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”

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  1. Is there any independence movement in Shetland or Orkney? Or maybe Norway will welcome them back as they’ll bring most of the oil with them.

  2. @Bill

    “So it is interesting to find that the Yes campaign has no steam in the SNP heartland, and thus it follows that they are doing very well in Labour’s heartland of the central belt.”

    Sorry, but Aberdeen City is not an SNP heartland, and as I mentioned already, the P&J is not particularly inclined towards the SNP.

  3. @Bill P

    If only it were just the finer points of the constitution. But we get all this sniping about how we don’t know this or that about the Scots. They have an asymmetric advantage, in that being as part of the decisions which affect them directly are made in Westminster, they have to know about Westminster too. Then they make much of how they know more about our governance than theirs, well duh, because it affects them more. Outside of that governmental quirk, they don’t seem much more enlightened about us than we are about them. I recall a little while back when someone corrected oldnat on something to do with education in Manchester or summat, he complained at being expected to know…

    They seem especially unenlightened if they think we are all blissfully unaware they’ll keep bringing up independence after a No vote. It is part of the reason some of us want it over with once and for all…

  4. (Then they make much of how they know more about our governance than we know about theirs…)

  5. @Carfrew

    Well I didn’t know much about the London Mayoral elections, other than what I was told about the candidates by the BBC and general news or online discussions. I had no vote and no interest in the thing in general, as I didn’t have a vote on it, and it (probably) didn’t affect me directly.

    However, the Mayor of London might impact on investment in London, which might affect the UK’s ability to get investment and so on, so I might decide to get all political about the Mayor. Not because I get a vote, or live, or even work there, but because it might impact on my future.

    If I were to go down that route, I would get clued up on the facts.

  6. COLIN DAVIS-if you’re around-Horizon this evening ( 9pm BBC 1) is on Kahneman’s Fast & Slow thinking.

    How’s that for a coincidence ?

  7. @Statgeek

    That is my point. The more it is likely to affect you, the more you are likely to make the effort to get clued up. Westminster affects Scots more than Holyrood affects the English, especially since Scots get a vote in Westminster, whereas many in England do not get a vote in Holyrood. So even with the desire to have a say, opportunity is rather more limited.

    London is of course a skewed example: more than twice the population of Scotland, World class capital city, financial centre etc., but you are still limited in impact unless you move there, can vote etc.

    Independence would affect people in England, but most don’t get to vote on it and it is understandably considered a matter for Scots. Even so, God knows, it’s not like many are not aware of it…

  8. Statgeek,

    There’s more to the north-east than Aberdeen.


    You can’t blame the nats for being desperate.

  9. @Bill

    I’m aware of that, and watch this space on the data…

  10. Or to put it more simply: of course Scots might have an interest in London, because like Westminster (also in London), it can have a big impact on Scotland, in a way that say, Dundee might not have on England. (Except that the Average White Band originated in Dundee, which is quite a big deal if you like all things groovy…)

  11. May I recommend this article by Peter Kellner?

    I think that it represents broadly the general view of UKIP’s voter base offer by the contributors of this site.

    Collective wisdom in action?

    Personally, I feel some what relived that the source of UKIP 2010 identifiers according to PK matches pretty well what I posted recently.

    I’m entitled to be lucky once!

  12. I’m with Carfrew.

    Scots this is utterly, utterly, mind-numbingly tedious. We’d love you to stay, but if you don’t want to, then I’m sure the vast majority of non-Scots would support you in whatever decision you want to make. No one wants to impose a thing on you. (By the same token, we can sympathise with Scottish people who want to stay in the UK, but they must sort that out with their own compatriots. There’s no other way if we are not to impose.)

    In the meantime, there’s no point in G Osborne saying you can’t have the pound. You can call your currency what you like. There are plenty of pounds in the world. You can propose that your pound and the UK pound should be part of the same currency union, but you know as well as everyone else that you can’t force the necessary economic union on a partner that doesn’t want to be in one with you. There has to be a mutual will for that.

    If the UK splits, either both sides have to renegotiate a position vis a vis the EU, or neither. That’s one opinion (as Neil A suggested) so lawyers can pontificate, but at the end of the day everybody knows you will be nodded in to the EU if you are stubborn enough about wanting to be in there.

    As it is right now, it feels more and more each day as if the Scots want to inveigle the non-Scots into a fight about it, like in a Glasgow pub brawl. But I don’t think any non-Scot is up for a jostle, let alone a fight.

