What do Ballot Box Scotland Polls Mean?

Ballot Box Scotland run by Allan Faulds has revealed a number of contradictory stories about the state of Scottish politics and coming elections. Two polls tell contradictory tales. The SNP remains ascendant but in paralysis; their hegemony is impenetrable but their strength is diminished by a lack of any discernible strategy. The polling show big changes in Scottish politics while the country is still moribund on the national question that both defines it and puts it into permanent stagnation.

First up, Labour and the Greens are up:

An exclusive poll for Ballot Box Scotland has found that support for Scottish Labour has reached its highest point since before the 2019 UK Election, suggesting the party could once again overtake the Conservatives.

The poll, conducted by Survation from 24 – 28 March 2022, estimates that Labour would receive 23% of the regional list vote and 25% of the constituency vote in a Scottish Parliament election, compared to 19% and 20% for the Conservatives. This poll by Survation on behalf of Ballot Box Scotland shows Labour in their best position since 2018.

Support for the Scottish Greens has increased to 11% on the list, who now poll at record levels.

Given the state of the world it’s no surprise that the Greens should be doing well, though arguably they should be doing much much better. Their stint in co-operative government has not harmed them as some had warned. It is disastrous polling for the Scottish Conservatives tainted by their own botched mishandling of the partygate fiasco and their own homemade PR gaffs.

Commenting on the polls, Allan Faulds from Ballot Box Scotland said:

“This poll will put a spring in Anas Sarwar’s step, showing Labour at their strongest in years and well-positioned to displace the Conservatives as Scotland’s second-largest party. Though Douglas Ross may have hoped the worst of the Lockdown Parties fallout had passed, his party’s support is yet to fully recover.”

“However the SNP remain the party to beat, with a clear overall lead. Combined with projected growth for the Greens, who continue to poll at record levels, the current co-operative government would easily be re-elected at Holyrood. Whether that government will convince Scots to support Independence is another matter, as this poll adds to a trend showing a consistent, but narrow, preference for the Union.”

Holyrood List Vote (changes vs 2021 Election):
  • SNP: 34% (-6)
  • Labour: 23% (+5)
  • Conservative: 19% (-4)
  • Green: 11% (+3)
  • Lib Dem: 8% (+3)
  • Alba: 2% (nc)
Holyrood Constituency Vote:
  • SNP: 46% (-2)
  • Labour: 25% (+3)
  • Conservative: 20% (-2)
  • Lib Dem: 7% (nc)
Westminster Vote (changes vs 2019 Election):
  • SNP: 45% (nc)
  • Labour: 27% (+8)
  • Conservative: 19% (-6)
  • Lib Dem: 6% (-4)

Second up, the SNP are down but also invincible:

But if the polls show a slight decline in support for the SNP (-6% on the list and -2% on the constituency vote) the next poll shows them on course for massive wins in May.

With one month to go until May’s local elections, the exclusive poll for Ballot Box Scotland shows a strong lead for the SNP, potentially putting them on track for a record result.

The poll (conducted by Survation from 24 – 28 March 2022), suggests that 44% of voters would give the SNP their first preference, up from 32% in 2017. 23% would back Labour, 18% the Conservatives, 6% the Lib Dems, 3% the Greens, while both Alba and Independent candidates were on 1%.

Voters were also asked how they would use their second and third preferences. Summed up, a total of 56% of voters said the SNP would feature in their top three picks, slightly ahead of 52% who would do the same for Labour. 37% would put the Greens at least third, 31% the Lib Dems, 27% the Conservatives, and just 7% Independents and Alba. Commenting on the poll, Allan Faulds from Ballot Box Scotland said:

“If these findings are accurate, the SNP are on track to deliver an astonishing record result in May, and Labour would again become the second-largest party at local government level, giving both parties reason to be cheerful. On the other hand, the Conservatives, Lib Dems, Greens and Independents would seem to be headed for worse results, and Alba’s support is pretty pitiable.”


So what does this do? What does this mean? It doesn’t end the seeming torpor of Scottish politics.

Douglas Ross will probably be removed and replaced by the next identikit Tory. Anas Sarwar will be cemented but deeply confused. The SNP will remain electorally powerful but constitutionally impotent. These polls are great for Scottish Labour, but to what end its unclear? The Greens position will be greatly enhanced but also constrained within the limits of ‘coalition’. The position of the Alba party is in question. Many supporters saw these May elections as their breakthrough moment. If, as these polls suggest they are stuck on around 1% it will be difficult to sustain the fantasy that they are an emergent force. It seems they will dissolve to a tiny faction as those who have hitched themselves to a possible electoral ticket realise that games a bogey.

