Following the intervention of George Osborne into the debate over Scottish independence and what currency an independent Scotland might use there has been an obvious interest in the next Scottish polls and what they might show. Will it have closed or widened the gap, or made no difference? Today there are two new Scottish polls asking about the referendum, sadly neither quite answer the question.

To get the less interesting one out of the way first, TNS BMRB have a “new” Scottish referendum poll, but the fieldwork was actually conducted between the 28th January and 6th February (I can only assume that the long time scale is because the poll was conducted face-to-face… though even then, the fieldwork was completed a fortnight ago). The figures in TNS’s poll are YES 29%, NO 42%, 29% don’t know – entirely unchanged from their previous poll in mid-January. Given the fieldwork was conducted prior to Osborne’s intervention though, this clearly doesn’t answer the question.

More relevant is a new Survation poll in the Daily Mail. This was conducted on Monday and Tuesday, so after Osborne’s intervention and at the time Alex Salmond was actively responding. Topline figures there are YES 38%, NO 47%, Don’t know 16%. Survation’s previous poll was showing YES on 32%, NO on 52%, so prima facie it looks as though there has been a significant shift towards YES. But there’s a caveat – last month Survation weighted their data by recalled 2010 vote, this month they’ve weighted by 2011 Holyrood vote. According to John Curtice Survation’s weighting last month knocked about five points off of Yes, their new weighting has not, raising the possibility that the difference could just be down to weighting. Realistically its not that simple – there is a random element in sampling, one sample will not be the same as the next and, therefore, weighting will have a different effect from one poll to the next, and it seems like a big difference to all be down to weighting to a different election. All we can really be confident in saying is that the two polls are not really comparable, so we should probably hold off on judgement – there are sure to be some more Scottish polls along soon. The tabs should be up on Survation’s site in about half an hour.

Scottish independence referendum polls so far are here.

344 Responses to “New TNS BMRB and Survation Scottish polls”

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  1. @Johnkay – “Quite so. But it does raise the delicious possibility of newly independent Scotland knocking on the EU’s door to get in just as rUK is threatening to leave unless it gets its way in renegotiations.”

    Having dipped into the ferocious world of the [email protected] on some other sites ( and yes – it really is ferocious, with a deeply depressing arrogance and abusiveness on display) the attitude to the EU in the south of the UK is frightening many Scots and driving many towards Yes. They know they could not necessarily prevent a UK exit, and feel that their best defence is independence.

    UKIP is going to have all manner of influence on this referendum. They make a Yes vote more likely, but equally, but applying critical pressure at Westminster, they are also likely to make the independence settlement much worse for Scotland.

    No one in Westminster has dared mention this, and they probably never will until after September 18th, but the legal position with the EU is very clear – Westminster will be able to veto whatever treaty changes are necessary to allow Scottish membership.

    This is, in practical terms, an absolute nuclear warhead underneath the entire Scottish negotiating position. They must keep Westminster happy.

  2. AW – got a post in auto mod, reason a mystery.

  3. Labour got 83% in Bootle in 1997. Mind you, if it took the Labour Party in 1997 to break 80%, and they could only do it in Bootle, then it’s a rare occurence indeed.

    There was one by-election in Leeds in I think 1940, where it was a straight Tory-BUF fight just after Dunkirk. It was won by the Tory with a majority of 94%.

  4. John Kay

    It wasn’t an ironical question. The Scots are being told that a currency union is just fine and dandy, but there’s surprisingly little discussion about why a union with the Auld Enemy is grand, but one with a much larger group is not. And, crucially, what the economic issues are that changed the SNP policy over the past few years.

    If you are dealing with something as vital as a nation’s future, surely you want an informed discussion about issues as fundamental as these? But I’ve not heard a peep on why the Euro is now not the preferred option, when it was a wee while ago.

  5. Well my own personal view and it is only that is that in the event of a Yes vote Scotland will do a deal with the EU in the eighteen months between Sept 14 and May 16.

    Scotland as part of a member state for 40 years already complies with all the necessary regulations and in pretty much ever respect from democratic institutions to the economy is head and shoulders above most of the recent East European entries.