  13. Hi Colin, thanks for that ‘heads up’. I didn’t know!

    By the way, the other day you asked if the book had anything in it relevant to opinion polls. It’s a while since I read it, but I looked back, and there is a section on ‘priming’, i.e the way sequences of questions can be asked with the result that you massively influence the kind of answers you can get. AW refers to question order from time to time, I think, but I wasn’t aware of what a vast effect this can be shown (by experiment) to have on the answers you get.

    Polls aren’t mentioned in the chapter on ‘anchoring’ with numbers, but I would imagine that this provable effect (achieved by putting numbers into people’s heads) can’t be used to communicate that one or another party has momentum in the political race.

    Off the topic of polls somewhat, I was nonetheless fascinated by the chapter on how certain qualities in faces can affect an election. (For those who don’t know or recall the book, they ran experiments involving candidates in elections about which the subjects of the experiments could not possibly know. They showed the subjects faces of candidates standing in those distant, unknowable elections, and asked them to decide – on the strength of the faces alone – whom they would vote for. The candidates chosen by the subjects of the experiments all won the elections in question!)

    Anyway, thanks again for letting me know about tonight. Fascinating book!

  14. Oh, and Colin (p.s.) there is also the stuff about the misleading effects of small samples – which Kahneman says only expert statisticians really appreciate, although of course it’s bread and butter to UK Polling people! I suppose K is saying that even when you know the misleading effects of such samples it is very hard to override one’s instincts and not misinterpret them. The example of kidney cancers in the Southern States is priceless.

  15. Is there not normally a Populus poll (please, please).

  16. Populus Poll is:

    Lab 37%
    Con 32%
    Lib Dem 10%
    UKIP 15%

  17. Richard Whelan, how kind.

    Peter Kellner’s piece appears to contain an error. He says UKIP voters put EU sixth down the priorities, but they are in fact fourth priority. 6th priority is for all voters.

  18. “And I return to what I said last week about Salmond: He can read the Scots far better than Cameron or Milliband can. Carmichael hasn’t a base in the central belt (never forget that Salmond, although representing the north east is from West Lothian), although Darling has, of course. But we’ve heard nothing of substance from Darling for two weeks or more. He just keeps coming out with the same stuff. No ideas for the future from that quarter. And Johann Lamont, bless her, always seems to be fighting yesterday’s battles.”
    Will all the separatists who write this stuff return after a No vote to say that Cameron, Miliband & Darling “can read the Scots far better than Salmond can”?

  19. Belay that (my eyesight worse than PK’s) it was third. and about 7th or 8th for all voters.

  20. The manner in which West Germeny went about re-integrating East Germany – which was destitute – puts to to shame some of the moaning we hear from both sides about being better off in smaller segments.

    No we are NOT.

    In essence that is what is wrong with the whole bloody world.

  21. I’m still struggling with this in Peter Kellner’s article:

    “The UK Independence Party is set to top the poll in the elections to the European Parliament”

    I believe it was already Anthony’s view, although I think it was just a throwaway remark AW made (based on likelihood to vote etc) rather than in any hard analytical piece.

    I’m not reading anything in Peter Kellner’s article that gives strong stats to back up this assumption other than something along the lines of last time UKIP gained a lot of votes in the election campaign itself.

    If I have learned anything on here it’s not to assume that things will happen as before (debates about government parties always doing worse than they did last time and so on).

    Not that I am disputing what Peter and Anthony are saying as Anthony in particular doesn’t stick his neck out until it is as good as settled- just a bit surprised that with no Euro polls having UKIP in the lead they have come to that conclusion and would be nice to know why.

  22. By the way I agree with Alec about the BT poisoned chalice.

    If Salmond et eal keep banging on about how they will be better off, using spurious, speculative figures then there is not much else they can do but say “No you won’t” and be seen as negative.

    It will be interesting after the NO vote to see how this all subsides.

    My guess is Salmond will say he never expected to win against such appallingly reactionary, bull ying [etc etc et teedy etc] forces] and the narrowness [wottever the figures] of the result shows Scots do want autonomy of some sort.

    And off we go again.

    But then it should be easy ‘cos most places would like autonomy within a greater whole – maybe a bit like the United States.

    We certainly do in Barney.

