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. @Statgeek

    One of life’s curiosities: why is the Borders region so big? Some parts are nowhere near the border.

  2. ole nat will be up soon.

  3. “One of life’s curiosities: why is the Borders region so big? Some parts are nowhere near the border.”


    Statty said it was all about the money though. He didn’t say why, maybe it’s cos Scots want the oil and insist on sharing the currency too. Only, maybe they want the euro too… and if they don’t get what they want, they’ll leave us with the debt. He has a point about the money thing…

  4. Amber

    Its jolly complicated isn’t it, if one takes the line – as I assume TOH must – that, if its in the papers it must be true?

    But how do you know which one to believe if thye say opposite things ……

    I expect its the most popular one because surely lots of people wouldn’t appreciate being lied to?

  5. Are Scots aware that “England” is quite big and has regions which are more highly populated than all of Scotland and are not that thrilled with “the Westminster Elite” themselves.

    Some of them are richer than other regions but, in general, we have worked pretty well at keeping to national pay [with a bit extra for the horror of working in “dat Lundun” as Harry Enfield’s scousers used to say] and so on and so on.

    That’s ‘cos we think we’re better off together.

    They should have called the no-gang BOT by the way.

  6. @Carfrew

    Naughty, naughty.

    I suggested that when ‘No’ folk bring up a part of Scotland that might remain part of rUK, they always pick the place with the oil, and never the place that is attached to rUK.

  7. Statty

    Ok – we’ll keep the attached bit and you give the oily bits independence.

  8. Well of course, Statty, because the Independence argument is rather predicated on the oil, so the question is what would happen if the Shetland thing meant they didn’t get it.

    Especially given how often money gets brought into it by Yes peeps. Barnet formula, transaction costs, are a couple more examples…

  9. Shetland doesn’t have an independence movement although a lot of the media wish they had. However, I am hoping rUK are not thinking of creating another Northern Ireland situation.

  10. Tuition fees, energy subsidies, cutting corp tax…

  11. YouGov/Sun poll tonight – Labour five points ahead: CON 33%, LAB 38%, LD 10%, UKIP 13%

    These polls are pretty consistent at the moment.

  12. If I were a Shetlander I think I’d be agitating for a referendum on reunion with Norway, which should now be in a position to handsomely pay the dowry in lieu of which they forfeited Shetland in (from memory) 1490 or so.

    But to return to Peter Kellner on UKIP: it’s worth a quick scan through the comments below his article for instant confirmation of the polling evidence on the average educational achievements of UKIP supporters. There’s an anguished, inarticulate rage against modern life that UKIP is tapping into.

  13. ” However, I am hoping rUK are not thinking of creating another Northern Ireland situation.”

    How would they do that?

    If Shetland/Orkney etc did want to remain with the uk post a yes vote Scotland would just say

    “we’re one country and we’re better together so mctuff”.

    Be nothing to do with Hingerlund.

  14. Lib Dems are double figs.

    I can hear the coffin creaking by the way…. am off to bed.

  15. ….. and there will swiftly follow a list of a whole raft of measures which the Lib Dems will justifiably claim that an unfettered Tories would bring in.

  16. Bit surprised to see DC’s apparent no-coalition declaration – isn’t it a bit early to be saying that? He doesn’t seem to be ruling out confidence and supply though.

  17. Mark Ferguson, editor of LabourList, is visiting the University of Sheffield on March 27th. As usual, any questions for him would be welcome!

  18. In effect DC’s idea [if true] is bowing to the inevitable as LDs will not go with Tories pushing for an EU debate and then half the party backing a NO vote.

    However, if true it will really box NC into saying whether he will support Labour if that was the only way to stop a minority Tory Govt and the figures worked.

    He will have been desperate not to admit that and I don’t see how it helps them in any way – just highlights that, if that’s what you want – you may as well vote Labour anyway.

  19. Just read the rebuttal to the Mail’s attack on Harman. It looks thoroughly convincing, and really does appear at this point to sink the entire case being put forward by the Mail in a most comprehensive manner.

    Having read what each side has to say, my current personal interpretation is that the Mail have enlightened me on another rather impressive aspect of Harman’s long campaign for equality. In doing so, they have further confirmed my view of the Mail as an odious waste of resources, and the people who right and publish much of their content as deeply misguided individuals.

    What though, I wonder, will this do in political terms? The Mail has a very substantial readership, and even barmy headlines that include any reference to child sex abuse could be damaging, in theory at least. Three days into the story, there doesn’t seem to be much impact, and unless the Mail has anything to back up the claims, it’s hard to see where they can go with this.

