Following Nicola Sturgeon’s announcement that she would seek a second referendum on Scottish Independence there are three polls on the subject in today’s papers.

Firstly there is a YouGov poll in the Times. As with the Survation poll, the fieldwork for this was actually begun before Nicola Sturgeon’s announcement – it just happened to be in the field when she made her announcement. Topline figures on Scottish independence were YES 43%, NO 57%. While this is not a significant change since YouGov’s last Scottish poll in November, it’s the largest lead YouGov have recorded for NO since before the first independence referendum (note also that the sample here was over 18s. 16 and 17 year olds are normally seen as a more pro-Indy demographic, so might have shifted it ever so slightly towards YES) (tabs)

Secondly there was a Survation poll in the Daily Mail, also conducted over the weekend. This had topline figures of YES 47%, NO 53%, the same as in their previous Scottish poll last September. Survation also asked about whether there should be a second referendum “before the UK leaves the European Union” – 41% supported this, 46% were opposed.

Finally there were results from the Scottish Social Attitudes Survey in the Scotsman. The SSAS is a large scale random probability survey conducted each year – these are high quality samples, but by definition take a very long time, so this was conducted in autumn last year. The survey does not ask how people would vote in a referendum, but does have a long term tracker on whether people think Scotland should be independent and outside the EU, independent and inside the EU, have devolution with taxation powers, devolution without taxation powers or no devolution. This wave of the survey found 46% of people in favour of independence, the highest recorded so far in the SSAS and up from 39% in the 2015 wave of the survey. In John Curtice‘s paper on the survey he explains how some of that is down to the fact that in the previous wave a substantial number of those who voted YES in the referendum opted for a form of devolution when asked the multi-option question in the SSAS survey, but that in this wave YES voters were more likely to follow through with support for full independence in the SASS question.

We still have a mixed picture. Overall the picture appears to be a lead for NO, but YouGov and Panelbase’s polls have the proportion of people supporting Scottish independence broadly the same as at the 2014 referendum (though there appears to be some churn underneath that), but BMG’s last few polls and MORI’s last poll have suggested things moving towards a much tighter race. The sheer infrequency of Scottish polls means we can’t really be sure if that variation is down to methodology or just us reading too much into normal sample variation. Either way, Nicola Sturgeon has only taken the very first step towards a second referendum; there is an extremely long way to go and I’m sure we’ll have an awful lot more polling on the subject and far more time to examine differences between them.

185 Responses to “Latest Scottish Independence polling”

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  1. Anthony,

    Thanks for that another good post.

    On the last thread I stated that I thought the conclusion in the SSAS that Euroscepticism had risen was misplaced.

    I felt a more likely explanation was, inspire of legitimate attempts to neutralise it, peoples reaction to the reality of brexit.

    in effect since 2014 the question has crystallised in voters minds from “What o you think of the EU, through What are we going to do about the EU to what do you think of what we’ve done about the EU”

    That’s not a criticism of the SSAS so much as an indication of how both referenda have altered not just the political landscape but public perceptions.

    I am of the view that this is more about attitudes to Brexit and how we deal with it that the EU.

    Any thoughts?


  2. @PC SNP “Any thoughts?”
    Afew letters mistyped, and too many ‘it’ ‘s make it hard to be sure what you mean.

  3. Looks like the No voters in Scotland have done a petition against IndyRef2, and it has reached the 100,000 to get a debate in Parliament.

    The wording of the petition is interesting: – “Another Scottish independence referendum should not be allowed to happen We in Scotland are fed up of persecution by the SNP leader who is solely intent on getting independence at any cost. As a result, Scotland is suffering hugely.”

    Parliament is going to have so much fun debating whether Sturgeon is persecuting the Scots! :-)

  4. Candy,

    Which Parliament? and what’s the breakdown by constituency. I am interested to see where all “We in Scotland” live?


  5. @Peter Cairns

    I think there is a map on the petition that gives the breakdown by votes and % of constituents. Alex Salmond’s constituency has been voting heavily!

    Parliament = House of Commons, and they are going to have a laugh with this! I predict suggestions of a Royal Commission to look into the persecution of Scots. Maybe we should get the UN involved too!

  6. Candy,

    A not unsurprising similarity to the map of Tory vote share in Scotland…..


  7. “I thought the conclusion in the SSAS that Euroscepticism had risen was misplaced.”


    Well Nicola seems to not be taking any chances, she’s binned the EU thing already…

  8. People are reporting approval ratings from this poll, but I couldn’t see them anywhere. Misinformation?

  9. I am pretty sure that a second referendum will be a crashing defeat for Sturgeon. She feels she needs to call one to hit back at the government, but May is on to a winner irrespective of whether she agrees to the referendum or not. There is no mass movement towards independence in Scotland, quite the opposite. Unless polls point to a consistent 55%+ in favour of independence there is little chance of a second referendum having success. To me, this is an act of desperation from an impotent politician.

