YouGov had a new Scottish referendum poll in this morning’s Sun – tabs are now up on the website here. The headline referendum voting figures are 36%(-1) for YES, 53%(+2) for NO, changes are from YouGov’s last poll in April. Excluding don’t knows this works out at YES 40%, NO 60%.

The changes are within the margin of error from April, so don’t read too much into the movement to NO. More notable is what it doesn’t show – the recent Survation, Panelbase and ICM polls showed movement to YES (albeit, the ICM one was probably reversion to the mean), so it’s notable that YouGov aren’t showing the same. The wider picture of Scottish referendum polling remains that what movement there is in voting intention is so slow that it is hard to discern beneath normal random variation, and right now it is difficult to be certain whether there is still a drift towards YES or whether things have stagnated. There also remains a substantial and difficult to explain difference between the figures from different pollsters, one I doubt will be resolved until the votes are counted.

If the topline figures here will be a relief to the NO campaign, the rest of the poll is a much more mixed picture. The Yes Scotland campaign is seen as the more positive of the two campaigns – more people think it has been positive than negative, while people are more likely to view the Better Together campaign as negative than positive. However, the Better Together campaign is seen as having been mostly honest (by 40% to 34%), the Yes Scotland campagn mostly dishonest (by 42% to 35%).

On the question of a televised debate, the Scottish public would much prefer to see a debate between Alex Salmond and David Cameron (48%) than between Alex Salmond and Alistair Darling (21%). Finally Yes Scotland seem to have a substantial advantage in the ground war – something you see claimed anecdotally, but it’s nice to have evidence to prove it. 49% of people recalled being contacted by Yes Scotland over the last few weeks compared to only 38% saying they’ve been contacted by Better Together.

73 Responses to “YouGov/Sun Scottish poll”

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  1. Thanks AW, an interesting poll and apparently against the trend of other recent polling. Your last paragraph seems to indicate that the No campaign needs to get its finger out and fight a better “ground war” as you put it. The responses to the “honesty question” brought a smile to my face.

  2. Of course winning the ground war is only half the challenge. You’ve also got to convince people of your position and it seems Yes aren’t quite managing it.

    The honesty question though seems to come down to “Do you think the other lot are scheming bastards?”

  3. The link to the poll isn’t working for me.

  4. Anthony, it is YG’s link itself which is broken. The tabs can’t be accessed from YG’s site either. The link ends with a – which may be what’s causing the problem. Please would you have a word with your colleague & ask him to fix it. Thanks.

  5. I had quite a discussion about this on another site.

    IMHO, the major error of judgement the SNP are making is not acknowledging the risks. Their vision of an independent Scotland is based on a lot of assumptions about oil revenue, EU membership, currency and so on, but doesn’t consider really consider what happens if any of these assumptions don’t come into being. In a business, you acknowledge the risks, and plan how to respond to them, so you’ve got a good expected outcome but also an acceptable worst-case outcome. The SNP could have done this, but haven’t, instead preferring to dismiss reasonable concerns as scaremongering.

    Admittedly, the No campaign haven’t behaved much better, making all sorts of risky assumptions about the Bad Things that will definitely happen if you vote yes, but it counts against the Yes side more. We know what the status quo is like. We don’t know what change is like.

  6. In terms of the Ground war, I know that a fair amount of Labour campaigning is not being done under the “better together” banner.

    Ultimately, the name Better Together will not be on the ballot paper, so does that really matter as much as say it would do in a party election?

  7. Amber – works for me (and it doesn’t end with a _, it ends with a “_W.pdf”… which is presumably why it isn’t working for you. Not sure why you’d be seeing just the _)

  8. John Ruddy. Hmmm… that’s a good point. Perhaps when I next get a chance I’ll try the same question asking if people have been contacted “by people campaigning for a YES vote” vs “people campaigning for a NO vote” to try and avoid that issue.

  9. It is painful to see a fundamentally dishonest campaign, but the YES campaign has to be that way. The wavering voters they need to convince want to hear that nothing much will change; if YES own up to the changes that will happen or are at risk of happening, then the waverers will not vote YES. That in a nutshell is why there is no realistic plan to address the currency issue (or the EU for that matter).

  10. Hal:

    The daft thing this, the currency issue was an easy one to resolve: they could have simply said: Sterling zone if possible, if not, Scottish pound. Standard and Poor’s recent economic assessment was based on a Scottish Pound, and they seem to think that a Scottish Pound was a reasonably safe option. But instead the SNP are saying it will definitely be Sterling because they think they can score more political points by accusing the Westminster parties of bullying.

