Nicola Sturgeon today announced she would seek a second Indyref. Some of the comments on this have suggested that there is widescale opposition to this from the Scottish public. This polling evidence is far less clear-cut. A variety of polls have asked a variety of questions about when or if there should be another referendum on Scottish independence. Some have given multiple options on whether there should be should be a second referendum, others have asked if there should be a referendum in a specifc timeframe, such as the next year, before the UK leaves the EU or (subtly but importantly different) before negotiations over Brexit are concluded.

As far as I can recall, there have been four polls so far this year asking about a second referendum:

  • A Panelbase poll for the Sunday Times in January asked when there should be a second referendum, giving options of during the Brexit negotiations (27%), after the negotiations (23%) or not in the next few years (51%). (tabs).
  • A Panelbase poll for Wings Over Scotland in February asked a very similar question, but with slightly different options. They split “not in the next few years” into not in the next twenty years and never, but found a similar total (25% and 24%). Rather that splitting the options for a more immediate referendum by whether negotiations were complete, they split it by whether Britain had actually left yet. 32% wanted a referendum before the UK leaves the EU, 19% a referendum after the UK leaves the EU. (tabs)
  • A BMG poll for the Herald at the end of January asked about a referendum “prior to Brexit negotiations being concluded between the UK and EU”. 38% of respondents said yes, 48% no. (tabs).
  • BMG repeated the question at the end of February and found virtually no change – 39% said yes, 49% said no (on what appears to be the same poll they asked an agree/disagree statement about whether people agreed with the statement “A referendum on Scottish independence should not be triggered until the UK & EU have completed their Brexit negotiations” – 51% agreed with this, 25% disagreed. I am generally wary about agree/disagree statements, which tend to produce answers skewed in the direction of the statement. I would put a lot more weight on the neutally worded version of the question) (tabs)

Bringing all these together, I can only assume those saying Scotland is opposed to a second referendum are looking at the BMG polls. These do indeed show broad public opposition to a second referendum, but both asked specifically about a referendum before Brexit negotiations were concluded. If you look at the two Panelbase polls, they showed only minority support for a second referendum during negotiations/before Britain leaves, but that a further group of Scots would support a referendum after the conclusion of negotiations/after Britain leaves.

Look at the Panelbase polls asking a broad question about a second referendum, rather than those asking about a specific timeframe, and the split looks pretty even. About half of Scottish adults want a referendum in the next few years, either before or after Brexit; about half of Scottish adults don’t want a referendum in the next few years.

339 Responses to “Does Scotland want a second referendum?”

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  1. @GB – technical point, but ‘doing an Alaska’ would actually mean being sold by the Russians to the US.

    Is there something about Shetland/Orkney we should know about?

  2. Carfrew

    I am happy leaving you to talk to yourself about something entirely different from the original point under discussion – just because you can’t bear being demonstrably wrong..

    You are a very sad case. I’d recommend a course of Thorium.

  3. @GB

    O&S would not get much oil they end up as an enclave in Scottish territorial waters under international law.

  4. @Alec

    Yes, good point about potential relocations, which I now seem to recall you’ve mentioned before but I forgot?

    Against that, there’s the problem that currently business seems to be holding back on investing in Scotland because uncertain regarding Indy, and then there’s the bit I posted earlier: businesses are already buying into firms in the EU. This allows them to run down their UK arms over time. The more this happens, and the longer it takes Scotland to rejoin the EU if necessary, the less there will be left to relocate to Scotland.

  5. @oldnat

    Of course I can bear being wrong. I ceded the “trading” quibble after all. It just didn’t alter the main point. That both are arguing similarly, advocating leaving one union while keeping another. You just can’t find a quibble to obscure that. Don’t feel bad, it’s ‘cos there aren’t any…

  6. “O&S would not get much oil they end up as an enclave in Scottish territorial waters under international law.”


    Well if that happens to the Orkneys, what if Scotland ended up as an enclave in rUK territorial waters?

    Just putting it out there…

  7. Couper

    Given current polling (though that may change) applying for EEA membership would seem to be the obvious initial proposal in ScotRef.

    That maximises the potential for Yes support, and parking the question of full EU membership (which would probably require a prepatory period anyway) till a later date.

    In any case, the question of “should the UK be an EU member” isn’t the same as “should Scotland be an EU member”.

