Friday, 11 April 2008

Westminster Poll

While the focus in Scotland tends to be on (a limited number of) Scottish polls - if you look elsewhere on the blogosphere this week you'll find various reports - I thought I'd look at the wider picture of a UK General Election (and they say Nats are narrow-minded!). Might just be that I (like Anseo, Jeff & Aswas) am an electoral geek or because it is the last day of recess and it is so unbelievably quiet but this poll caught my interest last week.

According to this ICM poll for last week's Sunday Telegraph, the Tories would comfortably hold a majority of more than 40 seats.

Conservative: 43% - 349 seats
Labour: 32% - 242 seats
Liberal Democrat: 18% - 30 seats
Others: 7% - 29 seats

A couple of questions for me on that. Obviously those figures are for the whole of the UK, making it difficult to draw from that any figures for Scotland. But given YouGov has the SNP on 31% in Scotland - suggesting anywhere between 15 and 23 seats - a sizeable portion of that "Others" vote must be for the Nats. Equally, the same poll found 65% of those polled in Scotland wanted a referendum on independence for Scotland.

What does that mean? Well, I'd suggest that a Conservative Government at Westminster would not be any more willing to allow a referendum on independence than the current Labour Government. However, I'm from the generation that, when discussing future constitutional questions after devolution at university (graduating in 2006 - pre-SNP Govt!) the suggestion was that conflict between the Scottish Parliament and the UK Parliament would be exacerbated if the Tories took power at Westminster. Now though - given the tacit backing the Scottish Tories have given the SNP Government on the budget and other issues - I'm not so sure.

Of course, this subject has been debated before in a number of place - and pretty much rubished the idea of a Nat-Tory coalition. But these new figures do not require such an alliance, given they would see the Tories with a majority at Westminster. But - given the inherent loathing for the Tories in Scotland - would that then have an impact on support for a referendum on independence, and ultimately, for independence itself? We'd have to wait to see how well the party did when they came to power, but I'd suggest the answer to that is yes. But given that election is probably, at the very least, a year to 18 months away, much will change in that period - including those poll numbers.

And maybe even, according to the Telegraph article, the electoral system. Wouldn't that be a turn-up?


Scottish Toryboy 11 April 2008 at 12:00  

inherent loathing for the Tories in Scotland

I think theres a bit of a shift in that but probably take a few elections for the perception to be changed that much.

Malc 11 April 2008 at 12:31  

Agreed. Indeed and I think that the memories of Thatcher are beginning to fade - certainly all I remember is her getting punted out of 10 Downing Street. But then, I was 6 at the time...

Incidentally, do you have a colleague in Wales (Welsh Toryboyo perhaps) who might indicate how well the Tories are fighting back there? As it is only the "Celtic fringe" which is keeping Labour in power, the Tories will need to crack Scotland and Wales for these figures to be anywhere near accurate!

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