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. @oldnat

    The degree of hysteria amongst some British nationalists is amusing to see!

  2. Westminster voting intention:
    CON: 44% (-)
    LAB: 27% (+2)
    LDEM: 10% (-)
    UKIP: 9% (-2)

    (via YouGov)

    Apparently the lowest YouGov UKIP score since 2013. Also LD crossover again.

  3. @david

    I realise my Cambridge history degree will be of little use in the face of your towering intellect and historical knowledge but on this point:

    ” 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.”

    When did England not “have connection with” with Europe?

    Have there never been other Liberal MPs in Scotland other than in the Northern Isles?

  4. ALEC

    @”if so, will Scotland have to rejoin the EU, on worse terms?”

    Indeed-or will it do so at all?

    The IndyRef2 Question is going to be fascinating.

  5. @Syzygy

    Indeed, I mentioned to Sam that there was a potential silver lining in renewables, and the other day posted about how Scotland have got a proper tidal scheme going now.

    There is a problem however, in that they rather need the renewable energy to go for a good price. That’s the problem with oil at the moment, and if renewables develop apace, energy prices may be forever quite low…

  6. @Pete:

    “Con MP Craig Mackinlay has been questioned about over election spending”

    The continuing story over non-disclosure of electoral spending/alleged electoral fraud is getting serious. .

    In June last year, a Kent judge who granted more time for the investigation in South Thanet, noted that the allegations were “serious” and could lead to the results being overturned.

    Also remember that, as the BBC reminds us, this is just the most high profile of similar problems in assorted additional constituencies, too.

    “Seventeen police forces across the country are looking into whether some MPs’ agents should have filed costs associated with battle bus visits to their constituencies in their local expenses.”

  7. @DAVID

    “One of the reasons behind Brexit was that much of England particularly the North felt abandoned by its government.”

    Nail very much hit on the head here, but the midlands voted Brexit by an even bigger margin than the north. Personally I would like a united British Isles, with the whole of Ireland included, and I would happily sacrifice our monarchy in order to have that. Scientists have proved time and again that there are very few genetic differences between the peoples of the British Isles. Even the Anglo-Saxon descendants form only around 3% of the English population genetically, falling from a high of 5% around Norfolk down to 1% in the west of England.

  8. Saffer

    Some of those Tory MPs in England may (or may not) have been elected via electoral fraud.

    Only the results of the police investigations, CPS decisions and eventual court proceedings would determines such.

    However, it seems odd that a massive decision on the future of the UK’s relations with the EU should be taken by a government reliant on those MP votes.

    They may all be wholly innocent – but it seems unwise for May’s Government to press ahead with a particular interpretation of the referendum vote on such a potentially precarious Commons support – though I suppose, the non-existence of an effective Lab opposition to the Tory plans lends constitutional support to her Brexit strategy,

  9. @Tancred

    Interesting that you finger the monarchy as the sticking point in British-Irish relations.

    I am not aware of any polling on the issue (it would be a bit esoteric I suppose to ask Irish voters whether a British Republic would be a bigger draw than the UK) but history records that when Britain had her great conflagrations between Kings and challengers (the Civil War, the Glorious Revolution), Catholic Irishmen fought tenaciously on behalf of the King of England.

    The most hated Englishman in Ireland, as I understand it, is Cromwell. A man with similar views on monarchy to yours I suspect.

    Of course, three centuries of conflict since the Boyne may have entrenched Republicanism as the calling card of the Irish, but one has to wonder if Queen Elizabeth mightn’t be a more attractive offer than President May.

  10. @Tancred

    agree with you on a United British Isles. Would you be prepared to give up your EU dream for that?

  11. I personally believe there is far more chance of electoral fraud via postal voting than there will be for very debatable over spending. Lots of question marks in the past over several Labour inner city wards.

  12. A few papers already reporting Sturgeon given up the ghost of EU membership, possibly even if she wins independance. Alleged polling meant to show Scotland is getting more Euro sceptic. Not sure what the data is that backs this up, but interesting if true.

  13. Neil A

    “Catholic Irishmen fought tenaciously on behalf of the King of England.”

    You could equally say that they fought tenaciously for the King of Scots – since it was the same man. Indeed, since he also claimed the French throne, King of France too!

    Alternatively, they didn’t fight for any of that Unholy Trinity -but for their own interests.

  14. Also, I know politics is as bad as football for meaningless tags, quotes and cliches, but ‘hard brexit’ surely takes the biscuit for the current ‘A’ standard of meaningless sound bites.

