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.


We have three new polls so far today. TNS have put out a new GB poll, which has topline figures of CON 33%(nc), LAB 32%(nc), LDEM 8%(+1), UKIP 16%(-1), GRN 5%(+1) – clearly no significant change since their previous poll (tabs are here).

ComRes have a new poll of the 40 Labour held constituencies in Scotland (that is excluding Falkirk, where Eric Joyce sat out his term as an independent). In 2010 the share of vote in these seats was CON 14%, LAB 51%, SNP 19%, LDEM 14%. The new ComRes poll found support standing at CON 13%(-1), LAB 37%(-14), SNP 43%(+24), LDEM 2%(-12). The seven point SNP lead represents a swing of 19 points from Lab to SNP, the equivalent of a sixteen point SNP lead in a national Scottish poll (tabs are here).

Finally YouGov have a new London poll for the Evening Standard, which has topline figures of CON 34%(+2), LAB 45%(+1), LDEM 8%(+1), UKIP 8%(-2), GRN 4%(-1) – changes are from YouGov’s previous London poll a month ago. The eleven point Labour lead represents a swing of 4.5 points from Con to Lab since the general election, the equivalent of a two point Labour lead in a national GB poll (tabs are here).


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Friday’s polls

I will hopefully be doing my usual weekly round up later on tonight, this is just a swift update on Friday’s polls (after all, it’s very unfair if they never get their own post!)

The daily YouGov/Sun poll this morning has topline figures of CON 33%, LAB 32%, LDEM 7%, UKIP 16%, GRN 6% (tabs). Of the four YouGov polls so far this week there have been three Tory leads, one Labour one.

There was also a YouGov Scottish poll. Full results of that are here. I may write some more about that in the weekly round up, but for now I’ll just say that the SNP continue to show a strong lead, with topline Westminster voting intentions of CON 18%, LAB 27%, LDEM 4%, SNP 46%, GRN 3%. Note that there is a methodology change in this poll, with the sample additionally weighted to match how people voted in the Independence referendum.

The twice-weekly Populus poll has figures of CON 29%, LAB 32%, LDEM 8%, UKIP 18%, GRN 6% (tabs). After a few weeks when it’s looked as if there might be a slight squeeze on UKIP support the 18% score is actually the highest Populus have recorded for them, though all the usual caveats apply about it just being one poll and probably a blip unless other polls show the same. Note that the fieldwork was Wednesday and Thursday so partly pre-dated Nigel Farage’s comments on discrimination laws.


Some interesting non-GB polls today. First up Lord Ashcroft has released four constituency polls in Conservative held seats targeted by UKIP. The four seats are Boston and Skegness, Castle Point, South Basildon and East Thurrock and North East Cambridgeshire.

  • North East Cambridgeshire seems like a rather odd choice to begin with, it doesn’t look like an obvious place for UKIP success and while Ashcroft doesid find UKIP in second place, the poll gives the Conservatives a very solid 21 point lead. (detailled tabs)The polls in the other three seats were much closer though…
  • In South Basildon and East Thurrock Ashcroft found a clear, but not entirely comfortable, Tory lead of 6 points – Conservatives 35%, UKIP 29%. Labour were in an extremely close third place on 28%, so it’s a fairly even split between the three parties with plenty of potential for tactical voting to change the result (detailled tabs)
  • In Boston and Skegness Ashcroft found a close race, with the Conservatives just ahead. Topline figures are CON 38%, LAB 17%, LDEM 5%, UKIP 35%. (detailled tabs) Note that this was one of the seats that Survation had previously polled for Alan Bown, the UKIP donor, back in September. Ashcroft’s three point Tory lead is in complete contrast to the Survation poll which showed a twenty point UKIP lead.
  • Castle Point was closest of all, essentially neck and neck between the Conservatives and UKIP. Topline figures there were CON 37%, LAB 16%, LDEM 3%, UKIP 36% (detailled tabs)

Meanwhile the latest Survation poll of Scotland was in this morning’s Daily Record. Topline figures for Westminster voting intention are CON 15%(+1), LAB 28%(+2), LDEM 5%(-2), SNP 45%(-1), UKIP 3%(-1), GRN 3%(nc) (tabs here). Compared to Survation’s other post-referendum polls it suggests a slight narrowing in the SNP lead (their previous three polls had SNP leads of 22, 24 and 20 points) Looking across Scottish polls from other companies though there’s no obvious consensus on whether the lead is narrowing or not… and even if it is narrowing a bit, a seventeen point lead is still firmly in landslide territory.


TNS Scottish poll

This morning TNS released a new Scottish poll. Topline Westminster voting intention figures are CON 16%, LAB 31%, LDEM 4%, SNP 41%, GRN 6%, UKIP 2% (tabs here). Under normal circumstances these would obviously be good figures for the SNP, but these are not normal circumstances and it’s a much smaller SNP lead than that suggested in recent polls by YouGov, Survation and Ipsos MORI.

Unlike their GB polls which are now done online, TNS’s Scottish polls are still done using face-to-face interviews. This means the fieldwork tends to take significantly longer, and the polls are then often not reported until a week or so later. The fieldwork for this poll was conducted between the 14th January and the 2nd February. This means the Survation and MORI polls from last month which showed 20 point and 28 point SNP leads for the SNP had fieldwork done at the same time as the start of this poll. The YouGov poll last week which had a 21 point SNP lead had fieldwork done at the same time the fieldwork for this poll was finishing (so is mostly significantly newer than this one!). What this means is that much of the reporting and headlines on this poll are just rubbish – the poll does NOT show the SNP lead falling. It shows a smaller SNP lead – this may well be for methodological reasons, or perhaps a bit of random sample variation, but given the respective timing of the fieldwork it cannot be that public opinion has changed since the previous poll showing a 21 point lead, as this poll was mostly conducted before that one. It’s a thoroughly bad idea to try and draw trends between polls conducted using very different methods anyway, but certainly check when the fieldwork was done and get them in the right chronological order.