    As with attacks on Ed’s father, I’m rather wondering if the net effect of this will end up being to degrade the Mail’s own punching power.

    If you go to war, you should really only go to those wars you can win. Accusing politicians of links to child sex abuse is about as close to outright warfare that a media outlet can get to,and so far, the artillery barrage seems to have fallen a mighty way short of the target.

    I’m inclined therefore to make a judgement on the quality of the gunners and their commanders, rather than their targets.


    I really only mentioned Shetland and Orkney because they’re (arguably) not in Scotland and each has its own distinct identity. (And Orkney alone is almost double the size of the Isle of Man.)

  21. @Mr Nameless
    You could ask him why he banned me from Labour List for starters. I doubt he’ll have the [email protected] to answer (and you can tell him that as well).

  22. @Keith P

    We’ll wait and see whether DC does actually rule out a post 2015 coalition, but I can’t see why he shouldn’t. If he emerged as leader of the largest party he’s still PM: he can just put his plans before parliament and dare the LDs to vote them down – which, unless they want to fight another election immediately (and they are poorly funded), they won’t do immediately. He can then cut and run for an overall majority within the next year or two.

    Meanwhile, making this announcement may help him politically. Contrary to LD hopes, voters seem to like the reality of coalition much less than they did in 2010, so it chimes with the common feeling. It also says to would-be UKIP-waverers, “we’re listening to you”. And perhaps most importantly it says to voters who have deserted the LDs for Labour “It’s OK for you to go back now”.

  23. @Alec

    Did you see the interview with Laura Kuenssberg on Newsnight?

    Kuenssberg was extremely hostile and I thought Harman was seriously rattled.

    It’s a non-story but – to borrow your metaphor – The DM appears to have called the BBC up as heavy artillery, and I’m far from sure this little war is decided , never mind over.

  24. @ Mr Nameless

    Postage Included & I gave Mark a very hard time about a very naff (to put it mildly) headline – hence Postage’s rather cryptic remark about Mark’s “[email protected]”.

  25. I am still really disgusted by it, actually.

  26. @alec

    you’re a community worker. Unless Scotland is a foreign country you must know several people who’ve been abused in care.

  27. Figure of speech that gets to the point imo.

    What I want to know is…did he hear the clunk?

  28. @Wolf

    What’s that got to do with anything?

  29. physical and psychological abuse are just as damaging as sexual abuse but no where near as emotive.
    it is all very well for those who say reasonable physical abuse is right but they forget that it is a humiliation for the recipient and allows people of limited mental capacity and /or human empathy to vent their frustration with life on weaker people.
    also those who live by the sword die by the sword and small defenceless children can grow into powerful avengers.
    it is not a way to progress civilisation.

  30. “Did you see the interview with Laura Kuenssberg on Newsnight?”

    If she’s their chief political correspondent I’d hate to see what the others are like. She was no better when haranguing the Welsh NHS chief last week.

  31. Hmm,
    As some of you will have noticed l was able to dredge up from my memory banks info as to real activity by PIE in the 1970s , my suspicion and there was some speculation at the time, was that PIE was a security services front, to try to infiltrate the fringes of the Labour Party , for purposes of smearing and guilt by association stuff….and here we are 40 years later.

    Some of the claims made by Rothermere’s Rag are centred on a single copy of a magazine from that era, Also the emphasis is put on the NCCL affiliating with PIE, not the other way round, if as the rebuttal says the NCCL took the money and then filtered out the undesirables later, then the accusations look like thin stuff. Shami Chakrabati should be able to produce evidence from Liberty’s archive as to how long the PIE was affiliated , and when they were dis-affiliated. Simples.

  32. @POSTAGEINCLUDED : “…he can just put his plans before parliament and dare the LDs to vote them down – which, unless they want to fight another election immediately (and they are poorly funded), they won’t do immediately.”

    Why not? They could choose to support a Labour minority government instead. Cameron has no right to stay in power or to call another election just because he’s the largest party.

    [Until 2010, he sort of did! The sitting Prime Minister remained Prime Minister until he resigned or was defeated in a vote of no-confidence, they did have the right to go and put their case to Parliament and (within the limits of the Lascelles principles) did have the right to call another election if they couldn’t. In practice even then, however, if the Lib Dems had been willing to support a Labour coalition instead a dissolution would probably have been refused and Miliband invited to form a government. These days the Fixed Term Parliament Act comes into play, and the ambiguity is gone – Cameron could remain a minority PM, no problem, could still go and try to get legistlation through Parliament, but if he lost a vote of confidence there would definitely be the opportunity for alternative Labour govt if they could get the support of the Commons before it went to a second general election – AW]

  33. The Mail appear to be trying to rebut the rebuttal, mainly by publishing Ms Harman’s discussion paper on the Protection of Children Bill, in full, on their website.

