There are two new Scottish independence polls in today’s papers – ICM for Scotland on Sunday, and Survation for the Sunday Post, both conducted just after the SNP’s conference last weekend (though as ever, correlation should not necessarily imply causality.)

ICM in the Scotland on Sunday has topline figures of YES 39%(nc), NO 42%(-4). Getting rid of the don’t knows brings us to YES 48%, NO 52% – leaving aside the SNP commissioned poll with leading questions last year, this is the highest level of YES support recorded so far.

Note that there was a slight shift in ICM’s methodology from last time – rather than just weighting those with a declared 2011 recalled vote to the correct proportions of the 2011 vote, they are now also weighting the sample so the correct proportion of the sample claim to have voted in 2011. This should have the result of increasing the proportion of won’t votes and don’t knows, but won’t necessarily have any impact on the proportions of YES and NO.

The second poll for Survation has topline figures of YES 38%(+1), NO 46%(-1). Without don’t knows the YES vote is at 45%. This is a slight move towards YES since Survation’s previous poll a week and a half ago, but looking more widely it’s more of a “no change” poll, Survation also showed YES on 45% in March and February.

516 Responses to “New Scottish Independence polls”

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  1. Er…a bit ambiguous that. I meant the shares are back up to that level for the first time not that it was the first time Man U had won the Premier League!

  2. Roger Mexico

    Thanks for that analysis. It’s interesting that we still find pollsters struggling to find the best methodology for measuring public opinion on this, as opposed to elections.

    James Kelly also raises an interesting point on his blog –

    Country of birth also correlates with voting intention, so should probably be used by all pollsters, not just one or two of them. It would also have to be correctly weighted, of course. ICM seem to have overweighted those born in England, and underweighted those born in Scotland.

  3. ALEC
    “I guess the answer is to find out whether we each paid our taxes in Scotland or the rUK, which I think what you might be saying, although this would be extremely complex to administer, for both countries.”

    But all employee and employer contributions at least until 2015/16 would be to HM Treasury and hence remain a rump UK responsibility if Westminster claims successor state rights. If they don’t, all bets would be off but employer contribution records would be available at least to make reasonably accurate estimates.

  4. @barney crockett

    I note that during the Dissolution of Czechoslovakia the original intention of both the Czech Republic and Slovakia was for currency union… that intention survived less than forty days in reality.

  5. @Billy Bob

    It’ll survive until the election where I think parties/individuals keen on a separate currency will succeed.

  6. @Barbazenzero – “But all employee and employer contributions at least until 2015/16 would be to HM Treasury and hence remain a rump UK responsibility if Westminster claims successor state rights.”

    No – that’s complete nonsense I’m afraid. For a start, your terminology is incorrect. Scotland would be the successor state, and the UK the continuator state.

    Secondly, there is no legal requirement for continuator states to take on board the pension obligations for citizens who wish to leave it – that simply isn’t logical, nor is it supported by international law or precedent. We can bracket that one firmly in the ‘Nationalists Myths’ file.

    As Mr. Salmond says, these things will be sorted out by negotiation, but I suspect to avoid the cost of having to assess the location of every pensioners employment in both countries throughout their entire working lives, I suspect a simple agreement that Scotland pays for it’s pensioners and the UK for their will be fine. That would be welcome by UK taxpayers, relieving slightly the tax burden in the future.

  7. Colin

    Thanks for that NIESR link. I hadn’t appreciated that the Scottish Govt had proposed taking old oil revenue into account when divvying up the debt.

    Dangerous ground. If you’re going to go back 34 years, why stop there? Why not go back 300 years and take the debt write off under the Act of Union into account?

  8. @Barney Crocket – “The problem is you are trying to pose reality against dreams and the trouble is that if you speak up you will receive a unified and disciplined monstering.”

    This really is the central point of my hypothesis of a second vote if there is a narrow yes win in September.

    Nationalists argue that Yes means Yes, but the fact of the matter is that voters don’t know what they are voting for. This allows the Yes team to basically invent pretty much anything they like for the campaign, but when the moment for separation arrives, there will be a reality to measure things against.

