Polling attention today will unavoidably be concentrated on the Scottish YouGov poll, but for the record the regular YouGov/Sunday Times GB poll is also out – results here. Topline figures are CON 33%, LAB 35%, LDEM 7%, UKIP 15%. That too had a large chunk of Scottish questions aimed at English and Welsh respondents.

English and Welsh people now oppose Scottish independence by 61% to 17%. In the event Scotland does vote YES, only 22% of people in England & Wales think David Cameron should resign, 54% think he should not. On one hand that makes Cameron’s position look safe, but my suspicion is that public opinion could be radically different if it actually happened – people are not always very good at predicting their response to hypothetical situations. YouGov also asked people what they think should happen to Scottish MPs during that interim period between voting YES and actually becoming independent – 56% of people in England & Wales think Scottish MPs should not be allowed to attend and vote in the Commons during that period, 62% think Scotland should not elect MPs in the 2015 election if they are becoming independent (the same questions were asked in the Scottish poll with, as you might imagine, somewhat different results – 55% think that Scottish MPs should continue to vote in the interim period, though the 2015 question is quite close – 47% think Scotland should return MPs, 41% think it shouldn’t).

Turning back to the headline Scottish poll showing YES ahead, the full tables are now up here. Peter Kellner also has a commentary here, which amongst other things highlights how the biggest shift in opinion over the last month has been amongst under 40s and Labour voters.

Looking at how some of the other tracker questions have changed, the Yes Scotland campaign continues to be seen as more positive than Better Together, but now it is also seen as more honest (back in June people thought YES was more positive than NO, but thought NO was being more honest. Now YES leads on both measures). There’s also been a narrowing in the economic questions – back in June 49% thought an independent Scotland would be worse off, 27% better off – now it’s finely balanced, 40% think Scotland would be better off independent, 42% worse off.

It remains quite strange that YouGov have shown this sharp narrowing in the race while Panelbase haven’t. The difference is not just an outlying poll – while one single poll could be a freak result, YouGov has shown a consistent narrowing in the face over three polls. It’s not down to any methodological change – this poll was conducted using exactly the same methodology as YouGov’s previous poll. The only recent change in methods was four polls ago, introducing weighting by place of birth, and both YouGov and Panelbase introduced that at about the same time. Things like a differential willingness to respond to polls (people who support a campaign on the up being more likely to click on the email) should affect both Panelbase and YouGov the same – they are both online companies using a panel based system. One possibility is simply that the different trends are down to the same reasons behind the previous differences between Panelbase and YouGov. Both use weighting by Holyrood recalled vote as a core weighting variable, but YouGov also break out a proportion of people who voted SNP in 2011 but Labour in 2010. Perhaps if those people – people’s whose loyalty at Holywood and Westminster is divided between the SNP and Labour – had previously been more NO, but have moved towards YES this month, and are more represented in YouGov’s sample? It’s a possible contributory factor, but such things are rarely so neatly explained. We shall have to wait and see what sort of trend TNS and Survation show in the week.

447 Responses to “YouGov/Sunday Times and more on that Scottish poll”

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  1. Carfrew,

    I’m not blaming left-wing Scottish nationalists for anything.

    In general, we seem to be in forthright agreement, although I would say that this-

    “there is a duty in a democracy to protect minirity concerns nonetheless”

    – isn’t widely recognised, and so it should be hardly surprising when it isn’t. After all, how many people thought that implementing the fox-hunting ban(s) was wrong given the strong opposition of a vocal minority?

  2. Peter Cairns: “I wasn’t aware any country could sell someone elses debt.”

    Countries, banks and companies sell debts (ie. rights to the repayments) to third parties all the time.

  3. @Peter Cairns

    If you owe me money, I can sell you debt to someone else, so you owe them money instead. As previously discussed, current UK debt will be honoured by the UK, and the Scottish share of the debt will be owed to the UK by Scotland. This is the debt that the UK will sell.

    Frankly, I think we would be forced to sell it at a discount, as the markets would view a Scotland without a currency as a basket case.

  4. We’ll blow me!

    After writing that post on iScotland’s lack of fiscal independence, I read this.


  5. Lefty Lampton,

    A poor attempt to hide your true identity, Professor.