    For those of us who are genuinely pro-m European integration, there may not be much difference, but that isn’t necessarily true for everyone – once Wangland has leapt over the hills and is (in many ways) far away.

  8. Carfrew

    “Well if that happens to the Orkneys, what if Scotland ended up as an enclave in rUK territorial waters? ”

    You are so totally ignorant about so many things, aren’t you?

    Sticking to synths and Thorium would be a good strategy for you.

  9. The Orkneys want to remain in The UK,and I believe plans were drawn up in 2014 for that eventuality if a yes vote gad come about.

    Clever by HMG as it keeps a naval presence at the top of the island. HMG calculated that ibdy Scotland would have any frigates in mothballs due to the basket case economy that would ensue up there.

    Plans also showed indy Scotland would be ignored if the Russians got frisky as the integrity of the island would be paramount and far outweigh any Scotch sensitivity.

  10. @oldnat

    Don’t be rude Oldnat, people in glasshouses and all that…

  11. Also hearing from my man in Whitehall that it is felt the SNP are far too clse to the French.

    A reason for the PM not to take the Sottish Government into her confidence, perhaps.

  12. Oil, carbons are not a progressive technology, they’ll certainly be replaced inside 50 years. Ow, by the way I work in the energy industry, 20 years experience. Best Scottish export/industry is Whiskey. They also make some great fabrics. Of course the current money is in oil, but it’s not sustainable over the long term.

  13. @Carfrew

    The World Bank predicts a slow but steady increase in oil prices. At 2030 it is forecast the price will be $80/barrel.

    That will be helped by the decline in shale oil/gas output.

    “U.S. shale oil production, which reshaped the global energy equation, will begin to wane in less than a decade as reserves are drawn down and well output decreases, the Energy Department reported.”

    The demand for oil is increasing and likely to remain that way for some time.

    “The world now consumes ~95 million b/d of oil, up from 86 million b/d in 2008 and a 11% rise even amid the worst economic times since the 1930s.

    And we know that there is so much more to come: oil is the world’s primary fuel, oil is the enabling force of globalization, and 85% of the global population lives in undeveloped nations still waiting for their chance to consume oil like we rich Westerners do. Just imagine the future: every day, for instance, the average American consumes 25 times more oil than the average Indian, and India has four times more people!”

    According to Professor Stuart Hazeldine of Edinburgh University it will take 50 to 100 years before there can be a transition to full use of renewables.


    “Rosy”. Perhaps, but I try not to put a gloss on things, if I can.

    I know little or nothing about LENR. Peer reviewed? Commercial? Theoretical?

    Likewise I have heard nothing to suggest Orkney and Shetland would seek either to be independent out of Scotland and Uk or stay with UK. Have you?

  14. Jasper

    Better brush up on your geography (as well as learning about lots of other things, like politics). It would make your trolling so much more effective.

  15. OldNat

    Your inability to accept the comment of others is shining through.

    I pity the Scottish people if your crew does get a referendum and wins.

    What a miserable, holier than thou land it will be.

  16. History suggests that Scotland has more affinity with France than England and that the Shetlands / Orkneys connect to Norway so it makes sense that S/O would prefer a relationship with England or even Norway.
    Given the problem with Isis then we should stick together . Mosul may be sorted but the demographics indicate that the Islamic invasion has not even started.

  17. @Sam

    Sure, the conventional argument is that demand for oil will remain buoyant for a good while yet. And that may well happen…

    I like to consider realistic alternatives though. I was quite shocked at how quickly renewables are progressing and prices falling. There are also notable recent breakthroughs in battery tech… Bristol recently made supercapacitors feasible; the other day I posted about one of the guys who invented Lithium Ion who is involved in a breakthrough with solid electrolytes. Three times the power density, fast-charging, solid electrolytes resist fires.

    Now that we have battery clusters to smooth out power fluctuations we can adopt renewables more aggressively.

    I wouldn’t go by the banks, seems like they’re only just discovering Modern Monetary Theory – on here we’ve been into that for years. The professor may be right about transitioning to full use, but you don’t need to go that far to make Scots oil uneconomic, given it’s not cheap to extract.

