This Sunday’s polling is mostly dominated by Scotland – even the YouGov/Sunday Times national poll mostly had questions about Britain’s attitudes to the Scottish referendum.

Let start with the Scottish polls though. Last weekend we had a Survation poll in the Mail on Sunday which was widely reported in the media as showing that George Osborne’s intervention in the referendum debate had actually boosted YES. This was mostly rubbish – the change appeared to be largely, but not wholly, the result of Survation changing their weightings. I concluded we should probably wait for more evidence before deciding what the impact from the currency row was.

Today we have a new ICM poll for Scotland on Sunday. Their topline figures with changes from a month ago are YES 37%(nc), NO 49%(+4). At first glance this poll would indicate the currency row had led to a significant boost to the NO campaign, but once again I’d urge some caution. Regular readers will remember that the previous ICM poll showed a big swing towards YES, far bigger than any other poll, so this one may very well just be a reversion to the mean rather than any meaningful change (in particular ICM’s last poll had an unusually pro-independence sample of young people, which I suspect may have vanished. On that subject this month ICM have apparently changed their method very slightly, changing the age bands they use to weight young people.)

In the rest of the poll ICM found that 63% of people in Scotland think it is in Scotland’s best interests to keep the pound, 12% think she would be better off with a separate currency. 47% think that an independent Scotland would be able to use the pound, that the main British parties are bluffing. On the issue of Scotland’s EU membership, 54% would like to see an independent Scotland be an EU member, 29% would not; 57% think Scotland would be able to join, 24% think membership would be blocked.

The SNP have also commissioned a new Panelbase poll. Now, the last time we saw an Panelbase/SNP poll they played silly buggers with the question ordering, but I’ve double checked with Panelbase and nothing like this happened in this one (though the wording is very slightly different to that used by the Panelbase/Sunday Times poll). The topline figures are YES 37%, NO 47%. The no vote is two points lower than the last Panelbase/Sunday Times poll, but Panelbase’s previous poll was a bit higher than usual – for most of the past year Panelbase’s polls have consistently shown a NO lead of between 8 and 10 points, this is wholly in line with that.

In short, looking at the post-currency row questions we’ve got some polls showing YES up, some showing NO up, some showing little change, all of them obscured to some extent by reversion to the mean after unusual results or methodology/wording changes. It’s a pretty confused picture, but I’m struggling to see any clear movement to YES or NO.

Meanwhile the weekly YouGov/Sunday Times poll is here and has topline figures of CON 32%, LAB 39%, LDEM 8%, UKIP 12%. In England and Wales 21% support Scottish independence, 61% are opposed and English & Welsh respondents are now slightly more likely to think E&W would be worse off (27%) than better off (23%) if Scotland left.

Also worth noting there is an interesting non-Scotland related question – YouGov repeated a question from last April about the government’s welfare reform package as a whole, freezes, caps, bedroom tax, etc. Back in April 2013 56% of people said they supported them, 31% were opposed. Now 49% support them, 38% are opposed – so still more in support than against, but a significant movement over the last year.


397 Responses to “ICM and Panelbase Scottish polls”

1 2 3 8
  1. YouGov repeated a question from last April about the government’s welfare reform package as a whole, freezes, caps, bedroom tax, etc. Back in April 2013 56% of people said they supported them, 31% were opposed. Now 49% support them, 38% are opposed – so still more in support than against, but a significant movement over the last year.
    —————–
    My guess is the significant movement happened in the past few weeks: Pickles saying the UK is a wealthy country & Cameron’s ‘money no object’ have had an impact, I’d think. Whether it’ll continue is another matter – will we have to wait until next year for the question to be asked again?

  2. AW, why do you do it? I mean encourage unfounded speculation.
    You know as well as I do that given the random element in polls, these results shifting one way or another by a few % are consistent with several possible explanations, but none of them actually SHOW anything.

  3. @ Dave

    …but none of them actually SHOW anything.
    —————-
    Which is pretty much AW’s conclusion. Did you actually read his entire piece before firing off your comment?

