Archive for the 'Scotland' Category

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NEW PB / Polling Matters podcast: What now for Scotland?

Wednesday, October 10th, 2018

On this week’s PB / Polling Matters podcast, Keiran Pedley is joined by pollster Mark Diffley to deep dive on the latest round of polls in Scotland.

Topics discussed include:

1) How support for Scottish independence has changed over time and the impact that Brexit could have

2) When the next Scottish Independence vote will happen

3) What’s going on in voting intention polls for Holyrood and Westminster and what this means for the main players north of the border (SNP, Tories, Labour)

You can listen to the episode by clicking the link below:

Follow this week’s guests





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Three new Scotland polls find Corbyn’s LAB struggling to recover

Tuesday, October 9th, 2018

The first public surveys since Corbyn’s August Scottish initiative

It might be recalled that in August Corbyn had an extended visit to Scotland with the aim of revitalising the party where it used to be so dominant. Over the past few days we have seen the first published polling since that move

Ahead of the SNP conference which is currently going on there have been three new Scotland-only polls – the first since July. All show LAB still in third place north of the border the part of the UK where they were totally dominant. This all changed, of course, the post September 2014 SNP surge following the IndyRef.

In the past two general election the 59 Scottish seats have seen far more turbulence than just about anywhere else in the UK. At GE2015 Scottish LAB went from the 41 seats to just a single MP. There was something of a recovery at GE2017 when the Scottish total move to 7.

    If Labour is to get anywhere near winning most seats at the next general election it has to regain ground in Scotland and given it had so many seats were not so long ago the potential must be there

These are the latest three polls:

Survation Oct 2nd for Sunday Post
CON 26%
LAB 24%
SNP 41%
LD 7%

Panelbase Oct 4th for S Times
CON 27%
LAB 26%
SNP 38%
LD 6%

Survation Oct 5th for SNP
CON 28%
LAB 26%
SNP 37%
LD 6%

At GE2017 the shares were SNP 36.9%, CON 28.6, LAB 27.1, LD 6.8%.

Mike Smithson




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Ruthless People. The Conservatives lose a leadership contender

Monday, September 17th, 2018

I have an announcement to make. Sadly I do not foresee circumstances in which I shall be standing to be leader of the Conservative party. This is no doubt a great loss to them, despite my having no ministerial experience, not being an MP or even being a member of the Conservative party. But they will have to struggle on without me.

The bemusement you are, I expect, feeling was not matched when Ruth Davidson similarly ruled herself out. Perhaps it was because she is a member of the Conservative party. After all, she has the other two disqualifiers, just like me. There are 316 MPs more immediately eligible, of whom at least half will have had more governmental experience. Why should her disavowal attract so much attention?

This can be explained partly, of course, by the basis on which she did so. As has been widely acknowledged, she has been incredibly open about her past struggles with mental health, an openness that will help change attitudes to a set of serious problems that are far too little discussed. She may have helped to save lives with her words. Few politicians achieve as much.

Still, the question can’t be dismissed: why is this major news? The answer is simple, and worrying for the Conservative party: they have a serious lack of talent. A charismatic outsider with a winning track record looks much better than most of the alternatives. Theresa May only remains in office because the alternatives look dire. Unsurprisingly, Conservatives are looking to see whether the grass is greener.

Ruth Davidson’s hypothetical candidacy is symptomatic of that bigger problem. Jacob Rees-Mogg, an MP who has not yet climbed as far as unpaid bag-carrier in government, has been among the favourites for next Prime Minister. He too has disavowed leadership ambitions, so far without harming his betting odds very much.

Others have seen the gap in the market. Last week George Freeman, an MP who had previously served in unblemished obscurity, helpfully announced that if called upon he would stand. The nation no doubt is grateful for his sense of duty.

When Theresa May goes, whether sooner or later, she will in all probability be replaced by a candidate with substantial experience at the highest rank, however lacklustre they might otherwise be. The paucity of quality of the field, however, suggests that the Conservatives will be likely to make heavy weather against Labour.

What of Ms Davidson? Having announced that she does not want to be Prime Minister she has benefited from a wave of sympathy from a public that finds a great renunciation a compelling story. It does raise a further awkward question, however: if she is not up to being Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, why does she think she is up to being Scotland’s First Minister? She had better have a clear answer.

