There is a new Panelbase Scottish poll for NewsNet Scotland out today, with topline figures of YES 40%, NO 45%, don’t know 15%. Leaving aside that one poll with leading questions, the five point lead for No is the smallest we’ve seen since way back in February 2012. As ever don’t get too excited about any single poll, it’s the trend that counts, but there does appear to be a slight trend towards YES. John Curtice has his say upon it here.

Polls so far are here. Different Scottish polls from different companies tend to produce slightly different figures, especially in terms of don’t know. For trends it’s probably best to repercentage to exclude don’t knows, and one should certainly only compare polls from the same company:

Taking them one at a time, ICM had YES on 40% last September, then 46% in January, then 43% in February – YES appear up on September, but recent trends are unclear.

Ipsos MORI we had YES on 34% last September, 37% in December, 36% in February. Again YES appear up on September, but the recent trends are unclear

Survation we had YES on 38% in January, and then on 45% in February and March… but there was a significant methodology change between January and February, so don’t read too much into that shift.

TNS-BMRB we have what looks like a trend. YES was on 36% in October, 38% in November, 40% in December and January, 41% in February.

YouGov appears to show a similar steady but slow trend – 38% in September, 39% in December and January, 40% in February.

Panelbase have consistently shown better scores for YES than other companies, but until today have not really shown a clear trend: 44% in September, 45% in October and November, 43% and 44% in February. Repercentaged to exclude don’t knows today’s YES figure would be 47%… so higher, but not something that couldn’t be normal margin of error.

Putting it all together whatever trend is present is only small, so in individual poll series it is difficult to distinguish it from normal sample variation. Looking across the board though, the direction of travel in recent months does appear to slightly be towards YES.


185 Responses to “Panelbase/NewsNetScotland – YES 40%, NO 45%”

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  1. The momentum is moving steadily towards “Yes”, and I suspect that the relative silence of the unionist media regarding the Labour Party proposals this week for further devolution shows how badly these proposals have gone down in Scotland.

    For those who don’t know (it has been little reported in rUK), the 2 year long Labour commission has rowed back from it’s interim stance last year of devolving all income tax to only devolving 15p of tax.

    Additionally, in fronting their latest proposals on Newsnight Scotland, Lamont has been near universally regarded has having been figuratively cut to pieces by her interviewer Gordon Brewer-primarily because of the incredible stance that under the plans Scotland could put Income tax up (at least at the highest rate) relative to rUK but not down :-)

    I have to admit that until now I expected “no” to win, though never to be anything like the 2:1 margin that many unionists claimed-now I see the Labour offer as a potential game change and think that a “Yes” win is on the cards.

  2. Think Salmond can pull it off?

  3. No wonder he had that smirk on Marr at the weekend.

  4. THOMAS

    So Scots must be assuming a Labour Government at Westminster next time ?

  5. Colin

    “No wonder he had that smirk on Marr at the weekend”

    Does he ever NOT smirk?

  6. GUYMONDE

    That’s true.

    Have Cons said anything about their thoughts on a post No vote DevoMax offer?

  7. Colin

    Well, the last time Scots indicated by their votes that they preferred a Conservative Party over the Labour Party in Westminster Government was1955-although even then the Party in Scotland was called the Unionist Party (ironically referring to Ireland not Scotland), and had not been fully absorbed into a British Conservative Party (that happened in 1965).

    Probably the most pertinent point about your question is what will happen if the view forms in Scotland that Labour will NOT win in 2015-a view enhanced by the positive response, especially outside Scotland, to the Budget?

    I think “Yes” would then have a better than 55/45 chance of victory.

  8. THOMAS

    Thanks.

    I find DC’s interests in this fascinating -leader of a “Unionist” Party which has a better prospect of staying in Government if the Union is lost.

  9. When does the actual campaigning start?

  10. Interesting developments although, as Anthony observes, the trend to “Yes” can only be described as slight.

    I’m still of the view that this is going to be one of those decisions where, with pencil in hand and ballot paper in front them, many voters will stare over the abyss and pull back, irrespective of their misgivings about the status quo. This isn’t a change in government decision, it’s an existential once-in-a-lifetime decision with no turning back. For the Yes campaign to eventually prevail they need to convince a majority of the Scottish people that a moment in history as arrived, not to protest against Westminster politics, but to change the country forever.

    Two fingers to Westmimster is always tempting for many Scots, but an independent country? Really, do most of them actually want that?

