Scots polling dearth and political spin


By Dave Taylor

Newsnet Scotland regularly gets press releases from all political parties trying to make something out of the tiny Scottish samples in GB polls. We have little in the way of meaningful Scottish polls, so that is to be expected.

No one at NNS is a political innocent, and we quite understand the need of all political research departments to find something to analyse and get some publicity for their cause. What is most surprising is the willingness of so many news outlets to publish these unquestioningly – just to fill some column inches.

Since this site supports independence/autonomy, it’s appropriate that we savage an SNP press release rather than that of a Unionist party (while that might be more fun, it would just be partisan).

We wholly support the view of Pete Wishart MP that “Scotland rejected David Cameron in the 2010 election so it is very telling even more people in Scotland think he is out of touch and out of ideas. This poll also shows Cameron’s botched reshuffle has failed to give his flagging popularity a bounce.

“The lurch to the right in the Westminster reshuffle simply confirms how out of touch the Tories really are and why Scotland should make decisions for itself rather than leave them to Westminster.  The decision to keep the Chancellor George Osborne in his job, despite a failing austerity agenda causing economic stagnation and a double-dip recession, shows just how lacking in ideas the Westminster Prime Minster has become.

“The contrast of the tired old Tories with the Scottish Government, bringing forward ideas for economic growth and protecting public services, could not be more stark. Fifteen years on from the Scottish Parliament referendum, it’s clear that where decisions can be taken in Scotland, better decisions are taken. The most recent Social Attitudes Survey shows that 71 per cent of people trust the Scottish Government to act in Scotland’s best interests, compared to just 18 per cent who trust the UK Government.

“This polling further underlines why Scotland cannot afford to take the risk in future of leaving decisions to the lottery of Westminster elections and the need to move decisions from an unreformable Westminster to a representative Holyrood parliament, 100% elected to make decisions in Scotland’s interests.”

Well. almost “wholly support”. He did say “This poll also shows”, when it actually shows very little, on its own.

It’s a YouGov GB poll (see many of Scottish Skier’s comments on that!)

The Scottish sample was 177 (weighted down to 162) out of 1860 across GB.

Westminster VI for the Scots sample was unlikely to be representative – 36% Lab : 29% SNP : 17% Con : 7% LD.

What? 24% in Scotland supporting the parties in the UK Coalition Government? Surely some mistake?

Not a mistake – sub-samples aren’t supposed to be representative of opinion within that population. That’s just random variation. However, it does allow us to compare Scots attitudes to UK politics from different Scottish samples which have wide random variations in Westminster voting intention.

Regardless of the pattern of Scots voting intention for Westminster, a huge majority of Scots dislike the Tories (and now their LD allies), and all that they stand for. (Sorry, SNP – that ain’t news!)

But also largely regardless of the pattern of Scots voting intention for Westminster, Scots don’t rate Ed Milliband. In the last YG poll in August, which had 51% of the wee Scottish sample intending to vote Labour for Westminster, only 27% thought Milliband was doing well compared with 61% who thought he was doing badly. Only his home town of London had a worse opinion of him – but then they might know him better.

Personally, I’ll wait for a properly constructed Scottish poll by a reliable company, which hasn’t just asked a question that it has been paid to ask by some interest group, before I pay much attention.

I may have to wait for a very long time!