As I write there is still one council to declare, but the maths mean that the overall result is going to be Yes 45%, No 55%. So, how did the polls do?

The final pre-election polls had all tightly converged around the same figures – Yes 48%, No 52%, with every company was within one point of this. In fact the level of No support was three points higher than this. For a single poll a three point error would be within the margin of error, but every poll being off in the same direction suggests some systemic error.

A possibility is the shy noes/enthusiastic yesses we discussed before the referendum, but on the face of it a simpler explanation is just late swing. The YouGov recontact survey on the day, going back to the same people they interviewed in their final survey found enough movement between final survey to actually voting to take the figures to YES 46%, NO 54%, one point from the actual result and enough to explain the apparent divergence. From that it looks as though no was going to win anyway, but there was a further movement from yes to no when people actually got to the polling station.


838 Responses to “Scottish referendum post-mortem”

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  1. Latest YouGov / Sunday Times results 19th Sept –

    Con 31%, Lab 36%, LD 7%, UKIP 16%; APP -25

  2. And

    Greens 5%
    SNP/PCY 4%
    Other 1%

    i still think the underlying Lab lead is 4%. the UKPR average is artificially low, IMO, because of the timing of the 2
    Populus polls at the beginning of the week

    Otherwise cross breaks are the same as usual – a no change poll. i wonder if things will continue pretty much like this until the voters start to think about the GE properly – maybe not until February next year

    A slight uptick in some of the economic questions, but the question

    How do you think the financial situation of your household will change over the next 12 months? -16% (18% better 34% worse) remains in the same range as it has been all year.

    Lab -36% UKIP -31% v pessimistic and Cons +18% optimistic

    Lots of negative polling on Ed M – mostly partisan, but made to look worse by the lack of enthusiasm of Lab supporters

  3. Good Morning All.
    A relief to be moving back to the UK GE race, and the YG poll, with usual figures and rogue figures for some parties.

  4. C’mon ChrisLane, maybe if you put “loveable ” in front of rogue figures it would be acceptable , certainly works for Boris, possibly Gordon, but Nigel ? Naw.

  5. A possible coalition of interests between Cameron and Salmond?

    It is in both their interests for Labour to perform badly in 2015, and the Tories lose nothing by being the bad guy (reneging) in Scotland.

  6. Interesting that English projected vote share ain’t a lot different from UK.
    Also, according to Yougov, UKIP has only 1% support in England but SNP/Plaid has 17%!

    [Nick – as you’ve probably surmised, there’s an error in the table! UKIP are at 17% in England – AW]

  7. EWEN LIGHTFOOT.
    Good point. I am not sure which figures I actually love, however.

  8. Actually Cameron stands to lose a lot in England by reneging on promise to Scotland.

    Look at Clegg’s “pledge” on tuition fees and subsequent popularity.

    It will be a serious strategic error to if he persists with his “no Scottish devolution without losing votes on English matters” and so delays until after the election. Quite apart from the fact that Ed Miliband will promise to deliver it all, no strings, and then look at the supposed English democratic deficit.

  9. Weighing up the points out of ten of the respective Westminster team mates in the crucial last days of the indy campaign (which Curtis agrees culminated in a critical last minute on the way to the ballot box swing to No) Brown and Cameron clearly deserved 8 pluses, for very different reasons but with a similar high score for integrity: Brown winning on substance and believability; Cameron on a MacMillianesque gravitas and courage in the face of the Tory enemy within. Milliband, Darling and Clegg all suffered from a necessary withdrawal to spear carrier status in a situation which called for single voices in a remarkable Westminster front. One of the most effective and rapid pieces of consensus and political grace under fire not in the face of a foreign enemy, and of historical importance.
    On the charisma front EM scored the usual nul points, but this, I think, in favour of a well-founded withdrawal into a needed emphasis on measured and unhurried reform, in England particularly. This has to achieve the parallel devolution tacitly promised in Edinburgh but not be hijacked by any neutering of party policy and process in the indy solution. All eyes on Conference, then.

