UK local, Scottish and Welsh elections minus four days

Two polls have a sizeable swing back to Labour before Friday’s (AEST) elections. Also: Joe Biden’s ratings after 100 days and German election polls.

Guest post by Adrian Beaumont, who joins us from time to time to provide commentary on elections internationally. Adrian is an honorary associate at the University of Melbourne. His work on electoral matters for The Conversation can be found here, and his own website is here.

UK local government elections will be held on Thursday, with polls closing at 7am Friday AEST. Elections for the Scottish and Welsh parliaments will also be held. Owing to COVID, no elections were held in 2020, so these elections will combine the normal 2021 with the rescheduled 2020 elections.

The key statistic for assessing the performance of the parties is the Projected National Share (PNS). This is calculated by assuming elections were held across the whole UK, correcting for bias in where elections were actually held.

In the 2016 cycle, which would normally have been up in 2020, the PNS was Labour 31%, Conservative 30%, Lib Dem 15% and UKIP 12%. In 2017, it was Conservative 38%, Labour 27% and Lib Dem 18%. The 2017 local elections were held a month before the 2017 general election at which the Conservatives lost their majority.

The Scottish and Welsh elections use first past the post with regional lists. Parties that win a large proportion of FPTP seats will earn few regional seats, so the system is far more proportional than the simple FPTP used at UK general elections and most councils.

National UK polls currently give the Conservatives about 42%, Labour 35%, the Lib Dems 8% and the Greens 5%. In the last week, two polls have shown a shift to Labour, with the Conservative lead in Survation dropping from six points to one, and in Opinium from 11 points to five. This narrowing has not been replicated in all polls. If it is real, perhaps it is attributable to PM Boris Johnson’s recent scandals.

In Scotland, the Britain Elects tracker has the Scottish National Party (SNP) on 62 of the 129 seats, three short of a majority. The Conservatives have 26 seats, Labour 25, the Greens 11 and Lib Dems five. This outcome would likely result in a continuation of the existing SNP/Green coalition. There has been a recent slide in SNP support in both FPTP and regional list polling, and No to independence has pulled ahead 51-49.

Labour is likely to remain the largest party at the Welsh election, though they will find it difficult to find a governing partner. In other important contests, Labour’s Sadiq Khan is certain to retain London’s mayoralty. There is also a Westminster by-election in Labour-held Hartlepool. In 2019, Labour would probably have lost Hartlepool, which they have held since 1964, if not for vote splitting between the Conservatives and Brexit party.

After first 100 days, Biden has 54% approval rating

It is 102 days since Joe Biden began his term as US president on January 20. In the FiveThirtyEight aggregate, his ratings with all polls are 54.0% approve, 41.1% disapprove (net +12.9%). With polls of likely or registered voters, Biden’s ratings are 53.8% approve, 42.0% disapprove (net +11.8%). For the duration of his presidency, Biden’s approval has been between 53% and 55%.

FiveThirtyEight has ratings of presidents since Harry Truman (president from 1945-53). At this stage of their presidencies, Biden’s net approval is only ahead of Donald Trump and Gerald Ford (who took over after Richard Nixon’s resignation in 1974).

The US economy, boosted by stimulus payments, appears to be recovering very well from COVID, but attempted illegal immigration has surged since Biden became president. The key question is how Biden’s ratings look at the November 2022 midterms, when the president’s party normally loses seats.

Democrats performed badly at a federal House by-election in Texas on Saturday. Trump beat Biden by just three points in this district, but Republicans overall crushed Democrats 62-37. Democrats failed to make the top two, meaning the runoff will be R vs R.

Greens narrowly lead CDU/CSU in Germany

In January the moderate Armin Laschet won the CDU leadership, but was challenged for the joint leadership of the CDU/CSU by the CSU’s Markus Söder. The CSU only runs in the state of Bavaria, and is regarded as more right-wing than the CDU. On April 19, the CDU’s federal board ruled in Laschet’s favour by 31-9.

Since this vote, the Greens have surged into the mid to high 20’s, while the CDU/CSU has fallen to the low 20’s. Overall, the left-wing parties (Greens, Social Democrats and Left) are a little ahead of the right-wing parties (CDU/CSU, far-right AfD and pro-business FDP). Will this polling movement hold up until the German election on September 26? Germany uses proportional representation with a 5% threshold.

