Archive for the 'Scotland' Category

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How much of Scotland and will still be in SNP hands on June 9th?

Tuesday, May 16th, 2017

DavidL looks at the prospects and the betting

In 2010 Scottish politics look set in some Jurassic age. Not a seat changed hands. Scottish Labour dinosaurs ruled the roost and played on the national stage. In 2015, post referendum, the asteroid struck; an astonishing SNP tsunami, whose power was foreseen by few except Alastair Meeks, swept the SNP to a stunning 56 seats. The old Labour dominance was destroyed forever. What does 2017 hold for us?

We have a few clues. Into the vacuum created by the implosion of SLAB came Ruth Davidson and the Scottish Tories. They finished a creditable second in the Holyrood elections in 2016 depriving Nicola of her majority. They repeated the trick on 4th May taking second place again in the local elections from a Labour party that did not quite implode the way people had been predicting. But FPTP is a sterner test. The SNP remain the dominant party in Scotland vulnerable at the margins but certain to win the vast majority of the Scottish seats.

Where, at the fringes, are they vulnerable? Probably at the fringes of Scotland. The 3 border seats look very likely to go to the Tories. Orkney and Shetland looks nailed on for the Lib Dems with reasonable prospects in Charlie Kennedy’s old seat of Ross, Cromarty and Skye and Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross. The Liberal Democrats are 7/4 in the former and 11/10 with Ladbrokes in the latter, both quite attractive to my mind and a better bet than the favoured East Dunbartonshire where Jo Swinson starts off more than 2,000 behind and yet is favourite or Edinburgh West where the Lib Dems start more than 3,000 behind and yet are 2/5.

Beyond this the sheer scale of the SNP tsunami in 2015 daunts. What should have been marginal seats have huge majorities. In Perth and North Perthshire, for example, the Tories are odds on with Ladbrokes but Pete Wishart sits on a majority of 9,641. This seems an extremely unattractive bet for me at those odds. West Aberdeenshire and Kincardine looks very good for the Tories but 1/7? East Renfrewshire requires the Tories to come from a fairly distant third but again they are odds on. It demonstrates another problem in Scotland with the Unionist vote split between the competing parties. My expectation is that in several cases, notably in Edinburgh, this will result in the SNP coming through the middle and holding on. Bet365 has the SNP at 5/6 for more than 46.5 seats. Much though it pains me that looks a buy to me. My guess is that the Tories will get 6 plus some close seconds, Labour maybe 2 (Edinburgh South and East Lothian being the most likely) and the Lib Dems 3 leaving the SNP on 48. I’d love to be wrong.

DavidL is a long-standing poster on PB



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Caught in the backwash. The SNP subsides and the Conservatives surge

Saturday, April 29th, 2017

Alastair Meeks who accurately predicted the SNP tsunami of 2015 looks at the best Scottish seat bets

In 2010, not a single seat in Scotland changed hands.  Electoral politics north of the border has got a bit more dynamic since then.  2017 will not be as wild as 2015 but the polls suggest a fair amount of movement.

The SNP already have 56 out of the 59 seats that they compete in, so their room for progress is limited. Indeed, the SNP have a job on their hands keeping what they’ve got.  Recent polls suggest that they have fallen back to the lower 40s while the Conservatives are polling something around 28% or so.  Scottish Conservative backers, never a reticent bunch, are getting excited again, this time with some reason.  Not much less than in England, there appears to be a wave election going on – not so much as in 2015 in Scotland, but still substantial.  The polls this month are suggesting a 10 to 12% swing to the Conservatives from the SNP.  Such waves are never distributed evenly and some seats will swing much more heavily than others.  How to pick them?

We have a recent example and I intend to follow it.  In 2015, the SNP didn’t so much have a wave election as a tsunami.  There is a strong correlation between SNP performance in 2015 and its absolute vote share in 2010, at least at the bottom end.  The seats with the ten lowest SNP vote shares in 2010 included all three of the seats that the SNP did not take in 2015 and four of the five most marginal SNP seats for this election.  It seems that we should look to prior vote share rather than swing required.

Using that measure, odds against bets on the Conservatives in Perth & North Perthshire, Moray and perhaps even Angus and Banff & Buchan seem worth considering.  Sure, they’re all already two way marginals but if swing is going to happen somewhere it’s going to happen in areas where the Conservatives are already strong and which are decisively anti-independence. 