  10. I am hampered in talking about devolution by a fundamental ignorance of how the arrangements work at present. That said, I am convinced of three things:

    a) Something substantial has to be given to the Scots before the election. Anything else would be appalling bad faith and destroy any possibility of an agreed settlement
    b) We need to aim for the best of all worlds, take our time about getting it, agree the broad principles and then go about it incrementally. We also need to do it in negotiation with the Scots, Welsh, and Northern Irish. For this reason any devolution of powers to England needs to be voted on by a parliament representing the whole of the UK, just as has been the case for the devolution of powers to Scotland.
    c) Any sop that Devid Cameron needs to throw to his backbenchers and the supporters of UKIP may be a price worth paying but must be recognised as temporary only.

  11. hello Pete and welcome.

  12. I doubt the Lib Dems will want to conspicuously renege on a second signed pledge- not a good look in the eight months before a general election, especially not when they can use this as a differentiation strategy to demonstrate their integrity as compared to the perfidious Conservatives. And there’s Charles Kennedy’s seat to think of as well.

    Add to this the fact that Labour, the Lib Dems and the SNP can pass the legislation (or at least a non-binding motion condemning David Cameron’s mendacity, since only the Government can table a bill) without a single Conservative vote, and I think when push comes to shove Cameron won’t want to be caught on the wrong side of this one. His best hope is to get Clegg to fold on EV4EL- if he can’t get agreement across the coalition he’s going to have to pass the Scotland bill by itself.

  13. Well, it looks like the scene is set for the SNP to backtrack on its a ‘once in a generation’ vote.

  14. The bell tolls here in Anglesey for 9 am and it is a blue sky. I’m back from Ireland where I watched the last part of the referendum campaign. It was interestingly differently reported over there than how it was on BBC and Sky.

    The so called West Lothian question cannot surely be answered by dividing one chamber of the Union parliament into voting nations – like the fifteenth century councils of the church – it will undermine the bicameral nature of the Union legislature ad also cause a problem where other MP’s as it were in devolved parliaments are elected by PR whilst those deciding English business will not be – yet another inequity.
    I won’t besmirch any with accusations of party advantage as a motive but will rather observe than we cannot resolve one part of the political puzzle without thinking about how it will effect others…after all that is how we just arrived here…

    .

  15. @ Neil A,

    Besides, why should a split government between England and the UK cause gridlock? They would have different competencies. Scotland doesn’t suffer gridlock, despite the Scottish and UK governments being pretty much as far apart as any two groups could ever be.

    With respect- and I really do mean that- I think you’ve failed to grasp the implications of this.

    It’s perfectly understandable- as I said to T’Other Howard yesterday, we tend to only be sensitive to flawed democratic processes when they hurt our own side, which is why the flames of outrage that burn so brightly in his breast at the injustice of the West Lothian problem are but dull embers in mine and Lefty’s. So let me try to explain in more detail.

    Insofar as people actually understand what’s devolved (always a little dubious), the devolved governments have clear lines of accountability. If Wales falls behind in the PISA tables it’s Carwyn Jones’ fault, not David Cameron’s. Furthermore, the Tories are not competitive in Wales and Scotland, so a Tory Westminster government has no incentive to sabotage the Welsh or Scottish governments- what motive is there when it’s only going to help Johann Lamont or Leanne Wood? (Other than sheer pity.)

    A Labour Westminster government has more incentive to make trouble for the SNP in Holyrood, but even then, it’s not a priority- Scotland is only a small part of the UK and a small percentage of Westminster seats, and the Westminster Labour Party is always going to be more interested in winning England than in helping Scottish Labour (as Scottish Labour has found to its regret). And because the SNP don’t compete to form the Westminster government and the lines of accountability for the devolved parliament are fairly clear, the SNP have no incentive to deliberately fail at governing Scotland in order to make Cameron look like a bad Prime Minister. That would be crazy.

    But England is everything. Labour can’t win nationally without winning a decent vote share in England, and the Tories cannot win anywhere without winning England. The two parties competing for the English Parliament are the same two parties competing for the UK Parliament, so they have a direct incentive to do each other down.

    Now, if the English Parliament is a separate body, there would at least be some clarity about the lines of accountability- there would be an English First Minister to blame for the next ambulance crisis or free school fiasco. But what if there is just EV4EL within the current House of Commons?

