, different people weigh the various factors differently. All I ask is that people recognise that economics is not the only factor. History, culture, even such things as scenery, may have a role to play in how people define themselves and how they wish to live.

  30. Someone said the other day that Alex Salmond occasionally reads this site. Does anyone know if Tom Devine ever drops by?

  31. @John B

    Lol yes, job creation, let’s talk about that, anything but raw numbers on how dependent Scots economy would be on oil.

    Why not throw in summat about the Austrian economy, that might help!!

  32. As to the buzz feed stuff, the madness is someone twittering his or her ballot paper. Darwin’s law must stand in this sphere of life too.

    As to the grieving. It was originally the stages of dying (but then it sounded too harsh) by Kubler-Ross – a long discredited conceptual framework that forced many many thousand of dying people completely unnecessarily through these stages by eager nurses who were more dedicated to this than to administering the pain alivieting medicins on both sides of the pond.

  33. @Sam

    That PR fluff, laced with propaganda about “tribalised unionists?”

    And they’re citing figures for benefits accruing while Scotland is still in the Union. They might for example not get the same inward investment outside of it. They might get businesses relocating south of the border!!

  34. Now the spell checker didn’t even check … It is on … I can’t win …

  35. So, Unite couldn’t agree whom they want to support for deputy leadership – they don’t want to upset the two (TW and AE) maybe?

  36. @COUPER2802

    “The oil price is not in our control so we will have to live with what it is at the time of the next referendum. I am more worried about the currency, we can’t be ‘sharing the pound’ so we need an alternative.”

    ———–

    Well, it depends on what we’re talking about. I mean, you die hard Indy peeps would probably be in OK with the rouble if it meant ridding yourself of the unsavouries South of the Border.

    But the salient thing, is whether the waverers the Indy peeps need to persuade will be happy with the economic implications of lower oil prices and having to use the pound or some other currency without your own Central bank.

    In the referendum, Salmond got around it by claiming $99 a barrel and interrupting Darling on the currency, but even then, still lost.

  37. @Carfrew

    It’s obvious that you are entirely unable to see beyond the end of the barrel!

  38. @John B

    “And of course, different people weigh the various factors differently. All I ask is that people recognise that economics is not the only factor. History, culture, even such things as scenery, may have a role to play in how people define themselves and how they wish to live.”

    ———–

    We know that John. Let me use an analogy.

    Let’s suppose you were considering buying a car that’s got charm, but very heavy on petrol.

    And peeps warn you about the cost of petrol, and you go “but I don’t buy a car because of the petrol!!”

    And they go “yes, we know that John, you don’t buy a car just to use petrol, you buy it to get about the place. But you can’t avoid the petrol thing!!”

    And you go “how can you be so shallow!! It’s not about the petrol. There are other reasons for buying a car!!”

    And they’re like “we know. We said that. But you still have to buy the petrol to get about!!”

    And then you tell them to get some culture and read some Time Devine or summat and it all goes downhill from there…

  39. @John B

    You seem capable of being able to see anything BUT the barrel.

    Especially if it’s Austrian…

  40. Time = Tom

    I’d blame my Tablet but turns out they’re not real…

  41. JohnB – “@Carfrew
    Why do you keep going on about the oil? Whether it is right or not for Scotland to be an independent country is quite separate from the economics of the matter.”

    Scotland can definitely be a viable independent state without oil – if they embrace austerity.

    To illustrate what happens to a small country when 20% of it’s economy is tied to one industry you need to look at Finland.

    They were a Nokia economy, till Apple ate their lunch. They still haven’t gotten over it, and are mired in recession, eight years after the iphone was released.

    Russia’s economy has contracted by 4% since the oil collapse. Canada’s economy has gone into recession. Saudi is running a deficit of 20% of GDP.

    Scotland can weather all this as an independent country provided they embrace austerity and cut the state back, so they arn’t vulnerable to revenue shocks.

    If they were serious about independence they’d be doing it now, within the safety of the UK, so that when they finally get a Yes, they are ship-shape and ready to go. But they are doing the opposite…

  42. “To illustrate what happens to a small country when 20% of it’s economy is tied to one industry you need to look at Finland.”

    —————-

    I tried getting them to consider the impact on other nations dominated by oil a few months ago. Zero engagement, just a few ad hominems.

    That noted oil producer – Austria!! – is to be preferred it seems.

  43. Lefty mentioned the challenge of borrowing money at favourable rates when outside of the union without your own currency… no interest in that either.

    It’s a hard enough sell for Indy peeps as it is without these economic inconveniences.

  44. CARFREW and JOHN B

    I can see how your dialogue relates to whether the polls can tell us how well Corbyn would do in a general election: he would offer QE and a dedicated programme of industrial investment and retraining for enterprise development and a social housing programme north of the border to offset the impact of a continued drop in the oil price.

  45. MARK W
    “Ac, on the interwebs in wk time? Bloody private sector slackers. Tsk”
    ______

    Now now I’m always on my break whenever I use the internet and even so…it don’t cost you taxpayers a penny if I’m unproductive during my work time.

    And I have you know I’m in the process of negotiating a transfer to our new office which will be based at Craven Street in central London..that ain’t the sign of a slacker. ;-)

    I see David Milly is the latest to come out against Corby. Who will be next? The beast of Bolsover has been very quiet!!

  46. @JP

    He’ll prolly need to set up a Sovereign Wealth fund too for Scots, they often mention that. Oh, and share the currency, because it’s a shared asset. Not the oil though, that’s not to be shared. No one knows why.

  47. @Lazlo

    The stages of grief can be applied to any loss, my first degree is in Psychology and it is a well researched and understood process but of course with any social science their are people on both sides of the fence. The example I used was a relationship break-up.

    Possibly applying it to the dying was a mistake.

  48. Oh and you are looking at another 15 years of Tory rule

  49. CANDY

    “Scotland can weather all this as an independent country provided they embrace austerity and cut the state back, so they arn’t vulnerable to revenue shocks”

    “If they were serious about independence they’d be doing it now, within the safety of the UK, so that when they finally get a Yes, they are ship-shape and ready to go. But they are doing the opposite”
    _______

    With the limited powers the Scottish government have over welfare then any austerity by them would surely be limited to peanuts. But I’m with you on the need to cut the state bloat in Scotland, Scottish Water being one of them.

    The ultimate goal for the SNP would be to offer independence with the provision the economy will be running at a net surplus but austerity offered by the SNP would be to commit political suicide although like i said before, the public bloat in Scotland has to be trimmed sensitively.

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