Poll Analysis: YouGov 2nd – 6th of October 2023

Covering almost the same period as the recent Panelbase bar an extra day at the end, YouGov (link to tables) did some polling for the Fabian Society on parliamentary voting intention only. These days I do typically only do full analysis pieces where there’s a complete set of voting intention, which for me is both parliaments plus Independence. However, given this is effectively the last pre-Rutherglen by-election poll and shows some big differences versus the last YouGov, I thought it was worth giving the full treatment.

The previous YouGov covered the 8th – 13th of September 2023. Changes are shown as (vs that poll / vs last election).

Regional Vote

The extremely close-run nature of Scottish politics right now is evident right from the outset here, as a big decrease for the SNP combines with a decent increase for Labour to leave both parties tied. Although it’s not the first tie, and indeed there have been a couple of Labour leads over the SNP, it’s still a sign of a remarkable shift in Scottish politics. The Conservatives are also polling relatively well here, worse than in 2021 but a big recovery from the near rock-bottom 14% they were with YouGov just two months ago. 

Looking at the smaller parties, the Greens are again completely unchanged, sat at the same 11% they have been for the past couple of YouGovs. The Lib Dems meanwhile are down marginally, whilst Alba and Reform UK switch places for which fringe party hits the 3% threshold for my more proportional models – all three are single digit, fully within margin of error shifts though.

Constituency Vote

The constituency side of things is a more mixed picture. Though the SNP are likewise down here, Labour aren’t up by as much. That will have some clear implications on the projected seat tallies, as although the list vote is the proportional one, the SNP could be expected to overhang quite significantly with an 8% lead over Labour. Similarly different to the list side of things, the Lib Dems are up a smidge here.

What is the same here versus the last poll is that the Greens are completely static and the Conservatives are up substantially. There was a 20% last month with Opinium, so that’s not unprecedented in their recent polling, but it is still firmly on the upper range of that. Again, it’s a major recovery from the 14% back in August.

Seat Projection

Projecting that into seats might give us something like this:

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

I noted in my analysis of the previous YouGov had thus far failed to have their polling figures project to anything but an SNP-Green majority. This poll is where that finally gives way and YouGov join the rest of the pack in finding the current government slipping to a minority, leaving them with 58 seats to the opposition’s 71. It’s still a lot less dramatic on the constituency side of things than some other recent polls however, leaving the SNP with the lion’s share and thus a significant proportional overhang. Only Ipsos haven’t yet given a Pro-Union majority this term, but they are commissioned by STV only very infrequently, with just three polls so far this term.

The total even for Labour and the Lib Dems here is nonetheless the same as the SNP, never mind the SNP plus Greens, which if this was the outcome at the actual election would likely hinge everything on the Conservatives. As ever, I remain of the view a pro-Union majority at the moment cannot help but give a Labour First Minister, but Sarwar’s route to Bute House would require active support from the Conservatives, not mere assent-through-abstention.

The big surprise in the previous YouGov had been Labour losing a chunky 5% of their vote since the August poll. That’s completely regained here, but this time is paired with an equally sized slide for the SNP that puts the two parties just 1% apart – well within margin of error. If you read these pieces regularly you should be used to me saying this by now, but given the respective vote spreads of each party, this almost certainly gives Labour more seats than the SNP overall.

Continuing the trend seen at Holyrood, this is a strong positive swing for the Conservatives, and in fact this is their best Westminster figure with any BBS-tracked pollster since August 2022. They’ve generally been stuck in the teens since then. Based on the movements elsewhere in the poll, two points down for each of the Lib Dems and Reform UK, voters may be returning from those parties to the Conservatives. In fact for the Lib Dems, the difference between their Holyrood constituency and Westminster shares in this poll is striking.

One poll isn’t much to draw on, especially given margins of error, but if this continued longer term, I’d wonder if it may be that a clearly weakened SNP is reinforcing tactical voting patterns. It’s perfectly believable that in places like Aberdeenshire or Perthshire, people may have been content to vote Lib Dem or (claim to vote) Reform UK when it seemed that the SNP were easily going to beat the Conservatives, but with a serious chance at keeping the SNP out by voting Conservative, they might consider doing so.

As noted above, there was no Independence question in this poll, which is an unfortunate gap. Nothing we can do about it though!


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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