  23. @R&D:

    Although Germany has a (British-designed) federal system with far more devolved power than in the over-centralised UK. Why doesn’t Cameron offer Scotland some guarantees on greater devolved powers rather that the current mixture of threats and gimmicks? If I was undecided I think hearing Cameron could well push me into the ‘yes’ camp.

  24. The problem for Labour in Scotland is the might post-No vote be seen as anti-Scottish. They will need to be very careful.

    45% is a lot of Scots to alienate.

    I can imagine that the scars of the Referendum leading to Lab losing seats in 2015.

    I am a Labour supporter BTW, this is my concern

  25. @SHEVII:

    Likelihood to vote is all the reason necessary. UKIP will get their vote out because it’s their members’ sole interest in life. Just about everyone else will stay at home.

  26. @SHevii

    “The UK Independence Party is set to top the poll in the elections to the European Parliament”

    Yes, I was a bit surprised at that. Paddy Power have Lab and UKIP level pegging for most seats at 6/5 against both. Bill Hill has UKIP at evens and Lab at 11/10.

    So not a done deal yet in the punters’ eyes.

  27. COLIN

    Thanks. I’m only a couple of chapters in so you are way ahead of me. m My grandson put me onto it.

    Looking forward to Horizon very much.

  28. “Is there any independence movement in Shetland or Orkney? Or maybe Norway will welcome them back as they’ll bring most of the oil with them.”


    Has there been some talk about the possibility of the Shetlands staying with rUK, along with the associated oil?…



    You can’t blame the nats for being desperate.”


    Lol Bill, I’m not getting into that. They come out at night, and the sun’s gone down…

  30. @Couper2802

    Certainly agree with you. Labour in Scotland will have to be careful about what exactly they say over the next few months, especially after their London leadership was seen to be bowing to Osborne – however unfair such an interpretation may have been in the eyes of some.

    As for Carfrew, the point I was making about this being an ongoing debate is that it will not end with the No vote in September. Labour thought that devolution would bury the SNP, and that was a bit of a blunder. The same applies to anyone thinking that the coming No vote will end discussion about Scotland’s relationship with the other countries in the present Union.

    And when I say that Salmond can read Scots better than Cameron or Milliband, what I mean (apart from the obvious fact that he is a Scot and they appear not to be) is that he has managed to convince the majority of voting Scots that he is at least a credible leader and will stand up for Scotland, even if they don’t all vote for the SNP, and quite a few who do would vote otherwise in other circumstances. Of course, that situation might never have developed if Labour didn’t split its resources between Westminster and Holyrood.

    What is also at stake here is the leadership of the Left in Scottish politics. There were some questions raised last week, I think, about the future of the Conservatives in Scotland. At the moment the issue is quite irrelevant for the (vast?) majority of Scots. And that is why Cameron and Osborne are so toxic, and why Labour runs a great risk in going along with them. Darling will win the vote, but at what cost to Labour in Scotland? We shall see.

  31. I think UKIP will do well in the Euros, as that have something to be against. That makes positioning very easy.

    The Conservatives to a degree, and certainly Labour are supporting to some extent the status quo. That is a hard sell at the moment.

    It mirrors the Scottish referendum in my view. The status quo argument is a bit dull and wishy and washy, but the alternative has a sort of excitement and action about it. Both the Scottish yes campaign and UKIP are exploiting the anti-establishment currents.

  32. Correction

    I think UKIP will do well in the Euros, as they have something to be against. That makes positioning very easy.

  33. Howard,
    “Belay that”,love it.Nearly up there with ,steady the buffs.I suppose the only one missing is,”Avast ye”but I am afraid I do not know what it means.

  34. Anyone got any thoughts on how UKIP coming first in the Uk’s Euroelections might impact on other up-coming votes?
    And will the Euro vote be held on the same day as the local elections?

  35. Strange that there’s always the mention of the Shetlands, but never the borders. Money, money, money.

  36. @JOHN B

    “As for Carfrew, the point I was making about this being an ongoing debate is that it will not end with the No vote in September.”


    I know!! For the love of God, the point I was making was that I agree with you. Many of us know it won’t end after a “No” vote, indeed it is getting past the point where one would not be surprised if it continued even after voting Yes…


    “Strange that there’s always the mention of the Shetlands, but never the borders. Money, money, money.”


    Well personally, I was more interested in the potential irony, but what’s with the borders thing then…

  38. @Carfrew

    So perhaps the best thing is for the English to vote for the end of the Union between England & Scotland have done with the whole distressing thing.