  4. VI should – but will it? – at least partly relate to how people see Coalition and a Labour foreign policy, e.g. in support or otherwise of sanctions against political or military support for Russian intervention in Ukraine.
    The Ukraine crisis is possibly the most serious East-West clash since the Cuban missile crisis, and involves ideologies, massive economic interests and a movement of alliances in which Ukraine is making the same choices as faced the Baltic States in 1989. The position of the pro-Putin Russian population in the east of the country defines the nature and interests of a post-Soviet and centrist grouping around a mainly materialist Russian market economy, but one whose stability depends on a military alliance and reliance on military intervention rather than on a democratic and wider European traditions and ties.

  5. JOHN PILGRIM

    If the worst happens in Ukraine, the country splits & “pro Russia” South & East engages in a Civil War with a “pro EU” West , the least thing we will be worrying about is UK VI.

  6. @Amber

    Like you, I’m guessing, but I suspect that a further difference with April 2013 is that many people have now experienced the reality of implementation. That is, they will have discovered to their shock that they are amongst those affected by cuts they thought were directed only at the stereotype of the “undeserving poor”, and others will have observed the impact on their relatives and friends.

    Cardinal Nicholls may also have affected the debate. Even though opinion is evenly divided on his views, that is very different from a 56/31 split so could still have shifted opinion.

  7. “If the worst happens in Ukraine, the country splits & “pro Russia” South & East engages in a Civil War with a “pro EU” West , the least thing we will be worrying about is UK VI.”

    So, Colin, a choice of policy in relation to the Ukraine crisis, e.g. of working through EU mechanisms and common voice, does not affect your voting intention, since Ukraine is a far country of which we know little?

  8. @ Dave

    The way I read his piece was that he was saying exactly that- no sign of any change.

  9. John

    If the worst happens , I would be primarily engaged in watching the tv reports of a bloody civil war & wondering how soon Putin would decide to send tanks in to “protect” the Russian population.

    That’s what I meant.

  10. Benefit cuts. The YG question posed seems long and unwieldy, squeezing several important issues together. I would like to see some specific questions, including one (or more) about how respondents feel about ATOS performance.

  11. @Ozwald

    Exactly my point on a previous thread.

    I saw a tweet that said EM has pledged to abolish ATOS. Labour brought in ATOS didn’t they?

  12. @ Phil Haines

    I agree that personal experience will have made some change their mind. I had noticed, even amongst people experiencing cuts, a stoicism: There’s no money, the cuts are necessary etc. But the attitude of the wider population also seems to be on the move (because Pickles & Cameron have unwittingly changed the ‘welfare’ debate?), hence this being a good time for the Cardinal to make his intervention.

    Perhaps it took all of these things together to reach a tipping point which changed the polls so dramatically.

  13. @Couper2802
    Indeed you did raise the point previously. I would like to see the back of ATOS but it would make little difference if they are replaced by another outfit who operate in a similar way. As you say, Labour started the ATOS regime and I notice they are not saying much about their future intentions on the issue. Hutton was very hawkish and IMO saw all claimants as scroungers.

  14. COLIN
    Understood, but you are making my point, that the whole country is likely, with varying degrees of insight and interest, in watching Russian tanks move in Kiev, and thus crushing also a political process which is verging on the emergence of a democratic system in Ukraine, and on keeping open transition to membership or association with the EU.
    Meanwhile, back in the old U of K, we are deciding whether the influence which Britain has traditionally exercised in relation to the suppression of freedoms in Eueope is weakened by splitting our own resources and institutions for the sake of hastening the Celtic twilight.

  15. This is all very interesting. A couple of we know, were all for benefits cuts until they they thought that her elderly parents might be subject to the bedroom tax.

  16. JOHN

    Sorry, but I didn’t understand any of that.

  17. “Benefit cuts are something that’s unlikely to grow in popularity – more likely the opposite as people may become aware of someone affected.”

    From the last thread, I think it was R Huckle, and sorry if it wasn’t! This was Polly Toynbee’s prediction as to what would happen right at the start of the parliament. Kudos to her.

