It’s now exactly one month to go until the Scottish referendum, and this morning’s Times has a fresh YouGov Scottish poll. Topline figures are YES 38%(+3), NO 51%(-4). Excluding don’t knows this works out at YES 43%(+4), NO 57%(-4). The 43% YES figure excluding don’t knows is the highest YouGov have shown so far.

The previous YouGov poll straddled the Salmond-Darling debate, so this is their first test of support post-debate. Looking at all four of the post-debate polls, we’ve now got Survation showing a significant move to NO, Panelbase and ICM showing modest movement towards YES and YouGov showing a significant shift towards YES.

Clear as mud, but I think it’s fair to conclude that despite Alistair Darling emerging as the initial “winner” of the first debate, the broad trend amongst the post-debate polls is looking like things may have actually moved a little in the YES direction.

Looking back at the post-debate poll, it might be worth remembering that existing NO supporters tended to think Darling won, existing YES supporters tended to think Salmond won – so Darling’s “victory” was largely a result of him having more supporters to begin win. If subsequent polls do confirm that there has been a movement to YES since the debate, perhaps we’ll conclude that attitudes towards who won the debate were different amongst swing voters…

398 Responses to “YouGov Scottish poll – YES 43, NO 57”

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  1. I’ve got the great social misfortune to be fairly poor but with a semi-RP accent and two middle names so everyone assumes I’m posh. None of the advantages of either wealth or a “cool” background.


    This is a slightly new angle on the currency issue, and not entirely comfortable for Yes. Beveridge highlights the fact that refusing to share the debt is fraught with practical difficulties in economic terms, and I would add my own caveat that the greater difficulty will come if London decides it doesn’t appreciate a contested separation with no debt liabilities. In this case, I would imagine there would be political pressure for the UK to go to Brussels and say they don’t back the deal, meaning Scotland leaves the EU.

    However, the main issue that struck me in this article is the consistent references to the politicking going on in London over the currency issue. The assumption clearly being that as CU is the best technical solution, the UK will back it once the need for bluster has passed.

    I think this understanding of the position is misleading and doing the people of Scotland a great disservice. Firstly, it assumes that CU is, in fact, a good option for the UK. Having witnessed the eurozone, many people will disagree. I would argue that it’s only in the UK’s interests if tax and spending is centrally managed, with additional compensating capital flows (out of Scotland, to poorer parts of the UK, if the SNP is right about the future Scottish economy). Without this, CU will damage the UK.

    The second point is democratic legitimacy. Without a referendum, as widely promised for joining the Euro, I can’t see how any government can agree a CU. We know that polls indicate a large a growing margin in the UK against CU.

    However, the argument has been successfully characterized by Yes as being one of bluster by a small group of politicians. In reality, it’s a matter of democratic choice, backed up by very sound economic theory.

    I remain aghast at the naivety displayed by so many of my countrymen in thinking that the UK voters will back a CU and that if they don’t, Scotland would somehow be in a good place if it refuses to accept debt sharing.

  3. It only becomes significant if it’s repeated, and soon. Otherwise it’s just at the edge of MOE.

  4. Look – there’s no need to be insulting.

    As it happens, I’ve just stripped the beams on my living room ceiling, so I’m feeling dead middle class at the moment anyway, pesto or not.

  5. What’s pesto?

  6. I’m told my Mrs H that I’ve had it. Apparently she stuck it in with spaghetti some time in the past but she thought it no great shakes, so hasn’t bothered since..

    I just eat up what I’m given, I think that’s possibly upper class actually.

  7. @Howard

    You do make me laugh :)

  8. @Howard – “I’m told my Mrs H that I’ve had it.”

    Is Mrs H always that threatening?

    Have you tried counseling?

  9. Load of nonsense. RIC are obviously going to campaign in their best hope areas.

  10. @Steve – First rule of politics;

    1) Never, ever, ever believe any campaign numbers of their canvass returns.

    [I recall Tory canvass returns claims in 1997 claiming they were ahead in key marginals three days before the GE].

  11. alec

    “As it happens, I’ve just stripped the beams on my living room ceiling,”

    Were they mouldy?

  12. @Steve

    I ignore everything that has “Radical independence” written on it.

  13. I must mention my thoughts on the BBC lead story regarding the inflation figures. I was amused to see the theoretically good news on CPI inflation (not actually that good, as it denotes weak demand) being presented as a bad news story as rail fares were rising by 3.5%. It was a rather odd presentation of economic numbers.

    I also felt that this was London calling. Train fares are very much a minority issue in most parts of the country, but less so in and around London, and among those who travel regularly from London to, say, Salford.

    Twas ever thus. Perhaps we should have a referendum or something?