Alastair Meeks




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Labour’s gains in Scotland were mostly down to the SNP misplacing nearly half a million voters, not because of some great love for Corbyn.

Tuesday, September 11th, 2018

Analysing the Corbyn ‘surge’ in Scotland

One of the most profitable areas of general election betting in recent elections has been in Scotland, where backing the 2015 SNP tsunami was very profitable as was my 20/1 tip to back the Tories to get over 9.5 seats in 2017.  I expect the next general election might present similar opportunities, assuming Scotland hasn’t seceded by then, so it is worth looking at the last election to see if we can spot anything.

Just look at the chart in the tweet above, whilst the SNP lost nearly half a million votes since the 2015 general election Labour only gained fewer than 10,000. To put that in context, for every 48 voters the SNP lost Labour gained only 1 voter. For every 3 voters Labour gained the Scottish Tories gained nearly 100 voters. Labour’s gains were pretty much reliant on SNP losing voters.

If we look at the increases/decreases in the seven Labour Scottish gains we can see two were gained whilst Labour made a net loss of voters. Amusingly 7,000 of the near 10,000 votes Labour gained in Scotland came in Edinburgh South, the seat they already held, where Ian Murray the MP is someone who is very critical of Jeremy Corbyn.

After the huge, near comedic swings and wins from third place we’ve seen in Scotland at recent elections, and with so many known unknowns to come, only the Heir to the Throne of the Kingdom of Idiots could confidently predict the outcome of the next general election in Scotland.

If Labour’s strategy to make further gains in Scotland is to rely in major falls in the support of other parties then that might be a flawed approach.

Hat-tip to PBer TheUnionDivvie for making me aware of these figures.

TSE



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If Corbyn’s LAB can make progress in Scotland there are some easy SNP pickings

Thursday, August 23rd, 2018


Table – Commons Library

But recent polls suggest LAB will lose Scottish seats

The Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn, is in Scotland for a big speech at today’s Edinburgh television festival and more importantly to try to revive the party north of the border where under Ed Miliband in 2015 it was virtually wiped out.

Then LAB’s Scottish contingent of MPs was reduced from 41 seats to a single MP. At the general election last year some recovery was made and the party came out with 7 Scottish MPs. This was still a long way down from the glory days but it was progress. A big challenge is that with the rise of Ruth Davidson’s Scottish Conservatives LAB is now seen as the third party in Scotland where they used to be totally dominant.

The table at the top above shows the quite precarious nature of the SNP position in many seats. It also shows how a party with broad support can achieve an amazing seat haul (just under 60%) under first past the post with 36.9% of the vote. Even in the SNP’s safest seat Nicola Sturgeon’s party only secured 47% of the vote and as can be seen there are quite a number which were retained in June 2017 with majorities of less than 1,000.

As an election junkie I love the potential for huge changes in seats in Scotland with relatively small vote shifts. If the next general election north of the border finished up like the latest polls than LAB could be down to a single seat. However if they made just a little bit more progress they could be back as the top party there.

One of the things you have to factor in is that you can’t make projections for Scotland based on GB polls. What you need to do is look at the Scotland only ones because north of the border there is a very different political ecosystem and conventional swing analysis from a national perspective doesn’t work.

Unfortunately you don’t get that many Scotland only polls and the Wikipedia list above represents all of those that have been published since the general election. The next round of them will be particularly interesting given the Corbyn’s current initiative seeking to step up a gear. Will that be enough to put them in contention yet again there?

If Labour can improve in Scotland then the chances of the party coming top overall at the next general election are that much higher.

Mike Smithson




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Scotland and the electoral system: Why winning the next GE is huge ask of LAB

Friday, August 17th, 2018

The system bias is now strongly pro-CON

We all recall that at the 2005 general election Tony Blair’s Labour won the GB vote by a margin of just 3% but that was enough to give them an overall majority of 64. There was little doubt that the electoral system then favoured the red team.

Things have changed dramatically with the collapse of the LDs and the post-IndyRef rise of the SNP.

Even without the proposed new boundaries the electoral system is biased towards the Tories in that for the same vote share the blue team wins most seats. Thus feeding the recent CON 38% LAB 38% poll numbers into the Electoral Calculus seat calculator and find CON with 21 more MPs than LAB.