  18. Amber (11:15)

    I think public opinion movement over welfare reforms/cuts started before that. If you look at the bedroom tax alone, even last September we saw a swing away from support in the Spring:

    http://d25d2506sfb94s.cloudfront.net/cumulus_uploads/document/5gddupegm8/YG-Archive-Pol-Sunday-Times-results-130913.pdf#page=12

    The “Money no object” may not have been the most strategic thing to come out with and repeating it in the Commons not exactly sensible. And of course when it actually turned out to mean “Money no object (up to a maximum of £10 million)”, even those it was aimed at may not have been impressed. But it probably reinforced more views than it changed.

    [reposted because Anthony has now banned ‘P*M*Q*s’ (without asterisks) being mentioned]

  19. COLIN.
    No need to apologise. My meaning is that like you most people in this country will watch on TV as Russian tanks roll into Kiev and lives are lost in the interests of freedom of Ukraine to choose or otherwise membership of or association with the EU and the democratic West. The UK position in support of a EU move to protect that freedom, and to continue 20 years of assistance to Ulkraine to make the transition from former Soviet and Russian domination of their economy and politics will not be thought to be a matter of the ballot box.
    In fact, support for continued membership of the EU, as a poltical entity as well as a market system, and our decisions on any Scottish independence, are critical to our influence in affedting the continued transition of former Soviet Eastern European countries to democracy. These decisions at the ballot box are thus relevant also to the continued emergence of Russia and its sattelites away from a centrist megalopia.
    J.

  20. Hi Oswald,

    ” Labour started the ATOS regime and I notice they are not saying much about their future intentions on the issue.”

    Indeed not, ‘we’ are taking them on trust. This is an issue concerning which a peculiarly unpleasant myth has been planted in people’s minds, triggering their System 1 thinking, as Dan Hahneman would say. System 2, which would be required to expose the myth for what it is, is (as Hahneman says) very lazy. Making a political issue of shifting it would be fraught with danger.

  21. Any reason why my post in reply to Oswald is in mod? The only mention of a party is in the locating quote from the original….

  22. Hi Oswald,

    ” Labour started the ATOS regime and I notice they are not saying much about their future intentions on the issue.”

    Indeed not. This is an issue concerning which a myth has been planted in people’s minds, triggering their System 1 thinking, as Dan Hahneman would say. System 2, which would be required to expose the myth for what it is, is (as Hahneman says) very lazy. Making a political issue of shifting it would be fraught with danger.

  23. Oi! This is a Scottish thread – less of this boring, repetitive stuff on benefits and foreign affairs!

  24. @Colin D
    OK I looked up Dan Hahneman (who appears to be Kahneman) and I now know roughly what you mean by system 1 and 2.
    Unfortunately I still haven’t a clue what your post means :p

  25. John

    Will try to respond to your perceived main points.

    I don’t think EU influence in Ukraine will help much at all. Half the country wants to stay in the Russian sphere of influence. So charismatic as she is , when Yulia Tymoshenko tells the crowd in Kiev that Ukraine will join EU & “everything will change”-she does not speak for the East , or Crimea who do not want that transition. Her last attempt at transition to Democracy & EU was hardly a success. So if the EU tries to influence this it will alienate as many Ukrainians as it pleases.
    I simply do not believe that the EU can have the influence you seem ( again forgive if I misunderstand you) to think it can have. I do not see Putin standing idly by as your idea of “continued transition of former Soviet Eastern European countries to democracy.” is bestowed by “EU processes”.
    For the moment , however , I marvel at the restraint they show in Parliament, and the silent crowd walking through Yanukovitch’s grotesque house of kitch & opulence, photographing “were our taxes went”.

    On Scottish Independence , I dont understand your phrase”our decisions on any Scottish independence, “-It is the Scots who will be making a decision isn’t it?

    I cannot see that their decision will be “relevant also to the continued emergence of Russia and its sattelites away from a centrist megalopia.”. I see no connection whatsoever.

    Regarding “continued support for membership of EU”-be that UK or rUK, of course I agree that , if/when the Referendum comes , it will be an important decision for UK’s foreign influence, as well as domestic politics.

  26. @Alec

    Point taken.

