Panelbase, 1st-5th June 2020

Scotland’s most prolific pollster, Panelbase, is back back back again. With this being their 15th Scottish Parliament poll (out of 26) since Ballot Box Scotland launched, they’ve provided a whopping 57% of the total. As ever, I’m torn between being glad there’s semi-regular polling and a wish for some other pollsters to be commissioned! They also take the longest to make tables available, which can be frustrating on my end… Anyway, this one follows exactly a month after their last, covering the 1st to the 5th of June.

Those late-posting tables proved (for the first time since BBS launched) critical! The full voting intention tables for May’s poll were only just made available in June, and showed slight errors in what had been publicly reported for the Greens and Lib Dems in the list vote. The analysis post for that poll has been updated, as have the relevant figures for changes versus that poll here.

Display format;

Holyrood Voting Intention and Projection (Tracker)

Regional;

  • SNP – 48% (nc / +6)
  • Conservative – 19% (-3 / -4)
  • Labour – 16% (+1 / -3)
  • Liberal Democrat – 8% (+2 / +3)
  • Green – 7% (nc / nc)

The most notable figure in this poll is that sizeable Conservative dip, which is in line with polling trends across the UK in the past couple of weeks. Both the most recent Welsh Parliament poll and a slew of GB-wide Westminster polls have seen them lose some ground. In a Scottish context this then gives someone else a turn on the “worst polling figure since 2016” carousel, though jointly with a poll in each of 2018 and 2019.

On the other end of the scale, a small bounceback for the Lib Dems sees them leapfrog the Greens who are stood still versus last month. Labour continue a slow creep back upwards that still leaves them below their 2016 figure and indeed their record low result in December’s UK General Election. The SNP remain static on a third successive 48% with Panelbase.

Constituency;

  • SNP – 53% (nc / +6)
  • Conservative – 21% (-2 / -1)
  • Labour – 16% (+1 / -7)
  • Liberal Democrat – 6% (+1 / -2)
  • Green – 3% (nc / +2)

There’s a very similar pattern to the constituency vote, as you’d expect. The Conservative figure here isn’t their worst, as they’ve polled 20% a couple of times since 2016 and 21% has been quite a common figure. Modest recoveries for Labour and the Lib Dems again here, which lifts the latter above a joint-worst figure in last month’s poll.

If we do the usual projection into seats, it might look like;

  • SNP – 73 (nc / +10)
  • Conservative – 24 (-5 / -7)
  • Labour – 19 (+2 / -5)
  • Liberal Democrat – 8 (+3 / +3)
  • Green – 5 (nc / -1)

As in the three other Panelbase polls this year, the SNP come out with an absolute majority. Given they are polling stronger than their majority-delivering 2011 figures, that shouldn’t be a surprise. The mix of highs and lows here helps contribute to a bit of overhang, which is how the Greens are marginally up versus 2016 but drop a seat overall whilst swapping their second Lothian MSP for one in the North East. FPTP projection caveats in mind, it’s remarkable that this has almost the entire mainland SNP yellow. I reckon even at 32% behind the Conservatives might still hold onto the other border seats in an actual election, but this scenario shouldn’t be written off whilst the SNP remain so dominant.

Westminster Voting Intention (Tracker)

  • SNP – 51% (+1 / +6)
  • Conservative – 21% (-5 / -4)
  • Labour – 19% (+2 / nc)
  • Liberal Democrat – 6% (+1 / -4)
  • Green – 2% (nc / +1)

For the UK Parliament there’s an even bigger dip for the Conservatives, shedding a whole 5% in the past month. Almost everyone else gains at their expense, with the SNP exceeding even their 2015 high water mark.

Constitutional (Independence Tracker)

Usual Independence Question;

  • Yes – 48% (+2)
  • No – 45% (-1)
  • Don’t Know – 8% (+1)

Where the last poll was such a precise tie that the tables showed exactly the same number of respondents for Yes and No, this time a bump has put the Pro-Independence side in the lead, albeit still without a majority given the Don’t Know figures. (The swing figures this time do look a bit odd – that’s just an effect of rounding.)

