Earlier this week the Scotsman had some new YouGov Scottish figures, full tabs are now up here. Topline voting intention with changes from YouGov’s last Scottish poll in January are below and show some level of Labour recovery, particularly in Westminster voting intention.

Westminster voting intention: CON 17%(+1), LAB 42%(+7), LDEM 7%(nc), SNP 30%(-7)
Holyrood constituency: CON 12%(-1), LAB 36%(+4), LDEM 8%(+1), SNP 40%(-4)
Holyrood regional: CON 13%(nc), LAB 32%(+1), LDEM 7%(nc), SNP 38%(-1)

On the referendum on Scottish independence, 32% of people would vote Yes, 53% would vote No (15% said don’t know or won’t vote).

YouGov also asked people’s preference between the options in a three-way referendum, status-quo, independence or devo-max. There 33% preferred the status-quo, 36% devo-max and 24% independence (comparing the two questions, about a quarter of people who would vote Yes in an independence referendum say their first preference is devo-max, about a third of people who would vote No in an independence referendum would prefer devo-max).

The survey then asked about various different facets of Scotland’s relationship with the rest of the UK, on things like having a shared currency, a shared head of state, shared defence and so on. On the head of state, 60% of Scots wanted to keep the Queen as Head of State, compared to 24% who would prefer not to have a head of State (only 7% would prefer a different Head of State). On the currency, 82% of Scots want to keep the pound as their currency, compared to 5% who would prefer the Euro and 8% who would prefer Scotland to have its own currency. On the armed forces, again 67% would prefer Scotland to contribute troops to the British armed forces, 22% would prefer Scotland to have its own armed forces.

We find a similar pattern on whether Scotland should have its own embassies, its own immigration laws and its own diplomatic status on things like the EU, NATO and the United Nations – respondents would prefer Scotland to be represented by the UK, rather than go it alone. The notable exception to this trend is when it comes to spending. 44% of people would prefer Scotland to have fiscal independence with full control of all its tax and spending and no money from Westminster, 40% would prefer Scotland to continue to share fiscal policy with the rest of the UK.

Most of these questions were repeats from 2008, and the trend since then is mostly a slight movement towards the “unionist” viewpoints, though again, with the exception of the question on fiscal independence. Unsurprisingly there was also a significant shift on the currency question – in 2008 21% of Scots would have preferred the Euro to the pound, that’s now dropped to 5%.

61 Responses to “New YouGov/Scottish poll”

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  1. So from a purely “polling analysis” viewpoint it seems that the DC intervention, the new Labour Leader (and the increased debate about what independence would actually mean) the support for independence is slipping considerably.

    It’ll be interesting to see what will happen if the Labour Party can also assert itself as a credible opposition to the SNP in a general sense and whether any dents in Alec Salmond’s popularity would have an affect.

    I often think that Salmond is almost single-handedly the reason why the SNP are in power and that independence is as popular as it is.

  2. Greens also at 6% of regional vote.

  3. On the three option question, the party breakdowns were interesting. Not surprisingly, 78% of Tory supporters wanted the status quo. However, 58% of Lib Dems also had that as their first choice. Clearly, the Lib Dems are no longer the party of Home Rule!

    However, as the Tories and LDs only share a fifth of the Scottish vote, neither of them are big players.

    That 83% of those who opted for the status quo preferred ‘Devo Max’ rather than Independence, while 95% of those wanting independence preferred ‘Devo Max’ to the status quo, is of no surprise.

    What is much more interesting is the reaction of those for whom Devo Max was their preferred option. They are the critical group who will decide the referendum, and currently they split 2:1 in favour of the status quo as their second choice.

    39% of SNP supporters and 36% of Labour supporters had Devo Max as their first choice. If that wasn’t available, 31% of that Labour group and 13% of that SNP group had the status quo as their second choice, as against 12% and 18% respectively going for independence.

  4. So the people of Scotland don’t want independence, and those who say they do actually don’t want it. They want to keep the British currency, British armed forces, British embassies etc. The preferred option is more devolution, but even then support is not overwhelming.

  5. Surely all the questions about Scotland’s relationship with the rest of the UK really tell us is that a lot of people don’t really want independence. Wouldn’t it be more interesting to see the breakdown for people who would vote yes?

  6. Interesting- could it be that independence being top of the agenda of late north of the border has actually reduced the VI for the SNP :-)

  7. @oldnat

    “58% of Lib Dems [had the status quo] as their first choice. Clearly, the Lib Dems are no longer the party of Home Rule!”

