What do the Guardian monthly polls tell us?

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By Russell Bruce

The Guardian on Monday published their monthly poll conducted by ICM.  As Newsnet Scotland readers will be aware UK wide polls only provide a small sample of Scottish opinion.

Even the sample at UK level drops significantly once those who are not certain to vote (9%) do not know who they will vote for (23%) or refuse to answer (8%) are excluded.

By Russell Bruce

The Guardian on Monday published their monthly poll conducted by ICM.  As Newsnet Scotland readers will be aware UK wide polls only provide a small sample of Scottish opinion.

Even the sample at UK level drops significantly once those who are not certain to vote (9%) do not know who they will vote for (23%) or refuse to answer (8%) are excluded.

In order to obtain a more significant sample I have averaged the Scottish sample over the last five months from the beginning of the year.  This helps iron out what otherwise are results that appear out of context with recent actual election results.

The average Conservative support turns out at 14.4% which is close to their result in the recent local elections (13.31%).  It places the March finding of Conservative support at 22% and the latest poll finding of Conservative support at 8% in a more likely context.

In every monthly poll this year the SNP leads and as the question is about how Scottish voters would vote in a Westminster general election held at the time of each survey, the outcome is in marked contrast with actual previous UK general election results where Labour has been the largest party.

The SNP lead over the Labour party averages 9.6%.

This poll of 2012 Guardian polls puts Scotland’s political parties on the following percentages, figures in brackets are the actual percentages in the recent local government elections.

SNP 41.6%                        (32.32%)

Labour 32.0%                         (31.39%)

Con 14.4%                        (13.31%)

L/Dem 6.4%                          (6.59%)

Green 2.2%                            (2.2%)

How close the average of Guardian polls this year is to the local election results provides a degree of validation for the methodology adopted in this analysis.

The SNP were the only party to achieve a share of the vote in the local elections well below the Guardian poll of polls.

Discounting around 2% in the local elections in Scotland for minor parties, independents standing in areas that the SNP did extremely well in the 2011 Holyrood elections achieved 11.86% of the vote across Scotland in May.

It would be simplistic to conclude these voters had largely voted SNP in 2011 but it is also not an unreasonable hypothesis.

Another point to note about May’s local elections is the lower turnout, even although that has not seemed to affect the other parties comparable share of the vote.

An additional factor that has not received much comment is perhaps a reluctance on the part of the electorate to allow the SNP to sweep all before them at every election.

This degree of containment in the local elections could serve the SNP well enough come the referendum.  The electorate likes to have options, and democracy is better served even if Labour hegemony has been a past feature of Scottish politics.

The analysis of Scotland’s voting intentions in a UK general election does not tell us much about how people will vote in the Independence Referendum other than indications that voters are continuing to place their faith in the SNP as the party most likely to further their aspirations.

Indeed, thinking about the next UK general election raises some interesting constitutional issues that have had no coverage.  If we vote YES? what happens in regard to a UK general election due to be held around 8 months after the referendum?

Independence negotiations are expected to take around 12 months with a Scottish general election taking place in May 2016. Until Independence Day, and yes, we are getting ahead of ourselves here, Scotland remains entitled to representation in the UK Parliament.

In this situation it is unthinkable that England and RUK would have Scottish MPs sitting around Westminster for a full five-year term.

Their exit on Independence Day no doubt would be part of the Independence negotiations and involve a compensation settlement as they become redundant and surplus to requirement.

The implication of this is that all Scottish MPs, except SNP MPs, will be manning the No campaign barriers.

Might there be exceptions?

Maybe there will be some with an eye to a future in an Independent Scotland.

The challenge for all the parties, including the SNP, is that their support will be split in the Independence Referendum.  Most of all those who have in the past been Labour voters.

But more interesting are the continued rumblings in the Conservative party by those like Peter Fraser who knows there is no return to their past as a major political party in Scotland.

For those who believe there should be a future for a moderate right of centre party in an Independent Scotland they have a difficult decision to make –

To break away and form a pro independence centre right group in advance of the referendum, to which some credibility might be attached, or to remain staunch Unionists and go down fighting with a Damascene conversion in the event of a YES result.

81 COMMENTS

  1. The unionist coalition’s strategy decision to demonise Alex Salmond may have been a strong factor reducing SNP support in the local elections.

    For some time now Lamont and her unionist coalition chums have been endeavouring to vilify and isolate the First Minister in the belief that “if you cut off the head the snake will die” and this may be starting to take effect

  2. [i]”Indeed, thinking about the next UK general election raises some interesting constitutional issues that have had no coverage. If we vote YES? what happens in regard to a UK general election due to be held around 8 months after the referendum?”[/i]

    What happens if there is a very close result – say a narrow NO in the referendum followed by a substantial SNP majority of the Scottish MPs at the subsequent Westminster election?

    • The unionists’ rules have always been that an SNP majority triggers independence. I would insist on them sticking to that, although I know there isn’t a snowball’s chance in Hell that they will.

    • The unionists’ rules have always been that an SNP majority triggers independence. I would insist on them sticking to that, although I know there isn’t a snowball’s chance in Hell that they will.

  3. The demonisation of Alex Salmond indeed cost us probably 50 or 60 councillors on 3rd May.
    I am reassured that this kind of attack has diminishing returns and the best thing to do with much of it is actually to ignore it.
    I await a headline that says “Alex Salmond accused of being accused more than any other leader has been accused”.

    • [quote name=”sneckedagain”]
      I await a headline that says “Alex Salmond accused of being accused more than any other leader has been accused”.[/quote]

      I just googled ‘Alex Salmond accused’ and the result

      SearchAbout 329,000 results (0.22 seconds)

    • [quote name=”sneckedagain”]
      I await a headline that says “Alex Salmond accused of being accused more than any other leader has been accused”.[/quote]

      I just googled ‘Alex Salmond accused’ and the result

      SearchAbout 329,000 results (0.22 seconds)

      • [quote name=”Macart”]I got 413,000 results in .22. Is that a record???[/quote]

        It may be a record but lets hope it doesn’t become a competition!!