    After a close election Andy Burnham becomes Labour Health Secretary, but he can’t pass anything without Tory votes. Who gets blamed if there is ambulance crisis? Burnham and Miliband. Who has a direct electoral incentive to cause an ambulance crisis by blocking emergency funding so that Labour can be blamed for it?

    Now, it’s Labour that would be in the hot seat in the current political landscape, so it’s understandable Lefty and I are more exercised about this problem than you are. But I think we can all agree that a) it’s a bad idea to give politicians electoral incentives to cause bad governance and b) it’s important to have clear lines of accountability so that when politicians do govern badly they can be sacked by the voters and replaced with better politicians. EV4EL (and to much a lesser extent, an autonomous English Parliament) bugger all that up, which is why they’re bad ideas.

  16. Good Morning JOHN MURPHY. I hope Ireland fares well.
    There is blue sky over our beach here in Dorset.

    Are you referring to the fifteenth century church councils caused, in part, by the Avignon papacy and schisms?

  17. I wouldn’t be surprised if Miliband gave Scotland everything and the kitchen sink and still let them vote on English laws. The whole system is bankrupt, and each party will do what they think will get them in, rather than what’s fair. It only occurred to me the last few days that Cameron is right, we have devolution everywhere apart from England, it’s slightly crazy!

  18. @ Old Nat

    “I have contempt for some politicians – Jack Straw for example. I distrust the rest, but they are people we need to use – not to be used by.”

    You know, this will sound odd but um, I kinda have taken this attitude this year. Although I still have that inherent feeling of love and adoration for politicians. But the trust isn’t there….. Thus far, it’s kinda worked.

    My condolences btw to you. I mean I wanted your side to lose, for purely selfish reasons, but I really like your side. Well, I like you, I like Alyn Smith, I like that Nicola Sturgeon, and I liked (may she rest in peace) Norma MacDonald. So by default, I like the SNP. If it’s any consolation, the SNP still stands strong and even in defeat, you managed to get a whole bunch of concessions and empower not just yourselves but others globally struggling for independence. I say that because you’ve set something of a precedent.

    You got a clear ballot measure on the ballot that asked voters directly whether they wanted independence. Both sides made a case for it and against it, your side made a case that was purely geographic and not ethnic based. No small feat btw considering that even San Fernando Valley seccessionists had an ethnic tinge in their fight for indepdnence.

    In your situation, in order for No to win, you needed all three unionist parties united in unprecedented fashion against. You needed the current Prime Minister to self-depricate and use cuss words in public. You needed the former Prime Minister to come out of retirement and barnstorm with some incredible speeches. You needed President Obama and the Royal Family to oppose. And in desperation, all three unionist parties had to come in and give concessions. That’s pretty good.

    And the reason why is because if you had won, you would have been independent. The UK would be as good as dead and Scotland would be an independent country. There may have been some last minute desperation attempts but it would have been pretty much a done deal.

    Now, think about the truly oppressed around the world who yearn for their independence. Think about how much bloodshed usually goes into things like this. You just showed the entire world how to have a decision on whether a country should be independent. You had a legally binding decision that everyone took seriously, an impassioned yet peaceful debate on the issue, and free and fair elections with high turnout. No one imposed this on the country either. This was something that the Scots proposed and the UK (as a whole….well English Tories) accepted. The rest of the world can see how this is done.

    If your closest American political cousins, the DC Statehooders, were able to get a vote on statehood on their ballot, would the rest of the country listen and accept the results? We know the answer is sadly, no. Scots should feel especially proud and Nats should feel good, notwithstanding the result.

  19. @ John,

    You make fair points. The fundamental problem though is that the English (so far) don’t want to pay for an extra layer of government that the Scots and the Welsh are happy to have, which leaves everyone trying to rearrange the HoC.

  20. The big question is, if a Scottish MP thinks and “English” Law might have some effect upon his constituents and therefore wants to speak and vote, who is going to tell him/her he can’t?

    And any such decision is bound to be prejudiced by party advantage.

    Let all UK MPs vote on all UK law (and if all UK MPs vote to devolve some of those decisions to other lesser elected bodies, so be it. It can always be undone later).

  21. Time to chime in re an English devolutionary model…

    I am surprised to see so many are trying to reinvent the wheel when there are several models in use that have stood the test of time.