    EU membership is, IMO, a bigger problem. On this occasion, I think the SNP are being treated unfairly by the EU, and the same treaty applying to both successor states seems a far more logical choice. Sadly, there are a lot of people in the EU who are deliberately making life difficult here. I don’t know what the solution is – but sticking a clause in the starter constitution saying all Scots are EU citizens (which they don’t have the power to grant) isn’t helping matters.

  11. I don’t know what’s happening over the border (other than occasional anecdotes) but I am puzzled by BT’s continuing restraint in questioning the SNP’s ‘milk and honey’ vision of a post-Yes Scotland.

    The SNP are offering both tax cuts and higher spending, plus soaring exports, more generous benefits, stronger growth, more oil etc. alongside repeated promises that somehow everybody will get what they want.

    And people are actually buying it (if polling is to be believed)!

    Then there’s the ever-increasing number of years that Scotland has apparently been paying more to the UK than it’s been receiving. This was initially “three years”, then “seven”, and now it’s rocketed up to the current “thirty three consecutive years”. This flies in the face of the SNP’s own GERS analysis which show (or did show) Scotland having a larger deficit than the UK average for consecutive years. Has the SNP developed a new analysis method which shows this “33 year” period? Will this increase to 40 years by September?

    And why are the SNP not being challenged on their repeated calculating of assets on a geographic basis (eg.the oil) but liabilities on a per capita basis (eg. the bank bailout which was heavily skewed towards Scottish-HQ’d banks)? Comparing apples with oranges clearly does not paint an accurate picture of the state of Scotland’s finances with the rest of the UK.

    ‘Project Dreamland’ is ripe for dismantling yet there’s an ongoing silence on this front. The olde saying is “if it is said often enough, it becomes fact” and BT are letting this happen. All very curious.

  12. Can we try and keep away from debating the pro- and anti- independence arguments themselves here, keep to polls measuring the public’s opinion rather than our own opinions of whether those arguments are convincing or not.

  13. Chris,

    Yes a Scottish Pound would resolve the issue, but how many voters want their savings, salaries, pensions, converted into a new currency of unknown value? It is an unsellable proposition, which is why the YES campaign isn’t promoting it. But it is very likely to happen if not immediately on independence, then very soon after.

  14. PS I’m not debating the merits of the issues but discussing why the campaign is the way it is.

    Given that the public think the YES campaign is not being honest, it is important to discuss why that is. It seems the choice they have is to continue with the present line and risk the dishonesty factor growing, or acknowledge more of the risks of independence and put people off that way. Difficult choice.

  15. Hal,

    “Given that the public think the YES campaign is not being honest”

    That it is almost full of politicians with a lot at stake is a good enough reason to have a higher prior assumption that the Aye campaign (and the Naw campaign as well) are not entirely honest.

  16. Ipsos MORI:

    LAB – 34% (=)
    CON – 31% (=)
    UKIP – 14% (+3)
    LDEM – 8% (-1)
    OTH – 13 (!)

  17. @ MrNameless

    “LAB – 34% (=)
    CON – 31% (=)”


  18. On the basis of some of these polls, you have to think that both of the main two parties are doing terribly.

    In fact, we’re not far off the point where the so-called “Big Three” poll only two thirds of the total!

  19. I’ve called it 60/40 for the last year and see no reason to change my mind.

    If “Yes” keeps saying how much better off they will be [a somewhat mean-spirited argument similar to euro-scepticism] the “No” are pretty much forced to respond in the negative.

    Essentially independence is more of an emotional attraction in my view, and one I can fully understand even if I wouldn’t go along with it.

  20. @ Anthony

    Yes, it got fixed almost immediately after I posted. I should’ve come back & said so but I got engrossed in the poll results. :-)

  21. Looking at the nice charts Ipsos do it seems their headline figure is ‘all who are certain to vote’. All who gave a VI gave a 5 pt LAB lead. Surely ‘all who are certain’ is too strict a turnout filter.

  22. I would expect the DKs to break in favour of the ‘No’ camp; if you’re unsure you’re more likely to go for the safer option. If the noes win it’ll be despite rather than because of their campaign, though.

  23. Greens up on 8% (two voters behind the LDs) on that Ipsos-Mori poll. Would be good to get some polling on Green supporters and their second choice vote. I’m inclined to think 50%+ would be Labour if pushed, with some LDs and the occasional nutty Conservative.

    It does raise the question of why the Greens are up so high. The Green bounce for the 1989 election took some time to come down though and it was largely to the LDs’ benefit. Preusmably that won’t happen this time because the LDs are in government but the question is whether they’ll stay where they are or switch.

