There was a new Ipsos MORI Scotland poll out this morning, using the wording that Alex Salmond has suggested for the Scottish referendum.

“Do you agree that Scotland should be an independent country?”

Topline results were 37% Yes, 50% No, 13% Don’t know. Taking only those certain to vote boost support for YES slightly, shifting the balance to Yes 39%, No 50%. On the other hand, those saying NO were more likely to say they had definitely decided how to vote. Full tabs are here.

As an aside, a year or two ago I did try to encourage people to keep discussion of Scottish independence to threads about Scottish polling, as it was developing a tendency to turn up and transform every discussion on the site into one about Scottish independence. It is starting to get that way again, so can I ask commenters to try and keep discussion of Scottish independence to threads about Scotland – like this one.

87 Responses to “Ipsos MORI poll on Scottish Independence”

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  1. @Neil A, @Hooded Man

    Just to echo @Hal, for the avoidance of all doubt, note that I only cited the McGuinness wording in order to provide an example of how such a question could be put in a constitutionally clear rather than ambiguous manner. The entirely predictable presence of the contentious republican terms that you point out doesn’t have a bearing on that point.

  2. Phil

    If you are seriously suggesting that ” retain the link” as against “be part of” is a “constitutionally clear rather than ambiguous manner”, then you really need to understand the meaning of words.

    What single part of McGuiness’s suggested question would pass scrutiny?

  3. Phil,

    Absolutely. We can salute the attempt at ‘clarity’, whilst expressing disappointment at the inherent bias….

    We should just ask Anthony and his ilk to assist in the construction of such referendum questions.
    As long as he doesn’t veer into “Is Alec Salmond too ugly to lead Scotland into independence?” ;-)

  4. Old Nat,

    Salmond’s ‘question’ is terrible. McGuiness’s is not great either.
    But the Irish ‘question’, though laden with bias, at least starts off down the road of “do you want to be part of the UK or part of a united Ireland”. Either/or.
    Salmond’s fall woefully short of that…….

  5. HOODED.

    Salmond has explained why he doesn’t want to refer to UK :-

    ” The Scottish First Minister said introducing the UK into the question would “confuse the issue” because the country would retain the Queen as head of state after breaking the political union.

    Mr Salmond responded to suggestions on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show that voters should be asked if they want to leave the UK instead. The First Minister said: “It is SNP policy to have the Queen as our head of state.

    “That union, that United Kingdom if you like, would be maintained after Scottish political independence.

    “I think that’s a real stumbling block about putting forward a question of the United Kingdom.”

    Asked if that meant Scotland could still be regarded as being in the UK after independence, Mr Salmond said: “I don’t think it’s a very good idea to confuse the issue by talking about united kingdoms when what we’re talking about is political independence.” ”

    Yorkshire Post.

    He is -as you can see-helpfully trying to avoid “confusion”.

    :-) :-) :-)

  6. @Colin

    That’s what Salmond claims. Many other countries, for example Australia, manage to retain the Queen as head of state yet demonstrably manage also to be outside of THE United Kingdom (as opposed to “united kingdoms”). So I don’t buy a word of it.

    See attached. Lovely picture of the Queen of Australia in cream dress and big hat.


    I suspect that you don’t understand what a referendum is. It’s not an opinion poll.

    A Government proposes an action. The voters are asked whether they agree with that action or not.

    The actual wording of the question may be altered after testing, but it won’t be altered to something along the McGuiness line.

    Those of you suggesting that there is anything at all in that question which would pass scrutiny are grasping at straws.

  8. Do the SNP actually need to have a referendum?

    Do they have the legal right to “merely” bring in an act of disunification?

    After all, most UK governments (Labour and Tory alike) – as with governments everywhere – make laws which were not in their manifesto.

    Nor indeed do they have popular support.

    Why is the SNP so bound when other governments are not?

  9. Old Nat,

    I do understand what a referendum is………and I can’t imagine the Electoral Commission would accept Salmond’s question as it stands.

    What “action” is Salmond proposing that he wants Scotland to agree or disagree with? That “it should be an independent country” is not an ‘action’ that many people feel is clear……..

    ….I presume you will point out that the ‘action’ of being (or becoming?) an independent country will be revealed over the coming months and years, but given there is much to discuss about what that actually means, why has the question been proposed before anyone understands what the consequences of the answers are ?


    It’s always difficult when people haven’t read what was said previously.

    What we don’t have yet is the preamble to the question. That can’t be provided yet, because the possibility of a another question has not yet been resolved.

    Go have a look at the latest referendum in the UK – the Welsh one last year. Once you have studied that, come back and we can chat about it.

  11. Colin,

    Got it. I think. Thanks for clearing all that up :-) :-)

    Salmond’s political prowess is undoubted, so I’m sure that the SNP position will develop over time, and he will manage to stay a few steps ahead of the unionists, who will not really make much progress until there is a more co-ordinated front.