        • You have to wonder at an establishment which is so afraid of what this man represents to generate so much copy. They must be shaking in their boots to have expended so much effort. Surely this is worthy of an article on its own? What is Alex Salmond actually guilty of other than trying to lift his country on to its own two feet?

          • A good question macart and one I grapple with every time I watch these fellow Scots attack him. I can only conclude that it all comes down to naked self interest. Cui bono ?

          • A good question macart and one I grapple with every time I watch these fellow Scots attack him. I can only conclude that it all comes down to naked self interest. Cui bono ?

        • You have to wonder at an establishment which is so afraid of what this man represents to generate so much copy. They must be shaking in their boots to have expended so much effort. Surely this is worthy of an article on its own? What is Alex Salmond actually guilty of other than trying to lift his country on to its own two feet?

      • [quote name=”Macart”]I got 413,000 results in .22. Is that a record???[/quote]

        It may be a record but lets hope it doesn’t become a competition!!

  4. The demonisation of Alex Salmond indeed cost us probably 50 or 60 councillors on 3rd May.
    I am reassured that this kind of attack has diminishing returns and the best thing to do with much of it is actually to ignore it.
    I await a headline that says “Alex Salmond accused of being accused more than any other leader has been accused”.

  5. Again IMO, although there is clearly an ‘independents’ factor at local level, this delta is being looked at a wee bit from the wrong end.

    It is the high vote for the SNP [b]at the Holyrood election[/b] which requires explanation. Obviously, success does not generally come in for the same scrutiny as failure. Not only does success have a thousand fathers, but the DNA tests are generally only requested when it turns to failure.

    So lets look (sorry it isn’t an easier concept to grasp).

    Analysis has shown for years that many pro-independence supporters have voted for Unionist parties. Why? Well for a couple of reasons.

    Mostly it is because a party which is standing for election to run the country has to state, in an election manifesto, what they intend to do, on a whole range of policy areas.

    If they try to avoid this, the media will condemn them for fudging and render them ‘unelectable’. They have to have clear policies for how they will run the day to day ‘domestic’ (rather than constitutional) things.

    However, every single such policy is going to be disagreed with by some folk, including some folk who are pro-independence.

    Many of those who disagree with an SNP domestic policy of some kind but who are pro-independence will feel so strongly on the issue, [i]in normal times[/i], they will vote for someone else.

    In addition to those who do not vote SNP because of the above, there are also those who are put off by the non-policy specific demonising of the SNP. This is engineered by the unprincipled, gutter tactics of the Unionists aided and abetted by a hostile Establishment media., the ‘Horns growing out of their head’, ‘Albanian Socialists’, ‘Tartan Tory’ garbage along with, frequently offensive, smearing of individuals.

    Often, historical non voting for the SNP by pro-independence supporters would be a combination of the above.

    [i][Aside: A key error often made by politicians and activists of both sides of the independence support spectrum, is to not recognise just how much more polarised they are on the issue than the general public is. A huge swathe of people in the middle can actually go either way on the independence issue and can often have other issues which predominate in general elections. Indeed, it is the activists and politicians who are the anomaly here, not the general public.

    IMO the biggest success of the SNP was in 2007. By positioning domestic policy such that it matched the mean electorate position, as all parties who genuinely wish to reflect the will of their people should, and by laying some of the Unionist scaremongering, against all odds, they became a minority government.][/i]

    So, in the light of the above, we come to 2011. For that election, I put it to you that the game had changed in two very significant ways.

    Firstly, the SNP in government demonstrated a safe pair of hands and, especially relative to what had gone before, a fair degree of competence.
    This finally laid to rest the monsters and extremist scaremongering braying of the U-pack (although they have now ramped up on the personal smearing). What this achieved was to allow those who had been put off by those tactics to now vote SNP.
    That would explain part of the increase seen in 2011.

    The second, and I suggest biggest game-changer in terms of the surprise percentage increase for the SNP was the prominence of independence and the independence referendum. I believe that some people who are pro-independence but who would normally have voted non-SNP because of some policy difference or other, saw this election differently. People could smell the possibility of getting a referendum and no doubt many were angered by the Us thwarting the chance for one during the minority administration. And yes, this group too, would be encouraged by the good governance of the SNP as well.

    If the above is correct. Then I suggest that the heightened profile and palpable finishing line for independence changed the game and the 2011 result was mostly on the back of a group who would not normally lend their vote to the SNP based on manifesto but who did so because of the higher constitutional profile.

    So, for local elections, where the constitution is not at all an issue and where domestic policy considerations are everything, we would expect a fall back to
    ‘vote on domestic policies’ scenario.

    Hope that wasn’t too painful.

    • Another point is that actually highlighted in the article: people don’t want to give 1 party overall control. The constant (MSM) polls that showed labour in the lead in the run up to the 2011 vote actually had two positive effects on the SNP vote:
      1: people who definately didn’t want labour voted for the most likely alternative.
      2: People who may have wanted a balanced parliment were not put off voting for the SNP as they assumed they were behind (or only marginally ahead).

      John

    • Another point is that actually highlighted in the article: people don’t want to give 1 party overall control. The constant (MSM) polls that showed labour in the lead in the run up to the 2011 vote actually had two positive effects on the SNP vote:
      1: people who definately didn’t want labour voted for the most likely alternative.
      2: People who may have wanted a balanced parliment were not put off voting for the SNP as they assumed they were behind (or only marginally ahead).

      John

    • It’s interesting that the February result where the SNP polled highest came just after the announcement of the referendum date and lots of positive coverage. Of course we cannot attach any statistical significance to that but it is consistent with chicmac’s analysis that the independence issue is an attractor of those who don’t always vote SNP.

    • It’s interesting that the February result where the SNP polled highest came just after the announcement of the referendum date and lots of positive coverage. Of course we cannot attach any statistical significance to that but it is consistent with chicmac’s analysis that the independence issue is an attractor of those who don’t always vote SNP.