    I don’t fancy an independent Scotland’s chances. Germany, Ireland, Poland……..

  27. @ Roger M

    You’re right – the movement had already started & the Pickles/Cameron comment wasn’t the main cause, just an additional factor.

  28. Anthony,
    I hope you realise that your polling average information is being used by Stephen Fisher as part of his working piece to predict the next election result. He currently says there is only 19% chance of a Labour majority and a 36% chance of a Conservative majority. Not putting any pressure on you to keep it updated Anthony ;-)

  29. Scottish or not, I think we should stop and think about Ukraine.

    What we seem to have is an all but even split between the Pro western Ukrainian speaking west and a Pro-Russian Russian speaking East.

    An Eu v Russia tug of war for influence over the whole country when it looks like neither side will accept the other could well turn out to be the catalyst for civil war.

    So far we are seeing death tolls of twenty or thirty but in Syria, Iraq and the Balkans it was twenty or thirty thousand at a time.

    Partition isn,t ideal but I think it was Michael Ignatieff writing about Bosnia who said something along the lines of;

    “Having decided they couldn’t share it, they agreed to destroy it together.”

    Much like Scotland and the Union (neatly back on topic) regardless of which side you are on it is better to part on good terms that live together and fighting.

    If the two sides can’t be reconciled and this has been going on for more than a decade now and seems to be getting worse then maybe partition is the least worst option.

    I worry that we make the same mistake we did in Yugoslavia offer our backing to those looking to us as a model for the future and then freeze when the other side takes up arms.

    Germany was the most eager to recognise the breakaway states and the least willing to commit troops when Serbia used force.

    If we don’t have the will to stop someone who is using nerve gas on their own people we’re hardly going to mass troops in Romania ready to liberate Western Ukraine from Kiev to Moldova.

    Peter.

  30. @ Alec

    The actualite this weekend didn’t live up to the expectations; we were ‘promised’ a shift to Yes which isn’t in evidence. Absent method tweaks & panel packing, I’m forced to conclude: the entire referendum has been polldrums.

  31. @Coupar2802 – “If Scotland makes her own decisions perhaps she won’t close the electricity plants or perhaps she will invest in new ones- Scotland has hydro electricity after all.

    An argument that Scotland is too poor, weak, stupid to go it alone can very easily be re-buffed by the Yes camp.”

    You’ve already been pulled up on this, quite rightly. It’s perfectly legitimate to point to flaws in the SNP campaign, without assuming the poor/weak/stupid stuff. Do please grow up.

    On the substantive points, if you’re in the EU, it’s very difficult to see Long Gannet stay open. Only a huge investment in scrubbing technology would enable this, which makes the plant uneconomic. Torness has the small matter of avoiding nuclear disaster. If independence requires a loosening of nuclear safety standards, then that’s quite a statement.

    Of course there are options, but don’t delude yourself. Torness has a capacity of 1,360MW, which is almost the exact same capacity as all hydro schemes in Scotland. There is no prospect of doubling hydro power in Scotland.

    There is great potential for wind, but this is a much less stable source, and tidal power is also liable to be a big future resource, but again, the economic viability and scalability is not certain. In due course, this is likely to be a good option, but will probably be relatively expensive. This matters, significantly, once the UK has an expanded interconnector network to the continent.

    The assumption that Scotland can hugely expand renewables and sell these whenever they need to the UK is a false assumption.

    Where I also take odds with your implicit characterization of my comments, is that I’m not denigrating the ability of Scotland to run it’s own affairs. I’m simply pointing out the many and varied ways in which the SNP’s White Paper and other supporting documents have an extremely biased and selective reading of the facts.

    There are numerous issues, when the assumptions that are made are based on the most positive reading of the situation, on many occasions flying directly in the face of established statistical analysis methodologies. Oil production is one such area, population dynamics and pensions are another.

    As a result, the SNP’s policy objectives consistently claim one outcome – that everything would be better with independence – while the actual evidence suggests the diametric opposite. So for example, the IFS analysis suggests that the establishment of not one, but two future oil funds, would need either bigger spending cuts or higher taxes, as the money isn’t there at present.