While the euphemism of the “cost of living” looms and the planet burns Scottish managerialism and centralism would seem to have coalesced. While these polls show reason for great cheer for single electoral parties they do little to hold our positives for our socio-ecological crisis.




Comments (37)

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  1. Hugh McShane says:

    The impasse is depressing, especially that blue border strip in Scotland’s Donbass.

    1. Anne Roberts says:

      The Borders issue is very sad, as it now looks like Tories have cemented their position there – God knows why. It’s not like the Borders has benefited in any way from Tory policies. Yes, very depressing – given that for decades the Borders was invariably Liberal. Where on earth did all those Tory votes come from? Is it inward migration? Curious to know any theories.

      1. Malcolm Kerr says:

        Inward migration might be an issue, Anne. Many folk who move to Scotland from the south are making a big change to their lives, though, and are potentially open to changes in their political perspective. The truth is that the SNP is fundamentally metropolitan (Edinburgh and London), has minimal energy for our rural areas, and seems to lack the horizon-scanning imagination to see the threat of partition. You can be certain partition is part of the British playbook. The Tories had their ‘red wall’ strategy for the north of England. Where is our ‘blue wall’ strategy?

      2. 220406 says:

        Can’t speak for the Borders, but Dumgal is currently governed by a Labour-SNP coalition, which was formed last time around to keep the largest party in the Council (the Conservatives and Unionists) out of power.

        But surely the folk who live on the ‘Scottish’ side of the borderlands, irrespective of whether they’re migrants or not, are entitled to elect whomever they want to represent them in their councils and parliaments. Why do you think this is ‘a problem’?

        The people of the Marches have for centuries had more in common with one another culturally, economically, and socially on either side of the political border than they’ve ever had with their more distant compatriots in London or Edinburgh.

  2. Hillary Sillitto says:

    Alba seems to be old people trying to resurrect past glories. Some of their policies are good but the overall package is wrong. SNP are tired and rigid from too long in power and insufficient variety and strength in depth of their leadership. The future is for the young, so we need younger folk setting the agenda in our politics. Time for the old and tired to step back and let the young folk take the lead and supply the energy and ideas.

    1. Malcolm Kerr says:

      The older generation (tired or otherwise) have taken us to where we are without any expectation of material reward. The dominant view among young people active in the national movement is that politics is a career. That will not get us any nearer to self-government. History won’t look kindly on an SNP leadership which has fostered this divisive culture.

      1. Simon Taylor says:

        Sorry Malcolm
        The evidence is clear. The demographic that is pro Union and risk averse is those over 60.
        Career politicians in no particular order. Gordon Brown, Tony Blair, George Galloway etc etc. Yes the SNP has entered a political comfort zone and new younger dynamic leadership is now a necessity. But to suggest that the younger generation should be beholden to the older one is bogus. My children’s generation will be the first in modern times that won’t have the wealth or health enjoyed by the baby boomers. If you don’t change you never move forward. And unfortunately the older generation is holding the younger generation back.

        1. Ste fella says:

          The evidence is not clear. We know that a point in time that older people are more pro-Union but that is not a demographic analysis. Demographic analyses consists of births, deaths and migration before you even get to voting patterns, participation rates or swings to conservatism (or in this case unionism) as cohorts age.

          On migration, the evidence is clear. Scotland is a huge net importer of people from the rest of the UK, 3/4 of whom are unionists.


          These in-migration numbers are considerable greater than the annual ageing of the population effect (around 40,000 plus a year from the ageing effect enter the electoral role considerably lower than the negative migration effect). That’s worsened when you consider both participation rates and longevity. Youth participation rates are low while middle class in-migrants typically have high participation rates, vote No and have greater longevity. There is likely to be an ageing cohort effect towards No in any case as conservatism and pensions etc scare soft Yesses as they age.

          We can certainly not wait for youth Yes effect to dominate as the reverse is true. We are a net importer of Unionists from the rest of the UK which dominates numerically the youth Yes effect. This suggests an urgency for independence that only real yes alba are providing. In fact Sturgeon disgracefully argues that time is on he side. Errr I don’t think so Sturgeon. It’s only on your side if you’ve no intention of pursuing independence.

          But many fake yes on this website mock them.