  6. Again IMO, although there is clearly an ‘independents’ factor at local level, this delta is being looked at a wee bit from the wrong end.

    It is the high vote for the SNP [b]at the Holyrood election[/b] which requires explanation. Obviously, success does not generally come in for the same scrutiny as failure. Not only does success have a thousand fathers, but the DNA tests are generally only requested when it turns to failure.

    So lets look (sorry it isn’t an easier concept to grasp).

    Analysis has shown for years that many pro-independence supporters have voted for Unionist parties. Why? Well for a couple of reasons.

    Mostly it is because a party which is standing for election to run the country has to state, in an election manifesto, what they intend to do, on a whole range of policy areas.

    If they try to avoid this, the media will condemn them for fudging and render them ‘unelectable’. They have to have clear policies for how they will run the day to day ‘domestic’ (rather than constitutional) things.

    However, every single such policy is going to be disagreed with by some folk, including some folk who are pro-independence.

    Many of those who disagree with an SNP domestic policy of some kind but who are pro-independence will feel so strongly on the issue, [i]in normal times[/i], they will vote for someone else.

    In addition to those who do not vote SNP because of the above, there are also those who are put off by the non-policy specific demonising of the SNP. This is engineered by the unprincipled, gutter tactics of the Unionists aided and abetted by a hostile Establishment media., the ‘Horns growing out of their head’, ‘Albanian Socialists’, ‘Tartan Tory’ garbage along with, frequently offensive, smearing of individuals.

    Often, historical non voting for the SNP by pro-independence supporters would be a combination of the above.

    [i][Aside: A key error often made by politicians and activists of both sides of the independence support spectrum, is to not recognise just how much more polarised they are on the issue than the general public is. A huge swathe of people in the middle can actually go either way on the independence issue and can often have other issues which predominate in general elections. Indeed, it is the activists and politicians who are the anomaly here, not the general public.

    IMO the biggest success of the SNP was in 2007. By positioning domestic policy such that it matched the mean electorate position, as all parties who genuinely wish to reflect the will of their people should, and by laying some of the Unionist scaremongering, against all odds, they became a minority government.][/i]

    So, in the light of the above, we come to 2011. For that election, I put it to you that the game had changed in two very significant ways.

    Firstly, the SNP in government demonstrated a safe pair of hands and, especially relative to what had gone before, a fair degree of competence.
    This finally laid to rest the monsters and extremist scaremongering braying of the U-pack (although they have now ramped up on the personal smearing). What this achieved was to allow those who had been put off by those tactics to now vote SNP.
    That would explain part of the increase seen in 2011.

    The second, and I suggest biggest game-changer in terms of the surprise percentage increase for the SNP was the prominence of independence and the independence referendum. I believe that some people who are pro-independence but who would normally have voted non-SNP because of some policy difference or other, saw this election differently. People could smell the possibility of getting a referendum and no doubt many were angered by the Us thwarting the chance for one during the minority administration. And yes, this group too, would be encouraged by the good governance of the SNP as well.

    If the above is correct. Then I suggest that the heightened profile and palpable finishing line for independence changed the game and the 2011 result was mostly on the back of a group who would not normally lend their vote to the SNP based on manifesto but who did so because of the higher constitutional profile.

    So, for local elections, where the constitution is not at all an issue and where domestic policy considerations are everything, we would expect a fall back to
    ‘vote on domestic policies’ scenario.

    Hope that wasn’t too painful.

  7. The really interesting thing (for me) is that these are polls of [u]Westminster[/u] voting intention. Everybody knows that the SNP has no chance of forming a government or even being part of a coalition in Westminster so these are people who say they’ll vote SNP despite the “what’s the point” factor.

    • You vote SNP for Westminster if you want independence. There is no other reason really. I voted SNP in all GE’s since I was old enough (first was 1997). Tactical voting is not for me.

      The current SNP share of 42-44% matches well with current ‘would vote yes tomorrow’ shares in running averages of indy polls.

    • You vote SNP for Westminster if you want independence. There is no other reason really. I voted SNP in all GE’s since I was old enough (first was 1997). Tactical voting is not for me.

      The current SNP share of 42-44% matches well with current ‘would vote yes tomorrow’ shares in running averages of indy polls.

  8. The really interesting thing (for me) is that these are polls of [u]Westminster[/u] voting intention. Everybody knows that the SNP has no chance of forming a government or even being part of a coalition in Westminster so these are people who say they’ll vote SNP despite the “what’s the point” factor.

  9. Not a lot different to what I get / have been saying for a while. ICM are one of the more accurate polls but the same trend is present in all of them.

  10. Not a lot different to what I get / have been saying for a while. ICM are one of the more accurate polls but the same trend is present in all of them.

  11. Looking forward to the major “Scotland” launch this weekend – things will build steadily from there. One hundred weeks to go!

    I was always confident that strategies had been worked-on within time-frames and Scottish psychological mores to properly inform our people of the positives and negatives of independence and the status quo.

    Now it seems we are be honoured by the input of T Blair to enhance the already formidable pro-union position. Like, aye right!

  12. Looking forward to the major “Scotland” launch this weekend – things will build steadily from there. One hundred weeks to go!

    I was always confident that strategies had been worked-on within time-frames and Scottish psychological mores to properly inform our people of the positives and negatives of independence and the status quo.

    Now it seems we are be honoured by the input of T Blair to enhance the already formidable pro-union position. Like, aye right!

  13. The question is, what relevance to Westminster/Holyrood polls in the independence referendum? It’s already been well established that not all SNP voters are independentists and not all labour and lib dem voters are unionists. Then there’s the Green voters and people who might vote for a local MP of a party they don’t support.

    Factor in the number of people who may end up voting for the first time, those who don’t connect with the political system and therefore do not vote in elections but who will favor one side of the independence debate.