    You are correct in stating that the Yes campaign can readily rebut the too poor, too weak and too stupid argument, were anyone actually making that case, but what they cannot rebut without some serious difficulty is the fact that you would be better off independent. There are lots of reasons to assume that this balance would be either extremely marginal, or possibly quite a substantial negative.

  32. @Colin Davis
    Fair points. I fear that the myth is too deep-rooted to shift but I wonder if it has been around so long that it is factored into VI anyway?

  33. @Ozwald/Colin D

    I’m probably being thick (again) but could one of you elucidate to which myth you’re referring?

  34. Just as with the definition of tax avoidance/evasion discussion, who employed Atos is really not the issue. What matters is the legislation.

    Atos will be worse or better according to the diktats of the DWP. Whether it is tax avoidance or evasion depends on the treasury rules determined by the government of the day.

  35. @Guymonde
    The last para of Anthony’s summary has a bearing on the issue of “deserving poor” v “undeserving poor”. The cross-breaks suggest that opinions are divided according to party leanings. That is all I want to say for now as I don’t want to be banished to the naughty step, it’s too chilly there today.

  36. Hi Guymonde,

    Is it Kahneman? Wow! Such a fascinating book, it makes sense of things you have always known philosophically, but giving strong experimental psychological reasons why people’s thinking actually works like that.

    System 1 is the the thinking people use to make immediate assessments of things. It creates stories out of facts incredibly quickly, being a deep rooted survival mechanism. Once a story such as ‘the poor are out to attack us’ takes root, it becomes a foundation for all our thinking. System 2, the careful analytic process is lazy and quickly retires from the fray. It won’t in most people shift an assessment made by System 1 in the blink of an eye. That’s the basics anyway. (Must go and make a sandwich now…)

  37. COLIN DAVIS

    I think Kahneman’s System I is a little more complex than that.

    It certainly involves deep rooted prejudices & pre-conceptions from an evolutionary base of survival.

    But the heuristic thinking it utilises calls on experience based feelings as well. It may also involve Kahneman’s “Answering a different/simpler question.”

    So I think it’s application to ” a story such as ‘the poor are out to attack us’ ” would seem questionable -indeed I would question whether such an “experience” has currency at all.

    I am part way through “Thinking Fast and Slow”, and the area of conclusion & opinion forming which imediately come to mind in connection with Kahneman’s work is answering Opinion Polls.

    I hope that the book may touch on this , though there is nothing in the Index to indicate that it does.

  38. Re Atos

    I think people are missing the point here. It doesn’t really matter who introduced it- it depends on how it is used and whether it is fair. If Atos are actually incompetent get rid of them- if it is the criteria and targets that are the problem then review these. If we don’t want any of that then get rid of the whole thing and leave it to a GP to sign someone off (I guess this was brought in in the first place because of issues with credibility/criteria for a GP signing off their own patient).

    There does seem to be growing evidence that the assessments are often unfair (based on how many appeals succeed) so that is the key thing to look at as well as the appeals process.

    I have a friend who has ME and has been told by a consultant that she should not be doing housework of any description (even washing plates) and yet has been declared fit for work. I don’t know the full circumstances of her case or what options are open to her but I take at face value what she says about being too tired to go through a lengthy and complicated appeals process.

  39. No Change on the referendum. No Change on the general election.

    Struggling to see what else there is to say except that both votes seem to be done and dusted until / unless something dramatic happens.

  40. @ Peter Cairn

    I think it was Michael Ignatieff writing about Bosnia who said ” having decided they couldn’t share it, they ageed to destroy it together”
    Much like Scotland and the Union. It’s best to part on good terms than live together and fighting.

    You can’t be serious.

  41. @SHEVII

    Quite so. Yesterday (I think) ATOS gave up the ghost and said ‘let us out of this horrible contract’.

    I was working in the industry for a competitor of ATOS at the time this contract was originally let and came under some scrutiny for declining to have anything to do with bidding for it, though this was more because it looked too hard to win and to deliver than due to any prescience about how it would develop as a political hot potato.

