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. Couper 2802,

    Or the decision of whatever persons are distributed across the country in such a way as to elect a sufficient number of MPs to form a government. For example, most voters in the last election didn’t vote SNP.

    However, assuming a “national will” has the advantage of economising on words, and as someone keen on economies, I’ll have to adopt your phrasing.

    I don’t think that Scots who are opposed to social democracy should despair at an Aye vote, but it would be much more of an uphill struggle. An Aye vote on a “Vote the Tories out!” basis would further cement the left’s attempted appropriation of Scottish national identity, and any right-of-centre party would have to deal with being seen as (a) not “fundamentally Scottish” and (b) having a lot of members who were very pubilcly on the losing side of history. Undoing the politicisation of Scottish national identity could take a generation.

  2. They’re going home They’re going home They’re going, Scotland’s going home!!!

    Get Scotland out!

  3. “so mush of football”

    You’re writing as though you’re drunk again Allan – I told you to lay off the irn bru.

  4. PETE B

    Your best option is to ask EM, he is the one proposing border guards between Scotland and England…Mind you with the amount of illegals coming into England he might be doing us north of the border a favour.

  5. Candy

    you might need to explain to those in Südtirol and the Italian Government why the system that they have implemented “would never work”.

  6. Is there any polling on why there has been such a sharp movement to Yes?

    According to Populus the most noticed news story was the horrifying story of Ashya King and the imprisonment of his parents.

    Listening to the measured defense of the authorities’ actions in this case by leading politicians and their relative silence was enough to push me firmly back into the anti politics vote. I don’t blame Scottish voters for wanting to leave this mess and try and start to build a better system. Good Luck!

  7. It is indeed strange that Panelbase showed no movement. Given the gleeful tweet that Murdoch sent out just before yougov poll put into public domain in which he seemed to take pleasure in the chaos the possible dissolution of the UK would cause, it does leave one wondering? Meanwhile a number of newspapers wondering if Murdoch is about to switch support from Tories to Ukip! It’s all a game to him. No friend to UK, rUK or Scotland.

  8. Alan Christie

    I hadn’t heard about the border guards, but I suppose it’s logical. A bit pointless though because I understand it’s mostly hill-country and Hadrian’s Wall is somewhere to the south of the modern border.

    The English surely wouldn’t build a fence or wall all along the modern border? But if they don’t, just guarding the few roads won’t be enough.

  9. OldNat – Italy is a basket case precisely because they hypothecate like that. The automatic stabalisers arn’t allowed to work properly.

    They have nice food and culture, but they are not a model of how you should run a country.

  10. @Candy

    I suspect you are taking things a little too far. I said Devo Max from Westminster of all the countries of the Uk, by which mean a federal UK.

    I didn’t say nor mean that this should extend in the same way to every county or region of each country within the federation.

    As for capital inbalances between different countries, this could be managed the same way more federal states do it – by capital transfers from richer countries to poorer ones. After all they will still be within the UK.

  11. Border guards?

    Is the man in charge of his faculties and or press releases? He only just came a wooing. :))

  12. This is meant to be an observatory post rather than a partisan one, but, in order to do so, I shall reveal my poitical colours.

    I am very much on the left. I will most likely vote TUSC at the next GE.

    I am also a member of a number of big left wing groups on a certain social media site. I also have many Scottish friends, many, not all, at least left of centre.

    I have certainly seen a very noticeable shift towards YES. This was amplified after the second debate, where, I feel that Salmond had Darling for breakfast. The snap polls at he time also bore this out.

    That, for me was a turning point.

    For the record, I think the result is too close to call, but, while, as far as I can see, the momentum is definately with YES, I think NO will scrape home – JUST.

    My prediction……No : 51, Yes : 49

  13. Barney,

    “No Is negative? Well A Salmond made up the question.”

    I think you’ll find the Question being asked was chosen by the Electoral Commission.

    If Labour wanted a different one they have had two terms at Holyrood and more at Westminster to do so, as well as being told repeatedly that the Scottish government was open to adding a DevoMax question.

    “No wars? The SNP are gagging to get in to Nato so presumably would have been piling in to Afghanistan and in to any future wars to which NATO is committed.”

    The SNP have supported the Nato involvement in Afghanistan for over a decade, since John Swinney was leader. As to future wars Nato decisions are made by unanimity so we would only be involved if everyone agreed to be.

