By Russell Bruce
I have finally obtained the full tables for the Big Partnership poll which gave a clear lead to Kate Forbes. It must be remembered that those polled are SNP voters and not necessary members. Only SNP members have a vote in deciding the outcome. Never-the-less the breakdown of support is very informative of the views of the people who matter most, the voters who elect their preferred representatives. The arguments of SNP MSPs and MPs will continue but they need to heed the advice of Michael Russell in his article in today’s National.
The actual timing of the survey allows for understanding of the effect of the religious controversy that emerged early. The Big Partnership have confirmed to us: “The poll commenced at approx. 5pm on Monday, [20th] and concluded at approx. 5pm on Wednesday [22nd]. Most responses were received on Tuesday.”
This graph uses pale colour coding to differentiate the 3 candidates. No inference should be drawn on any connection to political parties. This is something I use on polling tables to help ensure taking the correct reading for each line as you move across the long length of data breakdown of sub samples. There is absolutely no suggestion the pale orange suggests Ash is anything other than a committed SNP member. By pure coincidence her vote, in this poll, happens to mirror support for the Lib Dems in party polling.
As with any poll drawing conclusions from sub samples involves considerable care in looking at individual sub samples. Having said that the overwhelming consistency shows Kate Forbes in the lead by region, gender and age group. Kate leads in every region of Scotland with the result narrower in Glasgow with Humza just 2 points short of Kate and 4 points behind in Lothian. Kate leads on gender with a 10.4% lead with men and 5.4% with women over Humza.
On age groups, Kate leads Humza in all age sub samples except 18-24 where Humza has a 4% lead. Ash out performs her overall polling with this age group. It is the smallest age sub sample with a total count of just 74 compared to age 55+ with a sample of 222 where Kate has a 15.3% lead over Humza. With First Vote SNP voters, Kate has an 7.8% lead and with Second Vote Green voters she has a 3.6% lead over Humza.
The Don’t Knows and the None of Above point to absolute need for a constructive debate
It is not surprising given the suddenness of Nicola Sturgeon’s departure that so many have not made up their minds. Nearly 15% opted for None of the Above and that presents a danger to the SNP if there is a failure for a constructive and respectful debate. Elected members must give all the candidates space to develop their ideas and strategy for the future.
The leadership debates run from 1st to 12th March and that is the opportunity for all three candidates to gather support from party members. Unionists will continue to attempt to muddy the waters and denigrate all potential leaders. Party members should not let that influence them.
The Gender Reform legislation is dead in the water, holed below the water line. Kate Forbes said she was willing to have an adult conversation with Alister Jack to look at changes to the legislation to allow it to become law. Alister Jack does not do adult so any legislation is likely to come from the Labour party as Starmer is committed to introducing UK wide legislation IF he wins the next General Election. Newsnet supported the GRR bill passed by the Scottish Parliament but it in not going anywhere.
Moving towards independence is what matters
Making that case is what the three candidates must concentrate on. At the present time the people of Scotland are more concerned about putting food on the table and managing to heat their homes. There is much to do to increase support for independence to a viable level from the present state of the polls. It is our view that the true level of viability of Scotland as an independent sovereign nation requires a great deal of work to move the polls upwards. Scotland is the wealthiest part of the UK after London and the South East of England with a GDP level equal to the East of England. Unionists have made much of Scotland’s dependence on Westminster’s so- called broad shoulders that undermines the confidence of many. Scotland is a rich nation even though many feel that they are not getting their share of the national wealth. That is a UK wide perspective. Just ask the people of London; the nurses, the civil servants, the tube and ambulance drivers, the firemen if they feel they are getting a fair share of London’s wealth.
Sharing wealth fairly, not so called handouts, is the case to make above all else
While all candidates have their plus points, Kate Forbes has been proven to have the forensic ability to make the economic case most forcibly over the next 18 to 24 months by dismantling the, still pervasive, too poor too small narrative. Scotland is big enough, smart enough and rich enough to ensure we can create a fair society where no one goes hungry or is too cold. Wellbeing and equality are the prizes, and it has nothing to do with minority or even larger religions that do not put the equality of women or minorities in our society at the forefront. Inclusiveness and tolerance are cornerstones of every progressive society, traits that are essential for all, not just the few.
The present front runner Kate Forbes is best placed to build on that lead and on creating the economy and forensic messaging to sustain the kind of independent country we aspire to be. Whether that happens is down to the membership in the next 4 weeks. With independence Scotland’s wealthy economy can support a fair and equal society.
Scotland’s place is back in Europe as a sovereign state. Getting there is a longer process than we would like. What’s more there will be no shortage of tomatoes and red peppers as soon as we become an applicant state.
All the candidates should be listened to and respected. We wish them all well.
We will leave you with the most important political message ever given voice