A new YouGov poll of Scotland in tomorrow’s Sunday Times has YES nudging ahead in the referendum race. Courtesy of Tim Shipman at the Sunday Times, the topline figures excluding don’t knows are YES 51%(+4), NO 49%(-4).

The last month of Scottish polls from YouGov have been remarkable. Almost exactly a month ago, before the two debates, YouGov were showing a 22 point lead for the NO campaign, YES 39% NO 61%. This was fairly typical of their polls for most of the campaign, which had been floating at around about a 40-60 split. Since then three polls in a row have shown sharp movements towards the YES campaign, culminating in today’s poll giving the YES campaign a tiny lead.

51%-49% is, of course, well within the margin of error, the smallest lead you can get once rounded to integers. It doesn’t mean YES will necessarily win, and as ever it’s only one poll. There’s at least one other poll to come tonight, which may or may not echo the Yes lead. What will be fascinating to see is how a campaign that has, up to now, show a consistent NO lead for months changes in response to polls showing YES could actually win. Will people recoil from the risk of it actually happening? Will it enthuse people now it could be a reality? I’ll update later with the other polls.

UPDATE: There is also a new Panelbase poll out tonight, conducted for the Yes Scotland campaign. Throughout most of the campaign YouGov have tended to show some of the largest leads for NO, Panelbase have tended to show some of the smallest leads for NO. Given the movement towards YES in YouGov’s recent polls many people reasonably expected that Panelbase would be the ones to show YES ahead, in fact they still show a small lead for NO. Topline figures with changes from the last Panelbase poll in mid-August are YES 44%(+2), NO 48%(+2), Don’t know 8%(-4). Without don’t knows it’s YES 48%(nc), NO 52%(nc). In contrast to the collapsing NO position in YouGov, Panelbase are showing no real change – strange. We should have TNS and Survation polls in the coming week (and should be due an ICM at some point), so we’ll see what trends others pick up.

254 Responses to “YouGov show YES campaign ahead in Scotland”

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  1. As a Scot, it is all very exciting. I wish they did polls big enough to give us regional breakdowns. I’d like to know if there is a stark split between the SNP’s traditional North-East heartlands, Mid-Scotland, the West and the Rest….

  2. I think after this referendum it will be good to see data on Yougov poll movements; were the No voters in their poll just soft and if so why compared to other pollsters.

  3. RJN1983

    Some pollsters do a regional breakdown, but like all such samples, they aren’t internally weighted to Scottish demographics, so on their own they don’t give a lot of useful information about the geographic breakdown of the Yes/No vote.

  4. wow. Until now Id assumed it would be a clear NO – but with a YES vote big enough to gain the scots more devolution.

    But now it suddenly looks like a real possibility and the YES vote has clear momentum.

    As well as scotland – Scots independence could have massive constitutional implications for the rest of the UK – a rethink of the whole electoral system, numbers of MPs, reform of both houses, federated powers for the regions, right of recall – I mean once you start dismantling one part of the constitution you may as well go the whole hog.

  5. Fraser

    It might also be instructive to see more data on the effect of the so-called “Kellner Correction” of the SNP Holyrood / Labour Westminster group.

  6. Reggieside

    A competent UK Government would have been making contingency plans for such an event – not “contingency plans for having contingency plans”!

  7. Ironic really; Better Together are about to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. How very Scottish of them.


    I don’t really see why you think Scotland leaving will have any impact on the rest of the UK. If anything, Scotland being IN the UK should have the impact. Scotland used to have 72 MPs (initially these reflected our population but, as England raced ahead, it seemed wrong to cut them down) now we only have 56. If ever a country should have had extra representation, it was us. If ever the HoL should have been federalised, it was in the 1990s.

    I would advocate everything you call for in your comment, but once the UK is even more English, why would they bother with any of what you’re saying?! Unless you believe the whole rotten edifice is going to crumble. In which case, I regret it didn’t do so earlier, because a “changed” UK is many Scots might have voted to stay in.

    If the YES wins, I honestly believe it will be more of a vote against a “stagnant” UK where privilege is inbuilt and unquestionable, and where in equality is what many want to preserve, than a “nationalistic” vote about blood and soil Scottishness…

    Interested to know what OLDNAT things on that point.