If you disagree with me then you need to identify where the apparent Conservative rise is coming from (or conclude that it isn’t happening in reality, which is hard to reconcile with the recent polls).  I may be stereotyping wildly but I can’t picture Glasgow proving fertile territory for them.   If the Conservatives aren’t gaining much traction there, then they must be doing disproportionately well in other areas.

The Conservatives will in all probability hoover up in the Borders and they may take some other outside prospects but the odds now seem too short to me.  One possible exception is East Renfrewshire.  While they start with a relatively low vote share of 22% in 2015, they had tallied 30% in successive elections suggesting that Jim Murphy had got a lot of Conservatives to vote tactically for him.  He’s not standing this time and I expect the Conservatives to return home, bringing some friends with them.  In a very unionist seat, even 8/11 might be fair value.  I’m still not backing them, mind.

The Lib Dems haven’t shown progress in the polls, but hope springs eternal among the Scottish sandalistas.  Just by standing still, they potentially benefit from a swing towards them from the SNP as the SNP high tide subsides a little, while the 2015 election at least clarified which seats the Lib Dems are in best contention for representing the tactical unionist option.  Uniform national swing suggests they might take Dunbartonshire East and Edinburgh West, and you hear persistent murmurs about Fife North East based on their Holyrood performance last year.

While the Lib Dems obviously have good chances in all of these constituencies if they can harvest tactical unionist votes, their prices at present look too short in all of them.  The position is still clearer in Caithness, Sutherland & Easter Ross, where the Lib Dems are 4/6 favourites despite an 11% deficit behind the SNP, few Labour or Conservative voters to squeeze and with their former incumbent unable to stand.  I’m on the 11/10 with the SNP here and feel these odds should be at least the other way around.

All three of the holdouts against the SNP are marginals, but only one looks in serious jeopardy.  In the feverish aftermath of the 2015 election, SNP supporters sought to oust Alistair Carmichael judicially and despite failing to do so, hopes remained high for a while that the SNP could take his seat at the next election.  The moment, however, seems to have passed and while the SNP will try hard to take both Orkney & Shetland and David Mundell’s constituency of Dumfriesshire, Clydesdale and Tweeddale, both seem unlikely to fall, with the unionist majority in each seat now knowing clearly who to back.

The remaining seat, Edinburgh South, also has a clear unionist majority.  However, it also has a Labour MP and Labour have continued their freefall in the polls in Scotland since 2015.  The Conservatives will fancy their chances of taking the seat from third as the replacement unionist party and the SNP could yet slip through the middle.  Betfair Sportsbook prices all three almost identically, with Labour and the Conservatives at 13/8 and the SNP at 8/5.  Given the low prior Conservative vote share in 2015, they seem unlikely winners to me.  If pushed, I’d back Labour.  But I’m staying out of this one.

Alastair Meeks




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New YouGov Scottish poll suggests the Tories could make 7 gains in Scotland

Friday, April 28th, 2017


Graphic – The times

And the LD could triple their Scottish seats

The main General Election polling news overnight has been a YouGov/Times survey of Scotland which suggests that the Conservatives could start to win back some of the seats in Scotland that they held more than a quarter of a century ago.

The Lib Dems could also stage a small recovery tripling the Scottish total to three seats.

Labour, which at GE2010, won 41 of Scotland’s 59 seats, is still projected to be down at just one. It was that Scottish wipeout that was the dominant feature of the 2015 election and enabled the Tories to portray Ed Miliband as being in the pockets of the SNP.

We will get a better idea of opinion in Scotland next Friday when we have the results of the Scottish local elections which were last held in 2012.

Mike Smithson




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PB/Polling Matters podcast on Brexit, Article 50 polling, Scotland and the return of GfK

Thursday, March 30th, 2017

After a momentous day in British politics, Keiran and Rob discuss public opinion on Brexit and  Keiran looks at Scotland’s future with Ipsos Mori Scotland Research Director Mark Diffley. Finally, Keiran talks more about the new GfK political polling that has Corbyn’s approval rating among Brits being as weak as Donald Trump’s. More on that polling (including methodology and data tables here).