  6. @Skippy

    “If Scotland votes No, I don’t see support ever going above 50% again.”
    Well if you look at those cross breaks

    16-39 yr olds are 60/40 for independence
    40-59 are 52 to 48
    60+ are 38 to 63

    So its the 60+’s who are voting no. So in a decade or so it t will be an even larger margin. (with thanks to Owen Jones for pointing that out)

    Are the young going to turn out in this election? I think the result will hinge on whether they stay home like they normally do, or if they see a reason to vote this time and actually get to the polls.

  7. @ KeithP

    I have just been thinking recently that the closeness of the polls on independence may tell us something about the mood of the UK as a whole exactly in the terms you have stated.

    Most people who post on here tend to be older generation, much more heavily into politics than the average person on the street and locked into assumptions about left/right that they think everyone else appreciates.

    We know from polls that neither of the two main parties are particularly popular or inspiring. I’m also feeling that younger generations are less interested or informed about politics (I keep banging on about the LD switchers to UKIP and in my humble opinion “anything but” is not a good excuse for voting for someone) and certainly not attached to a particular party

    So I can’t help feeling most people on here might be missing a new politics developing with voters actively looking for alternatives and not caring much about their previous affiliations. I’m certainly starting to think UKIP on 15% and LD on 8% as well as Lab and Con scores may be more set in stone than I previously thought and especially starting to think that SNP in Scotland will make huge gains next year whatever the result of the referendum.

  8. Richard,

    “if you look at those cross breaks”

    Then you don’t spend too much time on here?

  9. Roland HainesDuring the 2010 GE the Tories gained 417,000 votes in SCOTLAND.
    The SNP gained 490,000 votes (obviously) in SCOTLAND.
    Can this possibly be true, or has some Telegraph journo made a big mistake?

    Labour 1,035,528 42.0%
    LD 465,471 18.9%
    SNP 491,386 19.9%
    Con 412,855
    Percentage 16.7%

  10. Just to help clarify, the LDs are second in the above list because they have the second greatest number of MPs in Scotland (8).

  11. @Bill P

    I don’t think I said you were blaming Scots Nats, but yeah, I wouldn’t want to blame them for anything either!! I’d still like to try the coffee there someday…

    (On the minority thing, sure, just because something is a minority pursuit doesn’t automatically qualify it for protection. But equally, one has to be careful that minorities aren’t unfairly victims of majority rule. We currently have a situation however where policies regularly get imposed by major parties even without majority support. Look at the polling on Free Schools, NHS, immigration, House prices, nationalisation etc. etc. etc.)

  12. @Shevii

    Totally agree with you.

    Earlier I was going to post something along the lines of ‘one of the problems on this site is that people keep trying to impose Westminster models on the situation north of the Border (Anyone But The Above being one example for describing the SNP) and I’ve been trying to say for months now that what is happening in Scotland is not just a temporary rebellion against English Tories, but a full scale change of thinking.’

    But you’ve said it in a much better way….

    And I feel increasingly that you will be proved right about next year’s GE. I’ve been saying for months that Labour are in trouble here. I don’t say such things because I don’t like Labour – our Labour Council Leader and our Labour MP are both very good and I would happily vote for them in an independent Scotland – but because we need a potential change of government here in Edinburgh, and the present Labour set up just doesn’t seem to me to be up to the task.

    Going back to a previous contribution, I feel that the lack of a common task (KeithP puts it differently but I think means the same thing) is what is threatening to kill the UK.

  13. Roland Haines

    During the 2010 GE the Tories gained 417,000 votes in SCOTLAND.
    The SNP gained 490,000 votes (obviously) in SCOTLAND.
    Can this possibly be true, or has some Telegraph journo made a big mistake


    Votes cast in General Election 2010

    Labour 1,035,528 (42.0%)

    Liberal Democrat 465,471 (18.9%)

    SNP 491,386 (19.9%)

    Conservative 412,855 (16.7%)

    So by ‘gained’ the Telegraph presumably meant got rather than an increase over 2005.

  14. @LeftyL
    You have forgotten the IF in your IF … …THEN.
    ” If Scotland goes Indy and keeps the pound …”
    “Scotland has less independence by being independent” IF it keeps the pound.