    I’m sure the evident dysfunctionality of the process is a mixture of poor definition of what should be ‘sanctioned’ and ATOS trying to deliver too cheaply so they can secure a margin.

    I thank my lucky stars I never got involved, though of course the trick is to win the business, trouser a bonus then get headhunted elsewhere on the grounds of your success before anything nasty hits anything rotating.

  42. @Colin D/Ozwald/Colin

    Thanks. Perhaps I need to read it, though it may challenge my attention span!

  43. Hi Colin,

    “It certainly involves deep rooted prejudices & pre-conceptions from an evolutionary base of survival.

    But the heuristic thinking it utilises calls on experience based feelings as well. It may also involve Kahneman’s “Answering a different/simpler question.””

    Sure System 1 takes more describing than I gave it, Kahneman wrote a whole book. But I wasn’t talking about prejudices here. I was actually talking about experience-based feelings, the experience in question being the imposed myth. K is strong on the techniques used by governments from time immemorial to repeat untruths over and over until people believe them. We all knew this; he explains why it works with experimental psychology.

    Certainly you’re right about people’s System 1’s tending to ‘answer a simpler question’. “Is it right that the government tightens the benefits system?” becomes, “Are the poor not threatening us by taking our money?”

    It is a fascinating book, though. System 2 users, when not being lazy, all have to wrestle with what the bases of other people’s thinking might be (if only so as to see where disagreements are arising and why ‘you’ think ‘they’ are wrong.) This is a book which gives you a pretty good idea of why and how people come to be thinking the way they do, and why certain ideas become so entrenched.

  44. I have had close experience of Atos. My son has ankylosing spondylitis, which is a degenerative disease of the spine for which there is no know cure and, as things stand at the moment in medical science, will only get worse as he gets older.

    In his late teens he worked as a lifeguard at various holiday camps but as the disease got worse he had to give it up. He did a few different jobs but had difficulty sustaining them because of his back. The DWP advised him that he should go on to ESP so he did. After a few months he had to go for an Atos assessment. He was passed fit for work and told his ESP would be taken away from him and he had to go back on JSA.

    He appealed against the decision and, with support from his hospital consultant and GP, his appeal was upheld.

    About a year later he was sent for another Atos assessment. This time the “health professional” carrying out the assessment said in her findings that in her opinion my son would recover from AS in three months and was therefore fit for work.

    I accompanied my son to the appeal and the doctor on the panel read through the assessment and when she came to the bit about being fit in three months, she said, “You have AS, right?” My son confirmed this. She shook her head and said, “Appeal upheld, I don’t need to hear any more!”

    About a year later, he was called for assessment again. This time he said to Atos’s “health professional”, “Look, there’s no point in going through this assessment is there? You just mark me as fit for work, I’ll appeal and win. OK?” The Atos man said, “I’m sorry, old son, it’s not my fault. We’re told to pass everyone as fit by the DWP!”

    By the way, he now works full time as a Project Manager at the CAB,who are very understanding about his need to take time off for health reasons.

  45. Norbold, what a terrible story, but with an uplifting ending!

    So if ATOS are gone, and a new company comes in, what on earth can change if the DWP goes on telling them to pass everyone as fit for work?

  46. Exactly, Colin!

  47. I normally avoid Saltire threads. It could be, however, that I misunderstand the rules. Is it that we must only comment on the Scottish referendum or is that we may do? I was planning to comment on the YG ST poll.

  48. @Guymonde

    “Thanks. Perhaps I need to read it, though it may challenge my attention span!”

    I’ve linked the original paper (from 1974!) that is effectively describing what would be called system 1 thinking.

    http://psiexp.ss.uci.edu/research/teaching/Tversky_Kahneman_1974.pdf

  49. @ Howard
    The first comment (by me) is about the ST poll. The Macbeth crowd blew themselves out on the previous thread which didn’t have a Saltire at the top. Who knew that Scots would be so contrary? ;-)

  50. ATOS’s contract end, I think, in August ’15 but they’ve said they want an early exit so it’s unlikely to be a Labour issue.

1 2 3 8