    A particular interest is stuff that might blindside us. That’s what’s interesting about hydrogen. It doesn’t get much attention. But they researched it and found you only needed about 65 hydrogen stations, carefully sited, and it would be enough to persuade enough people to adopt it, whereupon you have a tipping point. And we are quietly building those stations…

    It seems to me there are so many avenues now with renewables it’s bound to move quickly… And then there’s nuclear… Chinese and Indians both doing Thorium. If they make it work that’ll seriously change things….

  18. Jasper

    Always happy to see the comments from people who actually know things.

    Just where do you think the Orkney Islands are?

    Fortunately, I don’t judge the Welsh by your silliness.

  19. Hadn’t realised but HMG would demand a naval base on the mainland in the event of indy Scotland- along the lines of RAF Akrotiri in Cyprus.

  20. Come on everyone – lets be nice towards one another.

  21. Old Nat

    You need to learn how to accept the other chap’s point of view. A trait, I accept, alien to Scottish Nationalists.

  22. David

    “History suggests that Scotland has more affinity with France than England and that the Shetlands / Orkneys connect to Norway so it makes sense that S/O would prefer a relationship with England or even Norway”

    “History” seldom suggests anything! Only dialectical historians like the Whig School believed that guff!

    Scottish history is fairly similar to other nations faced with a dominant and aggressive neighbour.

    Rational choices were to side with that country’s enemies, or accept the dominance of the neighbour.

    Neither choice is “right” or “wrong” and the choices made varied over time.

    in the early 18th century, England’s critical advantage was offering access to its colonies, so Scotland chose that direction of travel.

    Your comments on Shetland and Orkney, however, seem to be created out of fairy dust. Even your assumption that they have a commonality of interest is bizarre.

    Shetlanders (should they choose to become independent) would have extensive maritime resources. As an enclave of England they would be restricted to the coastal fishing zone.

    I don’t mind amateur historians, but when their understanding of history is poor, and they try to extrapolate contemporary political views on the basis of their fallacious understanding, then they have little to offer a sane world.

  23. @Sam

    I should add, regarding the articles…

    Shale may decline, and demand may increase. The question, which the Forbes article doesn’t consider, is the impact of renewables proceeding space.

    World Bank may predict $80 a barrel in 2030, which isn’t great, and what if it declines thereafter? How long do you have before renewables kick in?

    (Bearing in mind, that long term, if it gets cheap enough, they might even use surplus renewable energy to extract carbon from the atmosphere to synthesize petrol…)

  24. @S Thomas

    “scots nat night here today”

    Join in. You have nothing to lose but your inhibitions.

  25. @Carfrew

    Independent Scotland’s oil need not all be expensive to extract. There are frontier areas in Scotland’s waters and a Scottish exploration company can explore in other exploration areas. Also, as the price of oil has gone down so has the cost of extraction.

  26. What is this bullshine talk about the Orkneys? The Orkneys and Shetlands are part of Scotland and if Scotland voted for independence that would not change. If we have a secession plebiscite in the Orkneys then maybe Berwick upon Tweed could have a vote on whether to join Scotland. Maybe the Isle of Man could have a vote too.

    Nonsense talk.

  27. @Oldnat

    Yes, it must be indyref2 season, as the undersides of the bridges are clear tonight. ;)

  28. @ Sam

    The cost of North Sea oil extraction has reduced? Evidence?

  29. @Sam

    I am aware new tech is improving the economy of extraction. I suppose to some extent it depends on the relative speed of development. How quickly renewable equipment etc. prices come down in comparison with oil.

    There’s an irony that if oil becomes cheaper to extract, it’ll prolly pull the price down, because it may not become cheaper just for Scots, bad news for renewables, but then bad news for Scots too.

    Although interestingly, low oil prices hasn’t hampered renewable investment that much. To some extent it’s complementary, as you still need conventional power as back up for renewables.

  30. Still no SNP person has answered my question about why you would want to alienate what will be clearly around half your populace even if you win. Referendums are clearly not good ways to decide policy on constitution if it’s a +1 vote majority. We should be like most other sane countries who require 2/3rd majority to change the constitution. Constitutions should not be the vanity play things of politicians be it Farage, Sturgeon, Erdogan etc.