    Classic mistake there Nat! That 58% of voters think something does not imply the party they support has changed their policy.

  8. In the light of many other polls, does ANYONE seriously believe that Labour are just 4% behind in Holyrood constituency intentions, and 12% ahead for Westminster? Ipsos-MORI, who have a far better track record of accuracy in Scottish polling (see the 2011 election) put the SNP 26% ahead at Holyrood earlier this year.

  9. Jono – look at the tabs, there is a cross-break for those who said they would vote Yes in the referendum.


    Of course. I forgot that the LDs have set up another commission to re-evaluate their previous commission on Home Rule. When Ming reports, he will probably recommend setting up a Royal Commission to investigate it. :-)

    While I obviously wasn’t clear, I was actually referring to the characteristics of the few remaining LD supporters in Scotland.

  11. Anthony – of course there are, I should have looked. It seems to confirm what I thought – the vast majority of the no-to-independence group chose the unionist option, while the yes-to-ind group were much more likely to pick the separatist option, though it wasn’t always quite as clear cut.

    And what does not having a head of state even mean?


    I tend to distrust YG on Scottish polling, because of their use of Party ID to select their sample. There is no way they can tell how many of their Labour and SNP samples are composed of “loyalists” or “disloyalists”.

    There is a considerable pool of people who switch between Labour and SNP quite flexibly. Hence the volatility between the January and February polls.


    Labour are on 35% for Westminster, 32% for Holyrood constituencies, and 31% on the list.

    The SNP have 37% for Westminster, 44% for Holyrood constituencies, and 39% on the list.


    Labour are on 42% for Westminster, 36% for Holyrood constituencies, and 32% on the list.

    The SNP have 30% for Westminster, 40% for Holyrood constituencies, and 38% on the list.

    That’s an awful big shift in the numbers, and seems more likely to be explained by sampling error, rather than an underlying opinion shift of that magnitude.

  13. Jono

    “And what does not having a head of state even mean?”

    That was my thought too. I can understand that YG wanted to try to measure any shift in opinion, and didn’y have anything better to use than the Telegraph’s ill constructed questions from July 2008.

  14. Jono – you can’t really not have a head of state (as Oldnat says, the questions are repeats of old ones from 2008) – the roles of the head of state (such as accrediting foreign ambassadors) always end up having to be done by someone.

    There are some countries that don’t have a head of state figure – no monarch or President – but it still falls somewhere: e.g. Switzerland’s Federal Council is its head of state (though they elect a President from within it), the Chairman of the People’s Assembly of North Korea is de facto head of state, since the de jure President is dead, etc.

    All in all, it’s a bit of a funny option to put on there. The most likely options would be the Queen, a Scottish President or just giving the duties of Head of State to an existing office like the Presiding Officer of the Scottish Parliament.

  15. Looks like a ringing endorsement of the Coalition to me, but then again, I am slightly biased. :-)

  16. I should have added that I assume Alex and the SNP would prefer to deal with the Coalition, I can’t see any sort of relationship being established with Labour. :-)

  17. @ Old Nat,

    Actually, I was thinking that this sort of reversion was to be expected and so is entirely plausible (and is, of course, not trying to discount a poll than doesn’t agree with our opinions).

    The Labour vote was unnaturally depressed since the election and so it was only a matter of time until we saw an unwinding of the “landslide vote” affect – as Labour have done a few clear things to set themselves up as an opposition back in business (whatever you think of them) it’s not that surprising that there’s been a significant shift in VI.

  18. ADRIAN B

    As always, evidence needs to be there from multiple polls., to be reasonably sure. My point was that YouGov’s methodology is quite likely to lead to sampling error in the Scottish VI polls..

    Whether the errors are in the January or february polls – or both – is unknowable.


    It sounds like you’re perilously close to selection bias.

  20. Anthony W

    The Daily Telegraph were reporting in today’s paper a Comres poll showing overhwelming support for retaining the status quo on marriage (something like 70% v. 16% from memory).

    I assume that being Comres it would be genuine not voodoo. Have you seen this poll/can you confirm the numbers?

  21. “Should Scotland’s leading soccer clubs continue to play
    in a separate league, or should they join a Britain-wide
    league, so that clubs such as Celtic and Rangers play in
    the same league as clubs such as Manchester United
    and Arsenal?”

    How touchingly out of date! Surely, if Rangers were to join a UK-wide league next season, they’d be more likely to be playing against FC United of Manchester than Manchester United.

