In Scotland, we’re used to seeing the SNP in polls as ‘Other’ in the UK context. Prior to 2014/15 it was part of the scenery that was the Con in England / Lab in Scotland hegemony. However, since 2014 all that has changed, not that polling companies notice.
Almost right after the Independence referendum in Scotland, the SNP overtook Labour as the dominant party in vote share, and since then have been the obvious poll leaders. Add to this, the 2015 SNP General Election landslide, you might think that the UK polling companies would start to recognise this in their polls.
Sadly, this is not the case. Despite the SNP having 95% of the Scottish Westminster seats, and despite them being a very active and vocal part of the opposition, they are still othered in UK polls, and still othered by those that view and review polls. Can you imagine UKIP being othered for similar results in the East of England?
Note that said headline data doesn’t even mention the SNP, while the Lib Dems would get around seven seats (-1), and UKIP absolutely none! Meanwhile the SNP probably get 50-55 seats, but they don’t even get a mention.
I can hear some of you perhaps saying “What’s the big deal?”
Well the big deal is two-fold. First, if a party that will probably get 50+ seats in an election is being omitted from top-line data, while a party that will probably get no seats at all is being included, there HAS to be something wrong there.
Secondly, given that the SNP have been riding high in the polls of Scotland for almost three years (31 months to April), surely they deserve a mention? Or is this just a case of England’s polls? Does the UK once again get swallowed by England and its London bubble?
Or is it a case that the SNP might create some waves for the Conservative and Labour parties and is being sidelined, because it suits the parties, and the media companies that support them? And I’m saddened to add the polling companies (or their owners) to that sentiment. Either they support the London parties, or don’t care to change their polling templates, in spite of a 31 month ‘regional’ blip refusing to disappear? That’s a damned big blip!
Well then there’s the thing that prompted this post. Up to now I’ve been referring to UK polls that ‘other’ the SNP. Well here’s a new one. Have a poll where the media source (no prizes for guessing, answer in the pic) selects Scotland, and others the largest party, so we can view it as a two-party Con / Lab battle.
Of course said media source likes that kind of election. Two parties, and their preferred party winning. Then we can ignore all the ‘others’, sideline the rest, forget what happens outside England, focus on London, and that’s that.
Lib Dem – “Meh, less than a dozen seats.”
UKIP – “Meh, no seats at all.”
Green – “Meh, 1 seat”
SNP – “Meh, less than 5% of the vote”
Plaid – “Meh, less than the SNP”
Northern Ireland – “Ssshhh, no one mentions them, as it might upset folk.”
Do you notice that UK polling almost never includes Northern Ireland polling tables? Go look for yourself. GB polling, surely? Shhh, don’t rock the boat. Con and Lab do so poorly here, we stopped talking about them, and only mention them on election maps, or when Con or Lab want them to decide a vote in the House.
All those ‘others’ might make up approximately 90 seats, which what has the two ‘main parties’ a little nervous if the election is looking close. Polls are favourable to one side for now, but people don’t like snap elections for political gain, and the Lib Dems aren’t likely to get 50+ seats this time. So the right-wing media is in full ‘two-party mode’, desperate to sideline the rest.
Is it just me that worries about how political parties cosy up to media companies, who fund polls then twist how the poll results are shown to the benefit of said parties?
That’s not democracy. That’s party promotion, without having to declare it as party funded. That’s half a dozen very rich folk deciding to let a few hundred other rich folk tell everyone else that their lives are going to be less rich for the next decade, while they get even more rich. That’s 300-400 people certain that your lives will be less certain, because they can get away with that, and make money in the interim.
However, there’s one thing of which we can be fairly certain. The SNP will win another landslide victory in Scotland, based on recent polling. Of course, said media source will not pop that one on their front page. It’s not news. It’s something that happens outside London’s control.
Anything less than 56 seats for the SNP will be big news to be jumped on, while 56 seats (95%) twice in a row will be talked of as ‘peak Nat’ (see Nick Eardley of the BBC). Of course more than 56 seats will undoubtedly be compared with the gains of the previous election, and ‘a noticeable slowing of SNP support’.
In short, the SNP will be othered again. “Other party in regional landslide” will be one option, I suppose.
In the last four UK General Elections, the largest share of the electorate has been “Did Not Vote”.
In 2015, the largest share of the Scottish electorate was “SNP”. It’s important that the voters in Scotland, regardless of their political inclination encourage each other to turnout. The larger the turnout, the greater the voice.
With the two ‘main parties’ only taking 45% of the UK electorate’s vote share, there’s still quite a lot to play for. 55% of the UK didn’t vote for them in 2015. Bear that in mind too.