  14. Well I had steak and chips for tea. Does that make me French?

  15. Alec
    I’ve just looked up pesto. Looks a bit like guacamole. Perhaps that was what Mandy meant when he was in the fish and chip shop. He didn’t want to sound middle class.

    I find it difficult to imagine Mrs H as dominatrix. It’s not her style. In any case I just do what I am told, so unusual punishments don’t come into it.

  16. Postage
    If you had it for ‘tea’ that makes you working class (and presumably proud of it).

  17. I have no idea what the story is (and newspaper headlines not infrequently have little relationship to that!) but the Herald [1] headline tomorrow is “English say Scots will pay a heavy price for referendum : Budget cuts if vote is No, and block on sharing the pound if it is a Yes.”

    If there is substance to the story, then there would seem to be less benefit to Scots by voting No, than they might have thought.

    [1] While the Herald is part of the same group as the Sunday Herald, it is not a pro-independence paper.

  18. @Alec
    Excellent point about Salford – it can only make Auntie’s train price obssession worse, and it was near terminal already.

  19. @Alec
    Excellent point about Salford – it can only make Auntie’s train price obssession worse, and it was near terminal already.

  20. To bring together Pesto poshos and Intervention in struggling families an anecdote: (about 15 years old but perhaps still relevant)

    A lecturer in public health medicine was addressing a group of 1st year medical students on the subject of deprivation and poor diet. On describing Muirhouse (a deprived part of Edinburgh) she said “Do you know, there are some children there who’ve never even seen an Avocado, never mind eaten one.” One of the students stood up and replied “I’ve never eaten an Avocado are you saying that makes me deprived” Poor woman ran off stage and abandoned the rest of her lecture.

    Moral: Some families and areas do need interventions to help with complex health, social and poverty issues but parachuting in Avocados from Islington isn’t necessarily the answer.

  21. On Posh Grub

    I was playing a word game with some kids the other day where each of us had to give the name of a food, letter-by-letter, thru the alphabet, taking it in turn to be 1st, 2nd, etc for each letter. When the 4th in line for G — aged 8 or 9 — said Guacamole I knew that things had changed since my childhood.

  22. @Howard
    Well spotted. Working class to the core – the reference to Roland Barthes’ classic essay “”Le Bifteck et les Frites” notwithstanding.

    You’ll probably find the you can get pesto in the Netherlands, but only “mit balletjes”. If you’re ever in Edinburgh I recommend the Bella Caledonia restaurant – neeps and pesto a speciality

  23. “I find it difficult to imagine Mrs H as dominatrix. It’s not her style. In any case I just do what I am told, so unusual punishments don’t come into it.”

    I’m intrigued: what are the usual ones that you go through Howie?

  24. @MRNAMELESS @ALEC @Slippy

    The radical independence campaign have been campaigning in the urban Labour areas for some months. They canvassed 18K people with 63.4 Yes excluding DKs. There are often people registering and voting for the first time and are the people Labour used to represent. So the first criticism regarding areas is void as RIC deliberately targeted Labour areas – which according to YouGov should be only 15% Yes. Regarding whether the canvass is reliable 42% is the number before DK are excluded 44 Yes 25 No with as you would imagine a high number of undecideds 31%. So off course some of the undecideds could be No but no way can you get anywhere near a 15% Yes figure. I have so much admiration for RIC and their work re-energising the poor and disaffected. Their challenge will be to get the vote out.

    The patronising contempt with which this group was dismissed by yourselves was educational. If Scotland votes Yes RIC will take a lot of the credit

    Also interesting is that Labour in Scotland appear to have lost the working class.

  25. @Couper2802

    The numbers from RIC are really not worth thinking about. I’ve canvassed tower blocks with sub 20% turnout before, and frankly the numbers you get are pointless. People who are against you simply don’t answer.

    We worked those areas really hard. Result: nothing. Not a sign that our work had made any difference whatsoever.

    If RIC have discovered the magical formula then good for them, but in reality the maths is against them. If turnout is about 20% (for example) then you do a huge amount more work for your vote than in areas where the turnout is 80%. If No win then perhaps RIC will take a lot of the credit for applying themselves ineffectively.

  26. c2802
    Since time immemorial, political parties have been quoting their canvassing returns to “prove” the polls wrong. Most posters here know this and pat of the attraction of this site is that it allows partisans (moi?) to check their “gut” against some more scientific figures and balanced commentators. Try it some time

  27. couper2802

    There are lots of well-established reasons why canvass returns are unreliable of measures of support – including that canvassers (especially inexperienced ones) like to hear what they want to hear, and the willingness of those canvassed to say anything to get rid of the buggers!