The segment on Scotland dominates this week’s episode and is a particularly wide ranging discussion including new information on why the polls are not moving towards Independence at this stage. Keiran and Rob also unveil new Polling Matters / Opinium numbers showing party cross-breaks that might surprise you.

Follow this week’s guests:

@keiranpedley

@robvance

@markdiffley1

How you can help the Podcast

Please vote for the show in the British Podcast Awards for ‘Listeners choice’. Just go here  search for ‘Polling Matters’ and click on the avatar with the graph (not the one by Frank Newport). Shortlisted shows get featured on The Guardian so it really helps grow our audience if we make the cut.



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Don’t get complacent – Scotland’s future in the Union is hanging by a thread.

Sunday, March 19th, 2017

The case for Scottish Independence is full of holes writes Keiran Pedley but that doesn’t mean it won’t happen.

Since Nicola Sturgeon’s bombshell speech last week, where she indicated her intention to ask for a second referendum on Scottish Independence, the conventional wisdom appears to have been on something of a journey. The original reaction was one of panic. This was it. Just as we all feared, Scotland was heading for Independence as a consequence of the Brexit vote. Then Theresa May just said ‘no’. Now was not the time. There was a collective sigh of relief. ‘It’s not as bad as we feared’, the argument went, the SNP have overplayed their hand and this will all backfire on them.

The case against

I acknowledge that those arguing that Scottish Independence won’t happen have a reasonably strong case. First and foremost, Theresa May controls the timing of any vote. She will argue that a second vote will have to wait until after Brexit negotiations are finalised and there isn’t a great deal Nicola Sturgeon can do about it. In theory at least, that means that May can ensure that a future referendum takes place at the most helpful time for a ‘No’ campaign possible. Meanwhile, there is no obvious sign of a surge in support for Scottish Independence right now, nor an immediate desire for another vote on the subject.

Furthermore, it does seem that the ‘No’ side, led by Ruth Davidson, is getting its arguments in early against a ‘Yes’ vote next time.

“We have asked basic questions on things like currency, on things like a central bank, on things like whether we would even rejoin Europe as a full member, and Nicola Sturgeon seems unable to commit to that.” Ruth Davidson

The SNP case for Independence seems to rely on a newly Independent Scotland joining the EU, yet there is some doubt as to whether it would be able to. Meanwhile, Gordon Brown has warned that Scotland’s economy would be destroyed if it was a member of the EU and therefore outside the ‘UK Single Market’ when the rest of the UK is no longer a member.  These issues will be the subject of furious claim and counter-claim but it is reasonable to suggest that the case for Independence is built on shaky ground.

But don’t get complacent – so is the case for ‘No’

Yet all of that is of little comfort to me. Those getting complacent about Scotland’s future in the Union would be wise to think again. Whilst it is true that Theresa May can control the timing of any vote she cannot refuse one forever. A second referendum is coming and the context of that vote is that the UK voted to leave the EU but Scotland voted Remain. That has changed the game. So if the Brexit negotiations go anything other than swimmingly, the SNP will have a stick with which to beat the Independence drum alongside the grievance of a referendum withheld by Westminster. This is before we even touch the problematic dynamics of a future campaign itself. What will the ‘No’ campaign’s message be? Who will be in charge? What will Scottish Labour’s role be? And so on.

In truth, there are arguments for and against why Scottish Independence will ultimately happen or not. It was ever thus. That is not the same as complacently shrugging one’s shoulders and assuming it will all be fine. Just because Scottish opinion leans ‘No’ now does not mean that is fixed. We are about to enter an extremely turbulent time politically. If Theresa May does not emerge with a good Brexit deal – or indeed if she does not emerge with a deal at all – then the case for Scottish Independence will look very different in two years time than it does right now. If you are optimistic about the Union’s future, it is wise to be only cautiously so. The conventional wisdom on this issue seems to have lurched into alarmingly complacent territory and that worries me greatly.

Keiran Pedley

Keiran is the presenter of the PB/Polling Matters podcast and tweets about politics and polling at @keiranpedley

Listen to the latest podcast – on Scottish Independence and Northern Ireland’s future – below




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As we edge towards the enactment of the A50 Bill Nicola has just made Theresa’s task harder

Monday, March 13th, 2017

The political price of hard brexit could be a smaller UK

TMay’s reaction to Sturgeon’s InyRef2 announcement was that the Scottish FM and SNP leader was “playing politics” – a term I generally conclude to mean that what’s been said has been highly effective.