  9. Oldnat
    I actually agreed with one of your posts on the last thread but unfortunately it was the last post before this thread started. I just thought you might like to know :-)

    Re this poll. WOW! All this time I’ve been thinking ‘Ah just let them get on with it, good riddance’ etc, but now it’s a real possibility that yes can win it’s a real pause for thought. Squeaky bum time as a great Scotsman once said.

    Does anyone think the No campaign will start wheeling out the Big Guns and start their own Midlothian-type campaign? It could be counter-productive anyway of course.

  10. @oldnat
    Agreed. To date, only YG have show a big swing, in fact any swing. On that basis, panelbase should be a clear yes by 9 points. We will have panelbase by midnight I understand.

  11. I wonder, in a two horse race, whether there is such a thing as a tipping point (and whether research has been done on this? AW any thoughts?) where people start to switch their vote because they don’t want to be on the losing side.

    It strikes me that if people think Independence is going to happen, anyone feeling proud to be Scottish (which will be both Yes and No people at the moment) will want to be on the side of history.

  12. Pete B

    I share your pain. :-)

    Who are these “Big Guns” that haven’t been wheeled out already? – or was that not a metaphor?

  13. Good Evening All.
    PETE B: Who do you think the modern Gladstone is, for a new Midlothian Campaign?

    Disraeli said of him that he did not mind Gladstone winning at cards, but he did object to WEG’s claim that God put the cards up his sleeve.

    If he loses the Union I think Cameron would have to resign.

  14. Scotland has more to lose with the end of the Union than the rest of the UKm which is 10 times bigger in population and in GDP. The UK’s international standing will most likely suffer in the short run, but it may recover later. Scotlnd, on the other hand, will be pretty much isolated in Europe.

    BTW, I am neither British nor Scottish. That is just my view as an outsider.

  15. Not surprised. No has been negative campaigning way too much. No is a negative word. Yes is a positive vote, that’s it.

    As for Daily Mail’s silly headline around guards and dogs etc on the Scottish border, it will all help yes.

    Any dirty tactics are going to backfire from now. No campaign need to make the case for positives for staying or it’s over!

  16. My point was more that scots independence could ignite debate – and real political movement – in the UK about the rest of the constitution and political system.

  17. Oldnat and Chris

    By ‘Big Guns’ I meant more prominent UK leaders such as Cameron, Miliband, Clegg, Balls, Osborne, Johnson, etc etc. As I said, it would likely to be counter-productive, I was just wondering if they would be panicked into trying it?

    Darling is one Labour politician I have some respect for, but perhaps he isn’t charismatic enough to lead such a campaign. It would be a shame if all he’s remembered for is losing this one.

  18. Well this is very worrying, with a son lecturing and researching at Edinburgh Univ likely to be out-of-work, because inevitably an independent Scotland cannot afford the present funding rate (13% of the UK support goes to Scottish universities).

    And my own pension will be subject to haggling because AS has given no commitment to pay equivalent public-sector rates to the present UK rates after independence. Also with service in both England and Scotlandhere will

  19. One thing is certain….Dundee will vote Yes and East Renfrewshire will vote no. Working class men will vote Yes and middle class women No.

  20. The No campaign has been a disaster . Nobody on the ground , Labour MPs astonishingly silent , complete absence of No window posters and a serious lack of research into their pathetic scare stories . Tesco is the latest fiasco , issuing a very public rebuke to No over its figures .

    Darling , Cameron and Miliband have been disastrous .

  21. Continued!

    .. there is more scope for haggling.

  22. The massive problem for no now is that Yes is realistic, which itself will strengthen their polling.

  23. Chrislane

    I think that in the event of a Yes vote Westminster could still insist on a Confirmatory Referendum to ascertain whether the Scots wish to accept whatever terms are on offer. It would of course also give the rUK every incentive to offer terms so severe that the Scots recoil from them/

  24. If Scotland leaves the UK, it will be the arrogance and ignorance of the English that did it! If the London centric politicos, media and business had recognised and celebrated and appreciated the rich tapestry that is the UK more we wouldn’t be in this position. This is a game changer for every part of the UK, every industry, every walk of life…

  25. David Welch

    You’re right that Scotland gets 13% of public research funding. But remember that A) UK public sector funding is within the lowest in the OECD, and B) 85% of research funding in Scotland is private… There’s plenty of scope for the private funding to continue unchanged (possibly after a little initial turbulence) and for Scotland to make better public funding decisions that the UK but dedicating more of our budget to those areas (as most small countries do in order to compete).