    The suggestions of ‘hundreds of city states’ or ‘3-4 multi-regional councils’ are all very worthy but are also untried and untested ‘in combat’. Additionally, we already have the foundations and lower floors of a UK-wide structure (a model which has been proven in multiple federations) and to change the design now invites trouble.

    As already stated by others, the NE regional referendum failed primarily because it proposed another layer of bureaucracy but with no additional powers. However, despite this result, the English have very much noticed and envied how Scotland and Wales have been able to implement their own social models, including free tuition and free prescriptions, under their own choice of government while there is a brutally spendthrift Tory government in Whitehall. This English regional model is far from dead.

    A reboot of this, accompanied by a rolling implementation of substantial legislative and fiscal powers (people don’t seem to realise there would be substantial political/economic trauma if too much autonomy was implemented too quickly) would result in a standardised structure within a 12-state ‘federal’ UK, under a system that has been proven elsewhere.

    The degree of autonomy should be set as the ‘the most local level’. If a policy only affects town x (eg bins, licensing etc.), then town x has sole authority. If it crosses town borders (eg roads), then it progresses to state level. If it crosses state boundaries blahblahblah. From Day One. I would propose transferring all county agencies and staff to the state governments.

    Social and cultural identities are already established within many (if not all) of these and I do like the thought of resurrecting ancient Kingdom names instead of the Orwellian SW/SE/NW/NE.

    Replace the HoL with a Senate equally representing the nations/regions (I would propose ten seats each, mirroring the make-up of each legistlature, akin to the Bundesrat), reduce the HoC to 450 seats, each representing equal populations.

    And, yes, I believe we need a constitution.

  22. Spearmint.

    THAT is what I was attempting to say last night. I thought it was bleeding obvious, hence why I didn’t elucidate to that extent. But I can see that there’s a job to do to point this out to people if folk as intelligent and perceptive as Neil A don’t spot it.

    Given that my opinions on this last night have vanished into moderation, let’s say that I assume that Cameron, whom Vernon Bogdanor says was one of the finest PPE students of his generation at Oxford, will undoubtedly realise the problems in his proposal when he sits down and thinks about it.

  23. I was having a fight actually with a real liberal friend of mine (we were DNC Delegates together in 2012 and she’s big in the Progressive Slates in the CDP) and she’s been a HUGE proponent for Scottish independence. Said some real ignorant things that were anti-English and I mainly didn’t say anything (mainly because she and I are on the same side in a tough Senate race and well we need her). But I finally called her out when she was getting upset on election night. Tried to explain the West Lothian Question to her which she didn’t understand.

    I have some suggestions btw. A separate English Parliament would not be a bad idea. Perhaps it should meet and have its capital outside of London (say in the north). But make some clear laws and ground rules. For example, enact a law that makes it clear that you can only serve in one body at one time. And you know, Cameron wants to reduce the number of MPs anyway. Perhaps a new English Parliament would be a good way of coming up with landing spots for regular MPs who are squeezed out due to redistricting.

    Also, going back to expenses scandal and related things, have you guys ever considered just giving your MPs per diem? Basically, you give them a daily stipend for every day that they’re in session for travel expenses to and from London? It turns out we do that here in CA and it works quite well (I learned about this this year when, in perhaps a fog of sadness and insanity, I came up with the utterly absurd and hairbrained scheme to run for the State Assembly, a plot which fell apart after only 8 days….and thank god too because I would have lost badly and probably have gone broke). But long story short, I learned of the concept of per diem and it seems like a good idea given the expense of London.

    You could do this for both the current UK Parliament and the new English Parliament. If you have your English Parliament convene outside of London in a different city, it might be more affordable and you might have to pay less in per diem. Also, you might make it so you have fewer legislative days in London so less need to reimburse expenses.

  24. @ Old Nat

    Not Norma MacDonald, Margo MacDonald. Again, apologies and condolence. :(

  25. Re Scotland, it would be possible to scrap the ridiculous Barnett Formula by formally transferring all oil tax revenues to Holyrood. However, this should be under the condition that Scotland joins a ‘UK equality fund’ which communities contribute to/withdraw from depending on how their economy compares to the UK average.

    The formula for this fund should be absolute and transparent. If a town were to lose a major employer, the equality funding they have immediate access to would be independently defined, non-negotiable nor amendable to remove political interference.