          1. Niemand says:

            You can’t get away from the fact though that not enough ‘native’ Scots support independence. Even if you buy the dubious evidence that they do by a slim majority (in 2014 that is and it is far from clear that was even true), it still slim and none of the worries about Unionist English incomers would matter if that wasn’t so. And that is the real problem and arguments about the franchise, a side show and a bit desperate. But I agree that the denigration of Alba is an own goal and won’t help.

  3. Paddy Farrington says:

    “Our public life is currently characterised by boredom. The people are bored. They stand aside from the great convulsions that are shaking up the world….”

    So wrote the journalist and political commentator Pierre Viansson-Ponté in March 1968 in a famous article in Le Monde entitled Quand la France s’ennuie (When France is bored). Not long after, France erupted in a joyous festival of ideas and political action which, though met with brutal repression and electoral defeat, changed the terms of the debate and mobilised a generation.

    We never know what lies round the corner, so let’s keep going…

  4. AudreyMacT says:

    Hey Mike you seem to have mislaid one of your articles. From a couple of days ago. The one about poverty – you remember. Why did you delete? You don’t like it when things don’t go your way?

    1. Hi Audrey

      no articles have been deleted. Do you mean this one?


      You can get read all of my articles here:


      Or you can go to ‘All Artices’ here:


      Articles fall off the main homepage as we publish new ones. It’s quite common on the interweb.

      1. AudreyMacT says:

        No I mean the one from 3rd March that was about poverty and had a picture of Thatcher. In the comments section you seemed to think I was patronising you and that I was right-wing.
        Now it’s simply disappeared! Weird eh..

      2. AudreyMacT says:

        3rd April not March.

        1. 220406 says:

          I think it fell immediately off the front page because it was dated ‘March’ instead of ‘April’ by mistake. It’s still there.

          1. 220406 says:

            Again, no conspiracy needs to be postulated.

          2. AudreyMacT says:

            Hey Mike, can you stop messing with the space-time continuum.

          3. I had ‘scheduled it’ to be published as I was away and mucked up the dates, apologies for the confusion …

  5. Ste fella says:

    The impasse will remain as long as ‘supposed’ independence supporters like Mike Small celebrate the mandating of fake independence parties like SNP and green and celebrate the poor performance of real independence parties like alba.

    Independence is not saying you would support a yes vote in a mythical never to happen again ‘indyref2’ like fake yes SNP and green. It is exposing this route as fake going down the electoral plebiscite route and declaring udi, appealing for UN recognition with the offer of a post-indy referendum free from UK interference. Only Alba does this real route but is mocked by this pathetic excuse of an independence supporter .

    1. Thanks ‘Ste fella’. I mean sure it’s a hot take. Some of my skepticism was in the article but good luck with the UN!

      1. Ste fella says:

        You think if support for independence rises despite huge demonstrable in migration from English people who overwhelmingly identify as British and vote no, there will be a section 30 granted?

        I don’t believe you do..so what’s your mechanism? You don’t have an alternative and you don’t care either

        1. Ah … the English people … here we go …

          1. Ste fella says:

            Yes the English are moving here in increasing numbers and will veto any referendum unless we either exclude them from the franchise (10year residency before vote on constitutional matters) or hurry up neither which is happening under fake yes.

            Or we just pretend we’ll persuade them like that’s worked so well in Wales.

        2. 220407 says:

          ‘…English people who overwhelmingly identify as British…’

          Those will be ‘British’ people then if they so identify.

          Is ethnic nationalism an Alba thing? Are migrants who only integrate rather than assimilate not welcome in Scotland? Are we going to require Scots to identify as ‘Scots’ as part of our Independence? If so, that’s reason enough to reject it.

          1. Ste fella says:

            They should be excluded from the franchise using a ten year residency test to qualify for votes of constitutional relevance.all real countries make such restrictions and it’s not racist to point it out, you fake yes nawbag

          2. 220407 says:

            But that kind of gerrymandering is profoundly undemocratic.

            Anyone who participates in the civic life of a community – even an imagined community like a nation – should have a voice in making the decisions that affect the life of that community, irrespective of their residency status, ethnic origins or background, beliefs, voting intentions, or whatever.

            Is restricting the franchise to ‘genuine Scots’ Alba policy?