    It would be worth some polling since I suspect it’s a little more than the stereotype of students throwing their toys out of the pram because Ed had a photo with a Very Nasty Paper. A lot of it I think it deep-seated distrust of Labour from the illiberal parts of the Blair/Brown years.

  24. Jack Sheldon – long story. Everyone else uses a less strict turnout filter that helps the Conservatives less, and empirically taking only 10/10 is a nonsense (it is impossible to check people’s poll responses against how they actually voted as it’s a secret ballot, however, the marked register of who voted is a public document, and the BES is validated against it, so we know that a proportion of people who say 9/10, 8/10, etc, etc do vote.)

    However, MORI’s figures are not out of line with other companies and their harsh filter does make their results more accurate when compared to reality, so it works for them.

  25. The Holyrood voting intention in this poll hasn’t been mentioned – and, unless I’m reading it wrongly, Labour has a higher vote than the SNP.

    So, if ‘No’ related feelings persist after a 60/40 No vote, the SNP may find the referendum has cost them more than they bargained for.

  26. rosieanddaisie: “I’ve called it 60/40 for the last year and see no reason to change my mind.

    If “Yes” keeps saying how much better off they will be [a somewhat mean-spirited argument similar to euro-scepticism] the “No” are pretty much forced to respond in the negative.

    Essentially independence is more of an emotional attraction in my view, and one I can fully understand even if I wouldn’t go along with it.”


    The mini-surge in Yes support after anti-split comments from Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton. Gordon Brown, the Pope et al was (IMHO) a solely emotive response by that quintessential Scottish mindset of “No-one tells me what to do” (there was no new promises from the Yes camp so there was no empirical or substantive input).

    When it comes down to the vote itself, I’m confident that calm heads and logic will prevail = 60/40 to the continuation of the UK.

    Then we have to start to rebuild what has become a most divided community, both within Scotland and also the entire UK.

  27. ….or knuckle down for the next referendum campaign.

  28. Would it be simplistic and naive to suggest that when the campaigns are for “YES” and “NO” respectively, then asking which campaign is more “POSITIVE” and which is more “NEGATIVE” may lead to a slightly misleading response – given what we know about the tendency amongst voters to be both overly literal, and influenced by the wording of the question?

  29. Neil

    Are you saying voters are thick??

    Actually, by definition, one is positive and the other negative and I can’t see why that is construed as “bad”.

    Maybe it should have been a “D’you want to remain part of the UK/” then the Nats woul;d have been the negative lot.

    Its just semantics and in the end we’re stuck with the grumpy ole buggers and their stupid midgies [no offence to midgies.]

  30. @MrNameless

    As has been said before the Greens are complex. It is possible that many of the 8% will vote in constituencies where they aren’t even on the ballot paper. The vast majority are almost certainly in constituencies where they will make no more than a token effort.

    I suspect the stereotypes you mention are fairly accurate though they may also be soaking up a good share of the all purpose third party vote that the LDs used to get. I’d imagine most would vote LAB or LD where the LDs are competitive… but who knows? Some may be non-voters of the Russell Brand school.

  31. A fair minority of them probably are otherwise non-voters – I’d forgotten about them. It would be good to know how many candidates the Greens will be standing because it might have some bearing on the results in a tight election.

  32. @Mr Nameless

    Given the fact that local Green Parties are very democratic – to the point that each will do what it wants without much reference to anyone else, I doubt whether a definitive list of the number of likely PPCs for the GE will exist or would be easy to obtain. The GPEW has very little national coordination or control. Trying to coordinate the local parties is like herding cats.

    As to the stubbornness of the post-Euro boost, I’m not surprised. We are really quite determined, and if any other parties treat the Green vote as a flimsy protest vote that will whimper away and ‘return home’ they are being very presumptuous and complacent. It would be symptomatic of the fundamental misunderstanding of why a decent minority number of voters are deeply set against the main parties.

  33. Just in on this – and lots to agree with. Firstly, the Yes campaign (or at least that part of it which belongs to the SNP and has been interviewed by the press) has made two major errors on the economic front:
    1. allowing economics to become the dominant issue, when there are other, more important (IMO), issues to be discussed – such as who we are as a nation, and the nuclear weapons;
    2. not being up front about the problems and potential difficulties. I remember being furious a few weeks back with Swinney when he refused/was unable to answer simple questions about the cost of it all. If it’s going to cost us, I want to know how much (insofar as that is an answerable question). It’s not going to sway my vote, except in favour of someone speaking honestly.

    The fact that economics is so dominant also leads to two inter-related factors which seem to escape some in the south.

