By Russell Bruce
Every day seems to brings a new poll at this time of heightened Westminster fervour. Other than they pretty well all show the Tories leading, UK wide, we are not really very much the wiser. I will say a few things about the last 6 UK wide polls later but first of all I think there is some key data in today’s release from Lord Ashcroft.
As part of his extensive survey of attitudes he asked for responses to 12 attributes the electorate associate with the UK main parties he is interested in. He also asked respondents in Scotland to comment on the attributes they associate with the SNP. The results are mind blowing. Our table constructed directly from Ashcroft responses shows remarkable connections the Scottish electorate make with SNP, compared to the results for UK parties.
What is important in analysing the details for Scotland is the sheer size of the Ashcroft sample. With 8075 UK wide and 694 for Scotland in weighted samples, this is real data to work on where Scottish feedback is identifiable.
SNP outscores the 4 largest UK parties
In analysing the data we compared the UK wide responses with those asked of voters in Scotland only. We first compared the score for the SNP with the next or closest score for each UK party. In 11 out of 12 attributes the SNP outscored all the main UK parties.
On the one attribute they lost to the Tories on – Willing to take tough decisions for the long term – they did surprisingly well being only 7 points behind the Conservatives, scoring 19 to 26 for the Tories. The SNP score is 4 times Labour’s score and almost 3 times that for the LibDems.
On – Competent and Capable- the SNP are so far ahead they almost reach the combined score for the 4 listed UK parties. On an attribute the Tories would expect to excel on, the SNP lead is 14 points. Or to put it another way the Tories are only 39% Competent and Capable compared to the SNP.
It is only fair to point out the Scottish result is being compared to UK wide allocated attributes. But it is also true that support for the four UK parties is much lower in Scotland. The combined vote share of the Conservative, Labour, Lib Dems and Brexit is around 90% across the UK, whereas these parties combined vote share in Scotland is around 50%.
SNP most united party
This might come as a surprise to those complaining the SNP is not doing enough. What really matters is how things are perceived in town centres, leafy suburbs, social housing estates, villages, rural towns and islands and the SNP is seen as the most united major party in the UK.
On the attributes Labour traditionally does well on; numbers 1, 2, 4, 9, 10, and 11 the SNP beats them hands down.
Fragmentation greater in England
The picture down south is one of considerable fragmentation between the four main listed parties. In Scotland adding the SNP would suggest increased levels of fragmentation in voting patterns. Then add the Greens who might poll above 5% in any seats where they might stand in Scotland and more widespread fragmentation would be expected with six players competing for votes. Yet the Ashcroft analysis shows the SNP are way ahead of the others leaving them to fight over the non SNP vote.
The last line on the table shows the percentage that did not rank each party on any of the 12 attributes. 61% did not rank the Conservatives, 59% on Labour and Brexit and 56% LibDems. Those that did not rank the SNP in Scotland came in at a much lower 44%. This means 56% in Scotland chose to rank the SNP whereas at UK level only 40% found something to rank the ‘Big Four’ on.
It is fairly difficult to get much useful data from Scottish sub samples. If collating sub samples is likely to produce useful information this is something best left to James Kelly at Scot goes Pop.
A couple of points are perhaps worth remarking on. Of the last 6 UK wide polls one from ComRes shows a Con/Lab tie and the other 5 a Tory lead varying from 3% to 15%. Opinium for The Observer routinely gives a larger vote share (36 -37%) and lead (12 – 15%) for the Conservatives. Others put them on low 30s or high 20s. As Ashcroft found out distinguishing the voting intention of Tories is a minefield because many are inclined to vote for the Brexit party as lots did wholesale at the EU election.
When the the percentages in these six polls are summed for the Tories and the Brexit party they are suddenly an almost perfect match. within a few points of each other. Tories are the most confused of all of us, but beware the Tories and the Brexit Party might actually figure it out to help game e.g. northern Labour leave seats and probably put few if any candidates up in Scotland.
Westminster bubble, bubble, toil and hedge fund trouble
If there is one thing that must be done to ensure the UK does not crash out Do or Die, then Johnson must be removed. The only thing there is a majority for at Westminster is ensuring the UK does not leave without a deal.
Leaving on Johnson’s planned crash out will do great damage to Scotland’s economy. The SNP can not be seen to have stood aside and not done everything it can to prevent that along with the planned loss of powers to the Scottish Parliament. With opinion polls pointing at the moment to gains with 50 plus Westminster seats, the SNP can help protect Scotland whilst significantly advancing the independence cause.
Today brings news that some are suggesting Speaker, John Bercow, as a temporary PM and the idea is apparently gaining some ground. If it looks as if he might be a unifying figure, bringing in Swinson’s Lib Dems, former Tories and Change MPs, Newsnet would not be surprised if he would be willing to swap the Speaker’s chair for No 10.