By Russell Bruce
Three things to begin with. First, we have been covering the polls on the SNP leadership race which provide some information on what voters and party members are thinking. Other than identify the two leading candidates we can say with 99.9% of confidence that the next SNP leader will be either Kate Forbes or Humza Yousaf. That doesn’t make the polls less interesting for the information they do unearth.
Secondly, congratulations to James Kelly of Scot Goes Pop for producing another poll on independence. This gives independence a 4% lead. With Don’t Knows excluded the poll gave Yes 52% and No 48%. Kelly’s explanation in The National that the difference between other polls could be down to neither Ipsos nor Find Out Now adjusting the findings by how respondents voted in the 2014 referendum. This is an arguable distortion given this would be adjusting for support that is 9 years out of date. Of the four other polls since beginning of February, two give No a 2% lead, a YouGov poll an 8% lead for No and the Redfield and Wilton early March poll had Yes at 45% and No at 55%, all with Don’t Knows excluded.
Polls just keep coming and James Kelly has announced a new additional poll he has commissioned. This time from Panelbase. The first data he released this morning is very significant regarding support from SNP voters. It is not so dissimilar to the poll data in our headline graph. We understand there is much more to come and we will leave it to James to release his findings. Only members have a vote but the opinion of voters needs to be taken into account as members make their final choice before voting opens on Monday. Members who fail to consider the wider position of support in the country would be ignoring all universal political party strategy in how to prepare for a new administration in just 16 days time.
Thirdly I would urge readers to pay attention to the rising support for Labour in recent Scottish polls. People are desperate to get the Tories out of Westminster. Come the next General Election, Labour is positioning to gain back seats in Scotland just as the Tories did on their comeback during Ruth Davidson’s period as Scottish Leader. Kate Forbes and Anas Sarwar were the only two with a positive score in the analysis we did yesterday.
A recent Savanta poll cut the Labour UK lead to 11% which they admit is an outlier. Earlier March polls from Opinium and Survation gave a Labour lead of 17% and 16%. There are more polling companies today than there are tomatoes in your supermarket. Do not assume the General Election will be late 2024 at the earliest. We think October 2023 and May next year are not totally unlikely dates.
Big Partnership latest poll of voters
We do not think this information should be ignored by membership when they plan the order of their preference selection. We expect Humza will be placed first by many. There are after all two leading candidates. On the four leading issues Kate Forbes has a clear lead especially on The Economy and The Cost of Living. On being Convincing on Independence Kate is 6.4% ahead.
If we look at the percentage difference in a percentage calculator 24.7 is 35% greater than 18.3. There is no mathematical trickery involved and you can check the result with simple mental arithmetic. One third of Humza’s 18.3 is 6.1, slightly less than the difference between the two figures, so 24.7 is more than 33% higher i.e. 35%.
Now do the same calculation for The Economy and Kate is ahead with 68.5%.
These differences matter and are the difference between the SNP winning or going backwards. After 16 years in government, and succeeding the most popular leader the SNP has ever had, is a hard act for anyone to follow. Members must think hard about what the people think in selecting the order of their preferences and how the party can best chart the way ahead.