Almost a month since it was carried out the most recent YouGov poll for the SNP has been published on the YouGov website, I know some of my readers have been anxiously awaiting it!

The topline voting intention figures for Westminster are CON 18%, LAB 42%, LDEM 11%, SNP 27%. Compared to the last general election the Conservatives are up 2 points, Labour up 3 points, the Liberal Democrats down 12 points and the SNP up by 9 points. It was conducted between the 1st and 4th October. To put this is context, when this poll was conducted at the beginning of the month YouGov’s GB polls were still showing a 4 point Labour lead. Overall the pattern here is pretty much the same as the GB polls were at the time, a small Conservative and Labour advance with the Lib Dems collapsing, the difference being the strong progess of the SNP. Since this poll was taken of course we’ve seen a reverse in the national opinion polls, so it seems likely that the picture will have changed in Scotland to and Labour may not be doing so well.

The approval ratings for the Scottish Executive remain positive, 60% thinking they are doing a good job and 27% a bad job. The same applies for Alex Salmond, with 63% saying good job (including a majority of supporters of all parties) and 25% bad job. No figures have been released for voting intention at Holyrood – I don’t know if they were included, I haven’t looked since if I did know I couldn’t tell you anyway! This is a private poll for the SNP so while the methodology will be same as YouGov’s normal methodology for Scottish poll and the figures that are released can be trusted, the SNP aren’t obliged to publish findings they don’t wish to.

Meanwhile some of the findings of the annual survey of Scottish Social Attitudes have been published. This is an annual academic study using a genuine random sample – a slow and expensive process, hence the fact it was carried out over several months between May and August 2007. Asked about Scotland’s relationship with the UK they found only 23% in favour of complete independence, the lowest recorded since the SSA started asking the question in 1997 and down from 30% in 2006 and 35% in 2005.

The SNP responded to this poll by pointing to a more recent poll, published by TNS System Three in September (but carried out in August), that found 35% in support of Independence, claiming it showed a 12 point increase in support. This is somewhat disingenous, it could potentially be a better measure of Scottish sentiment, but it certainly doesn’t show an increase in support for Independence, the two questions were entirely different.

The TNS poll asked people how they would vote in a referendum on Scottish Independence, using the wording that had been proposed in the SNP’s white paper – it found 35% would vote “I AGREE that the Scottish Government should negotiate a settlement with the Government of the United Kingdom so that Scotland becomes an independent state” and 50% would vote “I DO NOT AGREE that the Scottish Government should negotiate a settlement with the Government of the United Kingdom so that Scotland becomes an independent state”. The SSA survey gave the people the choice of complete independence, a Scottish Parliament with or without tax raising powers or no Scottish Parliament.

In short TNS were asking a straight referendum voting intention question, where people only had the two options of independence or not, while the SSA gave people the range of options.

TNS’s question is obviously the right approach if you want to see how people might vote in a referendum tomorrow, but it is worded to reflect that, not to best elicit people’s actual preference for the constitutional framework for Scotland. In fact, generally speaking you will always find a higher level of support in Scottish polls that ask “Independence yes or no” than in ones that ask “Independence, or the Scottish Parliament you’ve got at the moment”

59 Responses to “Latest Scottish Polls”

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  1. John T,

    “Scotland could well follow that path if its independent economy took a turn for the worse. That’s one reason to preserve the status quo”.

    Economies can go up or down like stocks and shares, so that’s hardly a positive argument. It’s a bit like saying you could get wet in the rain but you can avoid it you never go out. True but hardly positive, as if you stay at home you could miss out on a lot of good thing too.

    “borders make conflict more likely and therefore should be rubbed out where possible, not fortified, but that, as a strong positive reason, is there”.

    Some borders are incredibly stable (US/Canada), and some countries riven by internal strife (Pakistan and indeed the Congo and Iraq), We tend to give more emphasis to national wars because both sides tend to be better organised and armed.

    The collapse of Yugoslavia was particularly bloody but not because of the borders themselves but because people resorted to force to overturn democratic decisions. It’s not borders that cause wars it’s people.

    They might fight across borders but not always because of them. Still if you think borders are the problem lets get rid of the UK and go for a federal Europe, with the Greeks and the Turks in it.

    As to “union makes miltary sense”, that depends on the foreign and security policy that is followed.

    Scots don’t want Trident and Scotland wouldn’t be a nuclear power. The majority of Scots including those elected to Holyrood and Westminster (Scots MP’s) opposed the war in Iraq, so the union for us doesn’t make military sense in some cases.

    Equally, as I said before, the neutral countries in Europe are no less secure than the UK some more so, and in Nato small nations like Norway, Denmark and Belguim seem to be able to provide security for their citizeans without being incorporated in to a larger state.

    The UK spends about 2.5% GDP, the US about 4.5%. But Canada only spends about 1%, and it seems to get by okay.

    A standard unionst line ( I know when the SNP say unionist it sounds really negative but I use it in a neutral sense as it is the unifing feature of the parties that oppose independence) is that Scotland would be weak and isolated without Britain’s and Nato’s protection, portraying the SNP position as unique and dangerous.