    Since we don’t have a Westminster election scheduled until 2015, these polls will be most useful for determining how the electorate will vote in the 2014 European elections.

  14. The question is, what relevance to Westminster/Holyrood polls in the independence referendum? It’s already been well established that not all SNP voters are independentists and not all labour and lib dem voters are unionists. Then there’s the Green voters and people who might vote for a local MP of a party they don’t support.

    Factor in the number of people who may end up voting for the first time, those who don’t connect with the political system and therefore do not vote in elections but who will favor one side of the independence debate.

    Since we don’t have a Westminster election scheduled until 2015, these polls will be most useful for determining how the electorate will vote in the 2014 European elections.

  15. The leadership of the Labour party has a vitriolic hatred of the SNP and,by extension,independence.Ordinary Labour voters dont share that hatred.They vote Labour because they think its the right thing to do.It comes automatically to them.But Labour wont appear on the referendum voting paper.In the run-up to the referendum,perhaps even in the voting booth,they will have to decide whether to vote YES or NO.If WE conduct a positive campaign and put enough effort in,I’m sure we can persuade enough of them that a brighter future will be theirs,and their childrens,in an independent Scotland.

    • Absolutely agree and we need to make sure that, when we speak to Labour supporters/voters (and voters of all parties) who favor the NO vote and ask questions about independence, we don’t scare them off but rather build constructive arguments. That includes Newsnet, where anybody sceptical of independence tends to be hounded off.

      We need to identify spaces where we can interact with these independence sceptics on a positive footing. Unfortunately, currently being based abroad, my spaces are limited to family and the world wide web.

    • Absolutely agree and we need to make sure that, when we speak to Labour supporters/voters (and voters of all parties) who favor the NO vote and ask questions about independence, we don’t scare them off but rather build constructive arguments. That includes Newsnet, where anybody sceptical of independence tends to be hounded off.

      We need to identify spaces where we can interact with these independence sceptics on a positive footing. Unfortunately, currently being based abroad, my spaces are limited to family and the world wide web.

  16. The leadership of the Labour party has a vitriolic hatred of the SNP and,by extension,independence.Ordinary Labour voters dont share that hatred.They vote Labour because they think its the right thing to do.It comes automatically to them.But Labour wont appear on the referendum voting paper.In the run-up to the referendum,perhaps even in the voting booth,they will have to decide whether to vote YES or NO.If WE conduct a positive campaign and put enough effort in,I’m sure we can persuade enough of them that a brighter future will be theirs,and their childrens,in an independent Scotland.

  17. It also tells us that Ed Milliband is gaining momentum nationally which may have a big impact on independence. 8 months shy of a labour government replacing the coalition at Westminster will probably help the unionist campaign.

    Is it clear whe the 5 month time span came from, could the article be framing the data set to make a predetermined point?

    • Labour are doing well in UK polls simply due to the coalition being a disaster and hardcore tories supporting UKIP in polls.

      Add the UKIP vote to the Tory vote and Ed is not doing so well at all. More neck and neck between the hard right wing and Ed’s Tory light. UKIP support will go to the tories in a GE as the latter start wooing them ahead of the election, in addition to UKIP voters knowing that giving a GE vote to UKIP will erode the Tory share under FPTP, allowing Labour back in.

      I am not convinced at all Labour will win the next UKGE. To do so, they will need to shift further to the right anyway. Hence Ed’s talk of an EU referendum; and that’s him just getting started with tasty right-wing flavoured tit-bits to tempt more Tories towards Labour.

      • Agree it is far from a stick on, but the GE is far away and a year ago EM’s likability was shockingly low, and it is improving at a decent rate. How that translates to votes and seats will remain to be seen.

        • Ed still has a long way to go. Take this recent opinium poll; only 24% think he’s doing a good job. Last Scot Parly poll had AS on 60%. Quite a contrast…

          http://news.opinium.co.uk/sites/news.opinium.co.uk/files/Approval_chart.JPG

          As for the Tory share plummeting:

          http://news.opinium.co.uk/sites/news.opinium.co.uk/files/Worm_0.JPG

          However, 10% of those ‘others’ are UKIP; i.e. total full-on right wing is ~40%, which is the same as the Labour share.

          Seems to me unhappy Lib voters are turning to Tory-lite Labour and unhappy Tories (Tories seen to be not right-wing enough) are turning to UKIP.

          Shifts to the left/centre being seen in Europe (inc Scotland) are not happening in England; polls suggest it is shifting more to the right overall.

          Note that in terms of left and right I am talking about the ‘global’ scale.

          http://www.politicalcompass.org/ukparties2010

          3 decades of increasingly right-wing governance has brought the UK economic disaster yet south of the border they keep voting for more. A return to the centre is what is needed. While that is the case in Scotland under the SNP (ok Scotland has always been generally around the global centre on balance), it’s not happing in England.

        • Ed still has a long way to go. Take this recent opinium poll; only 24% think he’s doing a good job. Last Scot Parly poll had AS on 60%. Quite a contrast…

          http://news.opinium.co.uk/sites/news.opinium.co.uk/files/Approval_chart.JPG

          As for the Tory share plummeting:

          http://news.opinium.co.uk/sites/news.opinium.co.uk/files/Worm_0.JPG

          However, 10% of those ‘others’ are UKIP; i.e. total full-on right wing is ~40%, which is the same as the Labour share.

          Seems to me unhappy Lib voters are turning to Tory-lite Labour and unhappy Tories (Tories seen to be not right-wing enough) are turning to UKIP.

          Shifts to the left/centre being seen in Europe (inc Scotland) are not happening in England; polls suggest it is shifting more to the right overall.

          Note that in terms of left and right I am talking about the ‘global’ scale.

          http://www.politicalcompass.org/ukparties2010

          3 decades of increasingly right-wing governance has brought the UK economic disaster yet south of the border they keep voting for more. A return to the centre is what is needed. While that is the case in Scotland under the SNP (ok Scotland has always been generally around the global centre on balance), it’s not happing in England.