    I don’t mean that as a slight on any of those especially in the Balkans they have had an institutional and economic mountain to climb since the end of communism.

    If any existing member was to object it would probably be Spain but I think it is unlikely.

    Vetoing the entry of a Country your twenty five fellow EU nations welcome for domestic reasons isn’t going to go down to well and probably not a smart move for a country that those other 25 have bailed out.

    Given that Scotland would almost certainly be a net annual contributor to the tune of around £1bn plus, I suspect Berlin to quietly ask Madrid where in the Spainish budget they were going to find it, because I doubt that German or anyone else’s tax payers would be happy to foot the bill for Spain’s decision.


  6. Lefty, the SNP’s pro-Euro stance died a rapid death around about the time Iceland and Ireland stopped being lauded by Salmond as admirable economies forming an “Arc of Prosperity across Northern Europe”.

  7. @Peter Cairns – “If any existing member was to object it would probably be Spain but I think it is unlikely.”

    Spain have stated quite clearly (their PM) that they wouldn’t support an unagreed split, but would not interfere with a mutually agreed separation.

    I also don’t think negotiations will fail, as I don’t think Salmond is stupid enough to genuinely think he could walk away without any debt obligations.

  8. Steve2

    I understand that. But I still don’t understand how that changed the monetary union debate.

    Surely it must be based on economics? Surely not politics? Not on an issue as fundamental as this?

  9. Leftylampton

    Unfortunately, I think my glib answer to your question, that the SNP dropped the euro when it became a vote-loser, is probably the correct one. And I think it’s why Salmond appears so attached to sterling: he perceives currency union as a vote-winner.

    As someone with roots across the north sea from Scotland, I greatly sympathise with the independence case, but I wish it would be put on the basis of clear, principled argument and not what you think will go down best with the punters. If only Salmond had the courage of his convictions.

  10. I am happy to take Scotland’s share of the debt, but now that the UK has said it will honour all UK debts I have to say I think it is worth considering.

    Danny Alexander is saying the international community would see it as a default, but would they.

    If I left a Company with debts I was a director of to start up on my own and the company told the Stock market that it had assumed all liability for the debt would banks refuse to lend to me or ask for premium.

    It wouldn’t be me that reneged on a debt on leaving, it would be the company that had assumed responsibility for it who had the liability.

    Five years back when debt was far lower and below assets, I’d have thought twice but now that debt is enormous it could be different.

    After all the level of debt and whether it is sustainable is the biggest consideration in whether banks lend to a country and at what rate so we should at least entertain the possibility that a new well developed advanced country with oil and an open economy and the lowest debt level in Europe might be a fairly good option to lend to.

    I suspect a lot of the people who don’t like the idea either don’t like the thought of independence or equally having to pick up the tab for Scotland.

    I can understand both, but neither means both couldn’t happen.

    Although as I said at the start it is unlikely.


  11. Alec:

    “the attitude to the EU in the south of the UK is frightening many Scots and driving many towards Yes. They know they could not necessarily prevent a UK exit, and feel that their best defence is independence.”

    If such a politically sophisticated judgement were really behind the increase in ‘yes’ support, it would reflect great credit on the Scots and their education system, because attitudes to the EU in the UK generally seem to be simplistic and driven largely by media pressure.

  12. Neil A – agree, my constituency of Darlington would be Tory if the demographics were replicated in the South of England whereas it is has decent Labour majority.

  13. @nickp – the cuts have fallen particularly hard on local govt, and not fairly. The funding formula was changed, so areas that have higher levels of deprivation have suffered far greater cuts to funding than wealthier areas. The differences are staggering.

    This has meant that RoS has been relatively lightly cut, the North and London severely cut. Haringey, one of the most deprived will have lost over 75% of its govt grant by 2018 and has already had cuts of around £240 per head (it was £279 but they got money for Tottenham regeneration). In contrast, Richmond is always cited in London with cuts of around £29 per head.

    When you also include the money taken out of local economies by public services cuts and wage freezes, it is not surprising RoS is surging ahead. Not much austerity down there.


