13 December 2011

A Festive medley! Ipsos-MORI on independence & Holyrood voting intentions...

The host of psephological elves I maintain are lazy beggars sometimes. They went on strike this weekend over proposed reductions in their soor ploom rations, and not even a crack of my licorice goad, nor the salutary strawberry-lace hanging of five, could convince them to get on with unpicking the recent pair of interesting polls from Ipsos-MORI's Scottish Public Opinion monitor. Luckily, I was able to second a crack crew of the Santa Claus Group's notoriously brutal strike-breaking gnomes, and but for a few broken candy canes and hideous, sugar-impacted fractures, my mob of layabout fey are quiescent again, and back in the business.

So what bounty did Ipsos-MORI bring? First, a political poll on Holyrood voting intentions and satisfaction with Alex Salmond, Willie Rennie and Ruth Davidson.  Today, the pollster released a second dollop of findings from the same polling exercise, this time on the big constitutional questions. Do you want Scotland to be independent? Alternatively, could we tempt you with the idea of extending "the powers of the Scottish Parliament to include more laws and duties and all tax-raising powers, while Scotland remains part of the UK"? When do you want such a referendum to be posed anyway? 2013? Or 2015? 

If we cast our minds back a few months, Ipsos-MORI's last polls on both of these topics were published in early September. See the detail of the political findings here, and on independence, here. So what has changed? On the political front, Ipsos-MORI's most recent findings, disaggregated by gender and with the change from autumn to winter in brackets, were as follows...

In Holyrood constituencies (all)...
  • SNP 40% (+1)
  • Labour 22% (-2)
  • Conservative 9% (-)
  • Liberal Democrat 8% (+2)
In Holyrood constituencies (men)...
  • SNP 48% (+7)
  • Labour 19% (-4)
  • Conservative 10% (-1)
  • Liberal Democrat 6% (+1)
In Holyrood constituencies (women)...
  • SNP 34% (-3)
  • Labour 25% (-1)
  • Conservative 8% (-)
  • Liberal Democrat 8% (+2)

And those identified as "certain to vote" in Scottish Parliament elections...

In Holyrood constituencies (all certain to vote)...
  • SNP 51% (+2)
  • Labour 26% (-2)
  • Conservative 12% (-1)
  • Liberal Democrat 8% (+1)
In Holyrood constituencies (men certain to vote)...
  • SNP 57% (+3)
  • Labour 20% (-3)
  • Conservative 13% (-)
  • Liberal Democrat 6%  (-)
In Holyrood constituencies (women certain to vote)...
  • SNP 44% (-1)
  • Labour 32% (-)
  • Conservative 11% (-1)
  • Liberal Democrat 9% (+1)

As you'll see although the headline figures (particularly those generated by those "certain to vote") are strikingly good for the Nationalists, mostly this poll shows only minor shifts from September and the SNP's sustained popularity through to winter, with Labour remaining slumped lifelessly in the gutter, phizogs first. And what about the Maximum Eck? Does Salmond still bestride all he surveys? Seems so. Again, all changes from September in brackets...

In total...
  • Satisfied ~ 62% (-)
  • Dissatisfied ~ 27% (-1)
  • Don't know ~ 10% (+1)
  • Satisfied ~ 67% (+2)
  • Dissatisfied ~ 26% (-2)
  • Don't know ~ 7% (-)
  • Satisfied ~ 58% (-2)
  • Dissatisfied ~ 29% (-)
  • Don't know ~ 13% (+1)

Beyond gender and the overall figures, Alex Salmond's proved least popular with those over 55 years of age - 59% satisfied - and most popular with 25-34 year olds, of whom 73% expressed a positive opinion of the First Minister's labours in office. Negative feelings broke down in the same way. Just over a third of those over 55 feel dissatisfied with him (34%), while only 12% of those between twenty five and thirty four held a clearly negative view. What of Ruth Davidson and Willie Rennie? Up to snuff, either of them? The keynote for each, rather understandably at this stage in their respective headships, is non-recognition. 57% of respondents didn't know what to make of the new Tory leader, while 52% hadn't the foggiest about the Liberal Democrat. 

A few waggish observation, for spite.  Firstly, Labour's anti-Salmond monomania appears not even to stir many their own supporters. While 47% of Labour-voters declare themselves dissatisfied with Alex, still 41% are satisfied with his performance in office. Indeed, the same is true and moreso of Liberal Democrat voters, 56% of whom are happy with Salmond, to 36% unhappy. Amongst Tories, there remains a cohort of cheery Conservatives 39% of whom are satisfied, while 56% are unsatisfied with him.

But what impact has any of this on the independence debate? Are the SNP making mild a rugged people, and subduing them to the good of national self-determination, whether by dint of independent state, or a more powerful Holyrood? Let's start with "enhanced devolution". Ipsos-MORI asked:

"As you may know, the Scottish Government plans to hold a referendum on Scotland's constitutional future during the next Scottish Parliament. The referendum is likely to contain two separate questions. The first question will ask whether you agree or disagree with the proposal to extent the powers of the Scottish Parliament to include more laws and duties and all tax-raising powers, while Scotland remains part of the UK. If the referendum was held tomorrow, would you vote to agree or disagree with this proposal?"

The pollsters findings were as follows (changes from September in brackets...)

Total results ("More devolution")(all respondents)...
  • Agree  ~ 64% (-2)
  • Disagree ~ 29% (+3)
  • Undecided / Don't know ~ 7% (-1)

And in gendered profile...

