It's unlikely that Scottish Conservatives will unseat Labour to become the main party of opposition, despite recent claims
It is a sign of the times that for Labour, analysis that predicts that they will come second in May’s elections to Holyrood will come as a huge relief, never mind entertaining what are now all but impossible hopes of getting into Government.
That is the prediction from new research out today from the University of East Anglia (UEA).
The forecast of what will happen in May, compiled in conjunction with the pollsters TNS, shows that despite ongoing predictions to the contrary, the Conservatives do not look set to unseat Labour as the second largest party in the Scottish Parliament.
The forecast brings together information from publicly available polls of voting intentions for May’s elections, together with what the University describes as ‘detailed information on the current state of play in each of the 73 Holyrood constituencies.’
All this information has been used to project forward to election day, using a model based on ‘the tendency of parties’ levels of support to fall back to previous levels of support – in this case, levels of support in the 2011 Scottish Parliament election.’
Based on this forecast, the UEA forecast the following, based on a 90 per cent probability rate:
- The Scottish National Party are most likely to pick up 72 seats, 3 more than those they secured in 2011. The actual number of seats is likely to be between 62 and 84 seats.
- Labour are likely to secure 31 seats, down 6 from 2011 but nevertheless better than a number of recent polls have predicted. The actual number of seats is likely to be between 20 and 43 seats.
- Despite the hype now surrounding Scottish Conservative leader, Ruth Davidson, the party is likely to win 17 seats, just 2 more than they did in 2011. The UEA suggest however that the actual number of seats is likely to be between 8 and 28 seats.
- The Lib Dems are most likely to win 5 seats, the same as the number they secured in 2011 which would be seen as positive for the party. The actual number of seats is likely to be between 1 and 13 seats.
- The Scottish Greens are likely to pick up 1 seat to secure 3 seats at Holyrood. The actual number of seats is likely to be between 0 and 10 seats.
The forecast is, according to its author, Dr Chris Hanretty of UEA’s School of Politics, ‘conservative with a small-c’.
“It’s always good for a party if it does well in the polls. But a good performance in the polls can evaporate in the run in to an election.”
Tom Costley, Head of TNS Scotland, said:
“The polls we conduct are snapshots of voters’ intentions, not predictions, and so we are delighted to team up with UEA to produce further insight on the current state of the parties in Scotland.”
The research is one of a series of forecasts that UEA and TNS will be producing in the run up to May’s elections. Subsequent forecasts will be more precise as time runs out for the parties to improve their polling position.
Dr Hanretty said:
“Right now we forecast that the SNP is 90 per cent likely to win between 62 and 84 seats. That’s a big range – anywhere from relative disappointment to a thumping win. But with 60 days to go, we wouldn’t feel confident being any more precise. Much can, and no doubt will, still happen.”
The probability of the SNP retaining its majority is 89 per cent. The probability that the Conservatives win more seats than Labour, or tie with Labour, is 10.2 per cent.
Ed Jacobs is a contributing editor at Left Foot Forward
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