TNS BMRB released a new poll on the Scottish independence referendum this morning. I expected several polls to appear in the wake of the publication of the white paper, letting us see if it had any effect on referendum voting intentions.

This alas is not one of them, as annoyingly it was carried out almost wholly before the white paper was published. For the record the figures show very little change from the previous TNS poll in October. The YES vote stands at 26%(+1), the NO vote at 42%(-1), 32% are undecided (for some reason TNS tend to show a much higher level of don’t knows compared to other Scottish referendum polls). Full tabs are here.

372 Responses to “New TNS-BMRB Scottish Referendum poll”

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  1. Colin

    OBR and Productivity

    I think their comments on whether depressed productivity is structural can be firmly placed in the file “Ex Cathedra pronouncements with bugger supporting evidence”

    My evidence? This quote from the OBR report:
    ” …our view (is) that much of the loss of productivity over the recession was structural and will not return even as the economy recovers and the financial system returns to full health. Since it is difficult to explain the abrupt fall and persistent weakness of productivity in the past, it is also hard to judge when or if productivity growth will return to the rate consistent with historical trends.”

    Which, in plain English says, “No one knows why productivity has been so pitiful (although the graphs in our report on the trajectory of the Output Gap might give a hint…). But, no matter. We will just proclaim that it is structural and that’s that.”

    No way to run an economy, eh?

  2. CB11

    Fear not-just the same -but less inclined to come here as regularly.

    I can give you no better explanation of my remarks than to refer you to Mathew Parris in THe Times today.

    After the pages of newsprint & blogs wittering on about the politics of Mandela’s struggle-who was “right” & who was “wrong” …..
    After the world’s “leaders” have canonised him & nailed his body to the cross of a sainthood he would ( by all accounts of him) disdain & dislike……

    The ANC still have to produce a settlement in South African Society worthy of his sacrifices.

    ” Even Nelson Mandela’s transcendendent goodness might not be enough to secure a lasting settlement) is what MP writes-and his description of the deep tensions & flaws in SA society make disturbing reading.

    A SA opposition MP wrote yesterday of the state of today’s ANC-and of her country. Neither accounts were flattering.

    Yesterday on DP a former Labour MP-Paul Boateng spoke of his outlook ( he was latterly a British High Commissioner in SA) . Interupting AN’s cloying eulogy , he said that NM would want people to understand that there wasn’t just him-there was Tambo & Sisulu too.
    I like that sort of comment-trying to cut through the crap & get to the truth.

    On last night’s Dimbleby history of Mandela’s life we saw Nelson Mandela ask people to remember how important a role his former wife Winnie played. Given the personal pain surrounding his relationship with her , this was another example of keeping a firm eye on the truth , through the fog of history.

    The man’s courage & conviction were if anything outshone by his magnanimity.

    I fear that once the living symbol of those qualities is gone, the tawdry bunch that follows him will soon forget them.

  3. @Colin
    “Ultimately it is really only productivity gains which can improve real income.”

    Whilst I’m not fully up to speed with the intricacies of the Autumn Statement, this analysis from the “Telegraph” agrees and in doing so questions the sustainability of the recovery.

    “The present upturn is driven almost entirely by private consumption and housing investment: “We judge the positive growth surprise to have been cyclical, reducing the amount of spare capacity in the economy, rather than indicating stronger underlying growth potential.” Quite so. More ominously still, the OBR observes that for the present growth spurt to be sustained ultimately requires productivity-driven increases in real earnings. This goes to the heart of the present “cost of living” debate.
    Despite the downturn, more people are in work than ever before. Given the depth of the economic collapse, this is little short of miraculous. Yet less output spread over more people inevitably means less productivity. As a result, households are substantially worse off than they were, with no likelihood of improvement until output per worker picks up. Somewhat heroically, the OBR assumes this will eventually happen. Perhaps it is correct, but, as things stand, the recovery is built on sand. The momentum is there to take the Chancellor through to the other side of the election, but without productivity growth, it will soon run out of steam.”

  4. LEFTY

    Yes-I saw that too.

