There are two Scottish polls in Sunday’s newspapers – Panelbase for the Sunday Times and Survation for the Sunday Post. Voting intention figures, with changes since the general election in 2015, are below:
Panelbase/S Times – SNP 44%(-6), CON 33%(+18), LAB 13%(-11), LDEM 5%(-3)
Survation/S Post – SNP 43%(-7), CON 28%(+13), LAB 18%(-6), LDEM 9%(+1)
The two polls have very similar shares for the SNP – still showing a large lead, but not at the heights they enjoyed in the 2015 election. Both polls show a major increase in Conservative support, putting them in clear second place (though the scale of that increase differs). Both show Labour sharply down, though against the scale differs – Survation have Labour losing a quarter of their support since 2015, Panelbase almost half of it.
The polls appear to be continuing a trend we saw at the Scottish Parliament election last year – the Conservatives gradually taking over the mantle of being the main opposition party to the SNP. My own best guess of what is going on is that we’re seeing Scottish politics increasingly become something where the main cleavage is Independence vs Unionism (rather than the normal economic and class cleavages that have dominated British politics), with the SNP and the Conservatives the main flagbearers of the two sides.
Anyway, that aside, what would these sorts of figures mean in terms of seats at the general election? The Survation poll would represent a 10 point swing from SNP to Conservative, the Panelbase poll a 12 point swing. Looking down the SNP defence list, these would see the Conservatives take 7 to 9 seats from the SNP: Berwickshire, Renfrewshire East, Dumfries & Galloway, Aberdeenshire West, Aberdeen South, Perth & Perthshire North, Moray – perhaps East Lothian & Edinburgh South West. On the Panelbase poll the Tories would also take Edinburgh South from Labour.
Of course that’s just a uniform swing. In reality the vote won’t be so evenly spread – for example, in his write up for the Sunday Times John Curtice notes how the Conservative increase in support is almost static amongst Scottish Remain voters, it’s concentrated almost entirely among those who voted for Brexit, so we may see a larger swing in more Brexity areas (all of Scotland voted Remain of course, but there are larger Brexit minorities in places like the Borders and the North East than in highly Remain places like Edinburgh). It will also be interesting to see if there is an across the board increase for the Tories, or if in practice Unionist voters are willing to vote tactically for the most viable Unionist candidate in their area.