21 September 2008

Poll Dancing

Those interested in polls and number-crunching will love the PoliticsHome.com Electoral Index, unveiled today - unless they are Labour supporters, I suppose. The survey of 35,000 people in 238 marginal seats forecasts what could be called a "Reverse '97", with eight members of the Cabinet losing their seats, and the Tories picking up a majority of 146.

The poll makes particularly good reading for SNP supporters, particularly with regard to the Glenrothes By-Election:

"Uniquely across Britain, in Scotland our poll shows the Conservatives making almost no progress in the key marginals. Instead the anti-Labour vote had gone solidly behind the SNP, giving them sweeping gains across the country. The 14.5% swing indicated is easily enough to win the SNP target seats we polled and, if repeated in seats with larger Labour majority would give them a further eight gains, including Glenrothes, the location of the forthcoming by-election."

Indeed, the results would be impressive. The Tories would not manage to unseat Alistair Darling, but they would succeed in deposing Europe Minister Jim Murphy in East Renfrewshire, and Peter Duncan would return to the Commons by defeating Russell Brown in East Renfrewshire. And as a further bonus to the party, they would gain Edinburgh South from Nigel Griffiths - who took it from them in 1987. This will come as a blow to the Liberal Democrats, who see this as one of their most logical targets, and almost won the seat in 2005. However, Tory target seats currently in LibDem hands will elude them, as will the SNP-held seats they're chasing. For the SNP's part, they now appear favourites to unseat Work & Pensions Minister Anne McGuire in Stirling - following on from Bruce Crawford's win there last year - and Des Browne, the Scotland Secretary, would also fall. Dundee would become and SNP City at Westminster, as it is at Holyrood, and surprisingly, Aberdeen would as well: Aberdeen North you could see going SNP but South was a different matter - this poll suggests that it is now winnable. Annabelle Ewing would return to the Commons in Ochil & South Perthshire; Calum Cashley might want to start pricing up headed notepaper for Edinburgh North & Leith, while Argyll & Bute would be an SNP gain from the LibDems, just as it was last year. And here's an unexpected result, perhaps the biggest surprise if correct: while Labour would fail to regain Dunfermline & West Fife, the LibDems would not consolidate their By-Election gain - rather, the SNP appear to be ahead in this seat as well.

The findings are extrapolated to other seats:

"If the same swing was repeated beyond the marginals polled the SNP would also gain Glenrothes, Midlothian, Linlithgow and Falkirk East, Lanarck [sic] and Hamilton East, Paisley and Renfrewshire North, Edinburgh East, Ayrshire North and Arran and East Lothian. High profile defeats would include Des Browne, with Alistair Darling hanging on only narrowly."

By my reckoning, that would create an SNP Westminster Group of 23 MPs, exceeding Alex Salmond's target of 20. Labour would fall from 40 seats to 21 - unless Michael Martin stood down, in which case they'd pick up 22 seats. Nevertheless, the fact that they would no longer be the largest party in terms of Scottish seats at Westminster would be a massive psychological blow, perhaps even worse than 2007 as Labour still managed to win more Constituencies then that the SNP did. The LibDems would find themselves with ten seats, a loss of one on 2005, while the Conservatives would have four. Now that would be a clear under-representation considering their likely vote share, but it would still be a huge embarrassment to the party forming the UK Government with such a big majority. There would of course be questions regarding the Tories' mandate in Scotland and it would confirm that the politics of Scotland were now utterly separate and distinct from those in England: a viewpoint that's backed up with the absence of any meaningful Tory advance North of the Border, with seats only going blue as a result of a Labour collapse.

But there's one caveat I wish to raise to all of this. Look at this: "If the same swing was repeated..."

I have one simple rule: never trust anyone who doesn't know how to use the Subjunctive. It's "If the same swing were repeated..."

We'll find out how good their polling is in 2010. But for now, we know that their grammar's awful.


ASwaS said...

They also put Mull, Coll and Tiree in the wrong constituency.

Will said...

And a C in Lanark.