    As I said over the weekend, I can’t recall any political campaign in my life, where central aspects of one side have been so heavily attacked by so many independent bodies where the campaign has not just survived, but actually gained. It’s almost as if Scots are in a state of denial.

    I found Brown’s intervention tonight rather interesting. The idea of pooling risk as a positive case for the union was well crafted, I felt. Essentially this is the kind of change of tone that is needed in the debate. Yes is negative about the union, but portrays the No side as the negative side. I have a sense that Brown may be onto something.

  9. One of the problems with 3 day threads is remembering what has been discussed and what hasn’t!

    I don’t think there has been mention of the CBI (as a UK organisation) to register with the Electoral Commission as an official supporter of No.

    While it’s useful that they can no longer claim to be neutral, while giving a one-sided view, it seems an odd decision for them to have made.

    Not only has it provoked a number of resignations from Scottish Universities, government agencies and the Law Society among others, who cannot be associated with a partisan political stance, it prevents the CBI (the so-callwed CBI Scotland is a wholly owned subsidiary, whose offcials are appointed by the London Head Office) from holding on to that “neutral” position.

    From that, they could probably have exercised more influence than in the position they have taken.

    It looks like rather a poor bit of decision making.

  10. @Leftylampton – “Dangerous ground. If you’re going to go back 34 years, why stop there? Why not go back 300 years and take the debt write off under the Act of Union into account?”

    Indeed. We’ve only recently finished paying off WW2 debt. I tried to make the point on here a while ago that oil revenues to date have been earned by the UK, so cannot be appropriated retrospectively by one part of the UK. It may be a source of great and understandable frustration to Scots, but that’s tough – they should have voted for independence in the 1970’s. They didn’t – nationalist parties did very poorly, and on that basis, Scots have to accept that they were happy to be contributing to the UK as a whole.

    I see very little chance of Scotland getting anything other than a per capita share of debt, plus a per capita share of any future liabilities not yet paid.

  11. Alec

    You may be a little out of touch. “Pooling and sharing” has been a BT theme for a long time.

  12. Alec

    No doubt an unfortunate omission, but presumably also a “per capita share of the assets”?

  13. @Alec

    “I found Brown’s intervention tonight rather interesting.”

    Indeed. and I find his late entry into the Independence Referendum campaign a little mystifying, to be honest. It may come as a surprise to his many detractors south of the border, but he’s generally a well regarded and respected politician in Scotland and he is someone who may well be capable of winning hearts and minds to the Union cause. Not only may he appeal to Labour wobblers toying with a Yes vote, he may well shore up what still appears to be a natural majority against Independence.

    If I was Darling and the No campaign, I’d tend to let old Gordon rip for a few months. The Old Bruiser could bring it home for the Union.

  14. The “pooling and sharing” argument is overwhelming in the US – witness the slightly frivolous attempts by Texas to break away from the US in the aftermath of the 2012 Presidential election – it was pointed out then that breaking away from the USA was unconstitutional. Similarly it would be illegal for any province of Spain to break away, while the idea would not even be dignified with an answer in France or Germany.
    So why should we allow any part of the UK to break away?
    Never mind historical nations – we used to have Wessex and Mercia for god’s sake 1000 years ago – what has that got to do with anything?

  15. Crossbat11

    “It may come as a surprise to his many detractors south of the border, but he’s generally a well regarded and respected politician in Scotland”.

    That statement actually requires some evidential support.

    I think that it’s undoubtedly true that while he was under such vitriolic attack from those in the south, many Scots found the Clarkson-style comments totally objectionable, and rallied to Brown’s defence.

    Whether he is still well-regarded in Scotland, in hindsight, concerning his performance as Chancellor and PM, is an open question.

    i don’t know what public opinion of him is and I don’t think you do either. AFAIK, his reputation has not been the subject of any polling.

  16. Paul A

    Damn! If only you guys had bothered to write a constitution, instead of making it up as you went along. :-)

  17. @Paul A

    After all preventing part of the UK breaking away turned out well in Ireland didn’t it?