    Any dissenting member nation can effectively veto Nato action. Membership allows a Scottish government to block actions it doesn’t like in the same way that the UK can at times use a veto in the EU

    “No food banks? I’m not aware of any funded policies to address this issue from Yes, just rhetoric.”

    The Yes position has always been that they are a scandal in a rich nation and that we need to create a fairer more equal society that reflects our values. This isn’t an election, that isn’t till 2016!

    “No poverty. Again the promise may be more spending on just about everything but the only guarantee given by J Swinney is that no tax will be increased and the promise is to reduce corporation tax. Some way to tackle poverty.”

    The purpose of a cut in corporation Tax is to encourage investment and attract new businesses to Scotland on the basis that more jobs is the best way to tackle poverty as unemployment is it’s largest cause.

    “Regular readers here will remember SNP posters recording how SNP members laugh whenever there are reports of Labour planning to increase for example Council Tax.”

    That’s because of the over 2m homes registered for Council tax in Scotland above half a million are the lowest band A, but only 13k the top band G. A ratio of 40 to 1

    Labours point that a freeze favours the rich as a freeze saves a rich person in a mansion £3 for every £1 it would save someone the bottom.

    This misses the fact that for every rich household who could afford £3 extra you need to take £1 off forty families at the bottom many of whom might well struggle.

    Even in cash term, of the extra revenue you raise for every £1 you take from the richest you need to take £13 from the poorest!

    You have to laugh when the peoples party penalises it’s own core support and the people it claims to be helping in an enumerate attempt to pretend to be class warriors.

    Labours attack on the Council tax freeze has little to do with fairness and everything to do with opposition for oppositions sake.

    A Party shooting itself in the foot because of it”s blind desire to attack it’s opponents is often comical to watch.

    Attacking one of the most popular policies in years for no better reason than because it isn’t your own, really is taking opposition to extremes


  14. Pete B

    I understand it’s mostly hill-country”

    What makes me think that your knowledge of the geography of the Scottish and English Marches is a bit on the hazy side? :-)

  15. PETER B


    You can’y fly from Glasgow to London without your passport at the moment so what difference would border guards make? As I said though, he would be doing the Scots a favour due to the amount of illegals entering England.

  16. Peter

    I’m just back from a couple of days in the Black Isle. Quite nice to be in a council area that hasn’t blocked lamp-posting only for the referendum campaign!

    However, is “Attacking one of the most popular policies in years for no better reason than because it isn’t your own,” an appropriate response? After all, that was exactly Labour’s policy at the 2011 election. Surely you aren’t suggesting that they are so oppositional that they would attack their own policies?

    Come to think of it …..

  17. This image tells me we need to be a lot more cynical to this Yougov poll.


    I say the YES side needs to wait for Survation TNS and ICM before getting ahead of themselves.

  18. Oldnat
    Because I’ve never been there of course. I have been to Scotland a couple of times on business, and to my daughter’s wedding in Gretna, but I never had time to examine the whole border country in detail. Mea culpa. My vague idea of the hill country is from history – Reivers etc.

  19. Raf – It’s more flexible to do it the way we do now, via a centrally pooled tax and benefit system.

    Doing it by capital transfers between regions is how the EU works – and they set up their budget a good seven years in advance, and there is simply no flexibility if circumstances change.

    Our current system is a model of flexibility. It auto-adjusts as people earn or lose their jobs. Regions don’t need to assess and apply for grants both of which could take months, because the stabalisers are done on an individual level, so money starts flowing in benefits, tax credits etc as soon as there are changes in the local economy. There’s no “this has been fixed for seven years, sorry you have to wait”.

    Our current system works incredibly well. Money goes to where it is needed and pretty fast too. Why break something that works?

  20. Somebody asked for the dates the data for these two polls were collected.

    Yougov 2 – 5th Sept

    Panelbase 2 – 6th Sept

  21. Pete B

    Can I recommend new-fangled things like maps? They were an exciting development a few years back. :-)

  22. Just noticed a comment on Twitter (regarding tonight’s YG poll):

    “keeping in mind the people who get polled are previous voters with house phones”

    Is that so, are do they include more than just that? I thought there would have been some on-line folk.

  23. Thanks Bramely! Neck and Neck then.
    Bit more expected.

  24. Oldnat
    Well as it happens I did look at a map after your initial comment and it confirmed my impression. However I didn’t think it fair to use more detailed knowledge that I had just picked up from Google. Are you going to tell me that the borderland is dead flat with dozens of Motorways going through it?

