Archive for the 'Scotland' Category


When Corbyn first became leader he said winning back Scotland would be a priority, SLAB are now in third place, 12% behind the Tories

Sunday, February 5th, 2017

From the graphic above, you can see how Scottish Labour have been eclipsed, a little over three years ago, Labour were polling 45%, now they have a third of that support, most of the collapse happened long before Corbyn became leader. I wonder if the Scottish precedent is playing on the minds of Labour MPs in England and Wales who find themselves on the wrong side of events after another referendum.

Ruth Davidson must be chuffed to see her party now essentially have swapped places with Labour after the 2015 general election. It is astonishing to think when David Cameron became Tory leader, the Tories had forty fewer Scottish MPs than Labour, now it appears very likely that at the next general election the Tories will have more Scottish MPs than Labour.

The SNP will also be quite delighted with this polling, we are now nearly a decade into the SNP being in power in Holyrood, and they are only 3% down on their 2015 general election score, this is usually the time when parties in government become unpopular, so to be only 3% down is impressive.

Hat-tip to Alastair Meeks for alerting me to this polling





TMay moves to negative ratings in Scotland while fewer Scots now back independence than at the 2014 referendum

Wednesday, November 30th, 2016


Given the huge importance of Scotland as the UK moves towards BREXIT there’s a new Scotland only YouGov poll – the first since August.

These are some of the key points:-

The rise and rise of Scots CON leader Ruth Davidson continues

Scottish Greens now into double figures on Regional List voting


Nicola Sturgeon should go for a second Independence referendum says Alastair Meeks

Wednesday, October 19th, 2016

A year ago I wrote about why Nicola Sturgeon was so chary of committing to a second referendum on independence.  With the SNP hegemonic in Scotland but with Yes continuing to lag in the polls, I formed the view that Nicola Sturgeon would probably not seek an unequivocal mandate for a second referendum in the SNP’s manifesto for the 2016 Holyrood elections for fear of losing one.  So it proved.

What has happened since then?  Lots.  First, the SNP surprisingly* failed to secure another overall majority at Holyrood.  Secondly, Britain voted to leave the EU, against the wishes of the majority of Scots.  Having campaigned for an independent Scotland in Europe for more than a quarter of a century, the SNP are facing both halves of that proposition being dismantled in the next couple of years if nothing is done.

Awkwardly, despite an initial spasm of polling support for Scotland going it alone in the wake of the Brexit referendum, that has now subsided and on current polling a second independence vote would also be lost.  This has led many to suggest that the SNP should continue to stall on the idea.  Indeed, Nicola Sturgeon’s own behaviour has pointed in that direction, announcing the release of a draft bill to hold a second referendum but hinting that she would only hold one if Britain goes for hard Brexit.

Why is the independence cause not doing better, given that the SNP remain dominant in Scottish politics and the rest of the UK is going in a different direction?  The standard answer is that it’s the economy.  With the price of oil in the doldrums, the 2014 economic case has been much impaired.  Meanwhile, Brexit makes it harder for an independent Scotland to maintain unimpaired its trading links with the rest of the UK: if it sticks with the EU, it could easily find itself on the other side of an economic Hadrian’s Wall in the event of hard Brexit.  Received wisdom reckons that the Scots would not take such a risk and that a second defeat for a referendum would make the subject truly untouchable for many years to come.  On that basis, it is reasoned, Nicola Sturgeon should continue to stall about calling a referendum.

Received wisdom on this occasion has the strategy 100% wrong.  Nicola Sturgeon should now be pursuing a referendum as aggressively as she can.  She has nothing to lose.

It is absolutely true that the economic case for independence has not developed to the SNP’s advantage.  The important point which is routinely missed is that there is no reason now to believe that there will be a more opportune time in the future.  And right now there are compensating advantages to holding a referendum that will never be repeated.