  15. Rich

    I think “hard” is a bad term. Its all about whether there are tariffs.

    A Tariff-Brexit?

  16. Oh I see you threw in “takes the biscuit”. A hard brexit sounds a bit like a biscuit.

  17. Rich

    I’m sure you are capable of developing an alternative to the prevailing labelling of Brexit options as –

    “Hard” – leaving single Market, Customs Union, Euratom etc


    “Soft” – staying in those organisations.

    What terms would you suggest in their place? Why would you prefer any such alternative labels?

  18. Prof Howard

    rather more than just tariffs. Quotas are important as well So is the control over standards and whether goods can be imported, and what controls need to be applied to ensure that they are compliant.

    Then there’s attestation of source. that can matter quite a lot too.

    Want to try packaging that lot into a neat label?

  19. @oldnat,

    Because any sane person would assume voting to leave the EU meant leaving the institutions it represents. That was very very clear, for right or wrong. The remain campaign, as you well know, made a huge point of the single market and the dangers of leaving that trade area. There isn’t a hard or soft Brexit, there is leaving, that’s it. Negotiation will be more on legislature and probably liabilities, not staying in those organisations.


  20. How about Low Barrier Brexit and High Barrier Brexit?

    Or Close Brexit and Far Brexit?

    In point of fact I think the characterisation of May’s stance as in favour of Hard Brexit is a bit misleading.

    She appears to be seeking a Soft Brexit, but through the means of a rapid and comprehensive bi-lateral agreement rather than membership of existing structures.

    Whether that is a sensible or realistic objective is of course open to debate.

  21. Survation has a poll

    yes 47% no 53% which is in line with recent polls. Interestingly ipsos-mori Yes 50 no 50 is a telephone poll so we might be seeing a similar effect to the EURef.

    YouGov I am discounting, I don’t trust YouGov since GE15. Always conveniently pop up with a poll to help the establishment narrative. Look at all those GE polls with Labour narrowly ahead so narrative all about hung parliament.

  22. Rich

    “Alleged polling meant to show Scotland is getting more Euro sceptic. Not sure what the data is that backs this up, but interesting if true.”

    I suspect that you are referring to this –

    Whether the text of the STV report matches what you thought, I’ll leave it to you to decide.

  23. Richo

    You sign yourself “rich”. Are your two accounts the same person?

    That you take an extreme interpretation – i understand. That you categorise those Brexiteer campaigners who said that leaving the EU did not mean leaving the Single Market as “insane” probably says more about you than any rational explanation of May’s stance.

  24. Richo/Rich

    To whomsoever I am replying – It’s an interesting point that you make. Those advocating leave (unless they were actually insane) who suggested that leaving the EU did not mean necessarily leaving the EU Single Market or Customs Union were deliberately telling porkies in order to gain votes for their real purpose.

    OK. I’m not surprised that so many on your side were so utterly dishonest, but I’m surprised to see you admitting it so carelessly.

  25. @OLDNAT

    “If not, why are you so racially deficient? Presumably, you would want to consider all those British citizens from other heritages as not matching your criteria?
    Naturally, I am not suggesting that you are a racist. You manage to do that all by yourself!”

    Utter balderdash. I’m not racist at all, but there is no denying that nations need to have a degree of genetic unity – I emphasize a degree, not 100%. Otherwise why not just have a united world? No nations at all, just world government and local authorities in each country.

  26. ScotCen has an interesting analysis of attitudes to indy.

    Those within and outwith Scotland (who want to understand the actual dynamic – as opposed to what tee London Press says it should be) should read it.

  27. Tancred

    Of course there is denying it. On the basis that it is a ludicrous claim.

    Genetics does not lead to culture which is the biggest difference between countries or even regions within countries or even the village over the hill.

    Unless you have discovered the “queueing gene”

  28. Tancred

    Gosh, nations need genetic unity… (actually, Hungary’s prime minister said it last week)

    As this unity doesn’t exist in the current British population, I suppose you mean/s exterminating those who don’t fit to achieve the homogeneity, or at least sterilise them.

    As far as,I’m aware, there is one species, called homo sapiens sapiens, as defined by genetics.So do you want to exclude people on recessive genes (like eye colour). One of these indeed define skin colour, but why do you prefer this (in contrast to colour of hair, blood group, etc) apart from racism?

  29. ‘Westminster voting intention:
    CON: 44% (-)
    LAB: 27% (+2)
    LDEM: 10% (-)
    UKIP: 9% (-2)

    (via YouGov)’

    Another good poll for the Tories – though 27% is Labour’s highest rating with Yougov since the end of November. Given that Yougov has consistently been producing Labour’s lowest ratings for six months , we might see other pollsters putting them at circa 30%.