  25. @Peter Cairns.

    Council Tax freezes lead to real terms cuts in expenditure by local authorities on public services that the poorest rely on most. Sometimes councils are so starved of cash they have privatise these services, or franchise them out to Big Society organisations – most of which run down these assets to the bone. And guess what? Those poorer people are then charged for what is left of these services.

    So poorer voters may benefit from council tax freezes by a small amount but they lose far more in the longer run.

  26. RAF
    Of course the councils could implement wage freezes on office workers or shed head office staff instead, but that won’t happen will it?

  27. 2 things – would an independent Scotland help Ukip? V.little chance of Lab majority, and an unhappy Tory one?

    Secondly, if Scorland does go independent, it’s unforgivably poor politics by both Cameron, and more particularly Miliband. I think Ed realised too late the momentum had shifted, and by the time he was parachuted in a day or two ago, it appears that it could be too late. Having had God knows how long to fully ensure the Scots stayed with us (and therefore any realistic chance of a labour majority in 2015), he complacently waited until things started looking bad. Well they look a whole lot worse now, and I think there’ll be a few folks rather angry at EM should a ‘Yes’ prevail in the coming weeks.

    As Phil Collins correctly (as usual) put in the times – George Galloway is nearly right. Yes won’t kill Labour totally (97 would still be majority without Scotland), but it would kill Ed.

  28. @Pete B

    Where have you been living for the past 5 years. That’s exactly what they have been doing. Tens of thousands of council workers have had their pay frozen for the best part of 5 years. I know because my wife is one of them.

  29. Statgeek – I thought YouGov was entirely online. It’s ICM who do phone polls and 20% of their phone poll is mobiles.

  30. Jack R
    I think that SNP and UKIP are both symptoms of the same thing – disillusion with the cosy Westminster elite who treat the rest of us like undeserving serfs. So yes, I think a Yes vote would help UKIP because it would show that it is possible to defy the Westminster establishment.

    It’s made me wonder though – what happens to Scottish Euro MPS if it’s yes? And especially the UKIP one, as Scotland wouldn’t be part of UK any more.

  31. Jack R

    ” I think Ed realised too late the momentum had shifted, and by the time he was parachuted in a day or two ago”.

    Ed has been up here campaigning for a No vote on a number of occasions.

    Is the apparent assumption in your post (and others on here) that he and other “Big Guns” (ie Westminster politicians -even less trusted than Holyrood ones) haven’t bothered campaigning in Scotland?

    Is this indicative of an understanding of the referendum debate based on what happens to be reported in the London press?

  32. Pete B,

    The next Euro election isn’t that far away: 2019. That may be roughly the time that negotiations actually finish…

  33. JackR: if ‘Yes’ wins, Ed Miliband should resign. On your second question, yes, I think the prospect of Scottish independence boosts the UKIP vote south of the border.

  34. RAF
    So if they have been having pay freezes, how come they are having to cut services? Are they paying over the odds to private firms or what? I bet the top execs aren’t having pay freezes.

    Anyway I’m off to bed now. Further debate must wait until tomorrow or whenever.

  35. Pete B

    In the EU’s eyes they are UK MEPs, and would continue to be so, even in the event of Scotland leaving as the EU allocates MEPs to countries, its up to the countries how they allocate them amongst their own countries. So for the UK there are 73 MEPS and that’s that as far as the EU is concerned, there not concerned which part of the UK elected which MEP etc.

  36. @Pete B

    In case you haven’t noticed, the central government subsidy to councils (in England anyway – not au fait with the Scottish or Welsh systems) has been drastically cut since 2010.
    This has been especially severe in more deprived areas, which were deemed by the government to have been too generously treated.
    The central government subsidy represents the vast majority of Local Authority revenue.

  37. @Skippy
    “This image tells me we need to be a lot more cynical to this Yougov poll.
    I say the YES side needs to wait for Survation TNS and ICM before getting ahead of themselves.”

    On the basis of that graph pretty much everyone (apart from Ipsos-Mori and YG are, or most likely will (based on their current trends) show a No lead of around 5%. Given the trend of all (save Panelbase) is towards Yes and there are still about 10 days’ campaigning left, we’re probably looking at a real cliffhanger.