    Lots of hollering and shenanigans to come, and some opinion poll dramas in the meantime no doubt, but I can’t see anything other than a No vote in the end when people walk into the polling stations to actually make their individual and secret decisions.

  11. worth pointing out this is the first time “NewsNet Scotland” has been used…

    All in all I wish the media would stop doing stories like “Scottish independence highest yes vote in months” followed by “blow for salmond as scottish independence hits lowest in months”

    What’s happening? They are looking at different polling companies. It’s all very boring…

  12. KeithP

    “When does the actual campaigning start?”

    It’s been going on for years! :-)

    If you mean the formal campaigning period, when the campaign finance rules etc apply, that’s the 16 weeks prior to the vote – so starts on 30 May.

  13. Silly question. What happens to the Scottish MEP’s, if Scotland votes for independence, but from the date of independence is no longer a member of the EU ? Presumably these MEP’s will be out of a job.

    I think people in Scotland are gradually starting to believe that they will be better off financially and the referendum result could be very close.

  14. R Huckle

    I think it far more likely that Scotland will be back with perhaps twice as many MEPs as now to bring it into line with the representation levels other independent countries with similar populations.

  15. “It has been a damned nice thing — the nearest run thing you ever saw in your life.” said Wellington of Waterloo.

    His be-coned statue in Glasgow may well be saying the same thing on 19 September,

    As has been clear from the beginning, the critical thing will be how those, whose first preference is “devo-max” decide to vote, when that option is not on offer.

    I’ve seen people on here say that “devo max” is guaranteed by the Unionist parties if there’s a No vote, but that isn’t the case.

    Cameron’s words to the Scottish Tory Conference – ‘A No vote “can” lead to greater powers at Holyrood’ – were widely noted.

    Scottish Labour have now issued their devolution plans – much rewritten by MPs to water down the original commission ideas.

    We’ll need to wait and see how perceptions of the alternatives to independence play with the “devo maxers”.

    Also there has been polling in the field as to how much trust there is in Westminster to actually pass any ideas that the Scottish branches of their parties come up with. That might be illuminating.

  16. @Colin (FPT)
    “Taken together with the freedom to take cash from a small pension pot this is targeted at those who do not enjoy a Defined Benefits , Index linked entitlement; but a series of smallish Defined Contribution Scheme pots from various jobs.
    A £30k pot-or three £10k pots can now be ISAd into two goes over a tax year end-in cash or equities as you choose. Or there is the Pensioner Bond with NS&I”
    ______________________________

    I agree with the first sentence except that I think you’ve got the tense wrong. It should be “….. this is targeted at those who will not enjoy ….”. Those who have already retired and taken out an annuity can’t reverse that decision. I listened to a disgruntled recently-retired 55 year old from Yorkshire discover that to his horror on a Radio 5 phone in this lunchtime.

    As for the £30k pot sitting somewhere in a bank account, it will take 6 months longer to convert that into a stocks and shares ISA than previously. The much bigger beneficiaries will be those who can afford to save up to £15k each and every year (or £30k in the case of a couple), and given that in practice that will be people with incomes well over the higher rate threshold they will no consider it a much better call to avoid 40% tax by putting it into a now unrestricted pension pot.

    The pensioners bond isn’t that great. The limit is £10k and the income will be taxable, so at the mooted rate of 4% for 3 years that’s 3.2% for a basic rate taxpayer. Since maturing NS&I index linked certificates are currently rolling over at a tax-free rate of RPI plus 0.15%, I wouldn’t advise a pensioner to cash them in for the new pensioners bond.

  17. PS. Just because we’ve had a Scottish poll, are we obliged to cease discussion of the Budget. It’s getting interesting now that the smoke and mirrors start to be dismantled and the small print that Osborne didn’t want to make much of becomes apparent?

  18. Ah, yes, my heart sinks every time I see a piece about Scottish polling. Surely the most tedious political topic in the entire galaxy, my sagging spirits suggest.

    The pensions stuff in the budget’ was clever in one sense. It was clearly a policy dreamed up several years ago and kept in storage for the right moment. Some people next April (2015) will be able to say, “Oh, I’ve got my hands on quite a decent sum of money!” And they will indeed feel rich with a month to go before the election. But surely a lot more will be saying, “Why, oh why, can’t I exchange my pot of money, which I’ve locked away – under duress – in an annuity, for a decent sum of money as well?” I think this will turn as many people off as it turns people on – and if I were a targeted UKIP supporter who benefited, why shouldn’t I take the money anyway and stick with the party I support?