    NatWest was an ok bank before RBS took it over and decided that it wanted to become the worlds largest bank. RBS then virtually collapsed in 2008, due to the massive risks it had taken. If the collapse had happened under an Independent Scotland, I am sure that RBS would have gone bust, as they would not have been able to afford a bailout.

    The same with Bank of Scotland and the formation of HBOS with Halifax, with significant risks being taken. It needed a UK bailout, which would never have been afforded by an independent Scotland.

    I make just two points. There is no way that any sizeable bank would base their headquarters in an independent Scotland. If Scotland votes for independence, they should take their share of the debt in relation to the bailout of these banks as a minimum. You will probably say that if Scotland keeps the pound with the BoE acting as the central bank that the BoE would be the responsible body. However HM Treasury is effectively the backer of the BoE. So you would be expecting rUK to take the risks in regard to banks HQ’d in Scotland.

    At the moment, it is not looking too likely that UK taxpayers will be getting their money back after bailing out these banks. RBS may continue to make a loss for a few years yet and their share price has remained low.

    Scotland can vote for independence as that is their choice. However, there needs to be a full assessment of all the issues. If Scotland wants to keep the pound, I expect it will come at a high price and therefore a Scottish government will have to decide whether to accept or just issue their own currency. Voters in any referendum should be given all the information before they vote and not afterwards.

  15. What is the justification to weighting on the basis of 2011 rather than the 2010 General Election? Why should this produce more accurate results re- Scottish opinion?

  16. Chatterclass, I slightly suspect Richmond may have had significantly lower per capita spending than Haringey pre-cuts.

    Do you have absolute per capita spending figures?

  17. R HUCKLE,

    RBS AND HBOS were both regulated by authorities in London, no one north of the border controlled how big they got and what they did.

    They may have been based in Scotland by the regulatory failures were in London. Dublin and Reykjavík both made mistakes but Scotland didn’t as we let someone else make them for us.

    Like Ireland and Iceland we could have faced a crisis if we had let our banks grow as the UK did. Both those nations have had to face up to their mistakes Ireland with a rescue and bail out and Iceland by letting them fail.

    The jury is still out to which is the better option but so far Iceland seems to be recovering the better of the two.

    Given that only about 10% of both banks liabilities were in Scotland the fall out from the collapse would have been manageable. That is part of the reason Germany has put so much into Greece….German banks hold a lot of Greek debt.

    I agree that we “should” accept our share of the debt and we have indicated we would, but without discussion or negotiation the Treasury has told the markets that it will honour these debts regardless of the referendum outcome.

    If you aren’t happy with what your Government has announced take it up with your Government, not mine!


  18. Graham – in theory it shouldn’t make any difference at all. When we switched the YouGov Scottish polling from one to the other it made very little difference, but that may be because our recalled 2010 vote was mostly collected in 2010 – as you’ll see, that’s makes a difference.

    A perfectly representative sample of the Scottish population would (deaths and new entrants excepted) have a 2010 recall that matches the 2010 election AND a 2011 recall that matches the 2011 election. Weighting by either should give you a broadly similar sample.

    However, if people are better at recalling their 2011 vote than their 2010 vote then weighting to the more recent election may give you a more accurate sample.

  19. Peter, the German-led bailout was not for the Greek banks but for the Greek government and its collapsed economy.

    As far as I know, no government bailed out a foreign bank. Do you know different?

    And trying to pin RBS’s failures on London is just another example of the Scots nationalist favourite of “Our mess is not our fault! It’s London’s!”

  20. @ Peter Cairns

    I just make the point that in the future, if RBS stayed headquartered in Scotland and then collapsed again, it would be an indepedent Scottish government who would have to deal with any bailout. It would not matter that RBS did most of its business elsewhere. This is presuming that Scotland did not keep the pound and the BoE had nothing to do with the financial standing of these banks.

    I realise that the SNP seem to be counting on keeping the pound and the BoE still being involved. This will therefore still require an independent Scotland to follow the rules set by rUK HM treasury, who would set financial rules, similar to Brussels/ECB setting the rules for the Eurozone countries.

  21. “Scotland didn’t as we let someone else make them for us.”

    Not blaming the Scottish Chancellor of the Exchequer, are you?