  38. @Jack R

    ’97, ’01 and ’05 all Labour without Scotland. 2010 was the first election since 1974 where Scotland’s MPs affected the outcome of the GE.

  39. Statgeek

    You’re forgetting Conservatives won in England in 2005. But when adding Scotland and Wales Lab were left with a majority.

  40. Maninthemiddle

    What is the relevance of not including the Welsh – unless you are planning for English independence?

  41. MBRUNO – I don’t think there has ever been a crisis where the Prime Minister stayed in place and the Leader of the Opposition resigned!

    E.g. The Iraq War wouldn’t have made it through Parliament without IDS leading the Tories into the “Yes” lobby. So you could argue he played the crucial tipping vote, because he could have blocked it a la Syria (and Ken Clarke certainly would have had he been leader) . But he wasn’t holding office, Blair was, so Blair took the blame. The buck stops with the Prime Minister.

    In this case, Cameron made the decision to allow the referendum, and set the terms (e.g. excluding Scots in England from voting). And while it’s true that Miliband “should” swing the votes in Scotland, ultimately he’s not in office, it’s the Prime Minister’s job to hold the union together and swing the votes. Again, the buck stops with the Prime Minister.

  42. Of course an independent Scotland would help UKIP in the rest of the UK. Their average would be closer to 20% than 15% as it currently is.

  43. Andy JS

    “Of course an independent Scotland would help UKIP in the rest of the UK. Their average would be closer to 20% than 15% as it currently is.”

    Not according to the E&W data in the Populus poll. The UKIP share of vote would change in the rest of GB (not UK) by less than 1%.

    Scotland would have to have a much larger share of the UK population for loss of their minimal UKIP vote to change the percentages by the large amount you suggest.

  44. Maninthemiddle – “You’re forgetting Conservatives won in England in 2005. But when adding Scotland and Wales Lab were left with a majority.”

    Actually they didn’t!

    In 2005, in England, Lab got 286 seats, Con 194 seats, LD 47 seats, Respect 1 and Independent 1 seat.

    So comfortable English majority for Labour of 43.

  45. I’ve just realised why the Ayes don’t bother going after those who aren’t “fundamentally Scottish” i.e. right-leaning Scots. Think of what the Naw campaign is saying independence will be like-

    (1) No EU membership.

    (2) Continuation of austerity under fiscal restraints, with a greater probability of a Tory/Tory-led government after 2016 dictating fiscal policy to Scotland in a currency union.

    (3) End to “free” tuition fees.

    (4) Cuts to general expenditure as Scotland struggles to deal with the entitlements of an ageing population.

    Isn’t that basically the manifesto that opened up a UKIP breakthrough in Scotland in May?

  46. (My point being that, if the Naws are right about independence, the Scottish right will get a lot of what they want. Maybe we’d even get a referendum on membership, unless EU membership can be negotiated before 2016 by the Europhile parties of today’s Holyrood…)

  47. Candy, depends how you define win the Conservatives won more votes, Lab got more seats because the system is rigged in their favour, I’m sure even Lab accept that, its not political to say the boundaries do favour Lab.

    And Oldnat. Yes to Wales, they are Step 3 in my 4 point Plan

    1. Scottish Independence
    2. Northern Irish Independence/irish reunification/w/e
    3. Welsh independence
    4. Liverpool independence.

  48. Maninthemiddle – “Candy, depends how you define win the Conservatives won more votes”

    Win is defined by the number of seats on a FPTP basis of course, as per UK law, and as endorsed by the 2011 referendum – which rejected portioning by votes in a PR or AV manner. That referendum was won handily too. (Are you a PR fan BTW?)

    In any case, the difference in votes was small (64,000) and could be explained by differential turnout.

    Certainly nothing as stunning as Churchill’s win over Attlee in 1951 where he got 1.5 million votes less than Attlee but 26 more seats.

    No one is reported to have quibbled – the system was FPTP and he won under the rules.

  49. What are the non-topline figures? I’d be most interested in seeing those numbers. I think they give a more accurate perspective on the state of the campaign.

  50. I am curious to see if this polling analysis works in this instance. I don’t think you can exclude the “don’t knows” for this type of election and consider it a legitimate poll. Yes, you can do that in traditional elections when you’re polling candidates and party preferences. Makes sense to do it to measure who’s ahead. But I don’t think you can exclude “don’t knows” to show a lead for a ballot measure. But maybe you can. We’re going to find out in 12 days right?

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