  18. @Paul A

    Breaking away (secession). Am I right in thinking that however countries try and stick to their constitutions which prohibit secession, international law now stipulates that secession cannot be prevented if a majority in that province/region/”nation”/district want independence?

    If I am therefore correct in my interpretation of current international law it would mean that today it would be illegal for Spain, Britain or even the US, despite the supposed civil war settlement of the constitution about the illegality of secession, could not infact prevent it legally if a majority of electors of a state, or states, wanted it?

  19. Tony Dean,

    Spain and Britain would incur the wrath of the EU for doing so, but the USA takes, shall we say, a loose interpretation of international law when it suits it.

    Of course of the three, that’s the country least likely to see an effective secession movement (especially after the Puerto Rico statehood referendum in 2012).

  20. Paul A

    You cite France Germany the USA, but not the greater number of countries that have split into separate states. England failed in its attempts to conquer Scotland and so had to negotiate a union with Scotland. The implication, not lost on Scots, is that any union entered into by means of a treaty agreement can be revoked, just as the UK’s accession to the EU by treaty can be revoked.

  21. Further to my last: A hundred years ago I suspect the British Establishment would have argued that the United Kingdom was an enduring indivisible union. Just as Lincoln argued the same about the US States in America.

    Today, both would have problems with international law about violating the rights of people to “self-determination”.

  22. Tony Dean

    There needs to be some evidence of it having an enduring national identity, whether based on language, religion or history. Their are recognised limits; not any district can claim the right to self determination.

  23. ALEC
    “For a start, your terminology is incorrect. Scotland would be the successor state, and the UK the continuator state.”

    Mea culpa … post in haste and repent at leisure and all that, but a pity there’s no edit functionality here. I should have re-read ISBN 978-0-10-185542-6 before posting.

    In that first published UK Govt “analysis”, Profs Boyle & Crawford thought EWNI being “the continuing state” the most likely of their 3 options, but although they quoted Vienna they seem to have forgotten to mention the downside of that status.

    However, the SG offer of accepting that option, supporting EWNI’s retention of the UNSC seat and voluntarily paying a share of the UK liabilities was contingent on a negotiated fair share of UK assets, in which NIC already paid by individual workers resident in Scotland and/or their employers would need to be calculated or agreed via some formula.

  24. Re G Brown

    Following his speech today, STV asked to interview him. He was “unavailable”.

    The reluctance of UK Ministers (and, it seems, former ones) to have their utterances subjected to analysis is – “interesting”.

  25. The argument from the time of the first Home Rule Bill in 1886 to the arguments about Scottish devolution have remained pretty much the same, which is that it undermines the English principle of a unitary state based on the sovereignty of the Crown in Parliament. The arguments over independence, obviously, have had to be different, and have largely been to discredit the whole idea.

  26. @ Alex Buchan

    “….not any district can claim the right to self determination.”

    I agree, that would be silly. (However, I am uncertain how the wording of the international law is framed?)
    But in the case of Scotland or the Confederacy today both a Disraeli or a Lincoln would be in some difficulty legally enforcing a Union against the will of a breakaway state with a popular mandate behind it.

  27. Tony Dean

    You’re quite right, which is why Scottish secession is happening in a very different international context to Irish secession.

  28. Interestingly I cannot think of a single country that has become independent from another in the developed world, post war, that wasn’t either part of a decolonisation movement or close after the Soviet break up. The enormity of the Scottish referendum probably hasn’t been realised whatever happens it will have international consequences as its almost unprecedented. Wherever you stand I think both sides can br proud that a democratic debate and decision that will be respected by both sides is taking place, witness Catalonia, where some politickans behave like franco.

  29. Oddly (or perhaps not) Paul A’s view is very much in line with Catholic/Anglican thinking about marriage and divorce (until the mid 19th century only rich men could get a divorce, via an act of Parliament).

    The contrary views expressed above are much more in line with Scots legal traditions.

    It could be that, without detailed knowledge of these matters, the attitudes determining the different legal traditions, still resonate within the different societies.

