The Scottish Green Party have commissoned a YouGov poll of Holyrood voting intentions for their party conference. Topline figures, with changes from YouGov’s last Scottish poll in September, are as follows:

Holyrood constituency: CON 16%(nc), LAB 31%(+3), LDEM 14%(nc), SNP 34%(-2)
Holyrood regional: CON 16%(-1), LAB 29%(+3), LDEM 14%(+2), SNP 29%(-1), Green 6%.

So, a slight swing back towards Labour from the SNP since the previous poll. Two projections in the Herald both have Labour as the largest party were these figures to be repeated at a Holyrood election.

28 Responses to “YouGov Scottish poll”

  1. Changes are within the margin of error. However, the comparison with the June poll does suggest a Labour recovery.

    Holyrood constituency: CON 16%(+2), LAB 31%(+5), LDEM 14%(nc), SNP 34%(-5)
    Holyrood regional: CON 16%(+3), LAB 29%(+3), LDEM 14%(nc), SNP 29%(-5)

  2. I have always attributed the loss of Green MSP’s to “Alex Salmond for FM.” Their apparent recovery at the expense of the SNP is only the reversal of that temporary aberration.

    The Conservatives marginal loss is consistent with their aging core support which is not being replaced.

    The LibDems continue to disappoint their supporters, and the SNP are a more lively, if sometimes controversial, alternative for the anti-Tory, anti-NewLabour voter.

    The Socialists will not be able to compete with Labour until their legal issues are resolved, and for some time thereafter.

    That leaves the Labour gain in support as the only trend wiithout an obvious explanation.

    Many traditional Labour supporters have drifted away, to the SNP, the SLD, and many of them to not voting, because of marketisation, Iraq, Trident and the emphasis on presentation. Perhaps the near certainty of a Conservative government has prompted some of them to return.

    If some previous SNP supporters have returned to the Greens and Labour, then they have been mostly compensated for at the expense of the SLD’s.

    I see no reason why that trend should not continue, so a formal SNP/Green coalition seems likely next time.

    The reaction to the expected Conservative Government may not have much further to go, but former Labour voters who are strongly Unionist may be energised by the fear of independence. They may think it is more likely with a Conservative government in Westminster while the SNP are in a majority coalition in the Scottish Parliament whether they see that relationship as collusion or conflict.

  3. Has anyone looked at the new Boundary Commission proposals for the new Holyrood Parliamentary seats ( now finalised ) to see how these would effected the results compared to the current constituencies ?

  4. The Scottish Greens? Commissioning a poll? Now that surely is a first???

    One question to Anthony: Did this one it prompt for the Greens? Also, why no constituency percentage for the Greens?

    Also, does anyone else find it funny that Labour are now even welcoming polls that show them a few percent *behind* the Nats?


  5. Christian – we won’t know until YouGov put the tables up. In the past they haven’t included the Scottish Greens in the constituency question since they didn’t put up candidates at the constituency level.

  6. Thank you to the Scottish Green party for commissioning this poll. I hope they continue to do it on a regular basis.

  7. If you run these figures through electoral calculus (accepting that they are Holyrood & theefore overestimate the SNP) then the SNP won’t win 20 seats at Westminster.

  8. Any polls carried out during a Scottish by-election campaign are notoriously unreliable.

    Those of us familiar with the workings of what passes for a media in Scotland know only too well how political news is ‘managed’ and ‘manipulated’ in order to minimise damage to Labour during such times.

    Treat this poll with the proverbial pinch of salt.

  9. Newsnet Scotland

    The media treatment is different from the actual polling.

    Granted that there was a puff on a non BPC member’s poll in Glasgow East, but I think you would need to demonstrate that BPC members polls during by-elections were skewed compared to their polls at other times, if we are to accept that pollsters are part of the conspiracy.

  10. John B Dick

    “The Conservatives marginal loss is consistent with their aging core support which is not being replaced.”

    What planet are you on? The Conservatives’ “missing generation” in Scotland is currently in the 35-55 age range. While it is true that some of the Conservatives’ core support is aging, it is absolute nonsense to say it isn’t being replaced. In fact from what I can see (in Glasgow) the level of support for the Conservatives seems to be at its highest in the 18-34 age range, higher even than among the 55+ groups.