    It’s certainly something she probably regrets writing, but in the context of a civil libertarian trying to avoid the throwing of too wide a net, it’s not all that bad.

    Certainly, in the current climate (the laws having been significantly tightened even since the 1978 Act) her views look anachronistic, but I don’t think anyone could legitimately claim that she was acting as an advocate for offenders.

    As for PIE – it was ostensibly for people who acknowledged a child-oriented sexuality, but professed to obey the law (whilst in some cases arguing for it to be changed).

    Most of the PIE members were, in fact, active offenders. The NCCL wouldn’t necessarily have known this of course.

  34. Amber Star

    I assume you were commenting earlier on a TOH post that is no longer up.

    My concern is what we should do about the Daily Mail.

    They have a 90 year track record ( see Zinoviev letter) of vile smears against Labour deliberately undertaken to help their opponents.

    There have been many, many examples. Does Ryder ring a bell ?

    What can we do in a free society to counter this ?

    It is really disgraceful that BBC have even reported such nonsense as a serious story and by doing so they will encourage DM to do the same again in future.

    Of course they are clever enough to keep inside the libel laws, but this is no excuse. Sad that BBC whom I still revere, fell for it.

  35. @Ewen,

    I wasn’t a police officer in the 1970s, but we were still investigating former PIE members well into the 2000s and I never saw anything that suggested they were any kind of party political smear operation.

  36. It’s strange that the Daily Mail and Labour’s Tom Watson should have something in common .

    He was the first to use the PIE as a vehicle for smearing .

  37. DAVID
    “small defenceless children can grow into powerful avengers.”
    Taylor Swift: One day, I’ll be, living in a big ole city, an you’ll just be mean, and mean, and mean.

  38. Interesting EU data on this poll. A ‘No’ vote looks likely, if it’s representative of the UK.

  39. the problem with Harman and the others is hindsight.
    most if not all of us have done or said things which in hindsight we regret.
    however depending on ones public exposure society is very unforgiving as we prefer to bring people down rather than heap praise on them for the good they do.
    it needs a change in our mind set but I wouldn’t bet on it ever happening.

  40. Why on earth didn’t Harman follow Chakrabarti , & simply apologise for the NCCL’s links with PIE.

    What I find staggering-allbeit at a distance of four decades, is that an organisation with the name Paedophile Information Exchange could be actively engaged in public lobbying , on a libertarian platform.

    It does ( as if further evidence were needed !) highlight what a huge gulf there is between the modern approach to sexual “freedoms” , and the extraordinary mores of the 70s when abuse of minors could be treated as fun & games-or scientifically justified.

    There was plenty in these contrasts for Harman to utilise in her “defence”. She leaves the impression of evasion & equivocation.

  41. @Welsh Borderer
    “…..BBC whom I still revere…..”

    That’s the only bit of your post where we are in disagreement.

  42. @Colin

    I think the key point is a definition of terms.

    “Paedophile” means someone who is sexually attracted to children. It’s something a person is not something a person does. I’ve not heard any really convincing explanation as to why some people are sexually oriented towards children, but the fact is that they are and that they always have been, throughout history and in every culture and continent. I suspect in the end we will discover some sort of complex genetic coding for it.

    In modern parlance, the word “paedophile” has come to be used to imply someone who has actually committed an offence, rather than someone who is inclined to do so. Most of the public simply don’t understand the nuances between the two (and the Mail too, or at least it sells more papers to ignore them).

    In principle, there is nothing inherently wrong with an organisation set up to “help” people who self-identify as paedophiles, if its purpose is to assist them in coming to terms with their condition and staying inside the law. There is nothing in the name “Paedophile Information Exchange” to hint that its purpose goes beyond that.

    As I said before, the reality is that PIE was actually used as a forum for offenders to network, share strategies and victims. And not just in a “falling off the wagon” way, as you might expect for example a proportion of AA members to have the occasional drinking binge, but in a systematic way.

    NCCL was hoodwinked. But as you say, that was the “progressive” 1970s. We are talking about a time when the maximum sentence in law for sexually assaulting a female child was two years imprisonment (and the standard sentence was a modest fine). When it was not an offence to encourage a 14 year old to commit a sexual act on you. When adoptive parents could have full sexual relationships with their children from the age of 16. When 16 year olds could participate in adult films (with the written consent of their parents). When it was not an offence to travel abroad to have sex with children. When the Danes experimented with legalising sexual images of children “to help people control their urges”. Etc, etc.