      • Agree it is far from a stick on, but the GE is far away and a year ago EM’s likability was shockingly low, and it is improving at a decent rate. How that translates to votes and seats will remain to be seen.

      • No matter how well or badly Labour are polling, they still have a significant hold over a large sector of the population in Scotland. This also includes a number of voters who will recently have voted SNP but still associate themselves as Labour, especially in the Central Belt, Fife and West of Scotland.

        I remember reading an article recently with a former Labour politician (can’t remember who it was) saying that conversations he’d had with his peers revealed that a number of Labour MPs/MSPs were favourable to independence, but had to tow the party line.

        Any chance of a break-off Labour “YES” group, as happened with the “NO’s” in ’79? If we want Labour sympathisers to vote for independence they need to be explained how this can improve Scotland via the independence and improvement of the Labour Party and a return to Scottish Labour values (not my thing personally, but a big issue among many in Scotland).

        I’m personally considering posing as a Labour supporter during the door-knocking in the YES campaign to try and get their voters involved in the “weighing-up” process that a decision over independence involves.

      • No matter how well or badly Labour are polling, they still have a significant hold over a large sector of the population in Scotland. This also includes a number of voters who will recently have voted SNP but still associate themselves as Labour, especially in the Central Belt, Fife and West of Scotland.

        I remember reading an article recently with a former Labour politician (can’t remember who it was) saying that conversations he’d had with his peers revealed that a number of Labour MPs/MSPs were favourable to independence, but had to tow the party line.

        Any chance of a break-off Labour “YES” group, as happened with the “NO’s” in ’79? If we want Labour sympathisers to vote for independence they need to be explained how this can improve Scotland via the independence and improvement of the Labour Party and a return to Scottish Labour values (not my thing personally, but a big issue among many in Scotland).

        I’m personally considering posing as a Labour supporter during the door-knocking in the YES campaign to try and get their voters involved in the “weighing-up” process that a decision over independence involves.

    • Labour are doing well in UK polls simply due to the coalition being a disaster and hardcore tories supporting UKIP in polls.

      Add the UKIP vote to the Tory vote and Ed is not doing so well at all. More neck and neck between the hard right wing and Ed’s Tory light. UKIP support will go to the tories in a GE as the latter start wooing them ahead of the election, in addition to UKIP voters knowing that giving a GE vote to UKIP will erode the Tory share under FPTP, allowing Labour back in.

      I am not convinced at all Labour will win the next UKGE. To do so, they will need to shift further to the right anyway. Hence Ed’s talk of an EU referendum; and that’s him just getting started with tasty right-wing flavoured tit-bits to tempt more Tories towards Labour.

  18. It also tells us that Ed Milliband is gaining momentum nationally which may have a big impact on independence. 8 months shy of a labour government replacing the coalition at Westminster will probably help the unionist campaign.

    Is it clear whe the 5 month time span came from, could the article be framing the data set to make a predetermined point?

  19. I think we have to insert a chilling insight into the power of the media over the SNP crusade. The SNP is no longer fighting the Labour Party (or the defunct LibDems or the paralysed Tories). They are all politically inert in Scotland and increasingly reliant on destructive copy against the SNP in the papers and on TV.
    Cast your eyes back to the Scottish Parliament Election in 2011.
    It may be almost impossible to believe this now but every newspaper in Scotland except the Mirror group titles (Record, Sunday Mail) supported the SNP in that election to a greater or lesser extent. They were joined by a number of high profile, well known unionists like Sir David Murray. This suport suddenly started about a month before the election and was, I’m sure, orchestrated.
    The calculation was that a new Westminster Tory/Lib Dem coalition struggling in Government couln’t afford a Labour win in the Scottish election. A narrow SNP win was the lesser of two evils.
    They succeeded too well however and gave the SNP an overall majority (they probably believed the distorted polls they kept commissioning to start with). The unintended consequence of MSM support for the SNP was an unprecedented SNP victory – and an indication of where we would be with an honest press.
    By contrast the recent six week concentrated campaign of demonisation of Alex Salmond (which is being extended to Nicola Sturgeon) probably cost us about 10 points in actual ratings and 50 to 80 councillors.
    The good news is that AS dealt with this attack sensibly by basically ignoring it and remaining friendly, progressive and positive. It is a tactic they can probably only use effectively very rarely.
    It has diminishing returns and if pushed too hard has the opposite effect to its intention. This happened at the last Westminster election at which the appalling ad hominen attacks on Gordon Brown began to backfire and almost saved Labour in the final count and provided a hung result.
    This suits the powers that be and who own the media. They don’t really care which right wing grouping – Tory or Labour – rules UK as long as they are in control of it – which is the present situation.
    We live in a very imperfect democracy.

    • The SNP were polling ~40% of the vote for Holyrood from late 2007 right throught to the 2010 GE. Peaked as high as 44% at one point. And this was before any Tory-Lib coalition. So, the support for the SNP was growing without any defecting lib dem boost.

      And then the 2010 GE saw scots suddenly turn to Labour in their vote again. This failed to stop the tories and the Lib Dems went into power with the Tories. The result was a huge surge in Labour support for Holyrood, with the SNP dropping back to ~32% 2007 election levels. Labour intention for holyrood climbed to 40% – it was like they and the SNP had swapped places. SNP-Labour swing voters were the cause of this…

      I feel this was a ‘panic’ reaction. The Tories were back and Lab voters who had become increasingly tempted by the competent SNP rushed back to Labour as that was how you always ‘fought’ the Tories.

      Meanwhile, as we moved into 2011, Lib voters were shifting to the SNP due to the Tory coalition, pushing the SNP up to level pegging with Labour in March 2011; a couple of months before the election and both were sitting at around 38% or so.

      Then we had a completely crap Labour campaign versus a very positive SNP one. Those Lab-SNP swing voters turned back to the SNP as a result – the SNP were the better option, just as these voters had been feeling way back to 2007/8. Time to bite the bullet, leave labour behind and finally put an X next to the SNP.