Certainly the suggestions that TMay might defer invoking A50 until the end of the month suggests there’s a need to look again at her strategy and the rhetoric she will deploy when the formal process of extraction is triggered.

On the politics of the Sturgeon move there’s an excellent analysis by the FT’s Janan Ganesh who notes that the short timetable put formard by Sturgeon is one that is “designed to be rejected, giving her, at the very least, a grievance with which to stoke nationalism.” Ganesh goes on

“..She has also earned herself some leverage over the negotiations themselves. Mrs May cannot sign off on hard exit terms without risking the loss of Scotland, three-fifths of whose electorate voted for the EU. Such terms would not just threaten material harm to a small, trading economy, they would communicate England’s hauteur to the smaller nation. But if Mrs May softens her line, she must forgo the right to make external trade deals (to stay in the customs union) or accept free movement (to stay in the single market). The first would be death to her governing vision, the second would be unsurvivable…”

The threat of losing Scotland and thus creating a much smaller UK is a powerful one.

This is going to run.

Mike Smithson




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The opening IndyRef2 odds make it odds-on that it’ll take place and odds-on that Scotland will vote YES

Monday, March 13th, 2017

Lots of activity from the bookies following Nicola Stugeon’s announcement that the SNP is going for a second IndyRef because of the vastly changed circumstances as a result of BREXIT.

The Ladbrokes betting:

Ladbrokes latest betting
Next Independence Referendum
4/6 Before end 2020
11/10 Not before end of 2020
Year of next Independence Referendum
25 2017
7/4 2018
5/2 2019
10 2020
11/10 2021 or later
Result of next Referendum
8/11 YES
11/10 NO
(If held before end 2020)

WILLIAM HILL….

SECOND SCOTTISH INDIE REF BY END 2020..….4/6 Yes; 11/10 No

SECOND SCOTTISH INDIE REF BY END 2024……2/9 Yes; 3/1 No

OUTCOME OF NEXT SCOT INDIE REF BY END 2024.……………..4/6 Yes to Independence; 11/10 No

 

To my mind none of the above odds either way are attractive.

The First Minister hads timed her statement for this critical day as the Article 50 bill gets close to becoming an act thus allowing Theresa May to formally tell Brussels that the UK is leaving .

Mike Smithson




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Opinium: Most of those polled say 2nd Scottish IndyRef ‘not justified’ but only one in three sure of a no vote if one happens

Sunday, March 12th, 2017

With Scottish Independence back on the agenda and Northern Ireland heading for crisis, Keiran Pedley argues that London is far too complacent about the future of the Union.

Following last week’s poll by Ipsos Mori showing an apparent spike in support for Scottish Independence and Jeremy Corbyn’s comments this weekend suggesting that he is ‘fine’ with a second referendum, it feels like a good time to unveil the latest Polling Matters / Opinium survey. Our latest survey focused on UK public opinion on Scottish Independence. It was conducted last weekend (3-7 March) but I held it back to now so as not to clash with the budget last week.

Our first question deals with whether or not another referendum would be justified in the context of the Brexit vote. As you can see, a majority say it would not.

  1. Do you think it is justified or not justified for Scotland to have another Independence referendum following Brexit?
Not justified – the 2014 referendum was “once in a generation” and has settled the issue for the foreseeable future and there should not be another referendum so soon after the last one.

 

51%
Justified -in 2014 many Scots voted to stay in the UK so that they could also stay in the European Union. Brexit is a significant change in circumstances and Scots should be allowed to revisit the question in another referendum.

 

34%
Don’t know 14%

 

Opposition to another referendum is strongest among Conservative voters (77%), Over 65s (74%) and Leave voters (70%). Basically Theresa May’s base. Interestingly, although among a small sample of n=170, Scottish respondents were split on the issue (46% justified, 48% not justified). This reflects a wider trend in other polls where Scots themselves do not seem to be clamouring for another vote. John Curtice explains here that typically just over a third of Scots currently tell pollsters they want another referendum.