    As for pensions, I know the state pension is guaranteed.

  26. GRAHAM
    I think that in the event of a Yes vote Westminster could still insist on a Confirmatory Referendum to ascertain whether the Scots wish to accept whatever terms are on offer. It would of course also give the rUK every incentive to offer terms so severe that the Scots recoil from them/

    No chance. And besides, moving goalposts will strengthen resolve. No chance at all.

  27. There has been a lot of speculation about David Cameron resigning if YES wins, but what about Ed Miliband ? Shouldn’t he be the one to step down given that he was the only national party leader directly involved in the No campaign ?

    I also wonder how British politics will change without the Scottish MPs in Westminster, Are majority Labour governments likely to become far less frequent. ?

  28. Pete B

    Apart from Boris (Send him! Send him!), they’ve all been up here telling us that we are doomed if we let go Nanny’s hand.

  29. Oh I seem to have accidentally come to Wings Over Scotland. My mistake, carry on.

  30. All Yes needs now is Tony Blair to weigh in, and it’s a done deal for independence.

  31. Well if it does turn out to be Yes, good luck to you all. And if our government tries to impose severe terms I can assure you that there will be a lot of resistance to that in England because most of us believe in democracy and like you are fed up with the traditional parties.

  32. OLDNAT – Farage is coming, I think he’ll be even more toxic than Boris. Though Boris does say things in a way that sounds more realistic than Farage.

    Ashley – as someone who desperately wanted to be given good reasons to vote NO, I agreed with you wholeheartedly.

    Graham / Rich – I agree with Rich. The Scots may be divided on the initial question, but if Westminster is perceived to be play “unfair” after we have spoken at the ballot box, Scotland will close ranks. And Salmond/Sturgeon are smart enough to ensure it – they have already indicated all politicians of all colours will be invited onto the “Team Scotland” for negotiations.. that should insulate any deal from being rejectable.

  33. My final point for tonight. Next week is going to be very interesting. I expect some real scaremongering stuff to come out!

  34. Rich
    ‘No chance. And besides, moving goalposts will strengthen resolve. No chance at all.’

    I disagree . A confirmatory Referendum is perfectly reasonable on democratic grounds. It may mean that Cameron would have to go – allowing Salmond to hold the referendum was his decision rather than Westminster’s.

  35. Sorry, I should also add, personally I don’t really know which way I want it to go, but there is something exciting about the current shake up for the consensus, and that comes from me, a staunch Conservative voter!

  36. Rich

    21 July ” Tony Blair has broken his silence on Scottish independence by predicting the country will vote to stay in the UK.

    The former prime minister said he believed Scots would reject Alex Salmond’s bid for independence at a referendum on the issue this September.

    He said the pro-UK campaign’s arguments have got “stronger” in recent times, adding that most people he talks to are optimistic of victory. “

  37. All those who say the No campaign can’t stay negative – that wasn’t my read of the tables from last week. It seemed to show that No voters were convinced they’d be personally worse off – while Yes voters felt it would be better off or no difference. To me, the tables seem to suggest that the no campaign needs to convince people they’d be worse off if they’re going to win.

  38. “If ever a country should have had extra representation, it was us”

    Why on earth should Scotland be entitled to extra representation? Is there something special about Scotland compared to the rest of the UK?

    You’re lucky to have 59 MPs. According to population, you’re only entitled to about 53.

    I’m sick of Scottish special pleading, and won’t mind at all if you vote to leave the UK on 18th September.

  39. BBC reporting that Panelbase will be Yes 48 : No 52.

    So both polls suggesting “too close to call”.

    Which raises the questions about the Kellner analysis again.

  40. This is going to be tight!

    And maybe this is a model for next years GE, not much movement until the campaign proper.