    At the same time, instead of the usual internecine fighting of the Left, RIC are presenting a unified platform on the indy issue, which seems to resonate with the Avocado and Pesto deprived section of the community that politicians seldom talk to.

    Whether the resultant political interest among those who have previously thought that “they were going to get stuffed anyway, so it doesn’t matter” will be enough to overcome the fear factor is something that (to quote the sage) “Time will tell”.

  28. I realise that I am most unusual in that I have lived (not explored like Eric Blair) in all three class environments. It does give one a certain viewpoint I suppose. Indeed, I think there are five. They don’t conform to ABC1C2DE though.
    I am not sure that my divisions would apply in Scotland.

  29. The Sheep

    I recognise exactly the points you are making. Amongst other areas, I’ve canvassed “the schemes” for both Labour and SNP (not simultaneously!) over the years, and found the same as you did.

    This referendum campaign, however, does seem to be different in that, however they end up voting, almost everyone I’ve encountered seems to think the vote matters which, especially in these areas, just wasn’t the case before.

  30. @Barney Crocket

    It also works the other way, we can check the polls against what it happening on the ground. The polls were wrong 1992, 2007, 2011 and always by over-estimating Labour.

    Now let me ask you, based on the latest YouGov there has been a 7 & 10% swing SNP to Labour since 2011 and Labour would win a HR election. Does that seem credible?

    Also according to YouGov only 15% of Labour voters are voting Yes, does that seem credible?

    But as OldNat says time will tell but my prediction is that YouGov has picked up the start of the movement to Yes. The next batch of polls will be interesting.

    BTW – I have always used canvass returns to win elections know where my voters are and get them out and the margin of error is not much larger than a poll.

  31. Any thoughts on this poll, which is wildly different to all others I’ve seen?

  32. @The Sheep

    This is not like any other election.
    This is an ‘independence’ referendum we are not voting for a politician we are voting for our independence. My theory is the change in the polls will correlate with us getting the polling cards which had just started when YouGov were doing their field work.

    The misunderstanding of the nature of the election with the polls ignoring the low turnout areas is where they are going wrong. Only four weeks till I am proved right.

  33. couper2802

    I doubt that the pollsters are ” ignoring the low turnout areas”. However, their weighting factors don’t seem to take that into account. If their sample has a sufficient number of D/E respondents (and if not, they’ll weight them up anyway) from Perth or Achnagatt then their sampling requirements will have been met. That D/Es in Achnagatt live in wholly different circumstances from those in Niddrie wouldn’t show up.

    In a GE, that might make little difference. While it’s important not to exaggerate what the effect might be, it may suggest that none of the pollsters have got the correct methodology for an indyref poll.

    certainly, the number of changes that they all seem to be regularly making in their methodology suggests that none of them are wholly confident.

  34. The Herald story I referred to earlier also appears in the Times & the Scotsman. It seems to be based on a survey done in England.

    Alec has frequently warned of the repercussions to Scotland if we voted Yes. I don’t remember his warnings about similar things happening if we vote No.

  35. Couper2802

    Actually I thought the RIC’s figures not great for Yes. One thing we know from polling is that the poorer the area, the better Yes does. MORI analyse by affluence of area and in their latest poll Yes leads 52-42 in the most deprived quintile, No leads 63-27 in the least deprived.

    As TheSheep says the thing is whether you can actually get them out to vote. Such people are convinced (perhaps accurately) that politics can’t make any difference to their lives. That said it may be that the independence issue does motivate them. If turnout does reach into the high 70s we may well see such people voting in numbers.

    As far as getting people on the register goes, the most recent figure I could find (10 Mar):

    ht tp://

    showed 4,120,494 on the register and there were an additional 98,068 16 and 17 year olds who can vote in September:

    ht tp://

    though because the first figure includes ‘attainers’ (all those who become 18 in the year’s life from March of the register) some 30k 17 year olds will be counted in both totals.

    But the total figure doesn’t seem to have increased dramatically as you would expect if there had been a big registration campaign. 57k in 15 months is a slower rate than the 55k in 12 between 2011 and 2012. And 20k of the latest increase seems to come from better registration of attainers, presumably because you’re registering the years below as well. Another 15k came from extra EU voters, possibly registering for May. It may be that the big increase in registration has come since, but it didn’t show in March.

  36. It really is hard to tell who is right or wrong on the numbers.

    If predictions of turnout of up to 80% are anywhere right then it will be at a level not seen in many parts since the fifties or even before. Highest ever number of votes was 2.97m in 1987 and 79% in 1974.

    The last Westminster vote was 2.47m (64%) in 2010, so we could see half a million extra votes on that. I think it is safe to assume that most of them will be Labour lower income and younger as the old better off and Tories already vote in higher numbers.