Men ("more devolution")...
  • Agree  ~ 66% (+1)
  • Disagree ~ 30% (+3)
  • Undecided / Don't know ~ 4 (-4%)
Women ("more devolution")...
  • Agree  ~ 62% (-5)
  • Disagree ~ 29% (+3)
  • Undecided / Don't know ~ 9% (+2)

And on independence? Asked...

"... whether you agree or disagree with a proposal to extend the powers of the Scottish Parliament to enable Scotland to become an independent country, separate from the UK. If the referendum was held tomorrow, would you vote to agree or disagree with this proposal?"

Total results (independence) (all voters...)
  • Agree  ~ 35% (-)
  • Disagree ~ 58% (-)
  • Undecided / Don't know ~ 8% (+1)

And now, by gender...

  • Agree  ~ 40% (+5)
  • Disagree ~ 55% (-3)
  • Undecided / Don't know ~ 6%v(-)
  • Agree  ~ 30% (-4)
  • Disagree ~ 60%v(+3)
  • Undecided / Don't know ~ 10% (+1)

And by croneliness...

18 - 24 ...
  • Agree  ~ 42% (-4)
  • Disagree ~ 55% (+7)
  • Undecided / Don't know ~ 3% (-3)
25 - 34...
  • Agree  ~ 48% (+ 14)
  • Disagree ~ 42 (-15)
  • Undecided / Don't know ~ 10% (+1)
35 - 54...
  • Agree  ~ 30% (-5)
  • Disagree ~ 60% (+3)
  • Undecided / Don't know ~ 9% (+1)
  • Agree  ~ 31% (-1)
  • Disagree ~ 62% (-)
  • Undecided / Don't know ~ 7% (-)

Interestingly, this time around, we have "Certain to Vote" figures on independence. Although there are some indications that the Scottish population is more likely to turn out for an independence referendum than Holyrood elections, we can anticipate public participation in the final plebiscite which is some way shy of complete. Stimulating supporters to vote may be crucial. So what are those already keen to vote thinking? According to Ipsos-MORI...

Total results (independence)(certain to vote)...
  • Agree  ~ 38%
  • Disagree ~ 57%
  • Undecided / Don't know ~ 5%

And by gender...

Men (certain to vote)...
  • Agree  ~ 42%
  • Disagree ~ 52%
  • Undecided / Don't know ~ 5%
Women (certain to vote)...
  • Agree  ~ 33%
  • Disagree ~ 61%
  • Undecided / Don't know ~ 5%

A couple of other points of data, and then I'll unhitch the exhausted elves from their harnesses, allow them to rub soothing aloe onto their licorice-lacerated backs, and give them their daily beaker of mulled wine, to restore them. Firstly, if you look at the findings by social affluence, it is clear that the least deprived fifth of respondents are the most hostile to independence, with opposition amongst all least deprived voters numbering some 69%, also recording the lowest level of support for independence, at only 23%. Amongst least deprived voters who are certain to vote, the finding is even mightier, with 72% indicating they would vote "no" in an independence referendum. 

Interestingly, if we go back to Ipsos-MORI's devolution question, the same, least deprived group are the most skeptical about more devolution too, with a third opposing it.  What lessons from this? Familiar ones, really. Women and older and more bourgeois voters prove and continue to prove more resistant to the idea of independence than other parts of society, and if the SNP votes want to persuade them of the virtues of independence, more needs to be done. Although the slippage is slight - very slight - That said, balancing off groups is never entirely straightforward, as a message which has potential to persuade one segment of society, like as not, will alienate another body of opinion that was once minded to support you.

There's plenty more meat in these two sets of full tables, on political feeling and independence sentiment by age, rural and urban voters, whether folk have kids, work full or part time, whether they own their houses or they rent. However, being a benevolent feudal overall, and bound by the EU elf and safety working time directive, I think it is time to set my eldrich vassals loose for the evening. Happy psephologising, children!

Full tables: Independence.


  1. I've just had Mr Lovecraft on the phone. He told me to tell you that those Eldritch vassals are only on loan and he wants them back.

  2. One should always quote from the best possible source - and who would I think better qualified to comment than myself?

    So here's my take from my Newsnet article

    "Of those certain to vote in a referendum, 35% support “a proposal to extend the powers of the Scottish Parliament to enable Scotland to become an independent country, which is no longer part of the UK”, while 58% disagree. 8% are undecided.

    However, 68% agree with “a proposal to extend the powers of the Scottish Parliament to include more laws and duties and all tax-raising powers, while Scotland remains part of the UK”, with only 28% disagreeing, and only 4% undecided.

    Importantly, this poll allows us to see the attitude of those supporting independence to the possibility of significantly more powers, but which fall short of independence.

    A quarter of those disagreeing with the “Devo-Max/Indy-Lite” support full independence, and will settle for nothing less.

    6% want full independence only, and would vote against increasing Holyrood’s powers if there is to be a continuing UK link
    31% also want full independence but would prefer significantly greater powers rather than the status quo
    38% want “Devo-Max/Indy-Lite”, but not independence
    22% want the status quo, and no further powers for Scotland
    4% are undecided.
    74%, therefore, want a massive increase of powers to the Scottish Parliament, including the whole tax regime. We know from other polling that the powers that most Scots want to share with the remainder of the UK are largely restricted to Defence and Foreign Affairs. To that, we can probably add the maintenance of a Fiscal Union with rUK."

    To have three quarters of Scots "certain to vote" willing to coalesce around a position that no party is actually offering, is an interesting scenario.

  3. James Morton,

    Ha! Who'd have thunk that Santa Claus was just a socially-acceptable front for the rapacious commercial savvy of Cthulhu...