  6. AudreyMacT says:

    Dear Bella readers Do Not Think for yourselves under any circumstances. Especially about the last two years. They happened, now they’re over and we move on building the New Scotland. The New Tory free Scotland.
    The lockdowns worked even though there is no evidence that they worked. They just worked. Ditto masks. Masks are good.
    And vaccines are good. They work. For about a week or two and then you buy a new one. It’s like a Netflix subscription but for vaxxes. And they don’t hurt you. Only mentally ill conspiracy theorists think like that. And they will be rounded up and incarcerated soon enough.
    Nicola will see to it.Nicola cares you see. She cares deeply about your health and wellbeing. Her caring vibes can be felt as far away as Caithness. For she is the good mammy.
    And Nicola is working night and day to achieve independence. Night and day. And as soon as the pestilence is driven from the land, she will have a long think. And a consultation. And once the SNP offices have been refurbished (again) she will reveal the plan. The path forward to the promised land.
    So Vote Nicola! Don’t vote Alex – he’s a bad man cos he once touched somebody’s hair. For shame. And Alba bad too. Did you know some of their membership can’t even say their name right. Cos they are working class and never studied Gaelic. That’s how lazy they are.
    So leave it to Nicola and the veterinarian bloke to control the virus. CONTROL is vital. And as soon as the virus has been controlled into submission we can free ourselves from the English oppressors. And from biology too. For women shall have penises and men will give birth to a new generation of tiny wee sexless Scots. Sexless, germ free and in CONTROL.

    1. 220406 says:

      You can’t say (in any literally meaningful way) that the measures we introduced globally to slow the spread of the pandemic ‘worked’ or ‘didn’t work’, as we’ve no way of observing what *would* have happened had we *not* introduced them. All we can say is that pandemics usually last about two years and we seem to have ridden this one out without our services being completely overwhelmed. That counts surely as success.

      And some women do have male genitalia, just as some men have female genitalia. That’s the experience of gender dysphoria, which is very real for some people.

      1. Ste fella says:

        Can women really have de willies?

        I thought it was males that have willies and women have de phannies.

        1. 220407 says:

          You’ve clearly never experienced gender dysphoria yourself and have no empathy for people who do experience it.

          What’s Alba’s position on this? Does it hold that we should integrate people who experience gender dysphoria into Scottish society or that people who experience gender dysphoria should – like the b*st*rd*n English – assimilate themselves to our existing norms? Should Scotland be an ‘open’ or ‘closed’ society? Should Scotland be for everyone or just for normal ‘Scots’?

          1. Ste fella says:

            Alba’s position is if someone wants to chop their cock off they can do so after independence and should not hijack the independence movement to achieve these aims.

          2. You know we have a zero-tolerance position on racism and bigotry, so you can take your anti-English transphobia somewehere else …

          3. 220407 says:

            In what sense is the campaign to secure equal civil rights for people who experience gender dysphoria ‘hi-jacking’ the campaign to secure independence for the Scottish government?

            All of this just reeks of bigotry and isn’t painting Alba in a particularly attractive light.

      2. AudreyMacT says:

        And right on cue up steps 220406. He’s a real Pro. Defender of the indefensible.
        Don’t think he says – there’s no point. We can never know what the outcome would be if we had done things differently. So what’s the point of stressing. Put it out of your mind.
        Then, as a keen student of Orwell, he inverts the meaning of words. The failure we are all experiencing right now in the form of higher prices is in fact success. It was caused directly by the injection of £895 billion into the financial system but don’t worry your pretty little heads over that. Leave it to the experts.. They’ll sort it out. Just repeat after me – it’s all a great success. A success.
        As I say he’s a real Pro. Pat on the back from the top brass for that one.

        1. 220407 says:

          It’s just a simple mathematical fact that counterfactual propositions are not truth-functional. There’s nothing indefensible about that.

          The cost of living crisis – the unsustainable growth in the amount of our lives we have to expend just to simply reproduce those lives – is a product of the disruption to the supply of goods and services in the global marketplace caused in large part by the pandemic and in large part by the concurrent energy and financial crises. These crises are best explained as ‘mindless’ effects of the systemic failure of capitalism and not as the conscious work of some hidden global conspiracy of bad guys; that is, as natural rather than moral phenomena.

          It’s true that our governments invested heavily in trying to minimise the disruption caused by the pandemic and the measures we took to slow its spread, and that this investment too has had a cost that we now need to meet somehow. But the alternative of doing nothing during the pandemic and letting it freely run its course to unknowable and potentially disastrous outcomes was unpalatable to most of our politicians, whose job within the established system is to command and control.

          It’s for this reason too that they’ll intervene to mitigate the ‘mindless’ effects of the global cost of living crisis, just as they intervened to mitigate the ‘mindless’ effects of the 2008 global financial crisis. And they’ll go on firefighting in an attempt to retain command and control until capitalism finally crashes and burns.

          1. AudreyMacT says:


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