Tuesday, 17 March 2009

Polls polls polls...

It seems that the blogosphere has been getting its collective knickers in a knot over several polls published in the last few days.

You will no doubt have seen the figures from this Sunday Times/ YouGov poll elsewhere (Jeff, Yousuf) but here's the base figures anyway:

Westminster (Scotland) Voting intention:
LAB - 37% SNP - 27% CON - 20% LD - 11%

Scottish Parliament (Constituency) Voting intention:
SNP - 35% LAB - 24% CON - 14% LD - 12%

Scottish Parliament (Regional) Voting intention:
LAB - 32% SNP - 30% CON - 15%
LD - 11% GREEN - 5% OTHER - 7%

Sample size - 1,380.

Which is interesting, as it suggests that Labour might have some sort of recovery going. If this were the case, it would probably be reflected in other polls on the go at the moment...

Maybe, like this Ipsos-Mori poll which, on a UK level gives the following voting intentions:

CON - 42% (-4 since last poll)
LAB - 32% (+6)
LD - 14% (-3%)

Which is... a staggering 10 point swing to Labour. So... is everything now rosy (as opposed to a wilting rose) in the Labour garden?

Well, I'd suggest not. At least, not yet - though these numbers do suggest that the next election is not a shoe-in just yet for PM-in-waiting Cameron. For while the numbers are pretty good - there are a couple of caveats. At a UK level, David Cameron has just returned from bereavement leave which took him out of the public eye for awhile and allowed Gordon Brown to make headlines unchallenged (which also suggests a weakness of the Tory front bench - are they a one-man band?). Equally, in Scotland, Labour's numbers have been shored up without any real action to back them up (which, I guess, if you were Labour-inclined, you'd see as a good thing - when action starts, the numbers will go up even more, right?).

I think there are two factors at play here. One, the UK Labour Government has had its trough, its low point, and is recovering from that steadily if not remarkably. Two, in Scotland, the SNP's honeymoon - as portrayed across the media - appears to be at an end. Things are starting to get tougher, positive editorials even harder to come by than they were - and Labour are (slowly) learning how to be an opposition party again.

There is still plenty of time for Labour's numbers at both a UK & Scotland level to slump again, but I think there is one thing for sure at the moment, and that is that the next UK election, whenever it is called, will not be the blowout Tory victory once expected.


PJ 17 March 2009 at 17:06  

Perhaps another factor influencing Scottish voting intentions could be the recent publicity generated by the Labour and LibDem conferences. Whilst there were the usual (and somewhat predictable) levels of attacks directed at the SNP, on the whole Labour and the LibDems seemed to have re-energised themselves and grabbed a fair few positive headlines.

The SNP conference next month will be a prime opportunity to do likewise. It'd be interesting to see if it works in the SNP's favour, in terms of voting intention polls, to be able to respond to the previous conferences that have effectively set a stage for them.

If that were true then who knows, maybe Scottish Conservatives will have the last laugh in May?

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