    I think Harman’s mistake was to dismiss the allegation simply as a smear. It most certainly is a smear, but one based in a misrepresented version of the truth. She would have been better off starting her defence with “Yes, I was an idealistic young lawyer. I expressed views then that I with experience and maturity I completely repudiate. The Protection of Children Act, despite what I wrote at the time, has been an effective tool and has not been misused in the way I feared. In fact I support the even more stringent legislation that has been passed since 1978”.

    The irony is that these days Ms Harman is more reknowned as a morally censorious type. It is hard to imagine her as a libertarian.

    In the long run, it will be blow over and I certainly don’t think it will hurt Labour VI. The personal pain for Harman will be severe though. I can see it demoralising her and perhaps her deciding that she’s done enough for Labour and the country. These things linger, and I wouldn’t blame her if she decided she never wanted to do an interview again.

  43. The Telegraph has picked up this morning on comments made by Alex Salmond regarding currency, and a quip about how England couldn’t stop Scotland using the pound as evidence that this is his Plan B.

    Reading the comments, it certainly sounds like it might be, and the DT takes this further and claims that there could be an exodus of finance jobs if this were the case.

    While the DT is a regular purveyor of scare stories on independence, on this one, I suspect they are about right. It’s very difficult to conceive of a situation where Scotland tags onto to sterling unofficially, that would keep major banks and finance operations based in Edinburgh.

    Following the financial crash, the risk perception would be significant and this would add costs to Scottish financial businesses, and would add to things like mortgage costs and government borrowing.

    In many ways, if this is Scotland’s Plan B, I think on balance it would be rather good for the UK. I can foresee something akin to the pre crash German position in the Eurozone, although the parallels aren’t precise.

    Essentially the use of sterling north and south would remove any transaction costs across the border, meaning no net losses to UK businesses, while stimulating an element of off shoring of headquarters functions and employment to the south as businesses seek lower risks and reduced finance costs.

    Indeed, if this is Salmond’s Plan B, then it undercuts entirely his main argument for a currency union, which is the transaction costs of different currencies would hurt the UK. To argue this, and then also that UK couldn’t stop Scotland using the pound anyway, is an illogical set of statements. In effect, he is handing the UK the answer to what he says is the reason why they would back a currency union.

    I think that Salmond is in a knot regarding currency, and has to fall back on the notion that Westminster is bluffing. They are not, and by 2 to 1 the Scottish public believe they are not either, if you believe ICM.

    This apparently hasn’t moved voters in any meaningful way, but as we know that the economy is the biggest issue within the whole debate, then if the currency difficulties can move from an abstract discussion of financial systems to convincing arguments about what the actual effect of proposals would mean in the real economy, then the currency issue could yet become an important factor.

    At present, and based solely on solid economics rather than spin, the SNP stands on distinctly shaky ground.

  44. The attack on Ed Miliband’s father and now this show the Daily Mail is just getting desperate. They can see the way the polls are going as well as we can. They know the Conservatives can’t win the next election on policy issues so they feel that smearing senior Labour politicians is their only hope.

    Why the BBC should get caught up in this is anyone’s guess…

  45. @Neil A – Much appreciate your balanced and informative review of the Harman affair.

    For most of us lacking in detailed knowledge of such matters, these kind of media stories tend to end up as binary choices between two standpoints, where context, history and logic tend to become obscured, and our judgments are made based on more removed factors than the actual issues in play.

    I still think this is a plain old dirty trick, but there may have better ways to respond.

  46. The Mail is beneath contempt.

    All I’ll say about the Bone allegations is that I am not sure that the current Conservative leadership would be unduly distressed would they turn out to be true.

    I am, however, a little surprised by Peter Kellner’s article. Contrary to the thrust of his piece, the overwhelming concern shown by UKIP voters about immigration do nothing to dispel for me the idea that they are motivated by a narrow range of issues centred on immigration, the way that the EU has facilitated it in their view, and the effect this has had on the economy.

    Their lack of concern about the environment is interesting, though.

  47. Amber Star

    Yes but she hasn’t answered the questions they raised, you need to read the detail. The story is continuing to run and Harman is now beginning to use the word “regret”. It’s not going to go away until all three answer the points raised by the Mail IMO.

    Chris Riley
    Re the Mail, that is only your opinion and even the Mirror has raised the same issues so can I assume you also hold the same views on the Mirror?

  48. norbold

    Not desperate, just selling newspapers and raising issues which need answers IMO.

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