    Incidentally, on another big topic, Scotland is already responsible for NHS in Scotland (as is Wales for NHS in Wales) and so can at least in theory prevent privatization. However, should England privatize (or regionalize) in such a way as to lose economies of scale in purchasing drugs and equipment and providing staff salaries and pensions the Scots might have difficulties – difficulties certain to arise if NHS comes to mean ScotHS.
    A big problem in Wales is providing the desired high-tech cover when the population is too small to pay for enough hospitals to have one near enough to all potential patients in the less populated areas. It must be harder still in Scotland?

  15. 2011 Holyrood Election

    SNP 902,915 45.4%
    Labour 630,461 31.7%
    Con 276,652 13.9%
    LD 157,714 7.9%

  16. @Bill

    “Then you don’t spend too much time on here?”

    Well panelbase shows the same thing


    16-34 56% yes, 44% no
    35-54 52% yes, 48% no
    55+ 38% yes, 62% no

    So I think it is safe to say that over a number of polls there is definitely a significant age difference in voting intention. My understanding is that cross breaks can be used when taken over a number of polls.

  17. Tark

    I was looking at What Scotland Thinks. They have dozens of polls covering the indy ref issues. Many of them don’t ask the indy question, but they do feed into the discussion. That’s what I was referrring to.

    I may be being a bit purist here, but those aren’t really “dozens of polls”, but dozens of different questions relating to opinion on Independence in particular polls. What Scotland Thinks tries to tidy them into categories a bit but because of variations in wording (even by the same pollster) it’s a bit cat-herding.

    Any individual poll might have many such related questions (there are over 20 in the latest YouGov alone), but they will all be the reflection of opinion at that particular time and for that particular sample. To get a reliable feel for such a difficult to assess topic as the Referendum, we need a lot of different polls on that particular topic, especially if opinion appears to be changing rapidly as in this case.

    That’s why I was so shocked by the difference in the number of polls being done between this and the number before the Euros. That said you do wonder if, after the YouGov result, there were a lot of phone calls to pollsters being made.

  18. Richard,

    “My understanding is that cross breaks can be used when taken over a number of polls.”

    Over a good number of polls and with a pinch of salt, sorta. Two polls still isn’t a lot, to be frank.

  19. CB11

    @” All those who thought it would be a “bit of a larf” if Scotland “b*****ed off” and, yes, unbelievably, I’ve read such drivel on these very pages, really need to have a bit of a serious look at ”

    In case-and I know it is unlikely :-)-that is a reference to one of my posts :-

    I have never said it would be ” a larf”. I said it would be a “nightmare” , and that no one has the faintest idea how fundamental a change it will be to the constitutional minutae of UK.It will be enormously & unpredictably disruptive for a long time.

    I suggested , however, that if Scots truly believe that the democratic possibil;ity of a Tory Government at Westminster is so fundamentally opposed to their very existence, then it is best they bu**er off.
    After Bill Patrick’s eloquent explanation of how Scottish identity has been politicised by both Labour & SNP, I am more than ever convinced that they should do so.

    And it is the “lazy complacency” of people like you, and the Labour Party in general , which is on the point of turning Labour’s cosy Devolved Safe Seat , into the seismic breakup of UK which you have suddenly woken up to.

  20. Yay! Just when you were thinking “What this campaign needs is more conspiracy theories” – along comes Buzzfeed:


    There have been new reserves of oil found in Scotland during the campaign, but the UK government is keeping them secret

    Yes voters: Probably true 72-15

    No voters: Probably false 71 -13

    MI5 is working with the UK government to try and stop Scottish Independence

    Yes voters: Probably true 43-38

    No voters: Probably false 77-9

    It is likely that the Scottish referendum will be rigged

    Yes voters: Probably true 28-54

    No voters: Probably false 74-12

  21. Roger – does “Yes voters: Probably true 28-54” indicate that 28% of Yes voters thought that was true and 54% false, or the other way around?

  22. Ashcroft:

    Con 28% (-2)
    Lab 35% (+2)
    Lib Dem 8% (nc)
    UKIP 18% (nc)
    Green 6% (nc)

  23. That’s a bad poll for the Tories. I would be quite concerned indeed were I a Tory that my party was still hitting under 30% with some regularity.

    It’s not great for Labour either of course – they shouldn’t be happy with 35% – but they are at least in the lead, and that will be sufficient for them.