    I wonder what the knock-on effect to Scottish self-image will be if one of their two most potent sporting institutions goes belly up in the next few months. Salmond is clearly considering the implications, since last month he said, “(HMRC) have got to have cognisance of the fact that we’re talking about a huge institution, part of the fabric of the Scottish nation.”

    Strange that a national leader should state that HMRC should allow themselves to be shortchanged by several million quid by a commercial business and then go easy on the transgressor. Strange that he should be asking for a company that has run itself appalling badly and that will end up diddling no-end of businesses when the CVA is finally agreed, should be dealt with sympathetically by the tax payer.

    I suspect that this comment will come back to bite him hard.


    What Salmond was calling for was an agreement between Rangers and HMRC as to how the taxes owed could be paid back and over what timescale.

    “I very much hope a way forward can be found which allows Rangers to meet its obligations to the taxpayer, to continue in business and to save jobs.”

    Your description of his statement lacks veracity.


    Selection bias? Hardly.

    I’m making the point that YouGov can’t be indulging in selection bias, because they lack the data to do so – even if they wanted to (and there isn’t a single shred of evidence that they would).

  24. So if we have a two-round referendum, going by these numbers (DKs and would not vote removed) –
    First round (Independence?) –
    Yes – 37.6%
    No – 62.4%

    Second round (Devo-Max?) –
    Yes – 26.7% (Yes to Ind, Yes to Devo) + 32.4% (No to Ind, Yes to Devo) = 59.1%

    So Devo-Max likely to win (according to this poll) if referendum is instant run-off?

    So is it wise for Labour to be so against it? Is it purely unionist ideology or to make sure that Labour has more power in the rest of the UK?

  25. LEFTY

    I think you are on the right lines-what other interpretation should one make from :-

    “He reportedly said: “Obviously HMRC have got to pursue in the public interest, taxation.
    Equally, they’ve got to have cognisance of the fact that we’re talking about a huge institution, part of the fabric of the Scottish nation as well as Scottish football, and everybody realises that.

    “The most diehard Celtic supporter understands that Celtic can’t prosper unless Rangers are there.

    “The rest of the clubs understand that as well. Therefore you have to have cognisance of these things when you’re pursuing public policy.”


    He appears to be asking HMRC to recognise the “importance” of Rangers to Scottish football & Scotland, when they decide on their approach to retrieving unpaid taxes.

    Rather amusingly AS is also reported ( BBC) to have told Al Jazeera that “Celtic can’t prosper unless Rangers are there”.-subsequently incuring the wrath of Celtic. :-)

  26. Can’t say I have any sympathy for Rangers whatsoever (or Celtic if the same fate ever befell them). Financial shambles for years, despite having the fan base and a large share of the TV revenues. To a great degree complicit in the erosion of the national team (in too many ways to mention). And still utterly delusional as the noose tightened. Fit and proper test failed today by Whyte, and rightly so. Meanwhile the directors of the past twenty years hum “there but for the grace of God go I”……

    Salmond does need to be careful – RFC is the fitba equivalent of RBS…….

    (I will of course declare a slight ‘conflict’ in that the Old Firm for the past 40 years have poached all my team’s best players for sod all cash and often used them to keep the bench warm. Grr)

  27. “The first indication of problems at Rangers came in April 2010 when the club admitted that it was being investigated by Revenue and Customs, accused of avoiding 10 years worth of tax and National Insurance by paying employees through offshore trusts.

    A year later, Scottish tycoon Craig Whyte bought the club for just £1, but it was later revealed that he had borrowed £24m against Rangers’ next three years season ticket sales to pay off club debts.”

    C4 News.

    How much rope does AS propose HMRC extend to this gang?

  28. I’m impressed with the guy who bought Machester Utd with borrowed money and then used the club as security for the money he had borrowed to buy it.

    Fabulous and sensible lending.

    Why Can’t I buy a club? Say, um, Newcastle? i’ll pay 500 million borrowed from, um, Barclays and I’ll use the club as security.

    What’s that?

    Done. I’ll collect the keys from the estate agent in the morning. I’ll change the name of the ground, I think…Milliband Park has a nice ring, don’t you think?

  29. Earlier this week another business, also based in Govan, went into liquidation with the immediate loss of 175 jobs, and with the final 10 employees kept on to oversee the last rites of the company.

    No politicians demanded that the creditors behaved “reasonably” and allowed the company to pay off its debt over a “reasonable” time.

    This was not a business which had lost many millions of pounds over recent years in a desperate bid to be “simply the best”. It had not entered into complex, but ham-fisted, tax reduction schemes in an effort to deprive HMRC of its rightful dues.