  11. Putting these figures into the Scotlandvotes seat calculator gives:
    Labour 44
    SNP 41
    Conservative 20
    Lib Dem 18
    SSP 1 (probably ignore that as I ended up with some votes unallocated and had to put them somewhere)
    Green 4
    Independent 1
    So were this to come about there would be a Labour administration in Holyrood, albeit a less stable than the last one as the support of the Lib Dems would not be enough to provide a majority.

  12. Just come back from a Scottish holiday and would say that all the news I saw and read and all the political banners / flags etc were SNP so I would view this as just a margin of error difference poll until supported by other polls ./

    A Labour Westminster disaster result at the next election may encourage old Labour voters to support Labour, but it may alternatively encourage people to say the only effective opposition to a Tory govt. is the SNP and so increase the SNP vote… It would be an interesting exercise to poll ‘on the basis of a labour disaster at Westminster who would you vote for?’ without party prompts.

  13. Neil
    John B Dick

    “The Conservatives marginal loss is consistent with their aging core support which is not being replaced.”

    “In fact from what I can see (in Glasgow) the level of support for the Conservatives seems to be at its highest in the 18-34 age range, higher even than among the 55+ groups.”

    First it is worth pointing out that in Scotland the Tories are strongest- yes- strongest among the younger age demographic:

    My evidence:

    Sample Size: 1183 Scottish Adults
    Fieldwork: 26th-28th August 2009

    Westminster Voting Intention:

    Lab: 30%
    SNP: 26%
    Con: 20%
    Lib: 18%

    Age group voting intentions:
    18-34 year olds:

    Lab: 30%
    SNP: 16%
    Con: 28%
    Lib: 21%

    So sorry John I really do not understand what your on about either. It is not the first time I have been able to detect this trend either.

  14. John B Dick:

    Who or what is SLD ?

  15. Anthony

    You’ve probably answered this before, but if so I’ve forgotten!

    Only 14% said they wouldn’t vote, or didn’t know. Obviously there isn’t going to be an 86% turnout, and not all groups vote to the same degree.

    Since YouGov doesn’t use certainty to vote as a factor, is it built in to the weightings for each of the sub-samples?


    SLD = Scottish Liberal Democrats, presumably.

  16. Further to Scottish voting intentions, the 2007 elections saw over 146,000 spoiled ballot papers. Indeed, in 16 (of the then 73) constituencies, the number of spoiled ballots was greater than the margin of victory.

    Since then, there has been a great effort to rectify the problems which contributed to this debacle, specifically in the structure of the ballot paper and lack of information on the different voting systems being employed for the multiple elections held that day.

    Has any thought been given as to how a less chaotic vote would swing some seats?

    Any Scottish contributors able to tell us whether particular tight constituencies saw the higher level of spoilt votes?

    And any research on whether spoiled ballots were likely to affect a particular party’s vote more than others e.g. elderly voters being more likely to have confused voting papers.

  17. Mark Senior,

    That is a very good question, my suspicion is that the answer so far nobody has done the maths.

    A quick look shows Glasgow looses one constituency while Ochil/Perth/North Tayside/Angus goes from 4 to 5. To me that looks like the a straight transfer from Lab to the SNP.

    Note that this only matters as Labour gains more constituencies in Glasgow than its share of the list vote would warrant – therefore a loss cannot be compensated.

    In fact the review of the regions is going to be at least as important as the review of the constituencies. For example the transfer of Kilmarnock from Central to South could cost the SNP a seat – it cannot get a compensatory list seat in Central from Labour since Labour doesn’t get any in Central but it might well lose one of its list seats in the South.

  18. In fact, for the regions the predictions are relatively easy to make. All other things being equal, any Labour constituency out of Glasgow, West or Central is a loss, any into Glasgow, West, Central or South is a gain. Any Lib Dem constituency out of the Highlands is a loss, any into Highlands, Lothians or Mid is a gain. All other changes to the regions would be compensated by changes to the number of list MSPs.

  19. Christian Schmidt

    Thanks for that analysis. I’ve been trying to get my head round the implications, but failing :-(

  20. I think the SNP are going to be in or very near power in Scotland for some time to come, the alternative looks like a shaky cobbled-together 3-party coalition led by Labour, who in UK terms are doing badly and will take a long time to recover from the seemingly certain defeat next year, and thus will not appear to be a credible alternative to either the Conservatives or the SNP for a long time (look how long it took last time, if you’re not convinced).