  30. Laszlo

    That’s ridiculous!

    Clearly we need to exterminate the tongue rollers first.

  31. Graham

    Alternatively, that is the top of Labour’s range within sampling error.

    As ever, need more evidence.

  32. S Thomas

    To be fair the “ein volk” and the other two components of the slogan fits the UK government more.than the SNP. It is now a seriously English nationalist, autocracy-favouring government (with the full support of Labour, of course).

  33. @Saffer

    I wonder if It’s this story perhaps more than any other that might force an early general election. It doesn’t look good. The easiest way to brush it under the carpet is to have a GE and then kop a fine only. Half a dozen or more by-elections down the track against a backdrop of electoral spending fraud would be a nightmare for TM

  34. @ Colin

    Your own post about whining Scots might well be seen as whining itself and with a little ill will extrapolated to encompass “ein volk”. There is no need for Scots and English to be shirty with each other.

    @ bantams
    @ carfrew
    Here is one way oil price falls bring a drop in production costs. The supply chain has to try to stay in business.

  35. ON

    i would agree with Pte B about your insult to Tancred. The use of the word ‘dangerous” was way over the top.On the other hand No one could complain about the rest of your comment :-)

  36. Tancred,
    “Personally I would like a united British Isles, with the whole of Ireland included, and I would happily sacrifice our monarchy in order to have that. ”

    But the monarchy isnt the problem. The Queen seemed well received on her trip to the republic. The problem which Ireland has had has been with the English government, and this has been the same story in Scotland for the last 40 years or so. The monarch no longer plays any part in government.

    Someone posted the politcal compass website in the last thread, where they plot established parties by affiliation. The SNP comes aout as the nearest to a centrist party, and also happens to be the most popular UK party. Anyone arguing that politicians should claim the middle ground might find this supporting their argumnet. Only thing is, on this chart labour, conservatives and lib dem are all way to the right. Sinn Fein are shown as rather more centrist.

    If you believe Scotland and England are essentially similar and should be united, then the conclusion might be that the English parties all need to move sharply to the left to reclaim the centre and actually get some popularity. Not just in Scotland, but in England too.

    If there really is such a fundamental difference between Scots and English, then it has to be questioned whether they should be part of one nation.

  37. Richo,
    “Because any sane person would assume voting to leave the EU meant leaving the institutions it represents”

    I’d imagine most sane voters didnt even consider such implications. The Leave proposition was that the UK could cease to be an EU member but continue to enjoy the same trading advantages and this is what they voted for. This is still the leave message.

    Unfortunately we all know that a new trading relationship cannot be created without a myriad of enforceable details and there has to be an organisation which will enforce those rules. The EU is already such an organisation and its members are most unlikely to agree to create a brand new mirror EU just to satisfy England.

    Its no use saying people voted to utterly leave the EU and so we must have nothing to do with it, because they equally voted to continue to belong to an equivalent organisation which simply does not exist.

  38. The wee Bampot is doing a good impression of the grand old duke of york.
    having used membership of the EU as the excuse for a referendum she is now, apparently, saying that Scotland does not want to be in it anyway.Then why has the referendum been broached?
    Anything and everything will be sacrificed for her political obsession.

  39. “I think “hard” is a bad term. Its all about whether there are tariffs.”

    Tariffs are largely irrelevant.

    As the nobel prize winning international trade economist Paul Krugman states import tariffs are paid for by the importer in the grand scheme of things.

    So if the EU raises tariffs, they just tax themselves. Or the theory of free trade is bunkum. Either way favours the UK just going its own way.

  40. @Danny

    Absolutely – I couldn’t agree more; those of the Remain side who pointed out the problem with choosing a course that required us to both eat our cake and still retain it were told they were pessimists and talking the UK down.

    I do not want Brexit to fail – I want this country to succeed; however I reserve the right to point out what I consider factual inaccuracies put forward by the more ardent Brexiteers.

    The fact is that key leaders of the Leave campaign told voters that we could have all the benefits of access to the Single Market while leaving its institutions.

    All the indications are that, on this point at least, the Brexit leaders’ statement was the utter rubbish that many of us suspected. If they turn out to be wrong, they should be held to account -just like any other politician who takes a really bad call that damages the country.