    This was not a business where the owner had publicly stated that income was £10 million less than expenditure, nor was it a business where the owner, at the same time as deciding that administration was almost inevitable turned down a huge offer for a business asset, and significantly increased the earnings of some of his staff.

    The owners did not allow outstanding tax bills to increase by £1 million per month each and every month for the last nine, through a deliberate policy of non-payment.

    It was even a profitable business, but as we know in the recent economic climate, profit without necessary cash flow is not always enough.

    As the liquidator, Blair Nimmo, said “Regrettably, we had no option but to close the business and to make most of the employees redundant. We will now be working with the relevant government authorities to ensure staff can claim outstanding sums due to them.”

    Donaghy Ltd is in liquidation, the owners have lost what they spent nearly 13 years building up, and 175 families have had their breadwinner suddenly and brutally put out of work.

    Have any of these politicians realised what they are talking about? None of them has said a word about Donaghy and the job losses there, as far as I can see.”


  30. It’s about time some big Football Clubs met economic reality.
    Sooner or later the Sky Money will stop and we will see carnage.

    Mind you, my club, Crystal Palace, go bust every few years. One of these days it might be for good.

  31. BT SAYS…

    The Daily Telegraph were reporting in today’s paper a Comres poll showing overhwelming support for retaining the status quo on marriage (something like 70% v. 16% from memory).

    Poll details are here:


    It’s for something called “Catholic Voices” so that suggests that the questions asked may not have been chosen on a completely impartial basis. ;) That said ComRes will have advised so the wording isn’t too biased – though question order can also make a difference.

    The question that comes nearest to your memory of what the Telgraph said is:

    Marriage should continue to be defined as a life-long exclusive commitment between a man and a woman

    Which has 70% to 22% support. However the question is a bit ambiguous. Many people might agree with that, but be happy for the definition to be extended to two people of either sex. The fact that the age gradient isn’t as steep as it usually is in such questions rather supports this. I’m actually surprised in the circumstances that ‘disagree’ got as high as 22% – it’s probably mainly people who think you should be allowed a bit on the side.

    Of course the Catholic press has been busy spinning this as 70% ‘oppose gay mariage’ but then they would wouldn’t they.

    Incidentally the same poll found that:

    Stable relationships between same-sex couples should be legally recognised through the civil partnership scheme

    was agreed by 59% to 23%. So as Catholics are so concerned with public opinion, I assume we will soon be seeing them introduce ceremonies for this.

  32. Colin

    Excellent post

  33. @NickP

    “It’s about time some big Football Clubs met economic reality.
    Sooner or later the Sky Money will stop and we will see carnage.”

    You’re right, in theory, but in practice if enough idiots like me continue to pay to go and watch Premiership football, and also to pay Murdochs danegeld for Sky Sports, the merry-go-round will keep spinning ever faster. In many ways, English football is the most nakedly capitalist game on the planet and I’m continually appalled and disgusted in equal measure by its constant excesses and idiocies. Quite often, I question my continued adherence to what is, in essence, and certainly as far as the Premiership is concerned, a corrupt and amoral game, riddled as it is with greed and short sighted self interest.

    But, and there’s always a but with the daft old game. When I witness a great match, see some sublime skill or celebrate a last minute winner for my team, all those doubts and misgivings fade away. I’m lost in the glory and beauty of what is still a wonderful game. The wonder of the constantly rolling ball and, even when I have my darkest doubts about its very ugly side, I only have to watch Lionel Messi play to remain utterly besotted by it.

    I suspect I’m not alone.

  34. BAZSC

    Thanks-hope you noticed the quotation marks & attribution :-)

    ….but I agree , it was well put.

  35. I agree with Roger M’s analysis (which is probably a first ;)) –
    Actually asking if gay marriage should be legalised gives a completely different view –
    The most recent one I could find (July 2011 – Angus Reid) of 2004 people found 43% supporting the right to marry, 34% supporting civil partnerships but not marriage and 15% not supporting any sort of legal recognition.

    The same question was asked July 2010 which found 41% support for gay marriage, 37% for civil unions, 15% for no legal recognition.

    Also asking whether marriage should be defined as between a man and woman OR between two people found 46% for man/woman and 45% between two people in 2011, 47% for man/woman and 42% for two people in 2010.

    This is one of those times where people ask selective questions, get selective answers and then spin those answers to imply something completely different.