  19. Anthony

    Small point, but in your table of polls you have dated the Feb ICM poll as 2013, not 2014.

  20. Sorry, that should have read “As for the £30k pot sitting somewhere in a bank account,it will take 6 months LESS to convert that into a stocks and shares ISA than previously”.

    or to be truly accurate
    “As for the £30k pot sitting somewhere in a bank account, it will take 12 months less to convert about £7k of that into a stocks and shares ISA than previously.”

  21. Going back to something NickP wrote several hours back, there seems to be a misunderstanding amongst many in the south about what is going on here in Scotland. If the yes vote does win – and I am still refusing to believe that it will – then that will not be Alex Salmond’s doing, but the result of the huge amount of ‘feet on the ground’ local discussions and meetings which are going on. A lot of what is happening is not being picked up by the London media – and that is particularly true of the contributions made by writers, poets, musicians, artists and so on. Theirs is a somewhat intangible contribution as far as public pronouncements are concerned, but the Scots are spending a lot of energy asking two simple questions: ‘Who are we?’ and ‘What of the future?’ The political ‘debates’ – especially those concerning finance – are only part of this. Scotland is more than the sum of its politicians!

    Many look south to Westminster and see absolutely nothing which stirs any enthusiasm. At least with a parliament at Edinburgh folk in Scotland can perhaps look forward to taking their lives into their own hands – even if that means not being quite so well off at the expense of English tax-payers.

  22. @John B

    “Many look south to Westminster and see absolutely nothing which stirs any enthusiasm. At least with a parliament at Edinburgh folk in Scotland can perhaps look forward to taking their lives into their own hands ”

    Haven’t they already got a Parliament in Edinburgh and wasn’t devolution all about addressing the very concerns you highlight?

  23. “Many look south to Westminster and see absolutely nothing which stirs any enthusiasm.”

    i.e. more money.

  24. @Crossbat11

    Yes, I ought to have said ‘an independent Parliament’. But the answer is ‘No’; Devolution was seen by Labour as a way of addressing some of the divergent understandings, but the experience of devolution has, if anything, highlighted still further the fact that Scotland and England are different nations, with different histories (and different understandings of the common history) etc.

    Of all the ‘Better Together’ politicians, only Gordon Brown has so far expressed a real vision for a new deal within the 1707 Union – and the Labour party has not taken up the challenge.

    There will be a ‘no’ vote, of that I am reasonably sure. But the present settlement remains deeply unstable.

  25. @RC

    Wrong! The Scots are not the money-grubbing people you seem to think.

  26. @John B

    Could RC’s comment not be construed as:

    ‘ … more money ( not going South to Westminster)’ … ?

    I.e. Scotland is already better off than the rUK!

  27. There have been other issues raised in recent Scottish polling, which suggest that Labour’s retreat from devolving any meaningful powers to Scotland may be at odds with public opinion.

    In last week’s Scottish Attitudes poll by Survation, people were asked “Do you agree that the Scottish Parliament should have control over immigration policy?”

    66% agreed (including 65% of Labour voters, 38% of LDs and 32% of Tories) while 21% disagreed.

  28. Not sure if people have caught up with the IFS verdict on the budget yet. Not very positive at all, especially about the pension changes.

    [As ever, this is NOT a forum for debating if government policies are any good or not. Generally speaking, anyone who posted here for any time can predict what everyone else will think anyone, it is a pointless party partisan recitation – AW]

  29. @CB11

    “I’m still of the view that this is going to be one of those decisions where, with pencil in hand and ballot paper in front them, many voters will stare over the abyss and pull back”

    Everyone pulls back from an abyss. That’s a given. Many do not view it as an abyss, and with that in mind, people need to look at this issue from the perspective of people with a different point of view. Indeed, some see a continuation of Westminster an abyss.

    Personally, I’m not convinced either are wonderful, and when we get right down to it, we can have the devil we know in London, or the devil we know in Holyrood. :)

  30. @Old Nat

    Agreed. The Survation Poll had some interesting indications that Scots are beginning to feel that Westminster is not the place to make decisions which affect major areas of Scottish social policy – immigration being one such area. I am not up to date with Labour’s general position (if they have one) but if they do not accept Gordon Brown’s ‘shared sovereignty’ model then many who wanted ‘Devo-Max’ may well decide that no-one in the Westminster establishment is going to give anything like that after the next GE and decide that going it alone is the only option. The ‘Better Together’ people may end up regretting their decision to refuse the very simple option of having Devo-Max on offer in the referendum.