  22. petercairns[snp]

    “I am happy to take Scotland’s share of the debt”

    That’s very nice of you Peter you couldn’t chip in a few quid for England’s as well while you’re at it could you?

  23. @Peter Cairns – “RBS AND HBOS were both regulated by authorities in London, no one north of the border controlled how big they got and what they did.”

    Sorry Peter, but this is a complete fallacy. In fact, amongst all the rhetoric on both sides of the debate, this is the biggest pile of total nonsense, in my view. Scotland elected MPs, who joined with others to in turn select a government, who in turn made the banking regulations. You are just as responsible as any other part of the UK. That’s democracy.

    Like it or not, the regulatory authorities ‘in London’ were, in part, Scottish. As Scotland contributes to a free and fair democratically elected Westminster government, and that government has responsibility for certain things, like bank regulation, then Scotland shares culpability for anything that went wrong.

    Just because the Bank of England and the FSA is located in London, it does not mean they are not Scottish. Indeed, Alex Salmond is keen to remind us that the BoE belongs to Scotland – so therefore, do any debts associated with UK banks.

    The critical issue really revolves around what the UK underwriting of all debt means, and whether this provides an opportunity – even just a technical, dry legal opportunity – for Scotland to refuse to pay.

    It possibly does. Certainly if Scotland walks away from the UK and all the debts are in the name of the UK, then ii would be hard to see how Scots could legally be pursued for the debts. [That would make quite some warrant sale].

    However, as we both agree, that would be a highly contentious move, with all manner of consequences. At a stroke, it would break the obligation for assets to be split on a fair and proportionate basis, and would open the door for all manner of issues to be raised, not just by the UK, but by other EU partners.

    There are an awful number of positive assumptions within the White Paper around issues like still being able to charge English students tuition fees, and getting an extra £1.2 for Scottish farmers from the CAP area payments, that are highly dependent on what others demand and need agreement throughout the EU, not just the UK.

    The direct loss of any share of UK assets would be considerable. Scotland’s share of foreign currency reserves would be around 10% of it’s share of the deficit on it’s own, and military hardware, underwriting of Torness decommissioning costs and many other issues will all quickly stack up.

    Given that the SNP’s central case for independence appears to be based on a very marginal net gain of around £2.5B pa, even with extremely optimistic assumptions, and the net gain from not facing the immediate interest payments of it’s share of the debt would only be around £5B, it really wouldn’t take much at all for such a move to lead to a position where Scotland ends up being much, much worse off.

  24. alec

    ” if Scotland walks away from the UK and all the debts are in the name of the UK, then ii would be hard to see how Scots could legally be pursued for the debts. [That would make quite some warrant sale]. ”

    I know some blokes in Newcastle who specialise in stuff like that.

  25. What about my RBS overdraft and BoS mortgage, though?

  26. “What about my RBS overdraft and BoS mortgage, though?”

    Peter will sort that out for you.

    Or my Geordies.

  27. when will we reach the point (if it all) where pollsters dont offer the don’t know option? The dont knows must be leaning slightly one way or the other because they wont be able to vote for dont know on the day of the referendum so i’m starting to get fed up of seeing it.

  28. I wonder if Ed M will make a personal intervention at some point, a la Cameron.

    It could be useful if he did and perhaps noted if he didn’t.

    It could be a good idea, perhaps, to say

    “we want to remain united and you can have more devo-max than you can shake a stick at if you stay”

    or words to that effect.

    Given that it was Labour that wanted greater autonomy for the regions, via assemblies and Geordie classes etc, he has a good case to make that it is a genuine conviction.

    I can’t get past the idea that if they want to share the pound that that is more devo than independent anyway. Otherwise we could just share the pound with Norway or Denmark etc.

  29. James – we won’t. It’ll be there all the time, as people will always have the option of not bothering to vote. When we get close to the election I expect they’ll increasingly be quoted after the don’t knows have been excluded, but it will always be an option in surveys.

  30. @AW

    Why do we have the headline with DK included instead as with VI polling excluding DK?