Some will look at these numbers and think Unionists have nothing to worry about. I think this is mistaken. Nicola Sturgeon will face a lot of pressure to hold another vote and knows that she may never get more favourable conditions in which to hold one. Meanwhile, Scottish Labour is in disarray and the dynamics of what a ‘No’ campaign would look like in practice are very different to 2014. Granted Ruth Davidson is very popular north of the border but a second Independence referendum would likely be an SNP versus Tory affair. Davidson’s popularity aside I am uneasy about that. Especially considering the ‘don’t go it alone’ argument feels quite hollow in Brexit Britain.

My uneasiness seems to be shared by many Brits. When our survey asked respondents what they thought would happen if another referendum took place only 35% seemed confident Scotland would vote ‘no’. More thought they would vote ‘yes’ (40%) whilst one in four didn’t know (25%). Tory voters think Scotland would vote ‘no’ (55%) but Labour voters think they would vote ‘yes’ (57%).

 

  1. If there was another Scottish Independence referendum, do you think Scotland would vote…
Yes to independence 40%
No to independence 35%
Don’t know 25%

 

At this stage it is worth stressing that UK public opinion remains very committed to the Union. Respondents to our poll were more than twice as likely to say that they would prefer Scotland to vote ‘no’ (48%) than vote ‘yes’ (22%) in another referendum. There was no obvious demographic in support of a ‘yes’ vote either beyond (unsurprisingly) SNP voters.

  1. And what would be your preferred outcome?
I would prefer Scotland to vote ‘Yes’ to Independence 22%
I would prefer Scotland to vote ‘No’ to Independence 48%
No preference 23%
Don’t know 7%

 

UK public – Scottish Independence is unworkable and unnecessary

Our poll also asked whether respondents agreed or disagreed with a series of statements on the subject of Scottish Independence. Looking at the results, we see a clear consensus (67%) that it is ‘better for the UK as a whole if Scotland remained part of the United Kingdom’ whilst 49% disagree that Scotland would be better off financially outside the UK (just 15% agree). A majority (58%) think Scotland ‘gets more out of being in the UK than it puts in’ – a view strongly held by Conservative voters (84%) – whilst the public also think that ‘there is no need for Scottish Independence because Scotland already has its own parliament’ (50% agree, 18% disagree). British public opinion on the subject overall seems part commitment to the Union / part scepticism that Scottish Independence is necessary or viable.

  1. Do you agree or disagree with the following statements related to Scottish Independence?
Statement Agree Disagree Neither
It would be better for the UK as a whole if Scotland remained part of the United Kingdom 67% 8% 25%
Scotland gets more out of being in the UK than it puts in 58% 11% 31%
There is no need for Scottish Independence because Scotland already has its own parliament 50% 18% 32%
Scotland would be financially better off outside the UK 15% 49% 36%

 

Of course, such scepticism is not particularly relevant to the question itself. It will be Scottish public opinion that decides. That’s why I am uneasy that Unionist confidence seems to rest on Theresa May’s refusal to allow another vote. The idea of London ‘forbidding’ Scotland another vote when the Scottish Parliament has a majority for one is dangerous.  If Nicola Sturgeon asks for one, May says no and then delivers a sub-par Brexit deal in the eyes of Scots then I expect the polls to turn in favour of Independence. Scottish Independence may not feel very likely right now but it is a lot more likely than London realises. The key question is whether Nicola Sturgeon will have the guts to call another referendum – and when.

Meanwhile in Northern Ireland  

Finally a brief word on Northern Ireland. On this week’s podcast (see below) I spoke to Mick Fealty of Slugger O’Toole. The situation there feels very precarious with no obvious sign that a power-sharing deal will prove successful. We seem to be heading for a ‘double whammy’ of direct rule from Westminster and a Brexit that raises the prospect of a ‘hard border’ with the Republic. Fortunately, a return to the dark days of the 70s and 80s is unlikely but we must not be complacent about how quickly events can move in the wrong direction there. In any case, with Theresa May dominant in Westminster, it feels that London is far too relaxed about the situation in Scotland and Northern Ireland. Yet a year from now things could be difficult indeed.

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Keiran Pedley is the presented of the Polling Matters podcast and tweets about politics and public opinion at @keiranpedley.

Listen to the latest episode on Northern Ireland, Labour leadership polling and the budget below.

Note on the above poll: Opinium interviewed a nationally representative sample of 2,006 UK adults online between the 3rd and 7th of March, 2017. Tables will be found at http://opinium.co.uk/ early next week.