Archive for the 'Scotland' Category


The Cummings & Johnson strategy could well be dubbed as the charge of the light in the head brigade

Wednesday, September 4th, 2019

Sacrificing some of your MPs is what Sir Humphrey would call a ‘courageous’ move.

For a while it has been clear that the strategy (sic) of Boris Johnson and his team is to effectively sacrifice Tory MPs in Scotland and to the Lib Dems in Remain areas of Britain and aim for the prize of winning more seats in Labour held seats in Leave areas, last night’s YouGov Scotland polls shows the first part of that strategy is working.

I think approach is mistaken because I think Labour voters are intensely tribal and will struggle to be won over by the likes of Boris Johnson and Jacob Rees-Mogg. If you think I’m wrong ask yourself did you think the Tories would make substantial gains in Labour Leave seats at GE2017?

Like Ed Miliband’s attempt to eat a bacon sandwich this image might be similarly iconic and memetastic.

I think we’ll also see the return of the tactical anti-Tory voting because quite frankly the nasty party is back, for example some want to weaponise the culture war, and engage in what is modern day gay bashing and weaponise things like trans rights.  It took the the Tories nearly a quarter of a century to move on from the vile section 28 which tells how bad this could play out.

One of the ways this strategy might also prove to be sub-optimal is those MPs who are likely to lose their seats with this approach might end up rebelling against the whip if they think they are going to be doomed, they may even vote against an early election.

After yesterday’s performances in the House of Commons it isn’t very hard to see Jeremy Corbyn outperforming Boris Johnson during a general election campaign which leads to Labour increasing its share of the vote. Only the heir to the throne of the Kingdom of Idiots would feel confident that the polls will not change (either way) during a general election campaign.

Back in 2017 if it wasn’t for the the dozen Tory gains in Scotland we would have likely seen Prime Minister Corbyn, perhaps Scotland only delayed the inevitable.


PS – Probably the most astonishing findings from the YouGov Scotland poll is given all we’ve seen happen since 2016 Scots would still vote to remain part of the Union, albeit very narrowly, I was expecting a decent Independence lead. This fits in the theory that after seeing the difficulty of unpicking the UK’s forty-six year union with the EU, Scots think unpicking the three hundred year old Union will be even more fraught and will avoid that.


Before we can make judgements about the outcome of an early general election we need new Scotland only polling

Tuesday, August 27th, 2019

The last one was in June

There’s been a lot of GB voting intention polling since Mr Johnson became the new Tory leader and Prime Minister but none of it has been Scotland specific. One thing we do know is that is can be highly misleading keying the latest GB poll shares into Baxter and getting anything that is relevant to Scotland.

North of the border, as we all know, is the part of the UK which has seen the most turbulence in recent general elections. In 2010 Scots LAB won 41 of the 59 seats only to lose all but one of them in the SNP landslide 5 years later.

Then 2017 the Tories made something of a recovery and picked up 12 gains to add to the single seat making them the second party in Scotland .

What is hugely interesting for election watchers is that the largest majority that the SNP secured in any of its 36 Scottish seats at the last election was 47%. A large proportion of what they hold is vulnerable something that applies to almost all the parties there.

As the Wikipedia panel above shows the Tories were in something of a mess in the most recent surveys. The numbers suggest that Ruth Davidson’s party could be on the point of losing all but one of the hard won gains from 2 years ago. But is that really going to happen?

So much has happened politically since the last Scottish poll and we have no real sense yet of how the new PM is going down for of the border. Will having Johnson in charge help or hinder the blue team?

Hopefully we should be seeing some new Scotland polling in September. There is tendency for these to come out just before the SNP conference.

Mike Smithson


Ruth Davidson’s hard won Scots Tory gains at GE2017 look set to evaporate at an early general election

Tuesday, August 6th, 2019

Gloomy numbers for Boris as he considers going to the country

One thing that is looking increasingly likely at the next election is that a lot more seats are going to change hands than usual. BJohnson’s party will be looking to make gains in Leave areas to offset likely losses to the resurgent LDs and in Scotland the SNP.