    ‘Autonomy where logical. Mutual support where necessary.’

  26. Excellent post on gridlock, Spearmint.

    The distinction on lines of accountability is really important. A separately constituted devolved administration(s) like in S,W&NI might not be to the taste of the left, but it would at least allow a similar clarity of accountability and a much slimmer federal government dealing with genuinely UK matters. In effect, the UK Parliament would be taken out of the equation on a whole range of issues. Already, for instance, “UK” government departments like health and education are purely English in focus. If the English administration(s) had similarly devolved powers, we wouldn’t might not need them at all at UK level except maybe for some kind of cross border cooperation.

    But the idea that the HoC and presumably government departments and all the rest of the UK government apparatus, can somehow simultaneously serve the interests of the UK and specifically of England is almost certainly wrong. Even the relatively easy situation of a coalition government has caused gridlock in Parliament and within departments as Lib Dems and Conservatives fight out their partisan interests.

    It would be a mistake to build that conflict into the fabric of the constitution.

  27. I don’t actually think this is that complicated actually. If the Tories honestly want English equality, they should propose an English Executive, and persuade the English to pay for it. If the WLQ is such a big deal for the English, surely they would agree?

  28. Anthony

    My posts don’t seem to have been moderated recently; is it something I’ve said or are you not feeling well?

    It makes me feel a bit uneasy……………

  29. SPEARMINT
    “… The fundamental problem though is that the English (so far) don’t want to pay for an extra layer of government that the Scots and the Welsh are happy to have, which leaves everyone trying to rearrange the HoC.”

    Not Ed, as he could not have made crystal clearer this morning on Marr, down to retaining 650 MPs.
    Full of gravitas and good sense, I thought, and a quick response to Marr’s enquiry on joinining up with the old guard: “Gordon Brown is not returning to front-line Labour politics”
    And, he added (or did I imagine this?) “You want heavy metal? I’ll give you heavy metal.”

    Good 0.17 post BTW.

  30. I have never warmed to Alec Salmond but saying he is “astonished” at the speed at which “Westminster leaders are reneging” on the promise made is a new low.

    They are not. All that has happened is that some Tory MPs have made noises about a link to English powers, which was not part of that original agreement.

    Does he expect the three Westmister leaders to stop others even offering an opinion on the matter now?

    This really is petty politics of the very worst kind. No wonder people tire of it all.

  31. @Spearmint,

    Your scenario for “gridlock” assumes that there is no English executive. The only part of it that, in my opinion, makes any sense is the issue of a UK Labour government not having control over some England-only areas of policy. In a sense that is exactly the point, as it is exactly that scenario that makes devolution to England so essential.

    However, EV4EL allied to a separate English government – even if it is one with a First Minister and cabinet taken from existing UK MPs – would remove that issue entirely.

    The Labour PM’s cabinet simply wouldn’t have ministers for departments that are England-only. Those departments would fall under the aegis of the English government. So there would be no question of Andy Burnham being UK Health Secretary. The post simply wouldn’t exist. The UK cabinet would be far smaller than it is now, with perhaps 10 members, unless for reasons of collegiality a decision was made to include the “second-in-commands” of each UK ministry.

    Meanwhile the First Minister of England would have her own cabinet, also smaller than the current one, covering the same ministries that Scotland has (health, education, justice etc).

    I think you put the nail on the head with your remark about the issue only mattering to those whose “side” is affected. You refuse to see the glaring unfairness of it, because the outcome is something you like.

  32. @SoCalLiberal – ” …have you guys ever considered just giving your MPs per diem?”

    2010-11 would have been a good year, with the HoC sitting 295 days.

    2012-13 not so good with attendance limited to a possible 145 days… last year it was 165 days… there hasn’t been much activity this year so far.

  33. *2011-12 not so good*

  34. There has been much talk here and on UK media about “democratic deficit” following the Scottish referendum.

    Some right-wingers are trying to take the opportunity given by some further devolution to Scotland to further decrease the democratic deficit of Scotland, with their attempt to exclude any MP from Scotland from ever being prime minister.

    The grounds for this are that it is intolerable for people in England to have laws passed by a party which did not receive the most votes in England, the very situation that has most often applied to people in Scotland this last forty years.