Excluding Don’t Knows;

  • Yes – 52% (+2 / +7)
  • No – 48% (-2 / -7)

When we take those out, we can say hello to our cursed old friend, the 52-48 split. Although it remains very narrow, within the margin of error, and this is an arbitrary measure, we’re now at a point where Yes has a growing lead when averaging out the last five polls. We’ve had six polls on Independence so far this year, three with narrow leads for Independence, two ties, and one with a narrow lead for the Union. Scotland is still a long way from a clearly settled view on the big constitutional question, but the trend this year has been to tip the slender majority for Independence for the first time since the immediate aftermath of the 2016 EU Referendum.

There’s also a set of Constitution-Coronavirus double-whammy questions. The first was whether the First Minister and Scottish Government’s handling of the crisis made people more or less confident that an Independent Scotland would be well governed;

  • More Confident – 59%
  • Less Confident – 22%
  • Don’t Know – 18%

There was then a similar question about the Prime Minister and UK Government and whether people were more or less convinced about Scotland being safer as part of the UK;

  • Less Convinced – 59%
  • More Convinced – 20%
  • Don’t Know – 21%

Not really surprising that those questions end up with roughly mirror-image responses, despite slight differences in wording. There’s then a question that follows on from those two about whether Scots would be more or less safe if the lockdown related decisions the UK Government has been taken were fully transferred to the Scottish Government

  • More Safe – 58%
  • Less Safe – 21%
  • Don’t Know – 21%

Very similar figures again here – presumably, people who’re relatively confident in the Scottish Government’s handling of the crisis versus the UK Government’s handling are all also inclined to think additional lockdown decision making powers should therefore be exercised by the Scottish Government.

What is notable amongst these is that whereas only 48% of respondents stated their intention to vote Yes to Independence, 59% were more confident about Independence as a result of the Scottish Government’s handling of the Coronavirus crisis. As the UK Government can attest, opinion on how well the Government has been handling the pandemic can change very quickly indeed, so I would advise both sides of the constitutional divide not to read too much into this for now, but if that broad attitude holds it may lead to some movement further down the line.

Hypotheticals

I’ve been adding the output from my alternative Scandinavian Style Model to these posts for a good while now, but this poll finally broke the model as it was. An initial pass-through of the figures, which had the above-threshold non-SNP vote at 50% versus the SNP’s 48%, nonetheless gave the SNP a majority. Given the whole purpose of this reform is to get close to maximum proportionality, that wasn’t good! I’ve therefore replaced D’Hondt with Sainte-Laguë for the directly-elected seats, which then restores the intended proportionality.

(changes vs AMS projection / vs last poll);

  • SNP – 63 (-10 / nc)
  • Conservative – 25 (+1 / -4)
  • Labour – 21 (+2 / +1)
  • Liberal Democrat – 11 (+3 / +3)
  • Green – 9 (+4 / nc)

The other wee bit of fun is to compare a range of different tweaks and reforms to the Scottish Parliament electoral system, almost all of which are more proportional than the current system, but mostly not as radical as complete replacement of the system.

Although I remain resistant to projecting pure-FPTP elections (as outlined here), the final hypothetical is to envision UK Parliament Elections that also use that Scandinavian-style system rather than an undemocratic embarrassment. Given the projections others have been doing of the Westminster figures here come out with the SNP on 58 of 59 seats, you’d hope the problems with FPTP remain glaringly obvious. (changes vs last poll)

  • SNP – 31 (+1)
  • Conservative – 13 (-3)
  • Labour – 11 (+1)
  • Liberal Democrat – 4 (+1)

The SNP do come out with a majority of seats in the Westminster version of this system, as they should with a majority of the vote. I don’t want to labour the point (that’s a lie, of course I do), but the idea anyone with a genuine belief in democracy can look at this in comparison to chatter about the SNP winning 58 of 59 seats and decide “yeah, the bit where there’s almost no representation for anyone else is the best system” absolutely blows my mind.

4 Comments

  1. Re your last para that ” ..almost no representation for anyone else is the best system”. Some may be critical of this comment. However, in this so-called democracy where one party owns all the means of distribution of news and comment either via it’s mebership ownership or has the corporate legal oversight, coupled with the in-built deficiencies in the legal system which purports to oversee democracy, there should be no room for those who are totally committed to lying in order to achieve their political aims and objectives.

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