    But Salmond will have to do much better than that………if a UK Tory/Labour/LD politician had come out with that sort of flip-flopping nonsense we would have heard the gales of SNP laughter the length and breadth of the country………

  12. Old Nat,

    I’ve seen the Welsh referendum question too. It reinforces the point I was making. The draft question was tweaked, but the preamble was present at draft stage and final stage, so both questions had context and clarity.

    Why has Salmond proposed a question now, without a preamble or any context ?
    We are told that nationalists have been preparing for 50+ years for independence. Surely he must be able to give an indication now what “[being] an independent country” means ?


    Please explain how Salmond explaining why conflating “United Kingdom” with the referendum question is “flip flopping”, in your view.

    I do realise that you probably haven’t had time to read the Electoral Commission report on the Welsh Referendum question yet.

    In case you can’t find it, here’s the link.

  14. Almost 80% of respondents claim to be quite certain to vote. Going back to the previous SPOM nearly 65% of respondents were cross-their-hearts-and-hope-to-die certain to vote in May 2016. From this evidence I would have to conclude either that there are a great many people who habitually confabulate (a nicer word than “lie”, no?) when questioned by pollsters or that these polls are not representative of Scotland at large.

  15. @ Hooded Man

    There is not a single Scot in doubt about what “being an independent country means” or what the proposed referendum question of the Scottish Government implies.

    The fact you raise the question underlines your lack of understanding of Scottish politics.


    Doubtless, it’s your long sojourn in the south that has confused you as to what independence means. I think most of who remained in Scotland don’t have that confusion.


    Fair point. But a number of people can be definite that they hold one position today, and equally definite next week that they not only hold the opposite position – but have always held that position!

  18. MorayLooninBrussels,

    I’m a Scot. And also a Scot who has for thirty years considered what Scottish Independence might mean. Whilst a Tory voter, I am not in any way closed to a solution that sees Scotland have independence – and if I have a vote, I will exercise it freely and with what I consider to be the best interests of my country at heart.

    I understand what being an independent country means in a philosophical sense, but, for me, the referendum should really address what it means in a practical sense. I trust in time it will.

    So in all respects I have probably a better understanding of Scottish politics, and the risks/opportunities that full independence may bring, than 80% of the people who will vote in the referendum.

    So, if you could drop the condescension, it would be much appreciated. Lately, the tone of “we know everything, the rest of you are uselss/incompetent/stupid/ill-informed, etc” has become a bit over-bearing………

  19. hal

    “On the other hand if independence really means withdrawing from the UK, then equally well independence also means withdrawing from the EU. I don’t see how it could be one and not the other.”

    I think you may mean that you do not distinguish between isolationism and independence.

    Perhaps you also cannot comprehend that Scots may consider the smaller union more burdensome, restrictive, and unintentionally unfair and selfish because of the ignorance of the London-focused governing class and media.

    Perhaps you also cannot comprehend that a union with France and Germany might in some way be more welcome than the union with England.

    Believe me, there are many who do think that way, and it might be worth considering why this might be so.

    It is also a mistake to think that antipathy towards the English is any part of this. It’s the Britnats and the metropolitan elite who arn’t half as clever as they think they are that we want to geet away from.

  20. Chris Todd

    “Do the SNP actually need to have a referendum?

    Do they have the legal right to “merely” bring in an act of disunification? ”

    That was the route to independence before devolution and other referenda, but it would need to be Westminster MP’s that did it.

    If the SNP lose the referendum and gain a majority of Scottish MP seats they would be in a quandry but they could creaete enough of a fuss at Westminster for the two-party consensus to conspire to throw them out.

    It is not impossible that they could be in that situation and even get a maority of the seats and popular vote in the Scottish parliament and STILL lose the referendum.

    The Scottish people would do well in that situation, for the SNP would keep trying as hard to impresss as they do now. That won’t last long after independence.

  21. Et tu, Old Nat?

    I must admit I expected better……


    It’s difficult to keep up the standard when the opposition is so weak. A bit like the Scottish Parliament in fact! :-)

  23. Anthony

    Are we allowed to discuss non Scottish independence polling issues on this page such as the effect of, and probability of, a bloc of SNP/PC MP’s exceeding the majority of ConLibDem over Lab?

    Actually I think that’s rather more interesting constitutionally than independence.

    We live in interesting times.

  24. Old Nat,

    I’m just surprised there aren’t more supporters of independence given omniscience seems to be the reward……….. ;-)


    As I’m sure you are aware, this particular stage of the process is all about positioning. This is politics.

    I’m fairly sure that I understand the Scottish Government strategy. I’m less sure about the UK Government one.

    Osborne & Cameron are no fools. Cameron’s initial intervention led to an 8% rise in SNP membership in 20 days. That was well publicised. Then a Cameron spokesman announces that the UK won’t even consider any negotiation on Devo Max – another surge in SNP membership.

    The result of the referendum depends on how the Devo Max supporters break between status quo and independence.

    As with every political contest, the committed on both sides are an irrelevance. It all depends on how those who are not committed eventually decide to vote.

  26. phil @ Colin

    “See attached. Lovely picture of the Queen of Australia in cream dress and big hat.”