This has been reinforced from more data from Lord Ashcroft’s Scottish poll featured in the chart above. There was no conventional voting intention question but one which asked:

If there were to be a general election tomorrow, how likely would you be to vote for each of the following parties – where 0 means there is no chance you would vote for that party, and 100 means you would be certain to vote for that party?”

In Scotland at GE2017 the Tories picked up 28.6% of the vote and based on this latest data the party will get nowhere near that total at the next election which could have a profound impact on the Tories.

The strongly pro-Remain LDs and Scottish Greens come out of this particularly well suggesting a basis for deal between the two in key seats. The “old” two major parties – CON and LAB – come out poorly with only Farage’s BRX behind.

Mike Smithson


Lord Ashcroft poll has Swinson beating Johnson, Corbyn and Farage in Scotland

Monday, August 5th, 2019

While all the focus on today’s Ashcroft Scotland poll has been on growing support for independence the numbers that could have most impact on an early UK general election are in the chart above. How the national party leaders are rated according to the Ashcroft question asking respondents to give a rating from 0 to 100.

One of the remarkable things about the GE2010 outcome was that Gordon Brown’s LAB did substantially better in Scotland than in the rest of GB. The party increased its vote share and picked up 41 of the 59 Scottish seat while getting hit back elsewhere.

This was put down to the fact that Brown is Scottish, sat for a Scottish constituency and that Scottish voters have a tendency to favour their own – a tendency shown this latest poll.

For in choosing Dumbarton E MP, Jo Swinson, the LDs have become the first national UK party since 2010 to be led by someone who is Scottish and this is the first Scotland only poll since the leadership change.

It is not often appreciated that until the post-IndyRef 2015 General Election the LDs were, in terms of Westminster seats, the second biggest party north of the border being particularly strong in the borders and Highland regions. The GE2010 Scottish seat split was LAB 41,LD 11,SNP 6 and CON 1.

So more positive numbers now for their leader might be boost LD hopes of what might happen at an early general election.

As PBers will know I am a Lib Dem member and the reason I voted for Swinson in the leadership election was because I hoped that she could just have an edge with Scottish voters that could have an impact in terms of seats.

Mike Smithson


Six weeks tomorrow could mark the beginning of the end for the United Kingdom as we know it

Thursday, February 14th, 2019

Pressure for Irish unification could just be the beginning

One of the features of Brexit, particularly a no deal one, is the impact that it could have on the integrity of the United Kingdom.

There has been polling already in Northern Ireland about how people would feel there about the Union in the event of a no deal Brexit. The numbers don’t look good for those backing the union and under the Good Friday Agreement the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland would have to call a referendum if there were strong indications that the public wanted to become part of a united Ireland.

Such a referendum on the unification of Ireland would be a traumatic event and would capture the attention of many parts of the world. You could see American Irish communities being very keen to support the North and the South joining together as one. There’s a reasonable chance that Ireland would vote for unification.

At the same time you could see similar pressure in Scotland for another independence vote and it would be hard for the Westminster Parliament not to agree to it. The chances in such circumstances of a vote succeeding must be quite high.

No doubt the moves in both Scotland and Northern Ireland to leave the United Kingdom would lead to similar pressures within Wales and it’s not beyond the bounds of probability that the Welsh could also go in that direction. The outcome would be that we will be left with just England.

So the stakes are very high in the coming weeks as Parliament decides what to do as MPs ponder whether to back the deal.

An England only problem for LAB is that without Welsh and Scottish MPs it is hard to see it ever becoming top party on seats something that only the hated Tony Blair was able to achieve. Prior to the Scottish IndyRef in 2014 LAB was the overwhelming major force north of the border with 41 of the 59 MPs. It was the loss of many of those seats which undermines Corbyn’s party’s position.

