Poll Analysis: YouGov 23rd – 26th of January 2023

I’m afraid I’ll be starting this piece with something deeply personal and somewhat upsetting (if you read the Corstorphine and Murrayfield preview, this is just the same spiel).

Per this thread on Twitter, please be aware I am currently running a minimum service on Ballot Box Scotland. What that means is that barring some scheduled and auto-tweets, I won’t really be present on Twitter – for example, I will not be tweeting the detail of polls with maps and charts in my usual style (example). Poll analysis pieces will be written up so as to avoid gaps in the record, but they will generally be more concise and less “chatty”, I guess, than usual. BBS Twitter isn’t available on my phone, and my personal account is logged off entirely so as to limit my exposure to our horrendously queerphobic political sphere. Twitter gets many times the engagement of the website, hence, minimal.

As a brief elaboration of that thread though, (fortunately) it’s not that I have personally been getting a pile of abuse, but instead that (unfortunately) it has suffused every corner of our politics to the extent it’s impossible not to see my friends and people like me getting it, all day, every day, on Twitter. It turns out to be abysmal for your mental health to see gay men just like you being accused of being “paedophiles”, “groomers” and so on. I thought we were past that in this country, but that genie has well and truly been unbottled by sections of our media and indeed with the gleeful support of members of both of our parliaments.

Or, at least, I wasn’t getting abuse personally before I went public with how the political atmosphere was affecting me. Entirely unsurprisingly, some examples of the kind of abuse that is widely thrown at others have since come my way. If you can stomach it, and I steeled myself for one more look even knowing it’d make me miserable, have a look at the quote tweets on the final tweet in the thread. That tweet said queer people are human beings – one person says “no you aren’t.” Another person declares I’m a “QueerTheorist”, which they believe to be the work of “child rapists”, an immediate proof of my statement that gay people just get called paedophiles at the drop of a hat now.

Indeed, my use of the word “queer” (which I simply consider to be a neat, quicker and easier to say, generally encompassing word for LGBTI+, and to indicate recognition I’m in a shared community with others beyond just fellow gay men) attracts particular ire from people so utterly lacking in the capacity for critical thought that they are seemingly unaware “gay” was the homophobic slur du jour of the 90’s and 00’s when I grew up, yet that being the case doesn’t change the fact it’s the word that I can accurately and comfortably use to describe myself. Literally every word ever used to describe queer people has been spat at us in hate by bigots like these, and if we never used any of them, we’d be scuppered. In any case, my point is rather proven, no? If you’re visibly and openly queer in Scotland right now, people feel emboldened to spout hatred in a way I simply didn’t see so brazenly even a few years ago.

As a polling aggregator, I’ve typically had to follow politics closely. It’s one thing for the political back and forth to be on rates of taxation, of the kinds of public services that should be provided, or on the ideal focus for trade and foreign policies. That’s easy just to roll with, largely shrugging it off as not personally relevant when I disagree. It’s another entirely when it feels like your entire wider community has become the focal point for societal hatred. You can’t shrug that off. It eats away at you and diminishes you. I’m a human being, not an automated data cruncher, and I’ve hit the limits for what I’m able to endure.

This poll was commissioned by the Times from YouGov (link to tables). The previous YouGov covered the 6th – 9th of December. Changes are shown as (vs that poll / vs last election).

Regional Vote

Notable features: Weakest YouGov for both the SNP and Greens since the election. First poll not by Panelbase or Opinium to put Greens below 10%. Significant recovery for Conservatives from last poll, which was weakest of the term. Surprise 3% for Reform UK, further delaying publication of this piece as I needed to tweak my model to re-account for them. Very unlikely that would ever actually happen; practically non-existent in reality, even at peak of UKIP-mania that party failed spectacularly to get in.

Constituency Vote

Notable features: Weakest YouGov for the SNP since the election. Significant recovery for Conservatives from last poll, which was weakest of the term.

Seat Projection

Projecting that into seats might give us something like this:

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

Notable features: Best seat projection for Labour since the election, 50% increase versus then. Only third poll, and first not by Panelbase, to have single-digit Green MSPs. Clear SNP-Green majority nonetheless.

Notable features: Weakest YouGov for the SNP since the election. Conservative recovery much more minimal than at Holyrood.

Note: YouGov includes Refused (1%)/Won’t Vote (4%) figures in their headline. The figures in this chart are calculated by excluding those two options to leave No/Yes/Don’t Know, in line with other polls, and thus will differ slightly from initially reported headline figures (which were 46%, 40% and 10%). Be aware this can make rounding effects particularly odd!

Notable features: Weakest YouGov for Independence and strongest for Union since just after last year’s local elections. Snap back to advantage for pro-Union side in line with BBS own predictions in aftermath of spike in Independence support.

Timing of a Referendum

Notable features: Significant weakening of support for a 2023 referendum – could this party be effect, mentally, of change from “2023” being next year to “this year”? Narrowing of support over 5 year horizon too, but not as strongly.

Not expanding further due to concise nature of this post, interestingly majority support for holding a referendum on the UK rejoining the EU.


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.

For the moment, although the maps are useful for illustrative purposes, I’m opting just to show these hypotheticals as charts. It’s very time consuming making maps, and for these pure hypotheticals, it’s possibly a bit overkill.

AMS is AMS even if you reform it, so SNP-Green majority. Seats for Reform UK because they cross 3% for first time – that will follow in Scandi too!

Fully proportional system accurately gives a majority to Pro-Union parties in this scenario.

Scandinavian Style Westminster

PR would be fairer than FPTP, as evidenced by the SNP having a much smaller share of seats than FPTP would give them. Note Greens and RUK seats due to hitting 3% threshold.

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