By Dave Taylor
Johann Lamont’s admission that the SNP will extend their lead over Labour in the local elections next month is backed up by polling evidence.
At her launch of the Labour campaign for the local elections, Lamont said of the SNP “they will get more councillors this time”. In 2007, the SNP won 363 seats compared with Labour’s 348.
Lamont appears to have taken her strategy from Ed Miliband – one of whose mantras of the moment is “You’ve got to under-promise, and over-deliver.”
However, polling in Scotland suggests that Labour in Scotland are likely to talk their chances down, and then to do even worse.
Coincidentally, three GB polls on Westminster voting intention have come out at the same time. As usual, all have wee Scottish samples, and mean little or nothing on their own.
Most readers are well aware that the margin of error is very great in such small samples, and the respondents aren’t picked to match the Scottish demographic.
Why mention them then?
It is unlikely that different polling companies, using different methodologies would all produce errors skewed in precisely the same direction. It would be quite normal for these polls to be all over the place – but they aren’t.
SNP lead over Labour according to Populus and YouGov is 18%, while Angus Reid puts it at 14%.
The actual numbers don’t particularly matter. What matters is that the commanding lead that the SNP established in May 2011 still continues almost a year later.
SNP Campaigns Director Angus Robertson said:
“We are not taking anything for granted. While these are three sub-samples rather than a full opinion poll, they do all indicate a similar level of support for each of the parties in Scotland.
“The results indicate to what extent the people of Scotland are turning away from the relentless negativity of the three opposition parties. With the Local Authority elections just a little over three weeks away, this must be extremely concerning for them.
“In particular, it just shows how Labour has pitched its local government campaign wrongly – conceding failure at the first hurdle, making it clear it has run out of ideas.
“Ms Lamont is too busy obsessing with what the other parties are doing instead of saying what she would do right and presenting a positive vision for Scotland’s future.
“The Tories, Lib Dem and Labour have all failed to live up to their promise from last year’s elections to listen to voters and come back with a new prospectus.
“The Lib Dems are trailing behind UKIP for the first time in a YouGov poll, Ms Lamont expects the SNP to get more candidates elected and even a Tory candidate said he only agreed to stand on the condition he definitely wouldn’t win or campaign.
“This is a poor show and the people of Scotland deserve more.
“We know there is still a long way to go but the SNP will continue to work hard on the ground to deliver our positive message that SNP Councils across the country will deliver a fairer deal for families.”
Severin Carrell, the Guardian’s Scotland correspondent, commented :
“Johann Lamont has now publicly conceded what Scottish Labour party figures confirm privately: that they expect the Scottish National Party to effectively win May’s local council elections.
This is already Scottish Labour’s gambit: to manage party, public and media interpretations of the likely result by playing down its significance, by using nerdy analyses of each elections candidates lists. One can imagine this message has already been sent south to Ed Miliband and Labour’s UK HQ in London.”