    Firstly, this debate is about Scotland. It’s not about Alec Salmond or Alistair Darling. It’s therefore possible (indeed we see it happening – indeed the present writer would include himself in this category) that people can be a priori pro-independence no matter what.

    Secondly, we know we’re being lied to. It’s part of the political game. We’re not being fooled by anyone – on either side. But this also connects with the fact that this is about Scotland and not about its politicians. Scotland is far more than its politicians, and its economists.

  34. Further to the initial point about the SNP ‘part’ of the campaign. People often forget that the Yes campaign has broadly three components: the SNP, the Greens/Anti-Nuclears, and the artistic/folk community. These are, of course, not strictly separable, but it will do as a rough picture. There are also folk like Tommy Sheridan and his SSP etc.

    The Nos consist of many (but by no means all) Labourites, the Tories, the Lib-Dems, the Orange Lodge, the majority of the Senior Citizen population and those who feel that the uncertainty is an unnecessary gamble, along with many others, of course.

    These are coalitions – and in the NO camp these different groups are uneasy bedfellows. The Yes camp, although the lesser of the two numerically, is, IMO the more coherent in terms of ability to work together.

    And did anyone else notice how tired and worried Carmichael looked on Monday evening’s tv? He’s aged a lot since becoming Secretary of State – and looked frightened.

    Now I ask why that should be if, as the polls seem to suggest, it’s going to be a clear victory for NO? Is it worry about what will happen afterwards? Anyone with ideas on that?

    And before anyone starts on at me about the Lodge, just drive through the central belt and see how often the Union Flag is being flown alongside the Red Hand!

  35. Thanks, Mr Nameless

    Greens on 8% for westminster VI !!!!!!!!

    I think that may well be a record!

    IIRC in 1989, when Greens got 15% in the Euros, it was with 7.5% westminster VI (please someone corroborate/correct).

    Does anybody have a good record that will be able to say whether 8% is a record for Green westminster VI ?

    As a Green activist and twice parliamentary candidate, I would say catmanjeff is about right: nobody yet has any real idea how many parliamentary candidates Green Party Eng&Wales (GPEW) will have. The best starting point will be 2010, but given the large increase in Party membership in the meantime, we must expect numbers to have increased, but unless a candidate has been announced already (and few have), there aren’t many clues which constituencies will be contested.

    A definitive list of GPEW candidates already selected _will_ exist, but at the moment will be very short, since most local parties will not have selected yet (and some have yet to make any decision in principle on whether to select).

  36. Ben – it might be an equal record high, but certainly doesn’t beat it, they’ve been on 8 several times before with MORI.

  37. @Steve2

    It’s difficult to know from here, but how much of an impact is all this referendum having south of the Border? You say that we’re going to have to start to rebuild a divided community – and you may well be right; but, in your opinion, does that apply to relations between Scotland and the rUK or just within Scotland? If just within Scotland then I wouldn’t be too bothered. It’s going to be a No vote. We nationalists have been waiting for ages to reverse 1707, and another few years aren’t going to cause us to lose any sleep (IMO). What happens if, unexpectedly, there is a Yes vote, I’ve no idea.

  38. The difficulty for YES has always been one of “The most natural thing in the world” v ” The devils in the detail”.

    It’s fine to say they should have thought it on the principle rather than the economy, but the debate has been driven by a media narrative of a No campaign constantly asking endless questions.

    It’s always been an effective tactic for oppositions, ask a stream of answers claiming that your opponent can’t or won’t answer or claiming that they haven’t even if they have.

    If you don’t answer you appear either to not know or are hiding something and if you do then you are talking about what they’s a bit like the old “have you stopped beating your children, Yes or No” question.

    It’s made even harder if you are outnumbered three to one. All three main UK Party’s have tried to make this about Salmond and the SNP and almost all of the press have been happy to go along with that.

    This isn’t bias so much as a hierarchy where the PM and Government come first, then the leader of the opposition and party and lastly the LibDems before “Others”.

    With the LibDems in Government you end by with 100% of the coverage divided roughly 30% UK Government, 30% Scottish Government, 20% opposition, Labour north and South of the border, 10% LibDem and the the rest.

    So even on the BBC there are regularly more No people asking “the questions people want answers too” than Yes people to answer. It’s a bit like a trail where the defence questions every piece of evidence endlessly in an effort to create enough doubt in the juries mind to acquit!

    Add to that the fact that every paper bar the Sunday Herald is to all intents and purposes against, with some of them aggressively so, and all of them prone to sensational headlines and it’s a tough task.

    Still can’t complain, we knew it was a tough task and we would be up against it before we started, so I am much more we have fought it the best we could in the only way we could rather than we got it wrong.