    It’s the Queen of Canada that can give us the benefit of her experience which we may need. A skilled hand with the SSI’s if needed she is. I don’t think her Gaelic is any better than mine, but her schoolgirl French taught by native speakers went down well.

  27. oldnat @ HOODED MAN

    “Osborne & Cameron are no fools.”

    There may not be complete agreement here about Osborne.

    They have other distractions, are somewhat behind in understanding Scottish politics and are outclassed by their opponents who are focused, committed and have been on the project for decades.

    It doesn’t mean they cannot win but ….


    While much of what you say is true, one needs to characterise Tory actions (the LDs – Moore et al – are of little import) as either

    1. incompetence
    2. strategic.

    I did say that I wasn’t sure of their strategy.

  29. oldnat @ JOHN B DICK

    “I did say that I wasn’t sure of their strategy.”

    Why should you be? They aren’t either.

    What if their strategy is incompetent? How would you describe that? Normal?


    Tactically, it’s always better to assume that your opponents aren’t as mistaken as you might think.

    Salmond doesn’t make that mistake.

  31. OldNat

    That’s generally true, when you may not have much experience of your opponents.

    In this case our experience is that they have let the SNP get this far and not shown the flair and understanding that they need now.

    Only Donald Dewar and John Smith understood, but neither were around to see that the solution was carried to fruition (English parliament etc) so the solution, devolution is actually facilitating separation because of the lack of reform, and the lack of understanding in London.

    That ignorance of Scottish sensibilities, traditions geography, demography, culture and religion has fed the SNP beast until it is now about to eat them all up.

    In short: it’s too late to change, they wouldn’t be believed if they said they would, and independence is now inevitable, if not in 2016, then 2020.

    I expect to live to see it and I will say “I told you so…”

    No, your bottle is half full not half empty. Too many bottles in the past have been competely empty for you to believe it. This time could be different.

    It could even be a lot easier than you think.

    When and how does a war end? When the troops won’t fight.The officer offcer insists? The officer gets shot. The day before, the soldier gets shot for desertion. Somehow everybody understandsat the same time that it is all over.

    Maybe the unionist troops won’t see the point of continuing when their ammunition is poor quality insufficient and is sometimes more damaging to their own side. The English Unionists may not think the fight worthwhile or even (on the right) see greater advantage in letting Scotlannd go.

    You might even be denied the fight you are expecting.

  32. @ John B Dick

    You might even be denied the fight [from the British team which] you are expecting.
    Back up. We Brits don’t need to fight because we are winning. 50% with a high proportion certain to vote & also certain which way they will vote rather suggests that the onus is on the SNP to ‘fight’. We Brits merely need to defend our current, winning, position.

  33. @ Hooded Man

    Apologies if I was over bearing, blame it on mis-reading your comment or too late at night rapid reaction. Thanks for clarifying what you were saying because if you mean deepening the debate on what independence means in a practical sense then I agree with you.

    But then I still think that all those living in Scotland understand the Scottish Government’s clear and simple question and we should move on to discuss the detail rather than debate endlessly the well understood question.

  34. OldNat – I wasnt all THAT wrong really,

    South of Scotland isnt really the same as the borders. (Although im English im from Northumberland from an area that has been historically part of Scotland) so this is still more or less my area) Im principally talking about the 3 seats that directly border England, none of which the SNP won despite a landslide win overall in 2011, making it (one of) their weakest areas overall really. I do appreciate your point though, the SNP had a relative paucity rather than an absoulte paucity, so I wasnt really correct

    Anyway, … the real point.. regardless of how they voted in 2011, if they voted strongly for staying in the union what should happen?

  35. Joe

    You didn’t want to go by one geographical unit, so – Regional vote in those three Holyrood constituencies

    28% SNP
    26% Labour
    23% Con
    10% LD

    I’m afraid that I don’t have the ward level data, which you might have preferred, or even the support by postcode. Any of these might be preferable in such a question. Indeed, why don’t we redraw the border through the middle of 32 Mid Liddell St, Newcastleton if the husband and wife vote different ways?

    Are you suggesting that

  36. @Joe: “Anyway, … the real point.. regardless of how they voted in 2011, if they voted strongly for staying in the union what should happen?”

    That would have to be made clear before the vote, don’t you think? It might be worth testing the impact on VI before trying to introduce this condition though. It could be significant.

    The favourite candidates for this sort of treatment are Orkney and Shetland. To compel them to remain in the Union were they to vote No and the rest of Scotland to vote Yes would be a very harsh punishment indeed, especially if there were no prior warning . Harsh? What about the oil? See the map on page 105 of this article (page 29 of the PDF) from the European Journal of International Law for one interpretation of the maritime borders in that scenario. So independence for Shetland and Orkney is an option – although the Faroes voted for that and got devolution instead. Remaining an isolated part of the Union isn’t.

    The same goes for the Borders. Would many people really want to leave Scotland and enjoy the stream – barely a trickle really – of wealth which Westminster send to the north of England? That seems unlikely. And that’s before we consider the rugby. And the roads.

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