  31. Oldnat

    Your ignorance of history is amazing. Scotland has had connection to Europe when England did not . Orkney/Shetland has a detached attitude to Scotland as we note by the fact that their MP has been Liberal since the 19th century.
    You do not even understand that the Lowlands were Anglo Saxon when the bulk of Scotland was not and that O/S was Nowegian until the 1460s .
    Even more importantly history repeats and we ignore it at our peril.
    Our governments could have stopped this independence lark if they had moved to a federal UK.
    The North of England feels let down by Westminster politics so an independent
    Scotland would just be the begining.

  32. @JASPER22

    The Royal Navy no longer has a base at Scapa Flow. Scotland is no longer as important strategically as it used to be in the years of big battleships. I’m also sure that an independent Scotland would be integrated into NATO.

  33. Prof Howard

    “lets be nice towards one another.”

    That would be good.

    Could we start by posters not using this site to promulgate their half-understood points from party press releases?

  34. Statgeek

    Pots and kettles……

  35. @DAVID

    Much of eastern Britain was Danish around 1100 years ago. Does thar mean that Denmark should be involved in the politics of Yorkshire or Lincolnshire?

    Not sure what your point is.

  36. Tancred the Isle of Man is already independent!

  37. David

    I don’t know what your academic credentials are, but I am a Scottish historian.

  38. Richo,

    On the basis of a roughly fifty split your choices are;

    Do nothing and upset half or put it to a vote and upset half whatever the result.

    There’s no answer that will make everyone happy but that applies equally to parking the issue. If half don’t like the status quo should they just be expected to live with it because others don’t want to change.

    Plenty of Leave supporters were in that position forty years and I don’t remember them being happy about it.


  39. Oldnat – that would be a good place to start!

  40. @Carfrew

    I am not sure how far we can usefully discuss this. I can’t answer the questions you pose and I feel fairly sure you can’t tell me how long solving the storage problems of renewables is going to take and what price will it add to the price per unit of electricity produced.

    Anyway, I’m off now.

  41. Tancred

    My point is that things are more complicated than you may think.
    We in the North have as little connection with London as Scotland.
    However in order to protect our borders we should stick together.
    This does not mean that we should let the South of England get the best.
    One of the reasons behind Brexit was that much of England particularly the North felt abandoned by its government.

  42. Oldnat

    Well unless you can convince me otherwise your ignorance suggests you are
    a bar stool one.

  43. @Sam

    Well, did we have to come to a definitive answer? We’re not really in a position to do that. The point is to figure out more about it. Neither of us can detail things the way you suggest. We don’t know what tech will be discovered and investments made etc…

    But you can consider realistic possibilities and these can inform decisions. Much of the time that’s what you have to do when voting. Try and anticipate with limited info. If you can flesh it out a bit, that can help. I think oil companies are taking steps to insulate against the chance oil prices have peaked, anyway…

  44. Profh Howard

    “The Isle of Man is already independent!”

    We need Roger Mexico back posting here to emphasise that!

    There are a variety of constitutional arrangements within the British Isles. Westminster’s determination that none of them can apply to the various bits of the UK seems unnecessarily restrictive.

    However, the point at which they might have offered reasonable flexibility is probably long gone.

  45. JASPER22

    @”What a miserable, holier than thou land it will be.”

    Yes-but the point is , they won’t be on our tv screens with their endless whining litany of victimhood any more.

  46. David

    Following Prof Howard’s advice, I’ll try to be nice as opposed to your comment.

    Frankly, I don’t give a damn about “convincing you” on anything. If you are a historian, then you will have read both the texts and source materials in Scottish history.

    We might disagree as to the interpretation – that’s what historians do!

    However, before embarking on such a discussion (which isn’t really what this site is about) I would want some reassurance that you had actually been trained in the skills of document analysis, and have at least a working understanding of Scottish history.

  47. YouGov/Times (#ScotRef ex DKs): – via Number Cruncher

    YES 43 (-1)
    NO 57 (+1)

  48. Colin

    No “high horse” – just puzzlement as why you feel the need to post that way. what do you imagine it achieves?

  49. @ Carfew

    Heating oil is being advertised locally as falling in price because of an oil glut… obviously gluts are subject to change but currently there seems to be one. In fact, I read on Naked Capitalism that oil storage in the US is at full capacity and tankers are being turned around and sent elsewhere to discharge their oil loads.

    However, isn’t Scotland’s potential for renewables and energy export very good? Wind, tidal, hydroelectric, geothermal as well as solar are all unexploited resources crying out for investment… and unlike oil won’t run out.

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