    If there is evidence that their assumption is wrong I hope that they would acknowledge it………….or that you would bring it to our attention ( smiley)

  5. @ Colin

    Good post re Mandela (or more to the point the analysis of SA).

    It doesn’t change my opinion that the man was unique in modern times of not seeking revenge and that he had set the groundwork for what could have been (maybe still can be) a fair and prosperous country for everyone. Yes, I don’t feel he needs to be canonised but I think he deserves to be put on some sort of pedestal for what he achieved over and beyond what any other modern leader has achieved.

    The problem for South Africa is that they have many poor who will not wait forever and are subject to influence from extremism. It is not an easy thing to solve and could not have been done in his lifetime.

  6. Colin


    The point, of course is that a sensible approach would consider all possibilities and do “what if” analyses. As it is, the blithe, unsubstantiated statement that productivity loss is structural offers a very convenient line for Govt. Unintentionally, I’m sure.

  7. @ Nickp

    I’m certainly not the one to forgive apartheid but is was caused by one McCarthyesque election in 1948 which scare stories about communists and the like gave a very small (I think) majority for an extreme government that then pushed them down that road and became impossible to easily reverse. It could have happened anywhere just as bad choices were made in the peace settlement re Israel/Palestine, Eastern Europe and so on. How ironic that we fought the second world war over Poland and then let the Soviet Union have it at the end of the war.

  8. Shevii
    In the London Victory Parade in 1945 the Communisy Party of Malaya insurgents marched but the Poles were told they couldn’t.

  9. @Colin/Shevii

    Mandela did indeed display an almost saintly ability to forgive his former tormentors and enemies and, in so doing, enabled his country to make a relatively orderly and incredibly united transition to a multi-racial democracy. Nobody anywhere, certainly in sensible quarters, has ever claimed he created a heaven on earth; indeed such was the economic and social ruination visited upon South Africa by the Apartheid regime, this would have been beyond any human being, even one as extraordinary as Nelson Mandela.

    Of course, there were other facets of Mandela’s greatness that contributed to the downfall of one of the most evil regimes of the 20th century, and these are obviously less comfortable for some people now holding forth on his legacy. He was a socialist and a freedom fighter in his early days who led, eventually when peaceful means proved fruitless, an armed struggle against apartheid. Without the struggle he led, risking his life and liberty, apartheid may have continued longer than it eventually did. You have to understand this Mandela too to appreciate his legacy. Harping on about his ability to forgive people who probably deserved no forgiveness, as if this was all to say about the man, is to stray into bland and self-serving waffle, in my view.

  10. And both these decisions were popular at the time I believe

  11. SHEVII.
    Good Afternoon to you.

    Churchill agreed at Yalta to Stalin’s control of Eastern Europe, with the agreement also of FDR. We also sent back to Stalin many people. Tolstoy wrote about them.

  12. @Crossbat
    As I saw pointed out somewhere, and lest we forget, Mandela was a politician. Transformation through politics needs pragmatism as well as vision and NM clearly had both. I like the comment I believe he made that his 27 year ‘holiday’ gave him time to think. His cogitations were productive.

    @Phil Haines et al
    Browsing the OBR tables in accordance with my shortish attention span, the striking figures to me are the consistent shortfall against forecasts of the two elements which seem to me to underpin a sustainable recovery – business investment, and exports.
    There is also an element of what in business we used to call hockey stick forecasts – things going downhill but a turning point anticipated just in the nick of time . Occasionally the turning point came to pass. Whether we’ll really get a revival of investment and exports remains to be seen.

  13. Mandela was an immensely pragmatic and effective politician, who was unblinkered by partisanship or dogma or self-interest in a way very few people are capable of. Perhaps such rare statesmanship does make him a saint, but if he was one it was for the sake of South Africa, not out of holiness.

    When he realised nonviolence by itself was not going to get the job done, he embraced violent resistance.

    When he realised vengeance was not going to create a society worth living in, he embraced forgiveness.

    Both epiphanies sprang from the same flexibility and clear sightedness, and from the same unshakeable conviction in his moral vision for the future of South Africa. I think it’s wrong to view them separately- to remember one and ignore the other is to miss the point.

