BMG, 16th – 19th of March 2021

Keep tabs on all the latest polling, articles and information ahead of the 2021 Scottish Parliament election in the Ballot Box Scotland Holyrood Hub!

Pollsters are really spoiling us at the moment, because after we got our first Opinium poll last week, this week we’ve got one from BMG who are… almost new. They have previously done a Holyrood poll in this session, but it was way back in autumn 2016! Although that does mean there are changes since last poll, we’re really just going to talk about how it compares to the last election.

Forget two buses coming along at once, we’ve actually ended up with three – and two of them are on the same route. There’s another Survation which, of course, has fieldwork that finished before this one did, but which has been published afterwards. The analysis pieces will be out of sync as it’s too late for me to pull this one now!

Display format for this post:

  • Party/Option – Vote% (Change vs last poll by agency 28th of September – 4th of October 2016 / vs last election or referendum)

Regional Vote

SNP ~ 42% (-1 / nc)
Conservative ~ 22% (+2 / -1)
Labour ~ 17% (+1 / -2)
Green ~ 8% (nc / +1)
Liberal Democrat ~ 8% (+1 / +3)
Reform UK ~ 1% (+1 / +1)

For the all-important regional list, the SNP are effectively where they were at the last election, whilst the Conservatives and Labour are down slightly. It’s the two smaller parties, the Greens and Lib Dems, who would benefit as a result, tying on 8% of the vote.

If we look at this relative to other pollsters, the SNP are about in the middle of their range of polling as are the Conservatives and Greens. Labour meanwhile are on the lower end of their polling, and Lib Dems on the higher.

Constituency Vote

SNP ~ 48% (-3 / +1)
Conservative ~ 21% (nc / -1)
Labour ~ 20% (+2 / -3)
Liberal Democrat ~ 8% (+1 / nc)

In the Constituencies the SNP are up slightly, again placing them in what I’d say is the mid-range of their recent polling. Both the Conservatives and Labour would be down compared to 2016, with the former slightly lower and the latter higher than their polling average. Last but not least, this means BMG join Survation on the upper end of Lib Dem constituency polling.

Seat Projection

Please see this page for how projections work and important caveats.

SNP ~ 66 (-4 / +3)
Conservative ~ 26 (+1 / -5)
Labour ~ 19 (nc / -5)
Green ~ 10 (+1 / +4)
Liberal Democrat ~ 8 (+2 / +3)

After three polls in a row that punctured the SNP’s streak of projected majorities, this squeaks them narrowly back into that position. I have to say that by this point if I was a betting man I’d be expecting them to fall on the minority side, but there’s still six weeks of the campaign to go.

This poll is also another useful example of how AMS isn’t a fully proportional system, with the Greens winning more seats than the Lib Dems despite being equal on votes. That’s basically down to the Greens having a slightly more even vote spread which tips more seats into their column faster than for the more widely spread Lib Dems.

Changes here are versus the 2019 Election.

SNP ~ 47% (+2)
Conservative ~ 21% (-4)
Labour ~ 19% (nc)
Liberal Democrat ~ 7% (-3)
Green ~ 3% (+2)
Reform UK ~ 1% (nc)

I complained a short while ago that basically only Survation were doing the Westminster side of things, and then not only did YouGov make sure to fill that gap, both Opinium and BMG did so as well. That’s given us a much nicer distribution to even out some of the individual house effects.

With the SNP up a little bit and the Conservatives and Lib Dems down, this is the kind of result that might tip a few seats into the SNP’s column.

And changes here are versus the 7th – 11th of April 2017 – love a mix’n’match comparison in a poll post!

Standard Question

Yes ~ 49% (+6)
No ~ 46% (+1)
Don't Know ~ 5% (-7)

This is the second poll in a row that puts Independence ahead – someone I follow on my personal account had a little gag I enjoyed about how the SNP’s official Independence campaign twitter account was restarting the “in a row” counter every time. 

Anyway, yes, Yes is ahead, but we’re still in margin of error territory here. What’s perhaps notable about this poll is a very low level of Don’t Knows, meaning BMG respondents are amongst the most decisive people in Scotland.

Excluding Don't Knows

Yes ~ 52% (+4 / +7)
No ~ 48% (-4 / -7)

Take out the relatively minimal Don’t Knows and we get the classic, and cursed, 52-48 split. Given the two Independence leaning polls follow three* Union leaning polls and two ties, I think we can say that for the time being we’ve hit a petty even split between the two sides. 

(* it was two when I first drafted this so it all flowed real neat, and then that bloody second Survation came along and ruined my symmetry. Will no one think of the nerds when timing poll data releases?)

Council Area Projection

Please see this page for how projections work and important caveats.

On a simple Uniform Swing versus 2014, this might put a total of 15 Councils in the No column, a decrease from 28 in 2014. Yes could be on 17, up from 4 at the referendum.

Other Independence Questions

If you wondered whether they might also ask one of those quite common “should there be a referendum” questions, well, here we are! This one is framed as whether the UK government should allow a referendum in the next five years if the SNP win a majority of seats:

  • Should ~ 46%
  • Should not ~ 43%
  • Don’t Know ~ 11%

So a slight plurality for people who would want a referendum in the next Holyrood session if the SNP had a majority. They didn’t ask whether voters felt the same about a Pro-Independence majority between the SNP and Greens which some other agencies have asked about, so that’s a mystery on the BMG front.


As ever, the last little bit of analysis concerns those hypothetical and more proportional voting systems that I have a bee in my bonnet about here at BBS. The fact Westminster uses pure FPTP is an affront to democracy, and though Holyrood fares far better, AMS is still deeply imperfect. The examples here simply transpose the poll findings onto more proportional voting systems – the reality is that different systems would of course result in different voter behaviour.

Changes here are vs AMS / vs same projection for the last poll.

SNP ~ 55 (-11 / -2)
Conservative ~ 29 (+3 / +3)
Labour ~ 23 (+4 / +2)
Green ~ 11 (+1 / -1)
Liberal Democrat ~ 11 (+3 / +2)

As ever, a more proportional system means fewer SNP seats and more for everyone else. Whereas AMS had a narrow 66:63 majority for the SNP, here that’s the balance for the pro-Independence versus pro-Union parties. 

Scandinavian Style Westminster

Changes here are only versus the same projection on the last poll, given my aversion to doing projections on pure FPTP.

SNP - 28 (+1)
Conservative - 13 (-2)
Labour - 12 (+1)
Liberal Democrat - 4 (-2)
Green ~ 2 (+2)

Westminster would be even more radically different under this model, with the SNP coming in a bit below a majority of the seats here, as opposed to the steamrollering you might expect under FPTP.

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