Monday, February 28, 2011

Time for a Triple Scotch in May?

In May this year the Scottish Parliamentary elctions will be the most significant election for the Greens in the UK. There are prospects of the great leap into the Welsh Assembly with the possibility of our first Welsh Assembly member and breakthroughs on local councils throughout England, all of which will be most welcome news. But north of the border things look even more exciting, if you can imagine it.

The Scottish Greens (donate) have been represented in Holyrood since the very beginning of time (1999) and currently have two MSPs in the shape of the mellifluous Patrick Harvie and the incredulous Robin Harper.

However, a YouGov poll released yesterday (pdf) suggests the Scottish Greens could be looking for a very happy May election indeed on 6.4%. These figures would mean a leap upwards to six Green MSPs fighting against the cuts agenda and for a sustainable society.

Indeed this is the second recent poll that suggests the Scots Greens might triple their representation. However, where the Times poll (which had only half the number of respondents I believe) was surprising in that it placed the SNP and Labour neck and neck, the YouGov poll confirmed the impression most people are getting that the gap between the Nats and Labour is, in fact, even widening with Labour in the lead.

This is not, I should hasten to add, because Labour are such a vigorous and dynamic force God bless them but because, with the Coalition in power, Labour's army of donkeys in red rosettes are benefitting across the UK from a tidal surge not of their own making, and which, personally, I don't think they deserve very much.

Similarly the Lib Dems couldd run the best campaign in history and they'd get obliterated - the electoral climate is just too inclement for them poor souls. This is probably just as well as they don't appear to have any campaign money.

Of course, we have to caveat all of this with the fact that there is only one poll that matters, and that's in May (no, there isn't a new series of X-Factor then). I really don't want to be like some (not all) SNP supporters who welcomed with open arms the previous Times poll and then are picking apart the more substantial YouGov poll based upon the convenience of the results.

After all, if I was going to cheery pick I'd point to the fact that more people YouGov spoke to said they'd vote Green than Liberal Democrat. I'd dearly love that to be the result on the day but that's before weighting and the poll actually says the Lib Dems are a whopping 0.4% ahead of us.

However, I should to like add "Woo Hoo!" at this juncture.

The thing that makes me nervous and excited by turns is that if you enter the figures into the excellent Scotland Votes site you quickly realise that very marginal differences to the SGP vote can impact on how many Green MSPs we elect. Every second vote counts as they say.


Awareness Gap said...

Shame you choose not to elaborate on why you believe the YouGov poll to be more substantial?

Jim Jepps said...

Shame is quite a strong word to use - but I'll roll with it. As I understand it the YouGov poll spoke to substantially more people making it statistically more reliable.

Awareness Gap said...

No shamefull would be a strong word... :)

Except they then applied weightings that would appear to be self contradictory. Look at the line of unweighted figures. YouGov put a weighting on Scottish Political opinion based on voting patterns for Westminster. Even when their own results are showing that the voting intentions for that august chamber are shifting towards SNP (a majority in their own unweighted stats) they maintain a substantial weighting in favour of Labour.

To your credit you don't mention that Greens also suffer from this except of course a more finely balanced parliament does play into the hands of 'smaller' parties and gives me hope that you can bring some balance to the next chamber. Good luck.

Jim Jepps said...

AG: this is standard isn't it?

I did look at the wieghtings (as I mentioned, it would be convenient for me to disregard them as it would put the Greens well ahead of the Lib Dems, but that defeats the object of having an impartial third party conduct the poll).

It's an interesting discussion about the Westminster voting intentions, as it is based partly upon their capacity/model but not, I think, a fatal flaw in the polling as it is consistently used.

The key problem is that there are not *enough* polls done. Many people thought the Times poll might be a rogue one but without regular polling it's impossible to tell with certainty.

Jim Jepps said...

re shame - I completely misread the comment, apologies, not too strong a word at all :)