  24. carfrew

    Wasn’t aimed at anyone in particular, rather the fruitless “wottiff” discussions about reaction after reaction to a yes vote.

    A lot of it IS bitter and, whilst that MAY be understandable in the evnt of a YES and subsequent behavious in negotiations, there seems little point in rehearsing arguments which in all probability won’t need to be aired.

    I signed the “please stay” petition by the way and was really surprised by how emotional it made me feel.

    I think the whole independence thing is rather odd and inward looking.

  25. I honesty think the next poll might bore everyone.

  26. @Richard: “So its the 60+’s who are voting no. So in a decade or so it t will be an even larger margin.”

    You’re assuming (as is Owen Jones) that people don’t change their views as they age. What people believe when they’re under 40 isn’t necessarily what they believe when they’re over 60. It’s a cliché that people become more conservative as they get older but no less true; perhaps the over 60s will always be more pro-union.

  27. Roger, the one thing that does give me heart is that the most plausible of those three conspiracy theories has the most “Yes” support. It’s statistically unlikely for natural resources to be discovered in a specific place in a relatively small timeframe, but if it had been then it’s absolutely routine for governments of all political persuasions, north and south of the border, to time announcements to suit the current political climate, to the point of dishonesty.

    On the other hand the least plausible conspiracy theory languishes at the bottom. I personally dismiss the middle conspiracy theory as beyond comprehension too, but espionage and propaganda are at least more plausible than “banana-republic” style vote-rigging.

  28. Also from Roger Mexico’s poll:

    “How reliable or unreliable do you think the oil
    industry would be as a source of income for
    an independent Scotland?”

    SNP voters:
    92% Very/Fairly Reliable.
    7% Very/Fairly Unreliable

    Now look at the consistency and stability in this graph:

    I think the questions in this semi-fun poll have actually shown a very good insight into the Yessers’ collective mindset.

  29. Wes

    Roger – does “Yes voters: Probably true 28-54? indicate that 28% of Yes voters thought that was true and 54% false, or the other way around?

    Oh only 28% thought that was true (and 12% of Noes). Of course it depends to some extent on what they think which way they think the referendum will be rigged.

  30. @R&D – I signed it too. Ditto emotional.

    @Fraser – the Graun is reporting that TNS will confirm the trend.

    I remember the 1995 Canadian referendum very well. I was doing my postgrad studies and had a lot of Canadian fellow students who were nervous. But the swing back to No could have been down to that referendum’s long-winded and confusing question, which cannot be said of our referedum.

    Are there shy unionists? Let’s hope so. And let’s hope the No voters are galvanised the way Yes are.

  31. R&D
    “I signed the “please stay” petition by the way and was really surprised by how emotional it made me feel.”

    If you want emotional, do watch the bits of Archie MacPherson’s speech on youtube:


  32. Bill P

    I’ve got the beard and I could start a row in an empty room. That’s where the resemblance ends.

  33. @Colin 4.21

    The same would apply, surely, if Scotland had consistently voted Tory and England fairly often Labour. It’s the fact that the two nations are drifting apart politically, and have been doing since the 1950s, which matters, not the details of which party is predominantly supported by either of the two.

  34. Dave

    Aye, true. Or if it goes for the Euro.

    Of course, iScot could have full fiscal independence if it went the whole hog and had the Thistle and a central bank. I wonder why that’s not being proposed?

  35. I don’t believe that Salmond and those supporting yes are doing so because sometimes the UK has a conservative government and a majority of Scots don’t like that fact.

    In point of fact a majority of the entire UK population don’t like ANY bleedin’ government we have: that is partly the nature of FPTP and party our national identity. We like to moan and blame someone else. The current government is a very easy target.

    What the yes side are saying – and very clearly – is we don’t want to be a part of you lot.

    Given that around 50% plus of Scottish citizens actually do want exactly that, the divisive nature of the referendum is very hard to take for both them and the rest of the UK.

  36. By “current” government I mean ANY current government.

    We are not like Americans – we dislike them all.

  37. Lefty,

    Changing currency is not being proposed because it would leave many people in the very uncomfortable position of having a mortgage in sterling and an income in the new currency. However this is disingenuous because continuing to use sterling after independence is not a viable option so a new currency is inevitable.