If a referendum on Scottish independence is held at a time when Brexit remains unsettled, Yes campaigners would have the unrepeatable advantage that there really would be no status quo -either future, whether Scotland in Europe or Scotland in post-Brexit Britain, would involve substantial disruption for the Scots.  Why not, Yes could reasonably argue, get everything out of the way in one go?

Moreover, Yes could seek to piggyback off Brexit.  If the English could pluck up the nerve to Leave, why shouldn’t the Scots now say Yes?  After all, Remain warned of economic disruption, which Leave voters nonchalantly – perhaps too nonchalantly – shrugged off.  Shouldn’t the Scots show similar backbone?

The power to call such a referendum is, strictly speaking, one for Westminster.  It would be presentationally highly unattractive for Theresa May to be seen as blocking the opportunity for the Scots to have their say in very changed circumstances.  The SNP would gleefully present this as a Scotland vs Westminster battle and in all probability a lot of Scots would agree.

A Scottish independence referendum could find Theresa May doing the splits in her negotiations with the rest of the EU and the campaigning for the union.  She might simultaneously be seeking to negotiate soft Brexit with Brussels while warning of the effects of hard Brexit in Scotland.  She would struggle to keep her credibility.

None of this means that Yes would win.  Yes might well lose again.  But if it was going to lose in 2019, it was going to lose in 2023 as well.  Meanwhile, a Scottish referendum campaign would give all of Nicola Sturgeon’s Westminster opponents the most almighty headache.  You should always do what your opponents least want you to do.   On that basis, Nicola Sturgeon should go for it.

Alastair Meeks

*Actually, I tipped this outcome at 8/1 on the morning of the election.


Suddenly independence starts to look a much scarier prospect to the Scots. BREXIT could be keeping the union together

Monday, September 19th, 2016

It’s not only the oil prices but so much more appears undercertain

Survation’s latest Scottish poll, like some other similar surveys, have found that the mood is moving away from independence.

The normal response is to blame the oil price but I wonder if it goes deeper than that. BREXIT has added so many new uncertainties that the idea of adding independence into the mixture just seems too much at this time.

The widespread assumption pre-June 23rd was that UK voting LEAVE but Scotland going REMAIN would increase the pressure for independence. In fact the opposite appears to be the case.

Could it be that BREXIT is actually holding the UK together?

Mike Smithson


YouGov poll finds the SNP regaining their majority at Holyrood but Scots don’t want a second indyref or to leave the UK

Friday, September 2nd, 2016

A good poll for the SNP but not for Scottish Independence

This morning The Times published a poll conducted by YouGov, the good news for the SNP, as YouGov notes

The survey also looks at Holyrood voting intention for the first time since the Scottish Parliament elections in May, which provides better news for the SNP. At 52%, the party can boast a five point improvement on the 2016 Holyrood elections. The Conservative party has firmly secured its position as the second place party in Scotland, now standing five points ahead of the Labour party. Labour has suffered a seven point decline on its vote share in the 2016 elections, polling at just 16%, whilst the Conservatives are down one point at 21%. (These figures refer to the constituency vote.)

When you put the figures through the seat predictors, the SNP would regain the majority they lost in May’s elections, as evidenced in the tweet atop this thread, so far so good for the SNP, however when it comes to the SNP’s raison d’être, YouGov finds

The appetite for a second referendum will disappoint the SNP, however, with YouGov’s latest Scotland survey finding just 37% of Scots backing a second independence referendum and 50% opposed. Should they be successful in forcing another vote, the results would be almost identical to last time, with 54% of Scots voting against independence and 46% in favour.

With The Times reporting

Damningly, 49 per cent of all voters think that Scotland benefits economically from being part of the UK, while only 23 per cent think it is harmed. An analysis of the results shows that not even a majority of those who voted “yes” in 2014 believe that Scotland is hurt financially by the Union, while 18 per cent think it benefits.