    “In European countries which adopted Protestantism, marriage was no longer held to be a sacrament, and divorce was countenanced on the grounds of adultery. The right to divorce had to be the same for both sexes for, in Calvin’s words, “A man may hold the primacy in other things, but in bed he and his wife are equal.” The logic was that the Bible enjoined death for an adulterous wife, and “in modern times [the sixteenth century] divorce was a substitute for that punishment.” Scottish divorce decreets therefore made the guilty party legally dead in relation to their spouse. England, having come to its Protestantism by a somewhat different route, was the exception, and in accordance with the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church continued to hold a marriage to be indissoluble, although separation without the right to remarry was allowed, and eventually it became possible for rich men to obtain a divorce by a private act of Parliament. Its laws encompassed Wales as well, but Scotland retained a separate legal system which allowed full divorce and remarriage. This was available on equal terms to both men and women on the straightforward grounds of simple adultery or “malicious” (i.e. deliberate) desertion for more than four years.” (source –…-a019061227)

  30. A long time ago one of our SNP contributors said that the strategy of the Yes campaign was to soak up everything that No throws at them. It now seems the strategy has worked – I don’t think anyone is listening to the No campaigns’ ‘scares’. They have become too ridiculous from Lord Robertson’s forces of darkness, to losing the BBC ( no license fee hurrah ), to Gordon Brown speech on pensions while the Daily Express runs contradictory headlines in England and Scotland.

    I think the Yes campaign is starting and it seems to be a grass roots campaign – my Twitter feed is full of Yes public meetings, canvassing and street stalls – very remote from the Westminster establishment politicians.

    At New Year I predicted 47-53 yes-no but now I am thinking ‘Yes could win this’

  31. YouGov/Sun poll tonight – Labour lead by three points: CON 34%, LAB 37%, LD 10%, UKIP 12%

  32. @The Sheep. Pertaining to cup and ring analysis, would you support my view that the ‘Celtic’ decorative style was not an import from La Tene culture but rather a natural progression from cup and ring to spiral to triple spiral and onwards to the Lindisfarne gospels?

    Digging Oppenheimer btw.

  33. Mr Beeswax

    Europeans, cut off by massive flooding, in offshore islands, forget how to build boats and develop into a different species. They then vote UKIP.

  34. Not a bad Poll-still a sub 5 lead.

  35. G Brown speech.

    I’ve seen the arithmetic of this bit questioned several times. Can any of his supporters explain?

    “Scotland benefits far more from UK-wide pension credits to top up the basic pension, with £700 million a year paid to 248,000 Scots in credits worth £25 per week to the typical recipient. And Scottish pensioners receive far more disability benefits. One in four Scots old people – 259,000 – receive disability support, costing £1 billion a year. It is worth an average of £20 a week to recipients.“

  36. Barney Crockett

    I wasn’t suggesting that Aberdeen South was a certainty to fall just pointing out that it would go on one Westminster poll we’ve seen (though not on the others) and as you suggest it would be the last holdout in the North east.

    In reality UNS is a pretty blunt tool in the Scottish situation so individual seats may well buck the trend due to ABT, ABL or local circumstances. For example it wouldn’t surprise me to see Michael Moore hold on because of ABT.

  37. @Old Nat

    The No campaign are becoming an object of ridicule. I don’t know if the mainstream media have picked it up but the ‘GBs sums don’t add up’ is well discussed on social media. In fact the MSM are very poor they never really pick up on things that folk on social media notice.

    The main responses to the speech seem to be.,,
    ‘He caused the pensions black hole’
    ‘Ha ha his sums don’t add up’
    ‘Daily express headline’

  38. Not being in Scotland I have no real feel beyond what comes through the polls so I certainly won’t predict the referendum.
    However if Couper’s right and ‘Yes could win this’ I wonder what happens next. I wonder, because I have a sense that the Ayes are fuelled by rather unrealistic fantasies, that negotiations following an Aye would be long, very complex and very unfriendly, and the final settlement a long way away from the fantasy.
    Of course I’m biased because I like the UK as it is.