36 comments on “UK local, Scottish and Welsh elections minus four days”

  1. A fundamental question in Germany is whether the mainstream parties will be willing to deal with either AfD or Die Linke.
    Greens and SPD may be willing to talk with Linke but I doubt if anyone will want to deal with AfD

  2. I think you are right, Oakeshott County.

    Depending on the numbers in September, I wonder if the Greens and SDP would rather form a coalition with the FDP than Die Linke.

    It does come down to the negotiations. But the FDP seem currently only willing to be part of a CDU/CSU coalition.

  3. “Greens and SPD may be willing to talk with Linke but I doubt if anyone will want to deal with AfD”

    Yep, everyone has ruled out working with the AfD as far as I am aware. Germans are very wary of racist far-right extremists, for obvious reasons. It’s great that they are even shunned by the other right wing parties. It’s a real shame that’s not the case here in Australia with the likes of One Nation, whom often team up with the Coalition.

    On current polling, I think it is possible for there to be a coalition of the left only, Green-Red-Red. That would be the ideal result. The current Black-Red CDU/CSU/SPD coalition would no longer have the numbers to form government. Long way to go though so who knows what the possible coalition options will be after the election.

  4. Hoping the SNP and Greens end up with a nice big pro-independence majority and give Boris Johnson a real headache.

    There’s no doubt that the Scots deserve another referendum after being dragged out of the EU against their will. That wasn’t what they signed up for.

  5. Theo Andelini says:
    Tuesday, May 4, 2021 at 11:50 am

    Interestingly the current polling shows a preference to remain in the UK – just like it did before the last Referendum. When it is lost do they go for Best of Five?

  6. Bu
    “Interestingly the current polling shows a preference to remain in the UK – just like it did before the last Referendum. When it is lost do they go for Best of Five?”

    I think it’s a lot like the independence movement in Quebec. When they lose, they try for another attempt… and then another. The Referendum becomes a Neverendum.

  7. “Interestingly the current polling shows a preference to remain in the UK – just like it did before the last Referendum. When it is lost do they go for Best of Five?”

    Depends on what poll you look at. Some yes is ahead, some no. It’s close. The most recent poll I can find has yes in front though…

    Nope not best of five – the fight for independence will not stop until Scotland is free from the UK, nor should it. You can count on that.

  8. Although UK Labour’s made up some ground nationally, it ain’t looking good for them in Hartlepool. Remember that non-Uni whites are increasingly voting Tory the world over.

    Britain Elects @BritainElects
    Hartlepool, constituency voting intention:

    CON: 50% (+1)
    LAB: 33% (-9)
    IND (Walker): 6% (+4)
    IND (Lee): 6% (+6)
    GRN: 3% (+2)
    REFUK: 1% (-)

    via @Survation, 23 – 29 Apr
    Chgs. w/ 03 Apr

  9. Latest polling has a staggering 70% of Republicans saying Biden didn’t win the election fair and square. That equates to 30% of the electorate. Given that degree of mass delusion and hyper-partisanship, I’d posit Biden and the Democrats would be quite chuffed with his numbers. Biden doing well with 18-34’s, moderates and progressives seem to be pleasantly surprised with him (for good reason I’d argue). I note with interest that Bill Maher, who is a regular harsh critic of moderate Dems, was glowing in his praise of Biden’s first 100 days the other night on his show. Video link below.

  10. “Latest polling has a staggering 70% of Republicans saying Biden didn’t win the election fair and square. That equates to 30% of the electorate.”


    They are living in their own little brainwashed world. Trump lost fair and square. It’s easier for them to think that they were cheated than to admit the truth, which is that Trump is completely incompetent and totally mishandled the response to the pandemic. That is the real reason why he is no longer president. He only has himself to blame.


    “moderates and progressives seem to be pleasantly surprised with him [Biden]”


    I would caution people against reading the mood from the likes of CNN or MSNBC – they’re Fox News for the establishment. I was amazed how far to the right they have drifted when I was watching them during the primaries, constantly campaigning for the establishment against the left. They all have their agendas. Many progressives are far from impressed with Biden. His watered down climate policies don’t go nearly far enough, he is still abusing asylum seekers just like Trump, he’s selling billions in arms to countries like the UAE so they can go and bomb Yemen, etc… At least he’s taking the pandemic seriously though.

    It’s great Trump is gone, for sure, but the campaign to remove Biden from office and replace him with a real left wing progressive has already begun. Do not make the mistake of believing that real left wing progressives are content with someone like him.

