I’m not normally one who looks too closely at the dental work on opinion poll gift horses.
But, while the figures in the recent YouGov and Survation polls are hugely encouraging I would caution treating them with a fair bit of scepticism, at least for the moment. The prediction that 54% on first ballot and 45% on the second would vote SNP are great reading in the 6th week of the lockdown. Even more so after 13 years in office and some of the “Nick Robinson” reporting we have seen over the reactions to the Covid19 virus.
I’m not too surprised that there has been a rise in support for the FM and her team, that’s in line with the polling evidence from around the world where the “rally round the flag” effect has been fairly common. Macron, Merkel etc have all seen such a positive swing. The main outlier to this is of course in the US and we can fairly treat that as a local effect based on the behaviour of the current, but hopefully not long term, occupant of the Oval Office.
What I found interesting in the Survation poll published in Sunday’s National was that the level of support for the FM among Tory and Labour voters was running at 70%. A truly astounding number. It has been a working assumption for some time now that there is likely to be very little switching between the Tory and SNP voters. Both being assumed to be set on their constitutional positions. This has also I suspect contributed to the naked hostility bordering on hatred from the right wing press such as the Mail, Express and Sun in Scotland. They’ve felt it was safe to say anything about her, confident that their readership would share the hostility. These figures would, if repeated in other polls, perhaps give some editors pause for thought.
The fact that even across the UK 70% of people were more likely to trust the Scottish Government opposed to 54% who would trust the Westminster Government also makes it harder to paint the Independence movement as a whole as some lunatic fringe. I fully accept that this is just two polls, in the middle of a crisis, but it’s no less interesting for that.
What I found strange though was that neither seemed to have asked the indyref question and that’s what makes me cautious. Now I accept that as I type this on Sunday, there might be a further story on Monday with just that info but as with the virus we can only deal with what we know.
I think that Nicola’s attitude of let’s deal with Covid before starting to worry about party politics and her willingness to treat the people of Scotland as adults and partners in dealing with the virus has gone down very well with the public. It has contrasted starkly with the bluster and bravado from the PM and the frankly embarrassing performances of some Tory minsters at the daily briefings. Is Pritti Patel really the gift that keeps on giving?
“Monstering” has been such a prevalent and destructive force in the body politic for so long that it has made rational debate very difficult. Belief has replaced evidence as the main driver of how we receive and perceive political events and this in turn has given us 10 years of Tory austerity and Brexit – not to mention the horror of people drinking disinfectant because the most morally bankrupt charlatan to ever sit in the Oval Office muses out loud about things he does not understand.
If this crisis becomes the event which brings rational discussion of facts back into fashion a least a small amount of good might come from all the pain.
Stay safe folks and, for now, stay at home. There’s a lot of work ahead and we’ll need every one of you.