Poll Analysis: YouGov 13th – 17th of May 2024

It’s a busy time in Scottish politics, and one pollster in particular is keeping us abreast of what the public think about it. This is the third YouGov (link to tables) in the space of a couple of months, a frequency only previously matched in the run up to the Holyrood election. These polls have respectively covered pre-BHA crisis, mid-BHA crisis, and post-BHA crisis periods, giving a relatively comprehensive picture. That said, be cautious about over-interpreting the resulting swings; even for swings outside margin of error here, they may be over-or-under-estimating changes, just due to the nature of polling.

The previous YouGov covered the 26th – 29th of April 2024. Changes are shown as (vs that poll / vs last election).

Regional Vote

A huge amount going on here on the crucial list vote side of things, with a big jump for Labour and an almost equally sized slump for the SNP. That gives Labour a significant lead in relative terms, as well as a joint-best share for this vote.

It’s similarly contrasting yet in the opposite direction in the middle of the chart, with a chunky loss for the Conservatives and a big bump for the Greens. That lifts the latter comfortably beyond what had been an equalisation with their 2021 result in the last poll, and further evidences that expectations of the party’s demise post-BHA were vastly exaggerated.

That leaves the Lib Dems as the least changed of the Holyrood parties, up by a single, unremarkable point compared to the last poll. That’s still a near doubling of their 2021 share though, so reason for them to be cheerful. Finally, neither Reform UK nor Alba show any change on the last poll, likely lacking the votes necessary to translate to any seats.

Constituency Vote

As ever, the dynamics over on the constituency vote are pretty similar. That means growth for Labour and decline for the SNP. Crucially though this is the first poll in the BBS trackers to put Labour ahead of the SNP on the constituency side of things. Even equalising, or getting close to it, was showing Labour with more constituencies in my projections simply due to how each party’s vote is distributed, and this just further entrenches that.

Continuing a really gloomy poll for the Conservatives, this is their joint-worst share on this vote since BBS launched, whereas for the Lib Dems its a joint best. The Greens are also up a little bit, matching their trends across this poll. 

Seat Projection

Projecting that into seats might give us something like this:

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

You perhaps won’t be surprised to hear that a joint-best so far poll for Labour vote wise, including their first constituency vote lead over the SNP, gives them their best yet projected seat tally. It’s still one below the 50 they won in 2003, when they last made it into government, and it’s not as far ahead of the SNP as the recent Savanta, but it’s a strong showing for them.

The Conservatives naturally lose quite a lot of their seats versus the last poll, and about half compared to 2021, whilst the Greens are able to pocket an extra couple of MSPs, and the Lib Dems drop one. You may wonder how the Lib Dems are up in votes but down in seats versus the last poll, and the answer to that is our old friend overhang.

Labour are only proportionally due 6 seats in Lothian in this projection, yet win 8 constituencies, knocking out a second Lib Dem (and Conservative) MSP as a consequence. They similarly overhang in Glasgow, to the SNP and Greens’ expense, perhaps reminding us why they accepted the compromise voting system of AMS in the first place. If Labour dominate the Central Belt once again then they can potentially, just as they did in 1999 and 2003, bend the intended functioning of AMS vastly more than the SNP ever have.

Compared to the last poll, Labour would have more governing options available to them in this scenario. They have the numbers with the Conservatives for a bare-minimum majority on an informal basis, and a more comfortable majority of 70 seats for the traffic light option of working with the Lib Dems (almost certainly formal) and Greens (likely informal.)

Of all the parts of this poll, this is undoubtedly the most dramatic, the bit that has Labour punching the air triumphantly whilst the SNP sit under the desk and sob. This sees Labour with their best-yet vote share in the BBS standard series tracker, and the SNP with a joint-worst. That opens a double-digit lead in Labour’s favour for the first time, and would likely see SNP MPs ejected from every Central Belt seat they occupy. As with the Holyrood side of things, the Conservatives and Greens have similar remarkably contrasting fortunes.

For the Conservatives, this is a joint-worst figure for them on this vote – you have to go back to the Liz Truss episode (hardly an era) to find comparable. Meanwhile this is the best the Scottish Greens have ever polled for Westminster, something that may or may not be a comfort for the SNP. Westminster votes really squeeze the Greens on the day, plus they’ve never yet stood everywhere, so that share seems quite unlikely in reality. However, it fits the pattern on the Holyrood side of the poll, and if Green voters really are scunnered with the SNP, they may not be quite so eager to lend them their votes this time.

As with all other recent polls, the constitutional side of things is deathly dull compared to all the party-political drama. A very tiny erosion of support for Independence here leads to the Excluding Don’t Knows figure replicating 2014. Usual spiel here; if you’re on either side and you’re feeling comfortable, you are being silly and complacent.


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.

Scandinavian Style Westminster

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