We’re getting into the swing of things with Redfield & Wilton’s monthly Scottish Tracker, which is now in its fourth edition (link to tables). It’s still often finding notably different things at Holyrood from other pollsters, but it’s slightly more normal feeling than their second one, so I’m more comfortable it’s settling into a useful entry. That’s also because it serves as a useful counterbalance to Ipsos, who differ from the rest of the pack in the opposite direction.
The previous Redfield & Wilton covered the 30th of April – 2nd of May 2023. Changes are shown as (vs that poll / vs last election).
The last entry in this tracker was hands-down the most dramatic poll since the SNP entered government in 2007, as it was their worst ever polled share on the list, and the first time since the referendum that they’d come second to Labour. Although they remain on the same stunning low of 25%, Labour have dropped back a couple of points and so the two sit equal this time. That’s a margin of error movement though, as is the seemingly counterbalancing uptick of a point for each of the Greens, Alba and Reform UK. However, that does put the Greens on a joint-record for their highest polled figure ever.
As another little aside on a Redfield & Wilton poll, I’d started modifying my 5-poll average tracker so it only contained one of theirs at a time in large part because they were finding weird Lib Dem figures. They’ve now seemingly settled into strong-but-normalish territory for that party, and it’s now effectively the SNP and Greens this policy is stabilising. At the moment, Redfield & Wilton are the strongest Green pollster and by far the weakest SNP, so including multiples from them in the average would, in my view, artificially inflate the Green estimate, whilst overly deflating the SNP’s.
Labour hadn’t managed to crack the constituency vote last poll however, and here they have also lost ground. That puts the SNP much more comfortably ahead, though still not tremendously comfortable overall. It’s the Conservatives benefitting on this side of things, which actually puts them much closer on this vote to their 2021 result than is the case on the list. That’s not the right way round for them in overall seat terms, but it will have other consequences they wouldn’t necessarily mind.
Projecting that into seats might give us something like this:
More of a constituency vote advantage for the SNP here helps open up a decent seat lead over Labour (via overhang) despite tying on the actually proportional vote, with Labour projected to win only around half as many constituencies as in the previous R&W. What keeps the SNP from clawing back a further advantage is that swing towards the Conservatives on the constituency vote. The overall effect is a map that’s less red and more blue than in the last poll, even though the Conservatives don’t actually gain any more seats overall.
Note too that the First Minister might rather wish his party did a little worse in Glasgow constituencies, as this time around he would lose his seat with no counterbalancing list seat to make up for it. On the other hand, the Greens project to a victory in Kelvin (a seat which may cease to exist, they’ll be disappointed to be reminded), and in fact this is the second poll in a row to suggest further growth that gives them the biggest haul of MSPs they’ve ever projected to in their history. Nonetheless, the current government falls far short of a majority with just 58 seats to 71 for the opposition.
One other final thing here worth comparing with the last poll. I’d mentioned then the “Ampelkoalition”, a Labour (red), Green (… green, obviously) and Lib Dem (amber) coalition in the vein of the current German Government. The last poll gave that arrangement a majority of 67 seats, though the likelihood it could ever actually be formed seems slim. This time around that wouldn’t even be an option, as it only tallies up to 64 seats versus 65 for the SNP and Conservatives.
Westminster is the only part of the poll where there’s movement for the SNP, regaining a couple of percent. The Conservatives see similar growth, which means it’s again Labour losing the ground here. A 9% lead looks rather more comfortable for the SNP compared to some other recent polls, though still within the single-digits “danger zone” for them that starts tipping a whole bunch of constituencies Labour’s way.
With Labour down across all of the core voting intention questions, this poll contributes to what is now a slight downwards trend for the party after relatively steady upwards motion all year so far. I think it’s far too early to say whether that’s just a bit of noise or a reversion to the post-referendum mean after some extremely chaotic months, but it’s worth being aware of.
Speaking of reversion to the mean, the previous poll had the constitutional question on the 2014 status quo. We’ve got yet more margin of error shoogling about here, with a very marginal gain for Independence, putting it slightly ahead of where it was at the referendum. Same spiel I so often give for this: the current trend is clearly favourable to the Union, it’s nonetheless pretty close in the grand scheme of things, and for now the debate looks like it’s in a lull rather than permanently settled.
As ever, the last little bit of analysis concerns those hypothetical and more proportional voting systems that BBS likes to play about with. The use of pure FPTP at Westminster 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.
If the SNP and Greens can’t score a majority under AMS as it stands, they naturally end up further adrift with a more proportional implementation. Also, as both Alba and Reform UK hit the 3% threshold in this poll, they pick up a bunch of seats. That’s partly why the Conservatives, Greens and Lib Dems are all down versus last time in this model despite static or increasing vote shares.
The even more proportional Scandinavian model obviously even further widens the lead for the Pro-Union parties, amounting to 75 seats to 54. In fact the three mainstream parties amount to the same total as under the core AMS projection, with the extra seats coming from Reform UK – who would therefore not be necessary for the majority for that bloc.
Scandinavian Style Westminster
Just like under the real thing, the SNP’s lead over Labour widens here thanks to their vote gap going from 3% to 9%. For the Conservatives in particular this would be a much fairer outcome, to say nothing of the Green and Reform UK MPs squeaking over the threshold here.
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