  14. Poland may have been the trigger but it wasn’t the reason we fought WW2. And while Poland certainly got a raw deal I’m not sure how we could have saved them from Stalin.

    Interesting aside: the Polish national gold reserve was smuggled out of Warsaw as the Germans invaded, eventually passing into British hands before being shipped to Canada for the duration. It was eventually returned to Poland but not before the British had deducted the cost of maintaining the Free Polish forces based in the UK.

  15. CB11

    @” Harping on about his ability to forgive people who probably deserved no forgiveness, as if this was all to say about the man, is to stray into bland and self-serving waffle, in my view.”

    I disagree profoundly.

    Desmond Tutu has given a wonderful -and typically frank-appreciation, from which this is a quote :-

    “”We must think he went to prison an angry, relatively young man, and emerged as this incredible icon of magnanimity and compassion,”

    Tutu says the greater man was the man who came out of prison-and one only had to watch those clips on tv last night of the Truth & Reconciliation hearings to see the import of Mandela’s magnanimity.

    His armed struggle was never going to avoid bloodshed-and didn’t. His magnanimity in government most certainly did.

    One of his flaws in power ,however was to allow loyalty to trump objectivity , and the ANC he leaves behind could all too easily allow your philosophy -“they deserved no forgiveness,” to emerge onto the streets.

    And alway remember that tensions in SA society run through the ethnic tribal system as well as the black/white divide.

    I wonder whether the irony of his passing will be that it is not the ANC, but another political party which embraces his post inarceration philosophy.

  16. CB11

    Another section from Tutu’s address :-

    “…………He donned the Springbok rugby jersey with the No 6 of captain Francois Pienaar. This was a spectacular act of magnanimity, for rugby had been, like all the others, an all-white sport particularly popular among Afrikaners, who were considered to be the racist oppressors par excellence, and the Springbok was a sporting emblem much hated in the black community.

    By this gesture, Madiba had exorcised the demons of racial animosity. It was a very substantial hand of friendship extended to former adversaries who used to hate this communist-inspired terrorist.

    On that day of the Rugby World Cup final between the New Zealand All Blacks and South Africa’s Springboks at Ellis Park in Johannesburg, when he strode on to the turf, the whole place erupted, and the vast majority of those spectators who yelled and shrieked “Nelson Mandela!” like teenagers at a pop concert of their favourite stars, were Afrikaners. He demonstrated in that one gesture for racial reconciliation and harmony what an entire library of words would have failed to get in a month of Sundays.

    Much later, when the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) summoned former state president PW Botha to appear before it, Madiba offered to accompany him and to sit next to him, trying to minimise as far as it could be done any feeling of this being in-fra dig. He had more than vindicated those who had invested in him the aura of an untouchable moral stature. It did seem as if he was devoid of feet of clay.

    How did he grow into this stature? Suffering can embitter, but it can also ennoble, and frequently does. “

  17. COLIN and CB11
    I cannot add to your appreciations of Nelson Mandela, which I think have been fair and balanced. An effect of his exile was, however, to put him above politics, which enable him to act even-handedly and with magnanimity, but may have lessened his ability or intent to wield his authority – elsewhere in Africa, where he had influence, as well as in SA, to use his clout with the force which was needed. I am thinking particularly of Zimbabwe, which has many ties with SA, and which depends economically on remittances from the labour force it provides to SA’s mines; and of Zaire which has huge mining potential and a historic dependency on SA and Zimbabwe’s maize, which SA could have used as levers for other interventions towards peace and progress in those countries – in the case of Zimbabwe, with every reason to wield the big stick over Mugabe and to achieve a similar reconciliation to that achieved at home.

  18. Betting news. No doubt on the back of the Autumn Statement, best odds on Balls as next Chancellor lengthen from 6/4 to 7/4 and Darling and Reeves both shorten to 16/1. Umanna steady at 10/1.

    Tomorrow morning’s poll will be interesting as the first YouGov reaction to the Autumn Statement. As with the 2011 omnishambles, I sense that that the immediate reaction of the Westminster commentariat could have been off target. For all that Balls was castigated, yesterday’s IPSOS-Mori poll suggests that the public is more on the side of his arguments. And two days on from a pretty uneventful Autumn Statement, all that really sticks in my mind is the decision to make my son work until he’s 70. Several people that I’ve spoken to have mentioned the rise in the pensions age – and no-one has mentioned anything else unprompted.