      When the Sun ‘came out’ in support for the SNP in April 11 the voters had already decided. In the sense the Sun made no difference; it just commissioned a poll, saw 45% SNP which backed-up other polls, and decided it would back the winner.

      I don’t think the MSM had much if anything to do with the May 2011 result.

      • [quote name=”scottish_skier”]Meanwhile, as we moved into 2011, Lib voters were shifting to the SNP due to the Tory coalition[/quote]

        I thought the extensive post-election academic research had shown that the ex-LibDem voters overwhelmingly moved to Labour while ex-Labour voters moved to the SNP.

        • I heard the independent expert from the independent naional broadcasting corporation, Professor Goebb… Curtis, say in his extensive post-election academic research (mainly based around data from five completely-randomly selected wards around Scotland) that most of the SNP vote was a protest vote against the biased electoral system in Scotland that allows the party with the largest vote to form a government, so who knows?

        • I heard the independent expert from the independent naional broadcasting corporation, Professor Goebb… Curtis, say in his extensive post-election academic research (mainly based around data from five completely-randomly selected wards around Scotland) that most of the SNP vote was a protest vote against the biased electoral system in Scotland that allows the party with the largest vote to form a government, so who knows?

        • That’s not what I see in poll data; the collapse of the Lib vote post 2010 mirrors perfectly a surge in SNP share. The shift from Labour to the SNP came later.

          All ‘NET’ of course – to really know you’d have to ask people. However, socio-economic policy-wise, the ‘old’ Libs (not orange bookers) were always closest to the SNP; the difference being ‘home rule’ (I know, I know) versus independence.

        • That’s not what I see in poll data; the collapse of the Lib vote post 2010 mirrors perfectly a surge in SNP share. The shift from Labour to the SNP came later.

          All ‘NET’ of course – to really know you’d have to ask people. However, socio-economic policy-wise, the ‘old’ Libs (not orange bookers) were always closest to the SNP; the difference being ‘home rule’ (I know, I know) versus independence.

      • [quote name=”scottish_skier”]Meanwhile, as we moved into 2011, Lib voters were shifting to the SNP due to the Tory coalition[/quote]

        I thought the extensive post-election academic research had shown that the ex-LibDem voters overwhelmingly moved to Labour while ex-Labour voters moved to the SNP.

    • The SNP were polling ~40% of the vote for Holyrood from late 2007 right throught to the 2010 GE. Peaked as high as 44% at one point. And this was before any Tory-Lib coalition. So, the support for the SNP was growing without any defecting lib dem boost.

      And then the 2010 GE saw scots suddenly turn to Labour in their vote again. This failed to stop the tories and the Lib Dems went into power with the Tories. The result was a huge surge in Labour support for Holyrood, with the SNP dropping back to ~32% 2007 election levels. Labour intention for holyrood climbed to 40% – it was like they and the SNP had swapped places. SNP-Labour swing voters were the cause of this…

      I feel this was a ‘panic’ reaction. The Tories were back and Lab voters who had become increasingly tempted by the competent SNP rushed back to Labour as that was how you always ‘fought’ the Tories.

      Meanwhile, as we moved into 2011, Lib voters were shifting to the SNP due to the Tory coalition, pushing the SNP up to level pegging with Labour in March 2011; a couple of months before the election and both were sitting at around 38% or so.

      Then we had a completely crap Labour campaign versus a very positive SNP one. Those Lab-SNP swing voters turned back to the SNP as a result – the SNP were the better option, just as these voters had been feeling way back to 2007/8. Time to bite the bullet, leave labour behind and finally put an X next to the SNP.

      When the Sun ‘came out’ in support for the SNP in April 11 the voters had already decided. In the sense the Sun made no difference; it just commissioned a poll, saw 45% SNP which backed-up other polls, and decided it would back the winner.

      I don’t think the MSM had much if anything to do with the May 2011 result.

  20. I think we have to insert a chilling insight into the power of the media over the SNP crusade. The SNP is no longer fighting the Labour Party (or the defunct LibDems or the paralysed Tories). They are all politically inert in Scotland and increasingly reliant on destructive copy against the SNP in the papers and on TV.
    Cast your eyes back to the Scottish Parliament Election in 2011.
    It may be almost impossible to believe this now but every newspaper in Scotland except the Mirror group titles (Record, Sunday Mail) supported the SNP in that election to a greater or lesser extent. They were joined by a number of high profile, well known unionists like Sir David Murray. This suport suddenly started about a month before the election and was, I’m sure, orchestrated.
    The calculation was that a new Westminster Tory/Lib Dem coalition struggling in Government couln’t afford a Labour win in the Scottish election. A narrow SNP win was the lesser of two evils.
    They succeeded too well however and gave the SNP an overall majority (they probably believed the distorted polls they kept commissioning to start with). The unintended consequence of MSM support for the SNP was an unprecedented SNP victory – and an indication of where we would be with an honest press.
    By contrast the recent six week concentrated campaign of demonisation of Alex Salmond (which is being extended to Nicola Sturgeon) probably cost us about 10 points in actual ratings and 50 to 80 councillors.
    The good news is that AS dealt with this attack sensibly by basically ignoring it and remaining friendly, progressive and positive. It is a tactic they can probably only use effectively very rarely.
    It has diminishing returns and if pushed too hard has the opposite effect to its intention. This happened at the last Westminster election at which the appalling ad hominen attacks on Gordon Brown began to backfire and almost saved Labour in the final count and provided a hung result.
    This suits the powers that be and who own the media. They don’t really care which right wing grouping – Tory or Labour – rules UK as long as they are in control of it – which is the present situation.
    We live in a very imperfect democracy.

  21. Scottish_skier
    If you don’t think the MSM has any effect on elections you live in different world from me.
    Before the 2011 election the Express, the Scotsman, the Mail, the Sunday Post, the Herald, The Courier, the Sun and the P&J all gave support to the SNP from initially limited right through to editorials energetically urging people to vote SNP -a complete contrast to what happened to the SNP in virtually all the press from March of this year.