  39. DC sitting on a nice option.
    1) Polls continue to point to a No, he can continue to duck a debate with AS and put AD up to bat for BT.
    2) Polls start getting close he can turn up himself for a debate, which this survey suggests people want to see. Would be well viewed / hyped up event that could help stop the slide.

  40. @Peter

    And we’ll be better prepared next time (hopefully!)

  41. @JIMR

    Except that DC seems to know so little about Scotland that it would not stop the slide at all. EM debating for the Union might do it – but even then I’m not convinced. He deons’t seem to know much about Scotland either.

    RAF’s input on this site a couple of days back on return from holiday in Badenoch (a brief history of the Cameron Clan) was interesting. I’m not sure if he was being tongue in cheek when he suggested he’d gone home a supporter of the Yes campaign, but he certainly brought out the problem Cameron has: he is of Scots descent, yet has (apparently) no knowledge of Scotland.

    That’s not his fault, perhaps, but it doesn’t help the Unionist cause that no-one in the big Offices of State has any first hand knowledge of Scotland.

  42. John B, I’m talking about Scottish/English relations and also inter-Scot. We have seen some very nasty language crossing the divides and I do wonder if this will all be instantly forgotten after the vote.

    Furthermore, the ceaseless anti-English rhetoric is considered extremely tedious by us down here (not provocative), as is being blamed for actions, real or perceived, by previous generations (I think I can safely speak for all English folk here!). Whenever we see/hear such comments, the usual response is for us to roll our eyes and consider the source a bit of a fool.

    There really is a desire down here for all UK nations to just be able to get on with each other (sporting rivalry asides, there’s nothing wrong with that). Yes, I know England has its nutcases who spout drivel on news comment pages but two wrongs don’t make a right.

    As for attitudes towards the referendum itself, whenever it comes up in conversation, I find the general feeling is ‘let’s get it over with and start behaving like friendly neighbours for once’.

    And if Salmond is seriously hoping for a friendly partnership with England after a ‘Yes’ vote, I suggest he stops coming down here and trying to stir up a N England v S England fight as he has done in some recent London speeches. Not statesman like in any way and only makes him look petty and bitter.

  43. Thanks, Anthony

  44. If I was running the ‘no’ campaign I’d try to avoid using politicians entirely and just focus on the shared history and culture.

  45. @Neil A, R&D

    Definitely, and it exposes the problem that the framing of the Independence vote as a “Yes/No” question is inherently biased — I’d rather have had:

    “Which of the following two options do you prefer:
    [_] Scotland will remain part of the United Kingdom
    [_] Scotland will become an independent country”

    …. ideally with the order of the options alternating on consecutive printed ballots, so 50% have each option first. (Having a stack of each at the polling station doesn’t cut it as it’s too easy for poll staff to manipulate).

  46. @ AW

    Yougov have a grammar problem!

    ” After the first 17 games, you have predicted 1 scores correctly.”

    And may as well send me the cheque now- can’t see anyone beating one correct scores.

  47. @Ben Foley
    UKIP+Tories+LDs+Lab combined down 1% – so is that Greens up, other others up, or rounding? I’ll have to wait till the morning to find out.”

    No, in fact Greens turned out to be down to 4% in today’s YouGov.

    [Snip – AW]

  48. @John B,

    Out of curiosity, on what basis do you believe that Cameron and Miliband have little knowledge about Scotland? Have there been some Ingleton moments I’ve missed?

  49. @Amber Star 2.16 p.m.

    AW’s introduction, although not specifically referring to the point you made about VIs, does mention that this YG poll doesn’t seem to be in line with some other polls on the same subjects. I have pointed out before that YG consistently shows lower figures for Yes and lower figures for the SNP than some other organisations. That’s not to say YG is wrong – it may, indeed, be spot on for all I know – but it does mean that we have to be careful about drawing any conclusions.

    IMO the SNP have suffered because of the foul-mouthed loonies. But they also suffer because of mis-reporting. E.g., yesterday the BBC (Glen Campbell – but then, you can never trust a Campbell!) put together JK Rowlings and Clare Lally as both receiving abuse for supporting the No campaign. This was wrong.

    JKR received abuse simply for supporting the No campaign, and that was utterly unacceptable. Whoever did that ought to be found, prosecuted, locked up and good riddance.

    But Clare Lally was criticised because she had misled her audience – and those watching on TV – as to her true status within the Labour Party, which is quite another matter. Glen Campbell did not distinguish between what had happened to the two ladies and why – and that was bad and biased journalism.

  50. @ Neil A

    Sorry to be ignorant, but what is an Ingleton moment?

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