  19. I have just come back online, and find that the discussion of Nelson Mandela is still going on.

    History will have to judge Nelson Mandela, and perhaps people are cagey because of the adulation wrongly lent to dictators such as Stalin and Mao in the past. But I think NM had the rare quality of making peace with his enemies in victory, and turning them if not into allies at least into mere opponents. The contrast with Zimbabwe is striking.

    I went to an Italian evening class yesterday and the teacher, in her twenties, was really moved by some words of Nelson Mandela.

  20. I have not been following the polls on the Scottish Independence Referendum and the comments on this and other blogs.

    However, it seems to me that a major issue concerns differential turnout. There isn’t a precedent and it is too early to ask people about their intentions to actually vote.

    My guess is that differential turnout will favour those voting “yes” as their feelings are likely to be stronger than the feelings of those preferring the status quo.

    There are of course ongoing issues that the people of England should have a referendum to vote as to whether we would like independence (similarly Wales and Scotland). There shour be provision for historic entities within England, such as Kent, Cornwall and Yorkshire, which might also want indepence.

    Where does it stop?

  21. I have not been following the polls on the Scottish Independence Referendum and the comments on this and other blogs.

    However, it seems to me that a major issue concerns differential turnout. There isn’t a precedent and it is too early to ask people about their intentions to actually vote.

    My guess is that differential turnout will favour those voting “yes” as their feelings are likely to be stronger than the feelings of those preferring the status quo.

    There are of course ongoing issues that the people of England should have a referendum to vote as to whether we would like independence (similarly Wales and Scotland). There shour be provision for historic entities within England, such as Kent, Cornwall and Yorkshire, which might also want indepence.

    Where does it stop?

  22. I’m sure Labour will reverse the decision on pension age when they are returned to government in 2025 – :)

  23. “There are of course ongoing issues that the people of England should have a referendum to vote as to whether we would like independence (similarly Wales and Scotland). There shour be provision for historic entities within England, such as Kent, Cornwall and Yorkshire, which might also want indepence. ”

    Barnard Castle should certainly be independent. We are pretty self sufficient already with a pet shop, ironmongers and even a supermarket.

    Oh, and an ole castle.

  24. “There shour be provision for historic entities within England, such as Kent, Cornwall and Yorkshire, which might also want indepence.”

    I have long felt my own county of Essex should apply for independence as I think this would be immensely with the rest of the country….

  25. immensely popular that was supposed to read!

  26. @Norbold
    I think the referendum to get rid of Essex might be quite succesful. It’s closer to Bruges than to Barnard Castle already.

  27. On sub-England independence movements.

    UKIP protestors used to stand outside the SW Regional Assembly meetings in Exeter waving their union jacks. It emerged they thought the Regions were an EU plot to break up the United Kingdom.

  28. @Sine Nomine
    ‘’m sure Labour will reverse the decision on pension age when they are returned to government ‘

    I do not believe that any of the plans for raising the pension age are set in stone – including increasing it to 66 in 2020. Labour had intended to follow Adair Turner’s proposals which envisaged that this would occur well into the 2020s. If Labour return to office in 2015 they will still have plenty of time to revert to their own schedule , should they so wish.

  29. @Howard

    If I were in the shoes of one of the (few) UKIPers north of the border, I might be tempted to follow this cunning plan.

    Vote “Yes” in the referendum in anticipation that for my region of the UK at least it would achieve the desired outcome (being kicked out of the EU, the price of adopting the Euro eventually proving too great a hurdle to rejoining). Then to further the new state’s longing to remain part of a currency union with the pound, encourage the remaining regions of the UK to secede, with the new state renaming itself as the Confederate States of Great Britain. In time every region would be persuaded to secede by what any UKIPer must anticipate would be the transparent advantages of life outside the EU, and the pound would have nowhere else to go. Rename the new state the United Kingdom. UK outside the EU. Job done.