    As a matter of interest, what would happen if rUK negotiators simply made no concessions and insisted that the deal could only be done on terms which were very unfavourable to Scotland? I don’t think this is likely, though I do think it’ll be spun that way no matter how accommodating rUK is: but my interest is in what actually happens if it comes to ‘like it or lump it’.

  39. ole nat

    “I’ve seen the arithmetic of this bit questioned several times. Can any of his supporters explain?”


    As I understand it this forum is not for that sort of discussion.

  40. @Oldnat – it looks like he’s trying to talk in a language that nationalists will understand.

  41. @Mr Beeswax

    Sadly, no. I don’t think there is an evident natural progression, either in style (there is significant variation in cup and ring, from concentric circles, to enclosures and channels), or in location and grouping.

    There is also a rather huge time gap to be accounted for…

    Of course, to remember earlier conversations, there may be a vast amount of missing evidence that is now lost. You could be right, but you would need to make the case.

  42. And for anyone who cares to see what we’re talking about:

    From the archive of the wonderful Stan Beckensall (who taught me many many years ago)

  43. OLDNAT
    So you believe that “social media” is more accurate than GB.
    That is a surprise!

  44. @Guymonde

    Personally I think we would end up with something very like DevoMax in the event of a Yes vote after negotiations. But that is just my feeling.

    Regarding negotiations – An all party commission will be set up post Yes. I assume they would rather negotiate with a Lab government given there would be a fair number of Scottish Lab MPs. In fact post Yes Lab would probably get a boost in the GE for that very reason.

  45. @GuyMonde

    It is probably impossible to tell. One possibility is of course that it would both entrench and increase support for independence.

  46. @BField

    Social Media is a lot better at holding politicians to account than mainstream media. And, There is a very positive role for social
    Media in challenging the agendas and accuracy of the press. In the past the Express, Mail etc would have got away with their distortions.

  47. What a strange set of responses re G Brown’s arithmetic.

    Should “UK-wide pension credits to top up the basic pension, with £700 million a year paid to 248,000 Scots in credits worth £25 per week to the typical recipient.” have been

    “UK-wide pension credits to top up the basic pension, with £700 million a year paid to 248,000 Scots in credits worth £54.28 per week to the typical recipient.”

    or maybe “UK-wide pension credits to top up the basic pension, with £6,200,000 a year paid to 248,000 Scots in credits worth £25 per week to the typical recipient.”

    or “UK-wide pension credits to top up the basic pension, with £700 million a year paid to 28 million Scots in credits worth £25 per week to the typical recipient.”

    Or is it that UK bureaucracy swallows up huge sums of cash instead of spending our taxes on the needy?

    I have no idea whether any of these possibilities is correct or not, but since Those were the figures that Brown quoted from a DWP report given only to him, could it be that the DWP can’t count?

  48. @DW

    “…Interestingly I cannot think of a single country that has become independent from another in the developed world, post war, that wasn’t either part of a decolonisation movement or close after the Soviet break up…”

    Does Greenland splitting from Denmark count? It’s got/getting self-government but still has the Danish Crown as head of state.

  49. Comment from Twitter

    @JRTomlinAuthor: So tell me this. Why are bloggers capable of doing the math to see that GB’s figures don’t add up but journalists AREN’T?

    I rest my case

  50. @Oldnat – according to the IFS, benefits spending per head of the entire population was 2% higher in Scotland than in UK as a whole, equivalent to £62 extra per person. The difference will actually be more than this, as the UK whole figure includes Scotland.

    Expenditure on disability benefits per person was 22% higher in Scotland, and on pensions 4% higher.

    Brown has got the headline right, but the detail wrong, or at least the presentation of the detail. On the pension credits element, he quote ‘the typical’ recipient getting £25 per week. This could be the median level, but not necessarily the average level which is was critics have assumed. On this one, his figures may well be entirely consistent with what he has said.

    On the pensioners disability benefits, he’s clearly got something wrong, as he uses the term ‘average’, so there is a discrepancy there.

    However, it’s perfectly true to say that Scot’s get more pensions per head and much more disability per head than the UK as a whole.

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