  11. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortex (AOC) is one of the most left-wing members of Congress. She recently said Biden had exceeded progressives’ expectations.

    In this Gallup poll, 94% of Democrats approve of Biden’s performance. Independents are at 58% with Republicans at just 11%.

    It’s nonsense to claim there’s some great pining for a president more progressive than Biden.

  12. “Alexandria Ocasio-Cortex (AOC) is one of the most left-wing members of Congress. She recently said Biden had exceeded progressives’ expectations.”

    When expectations are so low, that’s not a high bar to clear.

    That’s the same AOC by the way who recently blasted Biden for breaking his promises…

    With all due respect, Adrian, it is nonsense to suggest that there isn’t a desire for a more progressive administration. The centre-right establishment may be happy with Biden, that is true, but that’s far from everybody.

    You need only look at recent moves by AOC, Sanders and others to reintroduce the Green New Deal, pushing for much more action on climate change than the Biden Admin is undertaking. To suggest that the progressive left is content with Biden is to ignore reality.

    Joe Biden’s Foreign Policy Has Been Horrendous:

    Joe Biden’s Foreign Policy Isn’t About Democracy or Human Rights — It’s About Maintaining US Dominance:

    For Climate Progressives, Biden’s $2.25 Trillion Isn’t Enough

    As a candidate, Joe Biden garnered nearly unanimous support from environmentalists, progressives, and clean energy advocates for his promise to reconfigure the U.S. economy for the fight against climate change.

    But as president, his $2.25 trillion jobs-and-infrastructure blueprint—released Wednesday and meant to fulfill much of that campaign pledge—received a much less harmonious welcome.

    “Today I find myself caught between two truths,” said Varshini Prakash, executive director of the youth climate activist group the Sunrise Movement. “This infrastructure plan is a historic step forward that would not have been possible without us,” she said, referring to fellow young protesters and advocates of the Green New Deal. And yet, “so much more is needed to reach the scale of what is necessary to truly transform this country to stop the climate crisis.”

    There you go, even an establishment media outlet owned by a sexist pig (Bloomberg) is pointing out that real progressives are pushing for more than Biden is offering. There is plenty of criticism of Biden out there if you are willing to listen to it. It’s absurd and completely false to suggest that there isn’t.

  13. Ocasio-Cortez Sees Green New Deal Progress In Biden Plan, But ‘It’s Not Enough’

    Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez had a blunt initial response to the prospect of a new, climate-focused infrastructure package weighing in at around $2 trillion.

    “The size of it is disappointing. It’s not enough,” she said.

    Says it all. Not enough. Not even close to it. It would be great if people would refrain from misrepresenting the position of the progressive left in the future.

  14. Buce, Sturgeon is simply saying she won’t hold a vote that wouldn’t count anyway. If you’re going to have a Referendum it has to be done the right way, especially when the question is so pivotal to the future of both Scotland and the UK.

    If the Scots vote in a pro-independence majority, those parties will have a mandate to hold the Referendum. Labour and the Tories, and Johnson in particular, would be incredibly foolish to deny the democratic will of the Scottish in that situation.

  15. Damn! If you thought the progressive left of the Dems were critical of Biden’s weak climate policies, just have a read of Howie Hawkins absolutely ripping them to shreds in this brilliant article.


    President Biden’s Earth Day pledge to cut carbon emissions by 50% to 52% by 2030 is a promise he cannot keep. The White House Fact Sheet released with Biden’s pledge added nothing to the climate actions in his American Jobs Plan announced on March 31. The 12,000-word White House Fact Sheet on the American Jobs Plan hardly mentions the climate. The plan is presented as a jobs through infrastructure program with only a fraction of it impacting carbon emissions.

    The climate emergency demands a radical and rapid decarbonization of the U.S. economy with numerical goals and timetables to transform all productive sectors, not only power production (27% of carbon emissions), but also transportation (28%), manufacturing (22%), buildings (12%), and agriculture (10%). It also requires that the U.S. pay its “climate debt” as the world’s largest historical carbon emitter and destroyer of carbon-storing forests, wetlands, and soils. Paying that climate debt would not only be reparations to the Global South for deforestation and fossil fuel emissions by the rich capitalist countries, but also an investment in the habitability of the planet for everyone. This emergency transformation can only be met by an ecosocialist approach emphasizing democratic public enterprise and planning.