    But if you look at small Western European countries there are as many in Nato as out, and spending and defence profile differs hugely within both groups. The reality is that each nation makes it’s own choices and there is no right or wrong answer.


  2. It’s not borders that cause wars it’s people.

    Still if you think borders are the problem lets get rid of the UK and go for a federal Europe

    I just want to pick you up on these two statements first. People create borders, either after wars, or before them. If we were to start again with a blank sheet of paper, we wouldn’t draw lines across our island and call it three countries.

    We don’t need to get rid of the UK in order to create a federal layer of government in Europe – it already exists. Too expensive and “unfair” for some, but it’s not a bad thing per se. I’d be happy for Greece, Turkey and eventually other countries further east to join.

    The general point I make is that Scottish people need to make their decision, and so far it’s these issues that I believe make the ideal of independence unpopular up there. I really don’t see your position (let’s we Scots stop behaving like teenagers) cutting much ice. You wonder what the reasons are for not wanting independence – you’ll be a long time waiting to win the argument if you don’t know what the obstacles to agreement are.

  3. Doubtless I could find the information elsewhere on this site, but to save effort how would these percentages be predicted to change into actual seats?

  4. Well said Frederic :)
    Philip – essentially it’s up to the wife. The UK would probably wish her well, breathe a sigh of relief, and maybe even save a bit of money (as long as no alimony was agreed)

  5. John T,

    “If we were to start again with a blank sheet of paper, we wouldn’t draw lines across our island and call it three countries.”

    But the real world doesn’t work like that….

    It’s like the joke about asking an irishman for directions;

    “well I wouldn’t start from here”.

    It may be true but it doesn’t get you anywhere.

    Borders arise from and represent differences and tensions peoples sense of identity and culture. They are organic and essentially a physical representation of social differences.

    As such the differences come before the the borders rather than being created by them.

    There are some exceptions like the creation of Iraq, Yugoslavia and indeed Israel, not to mention the colonial carve up of Africa and the combination of states in to form India.

    I’d have to say that I think that by and large the ones that grew up over time and expanded in to each other so that borders represent where different peoples and cultures meet have faired better than those where people have started with a blank sheet and tried to divide territory up.


  6. you say “some exceptions” then go a bit Monty Python! That’s a lot of conflict! Clearly the real world does work like that. You might have added the carve-up of Ireland – very close to home, where the hatred just below the skin was easily exposed by scratches to the surface.

    Those borders you mention were no doubt drawn up with the intention of preventing conflict, – what occurred was unintended. That’s a reason for caution, whenever a new border is suggested. What are the things we can foresee, and what un-predictable events should be providing measures to deal with.

    Has the SNP carried out surveys to discover why Scottish people haven’t wanted independence so far?

  7. John T

    “Has the SNP carried out surveys to discover why Scottish people haven’t wanted independence so far?”

    Good question John.
    The answer would appear to be no-since they just keep assuming it will happen:-

    “Scotland Free by 93”
    “Nationalist Heaven by 07”

    and now apparently ditto by 2017

    Actually the Scottish Centre for Social Research Poll found 55% of Scots do want a Scottish Parliament with full taxation powers.
    Subject to what this actually means, it occurs to me that the Conservatives might look at it carefully.If it has any synergy with their emerging policies for more local accountability re Police & Council Tax etc there might be a policy agenda here for Scotland which actually matches the aspirations of it’s people.

    Rather amused that The President of the European Parliament is just reported to have advised Scotland to stay in the UK. THe SNP have told him to mind his own business-but I think they will struggle to find any sympathy for aspirations of nationhood & individuality in the EU institutions!-all very amusing for a “Eurorealist” !!

  8. Colin
    The Conservatives will look at that at their peril in my view. The reason why Cameron is banging on about local accountability has everything to do with the LibDem leadership and winnable votes therefrom. The last thing the establishment wants is a risky strategy, and if nothing else Cameron is pro-establishment.

    I haven’t read what you have from the EU, but I imagine that advice is informed by the fact that they don’t particularly fancy unravelling (and then re-ravelling) the connections to the EU from a new nation and from an old one that has new,incomprehensible (EU-Wise) constitutional issues.

    Peter has the privilege and burden of his own status as an SNP councillor, and I wouldn’t dream of thinking that you, Colin, or I could change his fundamental views.

    I am most interested in finding out how the SNP is going to set about winning the argument, given that it has gained a strong position by attaining power in Scotland.

  9. John T,

    As a former Labour supporter brought up in a Labour household who voted for them up until John Smith died (and in some respects the old labour party with him) I’ve changed my fundamental beliefs once before.

    For me and I think this could be what the SNP needs to do, London represented a layer of Government that we didn’t need anymore.

    With no empire, no cold war, globalisation and free trade, anything that couldn’t be done unilaterally in Scotland could be done through agreement as part of the EU (for all it’s flaws).

    Back two decade ago Scotland had five tears of government, Europe, Westminster, the Scotland Office, Regional and District Councils. We went for unitary councils which combined two, but then added Holyrood.

    I am for three, the EU ( larger, but no more powerful and if possible less), Scotland and the Councils. That’s probably more than enough government for any country.


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