    The only question IMHO is whether they knew it was rubbish when they said it and deliberately misled, or whether they really thought that the UK is so special that it will get its own wonderful, bespoke deal…

    [By the way, I would say the same about the worst of the ‘Brexit Armageddon’ statements on the Remain side – it’s not all one way]

  41. I think it is important to avoid AD HOMINEM comments on this forum.

    I have never made one, I think, except positive ones.

    Strangely they are not ruled out explicitly in the comments policy but I would encourage regulars to adopt this unofficially.

  42. @Neil Wilson

    That doesn’t make sense to me – if the importing country consumers absorb the cost of tariffs on imported goods, surely that just means the exporting country’s goods are more expensive and therefore trade at a disadvantage.

    Even more relevant in this multi-national age, large corporations will be incented to relocate activities to places that are within the tariff- free zone as it makes their products relatively cheaper and more competitive.

    In both instances the volume of goods sold by the exporting country will fall – all other things being equal – leading to a loss of employment and GDP in the exporting country.

    Why does any of that favour the exporting country?

  43. I agree ProfHoward it is sad that people feel the need to try to demonise or belittle character rather than let the power of their reasoning be their strength

  44. I just had another go at Political Compass, putting in a slightly ‘top right’ biased interpretation of what Labour policy was in 2015. In other words, I pretended they were a bit more right wing and authoritarian than I believe they actually were.
    ‘My’ red dot comes out practically dead centre, on the line authortarian/libertarian and a tiny smidgeon to the right of centre.
    I conclude form this that the interpretation made by Political Compass of the views of the Labour party is nonsense.
    Anybody know how they came to the conclusion they did?
    (For clarity, my own personal red dot – minus 8 point something on both axes – makes the green party look like UKIP)

  45. Well we will have some real poll data later today from Holland, anybody know what time we should expect the results?

  46. The Times reports a Yougov Indy2 poll

    Yes 43%

    No 57%

    after DK’s taken into account.

    This is the first time since a month before Indy1 that these numbers have been reproduced.

  47. @Tancred

    ” Personally I would like a united British Isles, with the whole of Ireland included, and I would happily sacrifice our monarchy in order to have that.”

    I share that preference, but on the grounds of geography and history, not genetics (provided that this is predicated on mutual respect and equality between partners, not on English hegemony). I don’t see it happening.

    I disagree with you fundamentally that nations “must” be based on a degree of common ethnicity,. As a South African (now UK resident), I know only too well the dangers created by that assumption. Yes, shared ethnicity is helpful for nationhood, but is neither a necessary nor a sufficient condition. There are in fact good counter-examples to your proposition.

    Just consider the obvious example of the USA, which has a very firm and proud understanding of its own national identity, but which is also very famously an ethnic melting pot.

  48. The Times is reporting that part of the reason for delay in triggering Article 50 is that there are “deep divisions” in cabinet over the letter doing so.

    If they can’t agree on that, how will they ever agree on the details of an actual negotiating position? (To say nothing of persuading their EU counterparts).

  49. @Bantams

    “The Times reports a Yougov Indy2 poll
    Yes 43%
    No 57%
    after DK’s taken into account.
    This is the first time since a month before Indy1 that these numbers have been reproduced.”

    Excludes 16-17 year olds, and is not consistent with any other recent Indy2 polls.

  50. @Saffer

    Both South Africa and the US are interesting examples of ethnicity in action.

    South Africa seems to be a place where ethnicity is still, long after the end of Apartheid, an extremely strong theme. Politicians talk of stripping land and assets away from “whites”. People riot in protest at the migration of workers from other parts of Africa. Politics is still to some extent sectarian in nature. I agree with you that South Africa is an illustration of the dangers of “ethnic politics”, but I am not sure that there is a clear path to a better future based on the abandonment of ethnic identity. Theoretically a melting pot South Africa, with political and language barriers between the “nations” breaking down completely and a future built on everyone speaking English and voting purely on left-right axes would be advantageous, but I don’t think it’s a very organic solution.

    America is often quoted as an example, but to me it is a very, very poor one. Racism is extremely deep-seated even in more genteel parts of society, and this includes attitudes in the non-white communities about each other and about whites. Just look at what happened to Rachel Dolezal for trying to choose to be “black”.

    It’s true that amongst the “pre-eminent white tribes” (Italian-American, Jewish, Irish-American etc) there is a fairly harmonious coooperation and interaction. But essentially they are cooperating in the occupation of the territory of a different race.

    For ethnicity to be abandoned as a principle of cohesion and belonging, the US would have to reverse the idea that Native Americans have a special status as the first residents of the continent.

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