    Today’s poll % with DK excluded? 45-55

  31. We’re three months out from local elections, and I was wondering if anyone has any predictions?

    Personally, I would think we’re looking at big losses for the Lib Dems. These are councillors elected in metropolitan areas in 2006 and 2010, during the nadir of Blair and Brown’s unpopularity (albeit the Lib Dems lost vote share in 2010). Voters there don’t seem likely to be overly kind to the Lib Dems after their actions in office.

    The other rather interesting question is whether UKIP will make as much headway as last year. They’ve shown they can take take a decent chunk of vote share in urban seats, but presumably not as well as in the shires.

    1) The ‘shires’ are more likely to contain retired ex-colonels called Sir Humphrey who spend all day drinking gin and yelling at single mothers. An exaggeration, but you know what I mean – they’re more natural ground for UKIP.

    2) Labour are much stronger in these areas, and as the main opposition can be expected to soak up a lot of the anti-coalition feeling. These, like Wythenshawe, are seats they know well – they know where to find their voters and UKIP don’t.

    3) UKIP won a grand total of nine councillors in these areas in 2010, so are starting from a base of near zero.

    Anyway, we’ve got three elections today:

    Ware TC, Christchurch
    Con, Died.

    Cardiff UA, Canton
    Lab, Resigned.

    Charnwood BC, Birstall Wanlip
    Con, Died.

  32. Now the Thin White Duke has entered the debate on the side of retaining the Union, I wonder if he’s hoping that Alistair Darling emerges as the hero, even if it’s only for one day.

  33. @Crossbat11

    I thought that was quiet sweet. It works better for me that all the nastiness from GO and the EU.

  34. @R&D – I’ve held a thought for a while that Ed might be the one to save the union.

    The Yes campaign are running their own version of Project Fear, by trying to instill on voters on the doorstep a fear of what would happen if there was a No vote, with the concept being bandied about quite happily that the Barnett formula would be scrapped and Scotland subjected to ‘austerity max’. To be fair, some Labour MSP’s have also said something similar, in response to Lamont’s plans for Holyrood getting income tax direct.

    While Milliband falls into the same general ‘southern metropolitan elite’ group as the Tory leadership for many Scots, as Labour, and being ahead in the polls, he has got more traction north of the border.

    Saying No is inherently negative in tone anyway, but also, polls suggest that the least favourite option for Scots is the status quo. If we are not to see a yes vote, someone, somehow, has to explain to the Scots why a No vote is a positive vote, and to do that, and explanation of what happens next is critical.

    If Labour can come up with a convincing strategy for decentralization, possibly linked to much needed regionalism in England, and addressing other anomalies like the HoL, in a coherent constitutional package that offers Scotland some hope of greater control but within the union, then I think No’s could well hold off the challenge with relative ease.

    Why I link this with broader change across the UK is that, as Scotland gets more control and power, there are risks of imbalances elsewhere. Northern England is already starting to feel the destructive pull not just from London, but also now from Edinburgh too, and something will be needed to allow these areas to complete and develop.

    An overall package could work for England, as well as giving Scots more optimism about the union. Their biggest fear is more Tory rule, and the greater bulwark that could be erected against that, the better the chance of a No vote.

  35. The shires mostly aren’t voting – it’ll be district authorities, a few unitaries and the London boroughs. I expect the Tories to be the biggest losers.

  36. Anthony,thanks for the explanation. I am not really persuaded that it produces a more accurate picture since turnout for the Scottish Parliament election in 2011 was a lot lower than for the 2010 General Election.

  37. RogerH,

    That’s my point – last year was the shires, this time it’s Labour territory up for election.

  38. Graham

    In addition to Anthony’s points, the best reason for using the 2011 recalled vote is that the Referendum will be held on the electoral roll for Holyrood, and not the electoral roll for Westminster.

  39. alec

    You make the points very well I think.

    Also, the problem with Osborne’s speech was not so much the content but, as so often, the tone. The speech was delivered in a “You Scots must be bonkers if you think….. etc etc”

    Regionalism as an only slightly lesser element than Scotland becoming MORE independent but not adrift seems eminently sensible to me. If it is also linked with a positive outlook on Europe then, in that estate agents’ phrase I loathe so much, Ed M could tick all the boxes.