    Instead, Biden’s plan features corporate welfare: subsidies and tax incentives for clean energy that will take uncertain effect at a leisurely pace in the markets. It does nothing to stop more oil and gas fracking and pipelines for more gas-fired power plants, or to shut down coal-fired power plants. Without out directly saying so, it is a plan to burn fossil fuels for decades to come.

    The scale of spending falls pathetically short of what is needed to decarbonize the economy. An effective plan would not only reach zero emissions on a fast timeline. It would also move quickly toward negative emissions. We have to draw carbon out of the atmosphere because we are already well past carbon levels that are triggering dangerous climate change.

    Biden’s stated goal of a 50% cut in emissions does not actually cut current emissions in half. His proposed 50% cut is from a baseline of 2005 when emissions were at their peak, not what they are today. Emissions were 6 GtC (gigatons of carbon dioxide) in 2005. Due to a leveling of electric power demand, a trend away from coal to wind, solar, and gas for electric power, and more energy-efficient vehicles, U.S. emissions were down 13% from 2005 by 2019 to 5.1 GtC and, due to the covid contraction, down 21% in 2020 to 4.6 GtC, although emissions are now soaring back up as the economy re-opens. Biden’s goal of 50% below 2005 is 3 GtC per year in emissions instead of 2.5 GtC if 2019 were the baseline, or 2.3 GtC if 2020 were the baseline.

    Biden provided no explanation for how the U.S. will get to the precisely stated range of “50% to 52%.” 52% seems to be an arbitrary number pulled out of the air so he can say he is aiming for more than 50%. Greta Thunberg’s video prebuttal to the targets that were to be announced by Biden and the other 40 world leaders at his Earth Day Climate Summit saw right through the staged spectacle. “We can keep cheating in order to pretend that these targets are in line with what is needed, but while we can fool others, and even ourselves, we cannot fool nature and physics….Let’s call out their bullshit.”

    There is a hell of a lot more to that article at the link. It’s quite long and goes into great detail highlighting Biden’s climate shortcomings. Well worth a read for those who either think Biden is doing or enough or who are under the misguided belief that the actual progressive left is supportive of him.

  16. United States: Biden’s ‘bullshit’ climate promises

    United States President Joe Biden held a meeting of world leaders in late April to discuss climate change and call for new commitments on carbon emissions.

    Climate activist and leader Greta Thunberg released a video the day before the summit began, denouncing it as “bullshit”.

    When you compare the overall current best available science to their insufficient, hypothetical “climate targets” you clearly see that there’s a gap, there are decades missing.
    Until we adress this gap, no real solutions will be found.
    Let’s call out the bullsh*t.#MindTheGap

    — Greta Thunberg (@GretaThunberg) April 22, 2021

    “At the Leaders Climate Summit, countries will present their new climate commitments, like net-zero emissions by 2050. They will call these hypothetical targets ‘ambitious’. But when you compare their insufficient targets with the overall current best available science, you clearly see that there’s a gap. There are decades missing.”

    What are the missing decades? The science Thunberg is referring to is the conclusion that we must reduce global emissions to zero by 2030, to avoid catastrophic consequences.

    To reach that target, we should have already begun to cut back carbon emissions, but instead the world continues to move in the opposite direction.

    All over the world the progressive left is calling out Biden’s “bullshit”.

    And remember, Biden’s weak and watered down policies still somehow manage to make Labor and the Coalition look terrible and bring shame on Australia for lagging so damn far behind. That’s how bad we’re going – we’re even worse than bullshit!

  17. Snowden: Assange prosecution shows Biden’s lip service to press freedom

    American whistleblower Edward Snowden says the US government still seeks to jail WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange for the act of journalism despite US President Joe Biden’s claim of praise for “heroic independent media” on World Press Freedom Day.

    Snowden tweeted on Monday that, “This would be more persuasive if the White House weren’t aggressively seeking an 175-year sentence for the publisher of award-winning journalism of global importance – despite pleas from every significant press freedom and human rights organization.”

    While the Biden administration continues to pursue an 18-count indictment against the founder of whistleblower website WikiLeaks, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken hailed what he called the “US devotion to press freedom” and “the safety of journalists worldwide.”

    Biden also highlighted the importance of “truth-tellers who refuse to be intimidated” while celebrating World Press Freedom Day.

    Assange faces nearly two centuries behind bars, with most charges linked to the publication of classified material – such as the Iraq and Afghan war logs – leaked in 2010 by former army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning.