  36. @ Ken

    I should have added that I assume Alex and the SNP would prefer to deal with the Coalition, I can’t see any sort of relationship being established with Labour.
    Which part of Old Nat’s comment about a large number of the SNP’s voters being flexible/ “disloyal” Labour supporters didn’t you read? :-)

    Doing a deal with the Tories or the Coalition would be a very odd (politically suicidal?) thing for the SNP to do.

  37. NICK P.
    I was at Selhurst Park when Palace went up first.

    Won 4-2 v Millwall, 1969

  38. Amber

    While I didn’t say “large”, it’s also true that a number of Labour’s voters are flexible/ “disloyal” SNP supporters!

  39. C37 L42 LD8

    Looks like the Labour lead has widened a little.

  40. Latest YouGov/The Sun results 8th March CON 37%, LAB 42%, LD 8%; APP -27

    Four outliers in a row!

  41. Con – 37%, Lab – 42%, Lib – 8%
    Confirmation of an increased Labour lead of 4-ish points?

  42. Con don’t need to worry yet.Not till they slip below that so far solid 36%.

  43. Wow,or should I say “neigh”.

  44. Anthony,

    Your Swingometer page has 4 party logo’s for Northern Ireland: DUP, Sinn Fein, SDLP and Ulster Unionist. The Ulster Unionists don’t actually have any MPs in Westminster but the Alliance Party does. Perhaps the Northern Ireland graphics should be updated to reflect this?

  45. Yep we have a new polldrums possibly developing- a sustained 2/3 point lead with variance around that (on YG).

    It will be interesting to see how the budget impacts on this new trend.

    As said a few days ago- the mood music at the moment for the Tories and especially Cameron is truly awful (and everyone- writer, blogger, commentator, journo- on ‘the right’ seems to be complaining at the moment).

    Cameron seems to have turned into the man who touches and turns things to the brown stuff; right down to things like the 6 troops sadly getting killed by the cowardly Taliban IED and then the unsuccessful rescue mission in Nigeria this morning. Then obviously the longer term sores like the NHS, welfare, transport, education and- oh of course- employment, consumption and output. So much so that not even the embarrassing performance on the radio by EdM can stop the drift to the left!

    Well and truly in the ‘mid term’ now f this government: but given the unique parliamentary context no 7/8 point lead in sight for anyone.

    Can ConLib develop a genuine narrative now onwards that does not rely on blaming the ‘last Labour government’??

    Can Labour break free with a raft of policy proposals throughout the year and develop a decent sustainable lead of 8 points: I remain to be convinced.

    But no doubt who has the whip hand at the moment.

  46. It’s hardly polldrums, since the polls clearly this week have shown something somewhat different from what we’ve seen for some months. It’s fairly clear that Labour is in a lead of perhaps 3-4% – it’s interesting that some uncommitted people I know have started remarking that Labour is getting its act a little more together – but it is necessary to kick on from there and stretch it further.

  47. Barnaby Mulder

    “It’s hardly polldrums”

    in response to

    “new polldrums **possibly developing**”


    We’ll know in a fortnight


  48. I’ll tell you what it MIGHT be.

    As the Scottish referendum moves nearer, the Scots are deciding NOT to leave the union….and knitted to that decision is that, for Westminster elections at least, the anti-Tory vote is a Labour vote.

    If Labour hold Scotland for Westminster (as well as Wales, the North, Midlands (close) and make a fist of the urban areas in London & South…can Con actually win?

  49. Adrian B

    “I often think that Salmond is almost single-handedly the reason why the SNP are in power and that independence is as popular as it is”

    A lot of people furth of Scotland think that AS is the only asset the SNP has, because he is the one who appears on UK television.

    The biggest vote gatherer is the Rural Affairs Secretary. He gets plenty of press coverage, but it is all in local and trade press. Farmers and fishermen in particular, but small business people (especially in food and drink) North of the central belt are very impressed.

    AS leads a stong team, and his deputy would be at least as popular. I hope she does not become FM in my lifetime.

    Labour had two outstanding and one good Health Ministers, but in my opinion no health minister in either system since Barbara Castle has been as capable of defending the principles of the NHS.

    All the SNP cabinet are focused on persuading the electorate that they should be entrusted with the governance of an independent nation. There are no slackers, no splits, none put personal ambition (maybe even their health and relationships) ahead of that main objective.

    As to the popularity of independence, didn’t you read Anthony’s analysis? It isn’t popular at all.

    The SNP is much more popular than independence and people tell pollsters it’s because of “competence”,

    Relative competence, that is. An ordinary man is a giant in the land of the pygmies.

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