Mike Smithson


Now in Scotland we are getting threats of de-selection for pro-Brexit CON MPs

Thursday, January 3rd, 2019

The start of trend as we get closer?

The paper, the National, it should be pointed out is a strong supporter of the SNP but having said that this does raise a real issue in the one part of the UK where the Tories had real success at GE2017.

Also today we’ve had this from Martin Baxter’s Electoral Calculus which looks grim for LAB north of the border. As I’ve said repeatedly LAB has to recover in Scotland if it is to have any chance of being top party

Mike Smithson


Why Jezza should beware of Nicola bearing gifts

Tuesday, December 11th, 2018

SNP General Election target seats

Election Polling

LAB’s going to struggle to win the next GE unless there’s a rapid improvement in Scotland

Last night Nicola Sturgeon said the SNP would back a Commons no confidence motion against the government if one was tabled by Labour.

I’d suggest that Nicola Sturgeon and her team would not be asking for another election now unless it was pretty confident that it would do as well or even better than the 35 Scottish seats that it won in 2017 and the main prospect for gains, as the table above shows, is from Scottish Labour.

    Currently four of the seven Scottish LAB seats are held with majorities requiring swings of less than 1% and targets five and six have very narrow majorities. Only one Scottish LAB seat, Edinburgh South, with a 16.2% swing required looks safe.

A massive challenge for Labour in a new general election is its failure to recover in Scotland where Gordon Brown’s party won 41 of the 59 seats at GE2010. It is hard to see the party winning unless there’s a dramatic turnaround and the polling suggests that Labour in continuing to struggle. As this table of latest Scotland only polls show Labour is polling north of the border worse than it did at GE2017 and the chances are that it would go into a new general election on the defensive.

Latest Westminster Scottish voting intention polls


That post Scottish 2014 IndyRef surge by the SNP was almost totally at the expensive of Labour and there’s almost no sign of a recovery. In August Corbyn visited Scotland with the express intention if trying to turn things round. The polling points to that having zero impact.

Mike Smithson


The question supporters of a ‘People’s vote’ need to answer. If another referendum is good enough for the UK, then surely it must be good enough for Scotland?

Sunday, December 2nd, 2018

Even though I’m someone who considers Brexit the greatest blunder this country has undertaken since appeasement I’m not a fan of another referendum until we’ve actually left the EU for a variety of reasons such as democracy must be honoured.

The risk of No Deal was repeatedly communicated to the voters during the 2016 referendum campaign there’s no point mewling now. But one of the primary reasons I’m most opposed to another referendum this soon is that it creates a precedent to rerun the 2014 Scottish Independence referendum, something that the SNP are skilled to exploit from the fallout from Brexit.

Today’s Sunday Times reports that

SNP ministers believe they can avoid the need for a second independence referendum on leaving the UK if a future Labour government refuses Nicola Sturgeon permission for a fresh vote.

Yesterday Labour’s shadow chancellor John McDonnell rejected the idea of a deal with the first minister on a new referendum in exchange for supporting a minority Labour government.

He told The Times there would be no horse-trading with the nationalists to install Jeremy Corbyn as prime minister.

However, a growing number of senior SNP politicians, including some ministers, believe Westminster’s refusal to grant a section 30 order to Holyrood to hold another referendum would not be enough to prevent secession.

With the possibility of Theresa May’s government collapsing over Brexit, SNP insiders suggest the party’s next UK general election manifesto will contain a commitment to another referendum.

Party insiders say if another referendum were to be blocked, then winning a large majority of Scottish seats, or Scottish votes in a Westminster election, may suffice as a basis for negotiations.

The SNP won a majority of Scottish seats with under 37% of the vote in last year’s general election, it is possible we could see Scottish independence occurring on a similar or lower threshold than that.

If you consider yourself a Unionist and you voted Leave then it appears you have well and truly soiled the bed, after all warnings about Brexit leading to the breakup of the United Kingdom were also strongly communicated during the referendum campaign.