    Strangely enough, Labour seems to be shooting itself in the foot once again.

  31. Survation also asked ” In the event of Scotland becoming independent should the 50p tax rate be re-introduced in Scotland for earnings above £150,000?”

    While asking questions about a single tax rate in what is a complex set of calculations is a bit daft, and presumably those agreeing with the proposal are those earning less than £150,000, the responses were –

    Agree : 59% (including 45% of Tory voters)
    Disagree : 19%

  32. @Statgeek

    “we can have the devil we know in London, or the devil we know in Holyrood.”

    Aye, and there’s the rub! But at least the devil we know in Holyrood is totally under the control of those living in Scotland.

    And, yes, everyone pulls back from an abyss, unless the alternative is being killed by the pursuing enemy. The point I would make, however, is that Westminster seems to represent an increasingly strange world, a world which we don’t recognise as being one we share any more. That is, in part, because of devolution, which has led to many aspects of social policy now being quite different north and south of the Border.

    This feeling of alienation is not helped when the London media continue to refer to ‘the Education Secretary’ or ‘the Health Secretary’ when what they mean is ‘the English Education Secretary’ etc.
    Many in the Whitehall Cabinet and their departments have no say in anything north of the Border. And the more the London based media fail to take devolution into account when commenting on political events, the more damage they do to the Union.

  33. Another Survation question asked “Over the past three years, have you at any point received threats or abuse from other people as a result of differing views on the issue of Scottish independence?” –

    9% of No supporters had suffered abuse, but almost 3 times as many (26%) of Yes supporters also had.

    The subsequent question asked whether they agreed or disagreed with the statement – “I am afraid to publicly express my views on the issue of Scottish independence due to fear of being threatened, abused or shouted down by those of opposing views” –

    9% of Yes supporters agreed, but even more No supporters (13%) did, despite their actually being exposed to less risk of it.

    This seems to be one of these “fear of crime” issues where media stories portray a wholly misleading picture (in this case largely through regular use of the “C” word, sadly repeated by some posters on here too).

  34. The apparent slow trend towards “yes”, if extrapolated to September, looks sufficient to me to produce a vote for independence. Has anyone performed a calculation to confirm or refute that impression?

    It’s a bit surprising in view of the recent barrage of negative economic/business statements, and the previous polling indicating that personal economic considerations would be paramount. So maybe there is indeed a groundswell of cultural/patriotic sentiment being pushed along by artists, writers, musicians etc.

    Emotional bandwagons have a habit of gathering momentum – enthusiasm is infectious – and if that’s what’s happening, economic scaremongering may not do the trick for BT.

    I can’t see any evidence of rUK politicians seriously addressing the consequences of Scottish independence, but that will surely change if (or when) it starts to be accepted as a real possibility.

  35. While asking questions about a single tax rate in what is a complex set of calculations is a bit daft, and presumably those agreeing with the proposal are those earning less than £150,000, the responses were –
    Agree : 59% (including 45% of Tory voters)
    Disagree : 19%

    As less than 1% of the Scottish Population earns over £150,000 and less than 3% over £100,000 then those opposed must primarily be from lower income groups.

    Incidentally the recent survey South of the Border produced very similar figures including a 40% level in favour of Restoration from those expressing support for the Tories

  36. @JohnKay

    “I can’t see any evidence of rUK politicians seriously addressing the consequences of Scottish independence,
    but that will surely change if (or when) it starts to be accepted as a real possibility.”

    You have got it in one: the ‘it will never happen’ brigade have refused to enter into real discussion about the whole issue. Darling from the start argued against such complacency, but much of the BT campaign has been based on the assumption that the Scots would never vote for something which made them potentially worse off, thereby completely ignoring the whole cultural and historical question.

    This includes, of course, Burns’ lines “We’re bought and sold for English gold, such a parcel of rogues in a nation!” which Danny Alexander unwittingly invoked when he talked about ‘the deep English pockets’ which the Scots could rely on to get them out of trouble. Really? Do we want to be constantly beholden to the ‘deep English pockets’? I don’t think so.

  37. For enthusiasts of detail, here are Labour’s constitutional proposals.

    http://s.bsd.net/scotlab/default/page/file/c07a7cdb97a522f4c5_h1m6vwh8l.pdf

    It seems to have the Shetland flag on the cover for some reason, and I’m informed that a word search revealed that it includes 83 “SNP”s, 24 “Salmond”s, but only 13 “Conservative”s, 2 “inequalities” and 25 “fairness”es.