    By the way, are there any local by-elections this week?

  39. @JohnB

    The Euro and local elections are taking place on the same day in May, alas; a development that started in the 90s (Major seemed to be its progenitor) and now common place where every election, of whatever type, always seems to occur on the same day in May. It’s not a development I favour, believing it robs specific elections of their unique focus. The argument for the combination appears to be, especially when General Elections combine with the locals, that it boosts turnout in the locals. Self evidently this must be true, but I’m an old stickler for one unique polling day per election type. Super Thursdays don’t do it for me, I’m afraid!

  40. @John B

    The 2014 United Kingdom local elections are scheduled to be held on 22 May 2014 if the ‘Local Elections (Ordinary Day of Elections in 2014) Order 2013’ is approved by Parliament.[1][2] Usually these elections are held on the first Thursday in May, but they will be put back from 1 May to 22 May to coincide with the 2014 European Parliament Elections on that date.[3] Direct elections are to be held for all 32 London boroughs, all 36 metropolitan boroughs, 76 second-tier district authorities, 20 unitary authorities and various mayoral posts, all in England. Elections to the new councils in Northern Ireland will also be held on the same day.[4]

    That’s from Wikipedia, so it might be totally wrong…

  41. @Crossbat11

    The problem can be confusing voters. If faced with one PR-list EU vote and a regular LA vote, people can get confused.

  42. Populus: –

    Lab 37%
    Con 32%
    Lib Dem 10%
    UKIP 15%

    The methodology change that Populus made a month or so ago certainly seems to be manifesting itself in better numbers for UKIP. Overall, though, another example of the size of Labour lead being determined almost entirely by the Labour VI. If it dips a bit, so does the lead. The Tory VI is eerily becalmed.

  43. @Catmanjeff

    “The problem can be confusing voters. If faced with one PR-list EU vote and a regular LA vote, people can get confused.”

    A good point and expect a mountain of spoilt papers in May. I see the logic of running a multiplicity of elections on the same day, not least the reduction in disruptive days when you have to close schools and convert them to polling stations, but it all smacks of expediency to me. Campaigns become blurred and indistinct and, as a democrat, I think any election, however incidental, deserves its one day in the sun.

  44. Catmanjeff

    As EU voters can only see the party names, with a list of their candidates under, I don’t follow your view on confusion.

    If there are voters who are confused by that, then I suspect their votes will be sprayed around willy nilly and thus have no effect overall.

    Actually, the EU Parliament elections are the only ones in the UK that make any sense of what we see here in the polls. All the others need some form of head scratching to work out what the consequences of the poll result would actually be (the devolved parliaments being easier to predict of course)

  45. @CatmanJeff

    Labour could suffer with the Euro and London local authority elections being on the same day. The latter were last held on Gen Election day in 2010 and the higher turnout really helped Lab. This time around a lower turnout and more enthused Kippers about could lead to an underwhelming Lab performance.

  46. “Super Thursdays don’t do it for me, I’m afraid!”

    Our local independent group, who were in coalition with the Tories, lost all their seats at the GE and whinge that it’s unfair because too many people voted.

    So having the GE on the same day provided some much needed balm to rub on the would of Lab losing Westminster… at least we got Hounslow back!

    So give me Super Thursday every time.

  47. @CMJ

    “It mirrors the Scottish referendum in my view. The status quo argument is a bit dull and wishy and washy, but the alternative has a sort of excitement and action about it. Both the Scottish yes campaign and UKIP are exploiting the anti-establishment currents.”

    @John B

    “Anyone got any thoughts on how UKIP coming first in the Uk’s Euroelections might impact on other up-coming votes?”

    Could a party get a ‘referendum’ from the English voters on Scottish Independence in the EU elections? “Vote for us and tell the Scots to stay / leave.”

    Would a massive UKIP showing in England give us folk up North food for thought with regards the EU side of the September vote?

    It’s all intertwined in some ways, and not at all in others.

  48. Balm for the wound, not the would.

  49. @JOHN B

    “So perhaps the best thing is for the English to vote for the end of the Union between England & Scotland have done with the whole distressing thing.”


    Sounds great, until you consider that not only would we have you guys endlessly revisiting the Independence thing, but then on top of that, we might be too…

  50. DC said on STV news tonight that he was willing to appear on STV in front of floating voters to debate the referendum. He looked a bit stressed when he said it so I don’t know if it was planned. If he does it will be interesting.

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