  41. Well if it happens it will completely mess up the next five years.

    There was an article in the Telegraph a few days ago which pointed out that the break-up of the Czech republic and Slovakia took four years. Ours should take at least as long.

    The premise of the article was that if there was a Yes vote whoever won the General Election would be stuffed.

    If Conservatives win, they simply won’t have time to conduct their negotiations with the EU as well, which means their promised referendum won’t happen, inflaming some of their voters even further. And if Labour wins, it will be Civil War between the English and Scottish sides.

    And the rest of us will suffer because nothing else will get done.

  42. Oldmat: if what you say about Panelbase is true, it is good news for the “No’ camp as Panelbase is traditionally biased towards ‘Yes’. In any case, I suspect those “too-close-to-call” polls might boost turnout, which also helps the ‘No’ camp.

  43. NOW is the time to get the best odds on NO.

    Hasn’t been worth it so far.

    A lot of the comments remind of the BBC football stuff in which the general public say how dreadful managers and players are, basing their contributions not on a single result but on a single mistake by one their sides players….

    “Wenger must go” etc etc.

    The result will still be no but the plan of conflating pride in being Scottish with calculating whether it is more sensible or not to remain within the Union, and all that that entails, has – not surprisingly – worked a treat for the purpose of polls.

    But it won’t for the purpose of votes.

  44. I stand by my prediction that ‘No’ will win, despite the Better Together campaign rather than because of it. But the polls are certainly getting more exciting!

    Re. the confirmatory referendum, I think that would be very difficult to manage politically. The SNP certainly won’t want it, since a) they might lose and b) the final settlement is likely to be much worse than the picture Salmond et. al have presented, the Tories won’t be united behind it since it’s against their electoral interest, and Cameron tends to react to unexpected defeats by flipping over the gameboard and going home (see Syria vote).

  45. ADNY JS:
    Scotland should have additional representation because the UK is not a country, it is a Union. There is no other such union that applies straight demographics in its democracy. That doesn’t work. Look at the examples
    – The US where every state has 2 senators, regardless of population, because the small states were worried about being outvoted.
    – The same is true in Australia where ever state has 6 (if memory serves)
    – In Canada both Ontario and Québec get 25 sentaros for the sake of balance.
    -In Belgium, you can’t change the constitution unless both “language groups” agree.
    – In the EU strict population numbers do not decide MEP apportionment: Malta gets 6 MEPs for its 400,000 citizens, the same as Scotland with it’s 5 million.

    It is a long-standing rule of democracies made up of several component parts that the smaller parts should be given safeguards. In the UK there are none. This has allowed the population-heavy South East of England to concentrate all of the power, attention and, ultimately, dictate.

  46. I posted on the last thread but will repeat on this. I did say that the 61/39 YouGov was wrong. Also I posted about what was happening on the ground canvass results, engagement etc. Mostly my comments were treated with derision, Maybe people will believe me now. And my other prediction is that Labour will struggle in Scotland in future.

    So if it’s a No look at the Scottish Labour seats because I predict large Labour revenge loses. Dundee East target No chance probably lose Dundee West as well,

    The Tories must be laughing at Labour in fact the Tories may pick up a few ex-LibDem seats. Danny Alexander has absolutely no chance of surviving.

    All this might mean that Tories largest party is not impossible. Cameron can pose as saviour of the union it’s all good for the Cons

  47. Apparently it’s Labour voters that’s the main cause of the big shift to YES – I think they have perhaps already smelled the coffee and see a permanent Tory Government at Westminster if they win next May! – But of course without their Scottish MPs it would be even harder for Labour to win Westminster ever again – I didn’t say impossible just harder – Labour must be sweating tonight!

  48. couper

    I think you protest too much. This is just a poll you know – the proper one will require a bit more than bravado and will result in a clear no.

  49. Some detail from YG poll

    Men : Yes 55% – No 45%
    Women : Yes 47% – No 53%

    Lab : Yes 35% – No 65%
    SNP : Yes 82% – No 18%

  50. I fail to see the difference between the English jingoists everyone mocks and the Scottish jingoists that seem to be all the craze right now.

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