  38. Steve Webb the pensions minister has said pensioners should be able to buy a Lamborghini and if they end up falling back on the state then that is fine. Very strange messages from the Cons this budget.

    Pensioners with state subsidised Lamborghini’s

  39. @John B

    Especially as it is us Scots that are filling those deep English pockets.

  40. @Phil

    “The Budget one of those few events that can shift the polls in a meaningful way. So after 24 hours of unfettered comment it’s a shame not to be able to refer to the findings of the first quality piece of analysis on its impact, undertaken by an organisation whose verdict is generally accepted as being definitive.”

    I hope you’re not referring to that Mirror poll. :-p

  41. @Oldnat

    13 instances of ‘positive’.

    /chuckles

  42. @Couper

    I think they are being encouraged to buy British though. Sort of narrows things down to Morgan, Caterham or McLaren.

  43. I think the immigration element is one of the genuine difficulties in the independence debate. If Scotland was to adopt a more open policy, which it’s ministers have said they would look to do as part of the debate on pension provision, then there would be significant consequences for the UK, where tighter immigration policy is more widely supported.

    Theresa May attracted some criticism for her comments on border policy in such circumstances, but that is the ultimate conclusion of differing immigration policies – it’s unavoidable. It would become a democratic decision for both countries, with some form of control system in place to meet both countries objectives.

  44. OldNat
    “9% of No supporters had suffered abuse, but almost 3 times as many (26%) of Yes supporters also had.”

    I’m surprised because on the online forums, it appears to me to be the Yes supporters whose comments are the most antagonistic.

    What is the “C” word ?

  45. @ Couper 2802,

    Webb is a Lib Dem, and it’s actually a very Lib Dem message- people should be free to do whatever they like and the welfare state should be there to pick up the pieces.

    Of course, that safety net has to be paid for somehow, and if pensions can be spent in a lump sum like normal savings to buy a Lamborghini it seems only reasonable they should be taxed like normal savings.

  46. 9% of No supporters had suffered abuse, but almost 3 times as many (26%) of Yes supporters also had.

    The subsequent question asked whether they agreed or disagreed with the statement – “I am afraid to publicly express my views on the issue of Scottish independence due to fear of being threatened, abused or shouted down by those of opposing views” –

    9% of Yes supporters agreed, but even more No supporters (13%) did, despite their actually being exposed to less risk of it.

    ——————————————–
    may be the Yes supporters had Braver hearts than the Nos.
    The yes supporters had suffered more abuse but they were not afraid of anything the Nos might say.

  47. 40% is where the want to be whether we get a Yes or a No. Its a strong position and one they can ‘humbly’ lose in.

    Anyway; I wonder if the No vote will pay attention to the polls showing people don’t care about

    I feel that the level of debate between the Yes and No campaigns are only causing people to move away from the SNP and Labour positions on the vote; this does not mean moving to a Yes or No but making their decisions based on areas the parties are not even paying attention to.

    It feels to me that some of the voters are taking more of a ‘well it’ll work out’ in regards to Europe and £££ (either way) and view other parts of the political debate as more than enough to counter act these.

    The No vote going after currency despite polling showing it an utter waste of resources only makes sense one way in my mind; the No vote is incredibly fractured and no one quite knows what they want in post-No vote or even their preferred political situation in the UK/Scotland. Currency is just a nice stable thing to go after; but no one seems to really put much attention in these areas.

    End of the day this poll has the Yes vote only a few points away; thats fairly significant; and come the final vote the more Yes…the less No votes. I think the SNP might be on their way to a 45% position in the days before the election. On the day? Who knows; I think the polling on other questions is very poor and no panel seems to be fully engaging the don’t knows.

  48. @ Oldnat, Valerie

    “I am afraid to publicly express my views on the issue of Scottish independence due to fear of being threatened, abused or shouted down by those of opposing views” –
    ———

    The question is pivoted on a split infinitive! I think the Yes & No supporters should join forces and throw things at the illiterate pollsters who composed this atrocity.

  49. To be honest, I really want Scotland to vote to go independent, for a whole host of reasons.

  50. The No vote is incredibly fractured and no one quite knows what they want
    ———————————–

    Well don’t they want things to remain as they are? Surely it’s the people who want change will have to spell out what they want and how they going to achieve it.

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