  40. Without prejudging any outcome does anyone think the work William Hague is putting, with regard to Ukraine, would be as effective outside of a united EU position.

    The EU, at its best, is a force for peace – as well as many other beneficial elements.

    Hague seems a very good FS by the way – there seems to be far less tinkering with this government in terms of major positions in the cabinet.

    Some in the Labour cabinet seemed to have done all the jobs at one time or another: I got to thinking that John Reid was given six month contracts.

  41. “there seems to be far less tinkering with this government in terms of major positions in the cabinet”

    Which is fine when you have someone competent like Hague; not so good with ministers like Smith and Lansley.

  42. Yes, Hague seems not to have caused any major incidents apart from the Syria thing.

    John Reid struck me as an odd character and I didn’t much like him. One of the nastiest incidents was when Roy Hattersley said he’d shoot himself if Reid became Labour leader. Reid’s response was “Until Roy Hattersley said he would shoot himself if I became prime minister, I had not been able to see any possible advantage in standing.”

  43. One point to note about all the TNS polls in the latest series is that they weight responses to the actual pattern of the electorate’s behavior in 2011. In other words, they don’t just weight to the party share of the vote, but also to the proportion who didn’t vote at all.

    Thus, their weighted vote shares are Con 7% : Lab 16% : LD 4% : SNP 23% : Other 1% : Can’t Remember/Did not vote 49%.

    In that context, it’s not surprising that 38% of the CR/DNV cohort were “Don’t Knows” in the referendum, compared to 29% of Labour, 22% of LDs, 19% of SNP and 10% of Tories.

    Nor is it surprising that only 67% of CR/DNV s are Certain/Very Likely to vote in the referendum, compared with over 90% of those who voted in 2011.

  44. I’m with the pups on this one. You simply aren’t going to get a turnaround from 60/40 or 55/45 in 6 months with a yes/no question.

    Might as well discuss what the EU would do if the Greens got a working majority in 2015 and banned all cars from the UK.

  45. @OldNat

    Is there a significant difference (numerically) between the two electoral rolls?

  46. @ Shevii

    you must be joking! If a week is a long time in politics, then seven months is (at least potentially) an eternity. A lot can happen between now and September 18, including economically.

    Virtually everyone agrees that the majority of Scots (I include myself in this) wanted the Devo-Max option on the ballot paper. The more time goes by the less it seems that the pro-Union parties have anything coherent to offer. Just listening to responses to Cameron’s love-=song Osborne’s vitriolic speech has left many utterly confused as to what the Westminster establishment actually thinks about Scotland, and what it wants to propose for the post-Referendum future.

    Sorry it these points have been made before: I’ve been away for a few days.

  47. ought to have read:

    Cameron’s love song and Osborne’s vitriolic etc.

  48. @ MrNameless

    I see that in two of the three local by-elections you are watching tonight the conservative died.

    I’m not trying to make a joke out of this, but I ask if there are any stats on the average age of councillors for the various parties?

  49. More signs of the utter waste of time this currency debate is taking up. We know its not important and its not shifting opinion. Am just surprised the SNP are not saying ‘negotiations/decisions for future elections’. Salmond should hold a press conference with supporters of other ideas and lay out that its all for the Scottish people to decide. I have no idea how they’ve failed so badly here so far. Its not doing either side any movement. No shift in the ‘Don’t Know’ side remains interesting though.

    The YES and NO voters are not voting for the reasons coming out of the debate but long held views on the union. I suppose you can look at the DKs psychologically two ways.

    1/ Not won over by the yes vote
    2/ Not attatched to the idea of the Union

    I’d say number 2 holds more weight but more questions in these polls to look into peoples views than just headline figures would be interesting. I just feel if you think your doing well in the UK you would not be a DK. I don’t see them splitting 50/50; end of the day people don’t seem to be the majority wise ‘happy’ with the Union (see Devo-Max).

    Headline Figures are getting a bit boring but I think its likely the Yes camp should push into the 40s come referendum day.

  50. John B

    Latest odds are No: 1/4 equivalent probability 80%
    Yes 7/2 against equivalent probability 22%

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