WITH less than a week to go until the UK General Election, two particular problems face pundits, pollsters and political managers: the extent of vote-switching going on and relative turnout for the political parties.

Eminent psephologists like Sir John Curtice have expertly explained the impact that Brexit is having on people, such as Labour Leavers or Conservative Remainers, and the uncertainty about their choices in this election. In Scotland, the independence question looms, large with the SNP appealing to Yes voters to support the right to choose the country’s future, while the Tories are blatantly appealing for tactical Labour and LibDem voters to stop indyref2, while hoping nobody notices they are the party of Boris Johnson and Brexit.

What is not yet clear is who is more motivated. In 2015 it was a wave of Yes supporters turning out in droves that washed the yellow SNP wave across Scotland, returning a remarkable 56 out of 59 seats. In 2017, a large number of those very same voters were less motivated and didn’t vote at all, while No supporters were more inclined to turn out, causing the SNP to lose 21 seats. So what are we to make of the latest indication of opinion in Scotland? According to YouGov in The Times yesterday, the SNP is currently clearly in the lead at 44%, the Tories behind on 28%, Labour at 15% and LibDems at 12%. Such a result would mean another SNP victory and mandate for indyref2, with the SNP netting extra seats, while the other parties would clearly have lost the election.

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All of that comes with three large caveats. Firstly, the only poll that really matters is the one on polling day next Thursday when actual votes determine the results; secondly, whose supporters have turned out in larger relative numbers; and thirdly, to what extent tactical voting bucks national trends in close local races.

Opinion polls are of course just a snapshot of opinion. They are subject to reweighting by the pollsters and are a by-product of their methodology, all of which can skew findings. Some types of voters are more reluctant to share their views. Some are easier to reach by phone, face-to-face or online. How does one accurately reweight a sample during considerable churn on issues like Brexit and indyref2?

The National:

On relative turnout, who is more motivated? Are the push-and-pull factors about Boris Johnson, Brexit and independence going to motivate or deter in equal or disproportionate number? Is there a scunner factor? Are there regional variations? What difference are the party campaign activities having? Have enough core voters and potential switchers been identified and encouraged to turn out more effectively than those the opposing campaigns have managed to reach? How about the different turnout of voters by age group, with older voters significantly more likely to vote than younger voters?

Meanwhile, 46 of Scotland’s 59 Westminster seats are classified as marginal, where the last winning incumbent has a majority totalling less than 10% of the vote. There are 15 seats where there is a close SNP-Tory tussle, but the Labour vote was just under a fifth, while there are 28 constituencies where in a SNP-Labour contest the Tory vote is just under a fifth. Are there enough Labour voters prepared to lend their vote to the SNP to defeat the Tories? Are there Tories who would vote for Jeremy Corbyn’s party to block Nicola Sturgeon’s candidate?

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The detailed results of next week’s UK General Election are difficult to predict, especially in Scotland, where relative turnout and vote-switching might be key. I am confident, however, that the SNP will win the most votes and seats in Scotland. There is not a single poll or serious pollster who suggests that the Tories will win north of the Border for the first time since 1955.

If the Tories lose the election in Scotland having campaigned for a mandate to stop indyref2, it puts them and Boris Johnson in a difficult situation. How many elections does the SNP have to win for a referendum to go ahead? What kind of democracy is the UK that denies the election winner their mandate? What kind of “family of nations” repeatedly ignores a key family member? If the General Election delivers a hung parliament then SNP MPs will be in a powerful position.

So, if you don’t like or trust Boris Johnson and his Tory policies, if you don’t want a damaging Brexit, if you do want Scotland’s future to be in Scotland’s hands, then you must vote SNP.

Tell your family, tell your friends and workmates. Every vote will count. Opinion poll leads are not enough, it is winning on polling day that matters. Next Thursday on December 12, vote for the SNP.