Whilst these figures are poor for the SNP, they may change if oil revenues increase and/or depending on the Brexit deal Mrs May and her government achieves. My own view is that that Nicola Sturgeon and her fellow grand fromages at the SNP will only call a second independence referendum if they are confident of winning it, they know losing a second independence referendum in a short period really will settle it for a generation. I think calling a referendum that is vetoed by Westminster might be the best option for the SNP and Nicola Sturgeon in the short if the figures remain like this.

Probably the most interesting/amusing/alarming thing from this poll, depending on your viewpoint, is the leadership figures, Ruth Davidson is the best performing Scottish leader, although her lead over the First Minister is just 1%.

But for Labour, where to start, Theresa May has a positive rating, and is better performing by 55% and 30% (yes fifty five percent and thirty percent) than Jeremy Corbyn and Kezia Dugdale, leaders of the Labour Party and the Scottish Labour Party respectively.

Whilst there are a couple of caveats to these figures, the first one is that we’re at the apotheosis of Theresa May’s honeymoon, and there’s a high don’t know figure, these scores are staggering considering the state of the Scottish Tories and the dominance of Labour in Scotland a few years ago, these figures make a mockery of Jeremy Corbyn’s plans from last year to make a Scottish recovery the top of his priorities.

The full YouGov data is available is here.



Today’s 2nd terrible poll for Corbyn: YouGov ratings from its latest Scotland survey

Tuesday, July 26th, 2016

Just 19% of Scots LAB GE2015 voters say Corbyn doing well, 66% badly

Remember in those by-gone days in September 2015 when Mr. Corbyn pulled off his sensational leadership victory? Remember what he said would be his biggest initial priority? That was going to be Scotland where five months earlier Labour had slumped from 40 seats in the general election to just one – the same as the LD and CON.

This was absolutely awful for the party and raised serious doubts over whether at Westminster they could ever be a party of government again. Corbyn, quite rightly I’d suggest, said Scotland would be a major early priority.

Well LAB got hammered in the May 2016 Holyrood elections and now we have a YouGov Scotland poll which focuses almost entirety on leader ratings.

There are some reasonable numbers for Sturgeon, May and Ruth Davidson but the finding over the UK LAB leader, Mr. Corbyn are appalling, particularly amongst those who voted for the party at GE2015.

I don’t recall ever seeing as bad ratings figures for a party leader from party supporters.

All this will add to the pressure as he strives to hold onto his job.

Mike Smithson


A proxy bet for a Leave victory

Wednesday, June 8th, 2016


Brexit might kill Scottish nationalism stone dead the same way devolution did.

Sometimes when you think the value on a particular bet has gone, and you have to look for a proxy bet elsewhere, with with the best price on Leave winning at 13/5 perhaps the backing the 5/1 on the next Scottish independence referendum happening before 2020 could be a good proxy bet.

Alex Salmond and Nicola Sturgeon have been saying on several occasions, “Scottish independence would happen within two years if Scotland was at risk of being ‘dragged’ out of the EU.” My position in the past has been Scotland won’t vote for independence whilst the price of oil is substantially lower than the Scottish Government forecast it would be, however Brexit might ameliorate the risk of independence for Scots. As most Brexiteers seem to acknowledge a short term hit in the event of Brexit, thus Scottish independence would seem less riskier to Scots than it normally would.

Whilst I’m no fan of The SNP’s raison d’être, I do admire the abilities and talents of many atop The SNP, I can see Alex Salmond and Nicola Sturgeon exploiting any political sclerosis at Westminster in the event of Brexit to further the cause of Scottish independence.

I’m going to back the 5/1 Ladbrokes are offering, but I’m still debating the 10/1 on Scotland becoming independent by 2020, I’d probably need longer odds, but some PBers might see value in it.



Following the SNPs loss of its Holyrood majority last week ex-party boss Salmond says the voting system unfair

Wednesday, May 11th, 2016

This from a party that got 56 of Scotland 59 Westminster seats last year on 50% of the vote