  30. Phil Haines,
    I agree that the proposal to work till you drop,as I think the Sun or the Mail put it,will not play very well for the Tories and is indeed the only memorable thing in
    The Autumn statement.But we shall see.

  31. I always thought they should have called the Euro the pound then everyone would have been happy (well, apart from the French).

  32. That is the problem with leaking – work till you drop was all over the media prior to the Autumn statement which was then swamped by events. I am thinking bad polls for the Tories tonight.

    One rather worrying thing for Labour there were about 6 by elections on Thursday in all but 1 the swing was against Labour and they lost Nuneaton to the Cons.

  33. Of course, the French used to use the pound once upon a time (well, technically the livre but it’s a direct translation of the same thing).

  34. @ Colin

    Ah- wearing a rugby shirt- at last you have given me something about Mandela that I don’t like :-)

    We had one minute’s clapping for him at a non league footie game today so I guess everywhere was doing the same.

  35. I don’t know the precise nature of Mandela’s involvement in ‘the armed struggle’ but I imagine someone else on this site does. His own account of it at his trial was as follows:

    “But the violence which we chose to adopt was not terrorism. Four forms of violence were possible. There is sabotage, there is guerrilla warfare, there is terrorism, and there is open revolution. We chose to adopt the first method and to exhaust it before taking any other decision.”

    In short his claim was that the response to Sharpville, the legal situation etc was inevitably going to be violent, that this violence had to be responsibly led and channeled and that he had only been involved in steering it towards sabotage.

    I realise that he founded the armed wing of the ANC and that this over time was involved in a variety of forms of violence. I am not clear how far his statement above was true at the time or what responsibility he may justly be said to have for any later acts of violence.

  36. COUPER2802

    The by elections may mean something – most likely they mean nothing much.

    I know they’re real votes in real elections but there were less than 1000 votes cast in Nuneaton. Vassal ward in Lambeth last week showed a big swing to Labour. I would not make much of that either…

  37. Phil Haines


    Relating the anecdote reminded me that UKIP was a very different political animal in 2005 (say) than it is now, at least, I assume. Then, there was this happy band of pensioners and a couple of seemingly well-heeled slightly younger types who used to turn up outside the gates of Devon CC and in the chamber. They never turned up to the meetings that were held elsewhere, such as Taunton or Trowbridge.

    Theirs was a noble endeavour (although I have seen one or two oldies become quite violent on being ejected from the chamber for making too much noise) and there was no particular hint of immigrant fear detectable at that time. This seems to have been tacked on more recently to the movement and in fact I think has taken it over, with this issue being the most prominent one among those who vote for them.

  38. @ Norbold,

    Maybe have referendums to vote counties off the island, like in Survivor? It would do wonders for the net immigration figures too. Someone should suggest it to Theresa May…

    @ Couper,

    I assume Nuneaton is a Lab target seat, so that’s a little worrying for them. But considering the previous Labour councillor got sacked for not showing up to meetings for six months in a row, it might be local issues at play.

    What was more interesting to me was what looked like a pretty solid Lib Dem recovery in Cardiff. They didn’t gain the seat, but I wonder if some of the poison is draining off the party in some areas on the local level.

  39. Barnard Castle – twinned with Essex.

  40. @ Spearmint + Couper

    There were 2 Council by-elections in Labour-held Cardiff seats on Thursday. Labour held both, and increased its vote share in Riverside ward by 3.6% to 1120, ie just over 50% of the total votes cast. LibDems got 2.6% of the total vote, a fall of 1.2% from 2012, and finished in 6th and last position behind Lab, Plaid, Con, UKIP and TUSC, garnering just 58 votes. This is surely the exact opposite of a “pretty solid LibDem recovery in Cardiff” :-)

    In the other Cardiff seat (Splott) which is more marginal, the LibDems did increase their vote by 4% but failed to regain the seat from Labour because the lion’s share of the voters who deserted Labour went to UKIP who polled over 11% after not competing last time – an interestingly strong performance for Wales. Splott is also affected by a high profile waste incinerator where Labour’s previous Councillor was unable to deliver on rhetoric against the incinerator used to win the seat as promised at the 2102 elections. ( KIngs Lynn has similar issues).