    It’s worth noting that this is the demographic that got the Socialists elected in the early Holyrood elections. They are also the group that pollsters find most difficult to recruit especially Internet ones.

    So Canvas returns aren’t perfect especially when you have a lot of new inexperienced people involved and even after years of doing it I still find that at the end of the evening my returns aren’t good when I check my figures as I thought when door knocking.

    But there are still as many as 500,000 who are to all intents new voters and that makes it pretty hard to call.


  37. Roger Mexico

    The registration of most 16/17 year olds was organised in schools, and would have been completed before the Easter holidays, as exams start immediately after those holidays.

    The RIC campaign has been building over the last few months, so wouldn’t show through in your data.

  38. This has just had its monthly update. illustrates the glacial movements very nicely. It’s always a couple of weeks out of date btw.

    So since May we see a percentage up for both Lab and Conservative. The Ukip ‘collapse’ of 2% – (which I’d tend to regard as a ratchet to a new baseline of 13%).

    The LDs seem to have a rather depressing new normal of 8%. (Though they still average 13% in Council by elections and still gain the odd seat as well as losing)

    it would be nice to see the green line that presumably accounts for an overall -2 % for the major parties.

    Curiously for a couple of days they were putting a green line on then withdrew it. Looked pretty too!

    There definitely seems to be something going on with The Greens – Sandal wearers new home? Is there a fruit that is yellow on the outside and green on the inside?

  39. I keep thinking that “Pesto” is Italian for “Pest”, perhaps since the inventor was really annoying and would not leave people alone to eat in peace.

    On UK polling, I’ve seen a few commentators elsewhere speculating/predicting a hung parliament of some sort in 2015, nothing much in the last couple of weeks, probably they’re all on holiday.

    We should be ready for some change in UK polling due to the Scottish Independence referendum result. At very least, the Scottish component of the total VI might be held to be irrelevant, either by the voters or pollsters, depending on the result. Or else remaining stuck with Westminister means being stuck with (insert party), with implications for potential votes.

  40. Mr Bee

    Confirmed sandal-wearers new home. I could never vote tory, have abandoned a 25-year lib support, dislike labour authoritarianism, and have gone green.

    Mind you, I only wear sandals when the temperature exceeds 75 degrees, so will still be in brothel-creepers come election time.

  41. @MOG

    “Confirmed sandal-wearers new home. I could never vote tory, have abandoned a 25-year lib support, dislike labour authoritarianism, and have gone green”

    Does that make you a Happy Clappy Old Git?

    On a purely technical point, I hope, about consultancy in the social sector, generally this is done in respect of a ‘project’. Its effectiveness – that is, its sustained and long-term impact – depends on whether its results are taken up in an institutional structure beyond that of the project management and financing and beyond the interests of the people sponsoring it. So, if the client’s watch (Amber’s old chestnut) says it’s time to marry up social care of problem families with more social housing, more ‘apprenticeships’, more community health provision, a more effective tax structure,, so be it, but the effectiveness of these ‘outcomes’ depends on whether political decision making and public sector financing sustain them in an integrated institutional system.
    Now, where did I hear that before?

  43. ALEC
    If, on stripping your beams, you haven’t discovered them to be infested with wood worm and dry rot, and the family pile about to fall down, I am afraid you don’t qualify as posh.

  44. On turnout I’m aware that Local Authorities are expecting it to be much higher than usual at 75-80%.

    This is based on numbers registering and feedback from the ground. Extra polling clerks are planned but not necessarily extra counting staff.

    So expect an unpredictable result but a slow one. I think we’ll be lucky to see any authority declared before 4 or 5 am and we may not have enough results for a good understanding of the result until more like Friday lunchtime.


    I gather its working well-but there are far more to deal with than anticipated.


    @”CPI inflation (not actually that good, as it denotes weak demand”

    For Fuel-correct-volume down -which IS a good thing.
    For retail -wrong-volume up /prices down-which is definitely a good thing :-)


    You can check your concerns here if you wish :-

  47. @Coupar2802 – “The patronising contempt with which this group was dismissed by yourselves was educational.”

    I object to my name being linked to this comment. As others have adequately pointed out, canvass returns are simply unreliable, for very many sound reasons.

    But my main complaint was that I was being patronising to any group quoting canvass returns.

    So there.

  48. Yes I second Alec’s comment, I said nothing more than that any group quoting canvass returns should not be trusted – I wouldn’t trust BT or UWL canvass returns either.

  49. And I third it if that is possible.
    I also have to say, echoing RM, that these figures do not in context seem particularly encouraging for yes.
    I should also say that I grew up in a “scheme” and most of my relations live in “schemes” either in Aberdeen or Paisley. So why am I patronising?

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