    And, as for the Scottish Conservatives, I imagine that 16% is pretty much as good as it will ever get for them: as soon as the dusty settles from the GE next year, they will seem to be part of the nasty English party causing so many problems that the Scottish Government is trying to prevent. I doubt they’ll ever be leading a coalition any time soon and I doubt any other party with say 40-45 seats next time will be rushing to them first either.

    The Lib Dems might seem a more generally agreeable partner in a Labour-led coalition but as indicated above, might well not have quite enough seats to help Labour get into power.

  21. I thought the new boundaries didn’t come into force until 2015. Am I wrong there?

  22. Neil

    My understanding is that the new boundaries will apply in 2011 and not 2015.

  23. No they come into play in 2011.

  24. The poll is reasonable for Labour but they shouldn’t be celebrating as they should be aiming to get back to their previous level of strength is Scotland not just the 2007 level.

    the poll highlights more the hollowness in support for the SNP considering their record this year than increased support for Labour.

  25. Neil

    “Support for the Conservatives seems to be at its highest in the 18-34 age range.”

    I’d missed that. As a new trend maybe Conservative support increases in this group from 34 towards 18. The younger (most Conservative) ones would have been in nappies when Mrs T was PM.

    Food for thought for Labour.

  26. The poll demonstrates that split voting is well established and further details might give some clue to who does it, why, where they are, what the separate flows are.

    A regional vote for Labour in Glasgow, or for the LibDems in the highlands is a “wasted vote.” A tactical voter in these areas would do well to use the regional vote as a second preference. Would it be best to vote for the likely coalition partner, or would an increase in their strength mean that more would have to be conceded to them in coalition? Would a vote for a minor party be better, and if so should that be the Greens or the Socialists? Would anyone vote Lab/Con, though the Scotsman suggests that passionate Unionists might vote Con/Lab, and Lab for Westminster?

    Adherents of other parties, and elsewhere everyone, can confidently vote regionally for the party of their first preference for forming a government and then for the least worst in your constituency.

    Greens have to do that but which other party will best promote their agenda and is worth voting for the constituency?

    Would that usually be the SNP, the Green’s best hope of coalition? Local issues could Trump that!

    Perhaps the sitting MSP of another party does a good job in the constituency, or is of independent mind, less bound than most by party discipline. Maybe you think he is useless and anything would be better. Is it personal? Has he has helped you, or run off with your wife?

    One thing is certain, that now accustomed to split voting, the Scottish voter will think nothing of voting for a different party in the UK election.

    Many won’t see the point of voting for a candidate who would rather be somewhere else. One MP has said the job is only worth two days a week, and for the SNP who don’t vote on English matters, it must be less than half that. The SNP will not do as well as they do in the SP.

    There is no doubt that Labour are losing support, and they will lose most where they have most, which is where it makes no difference in seats. It doesn’t follow that many voters will move directly to the Conservatives, or that there is positive support for them. Though the LibDems are not doing well overall, it may be that their rural incumbents are even safer than usual, gaining as many votes as they lose.

  27. It’s plausible that the Tories do better among youngsters who don’t remember Thatcher, but it’s undermined somewhat by the very low support (only 16%?) for the SNP given for that age group which lacks credibility in my view.

    In the words of the young-at-heart Victor Meldrew “I don’t believe it!”

  28. John

    Have a look at the 18-34 data in the recent Welsh poll. That has an even more frightening statistic for Labour since LDs came out top (albeit on just 28%)

    Whether this is the fading of Thatcher memories or simply more open minds among the young, it does mean that Labour can’t simply sit on its laurels.

    It may be that Labour’s long-term decline was arrested (or suspended) only by Blair’s charm, and now that he has departed, the inexorable trend is down as its tribal loyalties unwind.

    I have noticed in several polls that Labour’s support has been most solid in the 34-54 age group. These (particularly those 30-40) presumably are the generation who most remember the late 80s / 90s without remembering the dismal 1970s.

    In Scotland, it may be that it will take at least another decade for those who have only dim (or no) memories of Thatcher (now 19 years out of #10) to look at the Conservatives objectively rather than through the red-tainted prism of their parents.

    If Scotland is still in the UK in 2020, it may be that we see the Conservatives once again as the largest party in Scotland (at around 35-40%).

    Food for thought for Scotland ?