    • I think you give the MSM too much credit for swaying people’s minds when it comes to voting in elections. I read the Courier from an early age until recently when it was changed to tabloid size and the price was increased by 25%. The Courier has always been a tory paper although the current political editor and the previous two have shown to be very libdem biased, indeed one of them even became a libdem list MSP.

      Despite these leanings towards the tories I have helped elect SNP MP’s in Perth, Dundee and latterly MP’s and MSP’s in Angus. If the MSM has such a control over how we vote then how did people manage to get Douglas Crawford elected in Perth in the seventies and the other SNP MP’s and MSP’s while still reading the Courier.

    • I think you give the MSM too much credit for swaying people’s minds when it comes to voting in elections. I read the Courier from an early age until recently when it was changed to tabloid size and the price was increased by 25%. The Courier has always been a tory paper although the current political editor and the previous two have shown to be very libdem biased, indeed one of them even became a libdem list MSP.

      Despite these leanings towards the tories I have helped elect SNP MP’s in Perth, Dundee and latterly MP’s and MSP’s in Angus. If the MSM has such a control over how we vote then how did people manage to get Douglas Crawford elected in Perth in the seventies and the other SNP MP’s and MSP’s while still reading the Courier.

    • Do you vote for a party because a newspaper tells you to?

      The electorate are not stupid.

      Granted you might get the impression that there is strong resistance to independence when you meet tribal unionists online, but they are not the bulk of the electorate; most people quietly get on with their lives, judging a government by performance. They may read ‘accused’ stories, but they will wait to see evidence before they conclude whether it is true or not.

      And do not doubt that everyone in Scotland knows that the SNP represent something very anti-establisment. They propose the end of the UK after all. Thus people expect the SNP to be treated ‘differently’ to other parties and will read stories about them with that in mind, good or bad.

      Ask yourself; which party does not treat the electorate like they are idiots and which parties do? Which of these is being successful?

    • Do you vote for a party because a newspaper tells you to?

      The electorate are not stupid.

      Granted you might get the impression that there is strong resistance to independence when you meet tribal unionists online, but they are not the bulk of the electorate; most people quietly get on with their lives, judging a government by performance. They may read ‘accused’ stories, but they will wait to see evidence before they conclude whether it is true or not.

      And do not doubt that everyone in Scotland knows that the SNP represent something very anti-establisment. They propose the end of the UK after all. Thus people expect the SNP to be treated ‘differently’ to other parties and will read stories about them with that in mind, good or bad.

      Ask yourself; which party does not treat the electorate like they are idiots and which parties do? Which of these is being successful?

  22. Scottish_skier
    If you don’t think the MSM has any effect on elections you live in different world from me.
    Before the 2011 election the Express, the Scotsman, the Mail, the Sunday Post, the Herald, The Courier, the Sun and the P&J all gave support to the SNP from initially limited right through to editorials energetically urging people to vote SNP -a complete contrast to what happened to the SNP in virtually all the press from March of this year.

  23. I’m not for one minute suggesting anyone who contributes to blogs such as this allow the MSM to determine who they vote for. We would be independent by now if only the well-informed and motivated Scots were the only ones to vote. But for swing and undecided voters MSM and the BBC have a very powerful effect – and the establishment know this.
    Do you think multi millions are spent on advertising in newspapers because it has no effect?

    • I don’t disagree with you; the MSM has likely done much to hold back the independence movement. However, its power is very weak these days.

      “[i]We would be independent by now if only the well-informed and motivated Scots were the only ones to vote[/i]”

      Are you aware that support for independence/the SNP is strongest among the poor/the working classes? (who do you think Labour hate the SNP so much…) In contrast, those at the top of the chain are more against it/them.

      Some might say that the former group would be the ones most likely to be influenced by what they read in the papers as they are less educated/informed. In contrast, the more wealthy might be expected to be more educated/informed.

      I’d say it is that the wealthy are thinking more about their own pockets rather than the future of their country. They don’t want to rock the boat in case something goes wrong.

      And don’t forget there are people who feel british. The ‘equally Scottish and British’ group are the most against independence, even more so that the ‘British only’ who live here. Many people do have close family ties that span the border after all; for them the whole issue is emotional rather than economics etc.

    • I don’t disagree with you; the MSM has likely done much to hold back the independence movement. However, its power is very weak these days.

      “[i]We would be independent by now if only the well-informed and motivated Scots were the only ones to vote[/i]”

      Are you aware that support for independence/the SNP is strongest among the poor/the working classes? (who do you think Labour hate the SNP so much…) In contrast, those at the top of the chain are more against it/them.

      Some might say that the former group would be the ones most likely to be influenced by what they read in the papers as they are less educated/informed. In contrast, the more wealthy might be expected to be more educated/informed.

      I’d say it is that the wealthy are thinking more about their own pockets rather than the future of their country. They don’t want to rock the boat in case something goes wrong.

      And don’t forget there are people who feel british. The ‘equally Scottish and British’ group are the most against independence, even more so that the ‘British only’ who live here. Many people do have close family ties that span the border after all; for them the whole issue is emotional rather than economics etc.

  24. I’m not for one minute suggesting anyone who contributes to blogs such as this allow the MSM to determine who they vote for. We would be independent by now if only the well-informed and motivated Scots were the only ones to vote. But for swing and undecided voters MSM and the BBC have a very powerful effect – and the establishment know this.
    Do you think multi millions are spent on advertising in newspapers because it has no effect?

  25. http://news.bbc.co.uk/today/hi/today/newsid_9723000/9723828.stm

    Prof. Curtice:

    “About 60% of Scots would currently vote to stay in the UK”.

    The man does not deserve to be a prof. He’s either lying, or thick as mince.

    I have never, ever seen a poll where the ‘no’ was 60% in a straight Y/N (no Devo max etc being offered up etc). In fact, the typical pattern is 40/40. The Yes has been above 50% in the past in 1998. The no only possibly so just briefly once after the 2007 election.