    Strangely it seems that about half the population aren’t concerned about it, and by the age-breakdown, they are the ones with the biggest mortgages.

  38. Ok, here’s a thought.

    I presume some of you peeps have the data on how well-off Scots peeps tend to be, in relation to the UK as a whole.

    And if it is the case that on average the Scots peeps tend to be less well-off, and if this in turn this is a significant part of the reason for the greater prevalence of lefftie views…

    …then if following Independence Scotland becomes more prosperous, and some more people are better off, we may see a movement towards the opposite end of the political spectrum over time. Winding up with policies perhaps closer to those they fled from in the first place.

    Still, at least it would then be their bedroom tax, not someone else’s. Which of course would make all the difference…

  39. @Paul

    I think some of the” wottiff” stuff is of value, for example exploring consequences of Independence can lead to greater regard for the Union. (or not, depending…) but sure, wotiffery can become increasingly tenuous at times.

    I also find the tenuous, bitter stuff illuminating at times, ‘cos I don’t tend to come across such opinions in the real world. I had no idea that, for example, a commentator’s slip in the heat of live action, or the fact we may not know all the detail of Scots’ lives was considered emblematic of the Englanders’ wholesale and crushing disregard for and prejudice against Scots. All I’d ever heard was summat about Scots’ oil…

    I can understand it being emotional to sign the petition, though for me it’s emotional not to sign anything. I don’t even like signing for deliveries…

  40. However this is disingenuous because continuing to use sterling after independence is not a viable option so a new currency is inevitable.

    On the contrary whatever else happens after a Yes it is certain that Scotland will still use sterling.

    Scotland having the pound in the same way that Panama has the US dollar would be infinitely preferable to the two alternatives: Scotland being part of the Euro or having its own currency.

  41. Killary45, that using the pound without a currency union is ‘Scotland’s best option’ is just another big flashing red light and accompanying klaxon on the entire Yes argument.

    And also why there is 55million people south of the border wondering what the hell the Scots are thinking.

    Again, Scotland is going to rely on a foreign country, and also primary competitor in many industries, to look after its debt repayment rates, mortgage rates, saving rates, pensions, inflation, tax regime and so much more without having a single shred of influence in monetary decisions.

  42. Again, Scotland is going to rely on a foreign country, and also primary competitor in many industries, to look after its debt repayment rates, mortgage rates, saving rates, pensions, inflation, tax regime and so much more without having a single shred of influence in monetary decisions.
    You are describing the current situation.

    When Gordon Brown was CoE he gave control of debt repayment rates, mortgage rates, and saving rates to the Bank of England. His policies on pensions, inflation and tax were designed to please the City of London.

    Some independent places thrive using sterling – for example Jersey, Guernsey and the Isle of Man are all prosperous with healthy financial sectors, despite just piggy-backing on the UK currency. Australia and the rest of the old sterling area did OK for decades.

  43. Killary45, “His policies on pensions, inflation and tax were designed to please the City of London.”

    Come on, that’s nationalist nonsense and you know it.

    And having used Panama and Ecuador as examples, you have moved onto the Channel Islands, pop: 160,000?

    Aus and NZ’s short-lived links to the *gold-backed* Pound were extremely problematic throughout. It would never work at all with Sterling being a fiat currency as their economies are now far too different.

    These are just not relevant examples.

    Picture a non-CU scenario where there is an oil price crash, sinking iScotland into a high-tax/low-spending recession while the UK sets off on a boom. What happens to the UK-controlled interest rates? Then what happens to Scotland’s economy?

  44. scenario where there is an oil price crash,

    In what parallel universe are we going to have an oil price crash?

    The old sterling area countries thrived, in fact they did a lot better than the UK, for many decades with bank rate set in London. While the current sterling area may not be large there are some very healthy independent economies who seem to cope not having any say on what happens to their currency.

    If you think that from 1979 to 1997 or from 2010 onwards there was the slightest concern about the effects of government policy on the people of Scotland then you obviously do not understand why the Tories are so hated north of the border.

  45. Tweet from Lord Ashcroft.

    Lord Ashcroft [email protected] 5m
    TNS BMRB indyref poll:
    Excluding don’t knows Yes 50% – No 50%

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