    It’s true that Labour only got a swing in their favour in 1 of the 8 seats – but this was a gain (by 1 vote ;-)) from Residents in a crucial Parliamentary seat – Dartford.

    Finally all the swings recorded are from previous Council elections in 2012 (6 seats) or 2011 (2 seats). This will obviously dampen and in some cases wipe out any swing to Labour. If the seats were recalibrated against GE results in 2010 (which I assume is difficult/impossible) I suspect you would see a modest swing to Labour in most if not all the seats.

    Hope this isn’t too dull a posting ….

  41. F. Stansfield:

    I think that differential turnout in the Independence Referendum will have the opposite effect to your take, in that there are many Scots so passionate against.

    The symptoms are all around here in the NE, and I, as a long-established English incomer, merely observe and say nought..

    Doric-speaking locals regularly mouth off about the dreamland Alex Salmond is in, and these folk are normally pretty reserved..

    Our local bookstore has many more football books about English teams than Scottish ones.

    The football writer in our Aberdeen paper is saying he`ll be combining his kilt with an England shirt when the World Cup comes next year, and urging others to do the same.

    Our academy kids are so strongly against – their mock referendum had only 133 YES cf. 594 NO.

  42. @Shevii

    “We had one minute’s clapping for him at a non league footie game today so I guess everywhere was doing the same.”

    I was watching the great Kidderminster Harriers (Worcestershire’s one and only ever Football League team) against Newport County in the FA Cup 2nd Rd this afternoon and all 2,600 spectators to a man, woman and child joined in a sincere and heartfelt one minute applause in memory of, and as a tribute to, Nelson Mandela. I can think of no other political figure on this planet who could have generated such a genuine outpouring of warmth and affection. Says it all for me.

    That said, I’m done with the Mandela debate now. We all have our views and memories of the man and they’ve been well expressed on these pages. I feel it would be inappropriate to generate further opportunities for disagreement so let’s return to polling matters.

    The Great Storm/Flood and Autumn statement were crowded out of the domestic news by Mandela’s death but, far less importantly, so was that rather interesting Friday YouGov poll showing the Tories on 29% and giving Labour a 12 point lead. An outlier maybe, and tonight’s poll will tell us more, but it is extraordinary to see the Tories floundering around in the late 20s, even in a one-off poll, when the political wind is blowing as kindly for them as it has for some considerable time.

    I’m genuinely baffled and surprised, although to add that I’m pleased as well is far too partisan!

  43. Welsh Borderer,
    Most certainly not a dull posting .On the contrary highly informative .Thankyou.

  44. @ Welsh Borderer,

    Thanks for the details. I meant the Splott by-election- I saw a relatively close Lib Dem second and assumed it must mark an improvement, but you’re right, a 4% swing isn’t much. (Although they probably count anything above fifth place as a win at this point.) I should have looked at the 2012 figures.

  45. @Welsh Borderer

    I forgot to factor in the fact the swings are not since 2010. So not as bad as it first looked for Labour.

  46. Some serious problems in ED ms office.Who on earth is continually giving
    Very useful and damaging information to the opposition on an almost daily
    Basis.For example the E mail that Osborne was able to read out in the Commons yesterday and the latest damaging news today.

  47. @Ann In Wales

    If you mean about the ‘blairites’ domination of the election campaign. I am really pleased if Alistair Campbell is back. One thing about the Blairites they know how to win elections. If I was a Tory I would be very worried regarding that leak, I’d back the Blairites against Crosby any day.

    And it is the campaign, what they do best, they are in charge of not policy, seems a very clever move by EM.


    I would be very pleased if what you are saying is the case throughout Scotland. It always really annoys me when Scottish people do not support England in football. I think it is really pathetic and does not reflect well on us at all.

  49. @ Crossbat

    Are the Kidderminster fans still as generous as when I saw my team play them about 15 years ago? We must have collected about £20 in loose change that they had thrown at us through the segregation fences :-)

  50. couper2802

    I lived in Glasgow in June 1966 – just over 20 years after the end of the war.

    Everyone there seemed to want Germany to beat England and I found it very hard to accept or understand the level of dislike towards the English.

    For me it had always been England first, home nations second – above anybody.

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