    He’s grouping the ‘I like the idea / am giving it thought but still unsure’ with the no vote. A serious mistake; schoolboy error really.

    He seems to be just a ‘yes man’ for the unionists; telling them what they want to hear. A bit like Adolf’s advisors in the berlin bunker telling him all was going just fine/victory was imminent when the Russians were just down the road.

  26. http://news.bbc.co.uk/today/hi/today/newsid_9723000/9723828.stm

    Prof. Curtice:

    “About 60% of Scots would currently vote to stay in the UK”.

    The man does not deserve to be a prof. He’s either lying, or thick as mince.

    I have never, ever seen a poll where the ‘no’ was 60% in a straight Y/N (no Devo max etc being offered up etc). In fact, the typical pattern is 40/40. The Yes has been above 50% in the past in 1998. The no only possibly so just briefly once after the 2007 election.

    He’s grouping the ‘I like the idea / am giving it thought but still unsure’ with the no vote. A serious mistake; schoolboy error really.

    He seems to be just a ‘yes man’ for the unionists; telling them what they want to hear. A bit like Adolf’s advisors in the berlin bunker telling him all was going just fine/victory was imminent when the Russians were just down the road.

  27. scottish skier

    The MSM’s power is not very weak today.

    It is enormous.

    And it is our only serious enemy

    Just because some of us conduct much of our debate online it is a huge mistake to imagine this represents any more than a minority activity (albeit a growing one, particularly with a young subsection of our community).

    Take today’s Herald headline.
    It is built around a YouGov Poll.
    This poll will be referenced over the next immediate period in a whole range of publications. Newspapers and journalists opposed to indeoendence will use it continuously as gospel truth
    It will have the effect of making those who had till recently accepted that independence as inevitable to doubt this.
    I have already heard people expressing the opinion that the SNP had “peaked” last year. This will be the theme.
    Never mind the fact that YouGov are not a proper polling organisation and that they have continuously provided our enemies with absolute bollocks as polls. They had Labour beating the SNP in 2007 and Labour 11% ahead of SNP last spring (a figure that was repeated ad nauseam in the press until it became, in the face of other polls, so evidently bonkers that YouGov suddenly produced a poll showing SNP and Labour neck and neck).
    If the SNP today was to produce a poll showing Independence as the preferred option will it be in three inch letters in any newspaper tomorrow?

    • I know what you mean, however that is not what I see in polling data. I have poll data going back years.I see the electorate change in response to macro-scale events, not suddenly jumping back and forth because of newspaper stories.

      The SNP gained in 2011 because the New Labour project had failed and the Libs went Tory. Over the 2007-11 term you can see it happening; Labour had reached core 30% and the SNP up to 40%. The 2011 election result was there back in 2008/9. What could not be seen was the Libs going tory and giving that final boost to the SNP. There was a panic shift to Labour ~2010 on for a while but that was all it was; a panic. Then, en masse, those Labour voters who had been thinking ‘I’m going to vote SNP’ back in 2008-9 but had in an anti-Tory panic returned to Labour asked themselves why – what was the point in voting Labour? They watched the pathetic Labour campaign, felt no attachment to Ed Milliband and New New? Old/New what exactly? failed Labour, took a deep breath and voted SNP.

      We are here today due to long term changes in the socio-political mindset of Scotland. This is something that has happened over a 90 year period at least. The breaking point came in 2007, it’s just nobody quite realised it. New Labour and the Tories had both dropped to core vote in scotland, all that remained was the for the Tories to return to London and the non-core unionist lib voters to turn to the SNP. The coalition brought this neatly to fruition.

      Post 2014 Scotland will either be independent or devo-maxed. It is inevitable.

      Recent jublilee bunting aside, how often do you see union jacks and the word ‘British’ when wandering the streets? I think you will find a plethora of saltires, lion rampants, thistles, tartan, Scottish this and thats, but little to tell you this is a part of Britian. The period 1979-1997 saw britishness ripped out of the heart of Scotland. The Scottish parliament has seen what remained slowly wither away as Scotland treads its own path, ever futher away from that of Londons.

      Scotland has been becoming Scotland again since the 1920’s, it can’t be stopped.

      • I do genuinely enoy your approach to the debate, it is much appreciated and impressive.

        The media can land blows though.

        The last one out of Britain turned the lights out, I think helped with a c.2% percent on the day. The Sun has an impact, that is why it is courted so desperately by all parties.

        • “The Sun has an impact”

          I can see no strong impact in 2007 nor 2011. Both are of course completely opposite scenarios (Sun-wise), yet resuled in a comparable outcome.

          It’s just a newspaper.

  28. scottish skier

    The MSM’s power is not very weak today.

    It is enormous.

    And it is our only serious enemy

    Just because some of us conduct much of our debate online it is a huge mistake to imagine this represents any more than a minority activity (albeit a growing one, particularly with a young subsection of our community).

    Take today’s Herald headline.
    It is built around a YouGov Poll.
    This poll will be referenced over the next immediate period in a whole range of publications. Newspapers and journalists opposed to indeoendence will use it continuously as gospel truth
    It will have the effect of making those who had till recently accepted that independence as inevitable to doubt this.
    I have already heard people expressing the opinion that the SNP had “peaked” last year. This will be the theme.
    Never mind the fact that YouGov are not a proper polling organisation and that they have continuously provided our enemies with absolute bollocks as polls. They had Labour beating the SNP in 2007 and Labour 11% ahead of SNP last spring (a figure that was repeated ad nauseam in the press until it became, in the face of other polls, so evidently bonkers that YouGov suddenly produced a poll showing SNP and Labour neck and neck).
    If the SNP today was to produce a poll showing Independence as the preferred option will it be in three inch letters in any newspaper tomorrow?

  29. I agree it can’t be stopped. But it can be turned messy and slowed down and I’m getting pretty old.

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