That is on the existing boundaries. If the latest Boundaries Commission plan goes through this autumn then the gap would by 40 seats. To put these numbers into context Corbyn’s LAB was seen to have had an extremely good GE2017 making overall net gains of 30 seats but still finished 56 seats behind the Tories.

    Perhaps the biggest reason the system no longer works for LAB is the failure of the party to recover in Scotland where it used to be so dominant as can be seen in the chart above showing the percentage of Scottish Westminster seats by party for each election since GE2001.

    Just imagine how GE2017 would have turned out if LAB had taken 41 of the 59 Scottish seats as it did at GE2005 and GE2010.

At GE2015 the SNP surge saw LAB reduced from 41 Scottish MPs to just one. Last year Corbyn’s party won 7 but the first past the post system meant that the SNP took the bulk of the seats north of the border with barely 37% of the Scottish vote. Scots LAB became the third party in Scotland behind the Tories.

Whatever national polls might be showing the Scotland’s only ones since the general election have had Corbyn’s party in an even worse position than the last election. Current projections based on the latest Scottish polls have Labour once again being reduced to a single Scottish MP.

Without a Scottish recovery the prospect of a Labour majority is very remote indeed.

Mike Smithson




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LAB takes clear leads in the GB polls but Scotland remains a problem

Monday, July 16th, 2018


Wikipedia

Just 8 years ago it won 41 Scottish seats – latest polls have that down to 1

The two GB polls over the weekend from Deltapoll and Opinium were both very good for LAB showing clear leads which weren’t down to its share increasing but the biggest shares for UKIP since GE2017.

Certainly based on these figures if there was an early general election then Corbyn’s party would be in a strong position to become top party although an overall majority might be more of a struggle.

An issue, which I’ve raised before is that Scotland remains a massive problem for the party. We don’t see many Scotland only polls but the Survation one that came out at the end of last week was very much in line other surveys – the SNP progressing, the Tories in second place with Labour in third.

Even at GE2010 when LAB lost its UK-wide majority 41 of the 59 seats north of the border returned Labour MPs. The Scottish seat projections based on the latest polls have this down to a single MP. What used to be a certain stronghold is in danger of being wiped out.

In a House of Commons of 650 seats Corbyn’s LAB really needs to get closer to the LAB 41 seat GE2010 haul in Scotland. Unless it can do the swing needs to be higher in England and Wales.

Also we are just under four years away from the next general election and it is hard to see TMay, or her successor, using the processes laid down in the Fixed Term Parliaments Act to go early.

I don’t buy the argument that a new CON leader would press the general election button even if the blue team returned to double digit leads.

Mike Smithson




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Labour continues to struggle in Scotland where it used to hold 41 of the 59 seats

Friday, June 29th, 2018

But the low-hanging fruit for Corbyn’s party is still there

There is a new Scottish poll out this morning and the picture remains gloomy for LAB. As can be seen Panelbase still has the party in third place behind, of course, the SNP and the Conservatives.

What makes this particularly disappointing for Labour is that for decades Scotland was the bedrock of the party’a support throughout the UK and its dominance underpinned its parliamentary position. So at both 2005 and 2010 Scottish Labour had 41 of Scotland’s 59 seats.

It was, as we are all aware, the upheaval in politics north of the border in the aftermath of the 2014 independence referendum that changed everything. Although the SNP lost the referendum it attracted new support in a very major way in the aftermath. In 2015 it took 56 of the 59 Scottish seat.

That slipped back to 35 seats at GE2017 but the Tories were the main beneficiaries.

    But don’t write Scottish LAB off. Many of the SNP seats are held with very slim majorities and could be vulnerable to the red team with quite minor shifts.

In fact the SNP last time did not get above a 47% vote share in any of its 35 Scottish seats.

One of the reasons why I focus on Scottish polls is that there’s the potential for a lot of seat changes following the trend of the past two general elections. It has become the part of the UK with the most political turbulence.

All this this matters to LAB particularly because it needs to be making inroads in its former Scottish strongholds if it is to have any hope of getting close or exceeding the overall Conservative MP total at the next election.

Mike Smithson