    What a disgrace. And why the hell isn’t the Australian Government demanding the release and repatriation of an Australian whistleblower who exposed war crimes? Rhetorical question – we already know that those who support John Howard’s barbarity don’t give a rats about war crimes.

  18. Scottish election: Final Times poll forecasts SNP and major gains for Greens

    The SNP is set for a four-seat majority as the Scottish Greens could more than double their number of MSPs, a new poll suggests.

    The final study by YouGov for The Times of this election cycle of 1,144 Scots, released just hours before the last televised debate, put the SNP on 52% in the constituency and 38% on the regional list.

    While the Scottish Greens will take 13% of the regional vote.

    Modelling by polling expert Professor Sir John Curtice has the SNP on 68 seats, a majority of four, while the Greens will take 13 seats, more than double their current haul of five.

  19. Scottish election: SNP could lose out on majority, poll predicts

    The worst polling for the SNP since October 2019 reveals the party could miss out on a majority by six seats in the Holyrood election.

    The new poll, conducted by Savanta ComRes for The Scotsman, projects the SNP will secure 42% of the constituency vote and 34% of the list vote.

    This would see it return 59 MSPs – four below the 2016 result.

    A total of 65 is needed for a majority.

    The poll included a survey of 1,001 Scottish adults aged 18 or over which was carried out between April 30 and May 4.

    However, the poll shows there would still be a pro-independence majority in the Scottish Parliament, since the Scottish Greens are projected to return nine MSPs with 9% of the list vote.

    That’s three more than the party returned in 2016.

    Two quite different polls on the same day. Makes it pretty hard to know what is going to happen. Both predict a pro-independence majority though.

  20. Geez, do you have an off-switch?

    Anyway, on the topic of this thread: I think I have given my thoughts on Starmer’s leadership so far (they’re not kind.) Although, I am also of the mindset that the problem is deep into UK Labour’s core. I’ll wait until Friday’s results before I start having a serious analysis of the state of play over there though.

  21. “Geez, do you have an off-switch?

    Anyway, on the topic of this thread:”

    You already know I don’t lol. Relentless campaigner for the progressive left!

    One of the topics of the thread is Biden’s performance since taking office, otherwise I would not have gone there. It’s the “international” thread.

  22. Rational leftist

    You’ll have to wait for Saturday evening for full results as counting is being split across two days and no Scottish region will count all its seats and votes in one day. Plus of course you can’t allocate the list seats until all the votes in both sections have been counted.

    The fact there is such a large difference between the poll for the SNP in the constituency section and the list section shows that a good proportion of Scots know how the system works and are willing to vary their vote. It even shows SNP voters voting differently in each section.

    The SNP needs to do very well in the list section if it’s to get additional seats and win a majority.

  23. On Biden, the first AOC tweet Theo quoted was critical of a policy that Biden abandoned after less than a day, BECAUSE of a backlash from the left of his party.

    In general, the biggest source of frustration for the left in the US is the Senate. Dems only hold it on Harris’ casting vote (it’s 50-50 D-R). West Virginia Dem Manchin is often a problem on progressive legislation (Trump won WV by almost 40 points, so that’s to be expected). On much legislation, you need a 3/5 majority (60 votes) to end the filibuster.

  24. One of my favourite TV memories was when the UK Election Exit Polls came out and all the Lefties immediately realised that they were getting flogged and BREXIT was done.

  25. “On Biden, the first AOC tweet Theo quoted was critical of a policy that Biden abandoned after less than a day, BECAUSE of a backlash from the left of his party.”

    Kind of proves my point, don’t you think? If Biden was being this wonderful progressive president, actual lefty progressives like AOC wouldn’t have to publicly demand that he stop supporting and continuing Trump era asylum seeker policies, would they. It took far longer than just a day for him to actually lift the cap too. Meanwhile, the actual people we are talking about here – asylum seekers – continued to suffer under Biden’s watch. It’s only because of real progressives like AOC and co getting stuck into him that he was forced to back down.

  26. “One of my favourite TV memories was when the UK Election Exit Polls came out and all the Lefties immediately realised that they were getting flogged and BREXIT was done.”

    No exit polls in Scotland this time apparently, due to covid precautions at polling stations.

  27. Theo Adelini

    Howie Hawkins is a star.
    But this thread is about UK elections.
    Maybe go to the general thread with your interesting but off topic rants.

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