    But this is a basic part of UK democracy, that sometimes people have to tolerate governments for which they didn`t vote.

    The opportunistic attempt to exclude MPs from Scotland from voting on so-called England-only matters will cause chaos in government, and should be resisted totally by all democrats. This would mean a governing party could not put in place a consistent policy covering all aspects of life in the UK.

    The only solution to this dilemma is to give equivalent devolution to whatever regions people in England decide are the most suitable. Westminster MPs then would not be able to interfere in these region decisions, just like they cannot interfere now in London, Scotland, Northern Ireland or Wales decisions.

    In planning this England set-up, it would not be right for MPs from Scotland to have a vote

  35. Neil A @ 12.32 pm:

    It is really silly to talk of a UK in which there wasn`t a UK Health Secretary. Or with several other key omissions in government control.

    Consider managing an ebola outbreak in Wales without overall planning and control coming from one government in Westminster.

    These sorts of discussions have motivated many of us to advocate Better Together for many months now, and yet here you are wanting to set up awkward and artificial barriers just when a majority have voted against such barriers.

    We have to balance the better decision-making that happens with local knowledge against the hindrance to making necessary UK state decisions that would result from several bodies having to join quickly to make them.

  36. >It is really silly to talk of a UK in which there wasn`t a UK Health Secretary. Or with several other key omissions in government control.

    Except that that is just what we have now, with the Scottish and We-sh govts taking their own responsibi-ity.

    The sky hasn’t fa–en in, though the WaG are making a hash of it.

  37. @ Rosie and Daisy:
    I have never warmed to Alec Salmond but saying he is “astonished” at the speed at which “Westminster leaders are reneging” on the promise made is a new low.
    They are not. All that has happened is that some Tory MPs have made noises about a link to English powers, which was not part of that original agreement.
    Does he expect the three Westmister leaders to stop others even offering an opinion on the matter now?
    This really is petty politics of the very worst kind. No wonder people tire of it all.

    By working together it is quite wonderful what you are able to achieve in bringing wit and sanity to otherwise occasionally dull patches of Anthony’s amazing ongoing 24/7 political party and infofest.

    However, In spite of my love and admiration for your work, R ‘n’ D, I notice that a tiny glitch appears at the end of this otherwise very welcome and timely pricking of the Salmond balloon.

    Apparently nobody outside the Scottish homeland has felt it right or appropriate as yet to air a few home truths about this person during the referendum campaign. Now we are all one nation again in the UK, he is now one of our whole family’s political giants, not just the former prospective saviour of the Scots. When he did his rousing “we will fight on, we will never surrender, no surrender, no, no, no” speech and then, two hours on, did his “O.K. Keep up the good work, I’m out of here” cut and run speech he instantly left off being the sacred personification of the Sovereign Will of the Scottish People and became a sad, tired old Caber Tosser, open to vilification like every other UK politician and a poor comparison the one who should be the Scott’s real Darling, Alistair. One told the truth as he saw it throughout the campaign, the other abandoned any semblance of intellectual integrity and thereby doomed his cause, lost its support at the end and betrayed all true believers in Scottish Isolationism. Shame upon you, AS.

    So that is why I think you both have, jointly and severally, made a tiny error in saying ‘no wonder people tire of it all’.

    I don’t see how they or we ever could, or ever should tire of politics. It was Salmond’s, ghastly, mendacious, petty and spite ridden campaign politics of which they quite rightly and very justifiably grew tired. Just in time, thanks be to the better part of Scotland. Thanks to Hume, Adam Smith, John Smith and all. I hope you agree that I do have a point.

  38. This is all about oil. If there was no oil is Scotland’s water’s there would be no discussion. Scotland would be allowed to walk away – but couldn’t because it’s industrial base has been destroyed by 1980’s Thatcherism. England/Westminster doesn’t care about Scotland with exception to the tens of billions of dollars in oil it has produced and will still produce. Then we have to take into consideration the west coast oil that does or doesn’t exist. Without Scottish oil the UK would be bankrupt. That is the honest truth. All the formulas Westminster spews about whether Scotland takes more than it gives means nothing. When you include the oil Scotland puts billions into the UK economy than it takes out.

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