  10. Tancred,

    “There is no mass movement towards independence in Scotland”

    Have you ever been North of Watford?


  11. @Tancred

    struggling to understand the logic of your argument (or its factual basis)

    Are you say that if polls consistently showed support for Independence at 54% (which would be far higher than consistently shown pre Indy Ref 1) there would be little chance of the actual result being 50.1% yes or more .

    If so you may be on the wrong site – I can recommend a few betting and astrology sites

  12. The SSAS results are interesting but they seem just to have reports not tables. Does anyone have a link to the tables?

  13. Bardini,

    The polls didn’t show Leave running at 55+% so obviously they didn’t win either!


  14. Anyone care to recollect what the Leave/Remain polling position was 12-18 months before the vote?

    To my mind, Sturgeon’s belief is that as Article 50 takes hold, and the shambles of the Brexit negotiations starts to become clear (FFS the government hasn’t even done an assessment of what teh cxonsequences of no deal would be), it will generate momentum for a Yes vote. I tend to agree.

    I also think Sturgeon is right to argue that the vote should be taken at the point when negotiations are concluded (or it is becoming clear that there will be no agreement), but before the UK actually leaves the EU. This would provide at least the option for Scotland to remain in the EU as RUK leaves – it doesn’t matter whether this would actually happen, what is perfectly valid is that the possibility should be preserved.

    I’ve said before and I’ll say again. It’s my expectation that the elections in 2020 will be fore rUK and an independent Scotland. Another feather in Cameron’s cap.

  15. @Robin

    I agree – also it will be pretty difficult for May to concentrate on Indyref to the extent Cameron and his cabinet did as they will be focusing on Brexit. Ditto the Labour party for different reasons

    The economic arguments are clearly the most vulnerable issue for YES (I don’t believe issues like security are anything like as important in decision making in Scotland as they are in England).

    On the economics May has benefited from a good start to her Prime Ministership with generally better than expected economic outlook. It will be quite influential on Indyref2 how well that holds up in the next 12-24 months.

  16. @BARDIN1

    “Are you say that if polls consistently showed support for Independence at 54% (which would be far higher than consistently shown pre Indy Ref 1) there would be little chance of the actual result being 50.1% yes or more .”

    I’m saying that polls are not scientifically accurate and taking the risk of another referendum needd to be weighed against the chances of it succeeding. In order to be certain of success you need polls showing big leads in favour.

  17. @ROBIN

    “To my mind, Sturgeon’s belief is that as Article 50 takes hold, and the shambles of the Brexit negotiations starts to become clear (FFS the government hasn’t even done an assessment of what teh cxonsequences of no deal would be), it will generate momentum for a Yes vote. I tend to agree.”

    You are assuming that Scots put a lot of importance on Brexit etc. It’s true that 62% voted remain, but many of these do not back Scottish independence. I don’t think Brexit will have anywhere near as much influence as many people feel – if it did polls would already show clear leads for independence. My feeling is that the pro-UK feeling is stronger than the pro-EU one.


    Why was the polling weighted on 2015 Westminster recalled voting rather than 2016 Holyrood?

    Also, the poll tables do not make it clear that only under 18s were excluded. Were EU citizens not eligible to vote for Westminster excluded?

  19. The prospect of continual Tory governments will have as much effect as Brexit.

    I think NS is in win-win at the moment. May delays the inevitable and gives NS an out from the huge risk of 2018 indyref but a risk that NS is willing to take or May delays the indyref – proving the ‘equal partner’ shlick was nonsense & potentially allowing an indyref at the point of maximum UK isolation & economic shock. It will also give NS a year or so more of positive demographics.

    Myself I am hoping May forces a delay…..of course it will be harder economically but it will be better politically.

  20. @TANCRED

    ..and when do you think the polls would show better numbers pro-YES for Sturgeon? Of course there’s a strong chance she will fail but there is at least some chance YES will win. If she didn’t go for it now, then Brexit would happen and the economic arguments would be even harder whether Brexit is successful fiscally for UK or not – either way Scotland going it on its own would be more frightening without the possibility of EC/EFTA options. Opinion polls are only a guide but IIRC they are showing far better for YES than they were at the same time for Indyref1 and there is a chance they will get better, just as there’s a chance they will get worse.

  21. Well, at least we will get the chance to watch Scotland’s economic disaster being played out from the sidelines if they go it alone.

  22. Nicola Sturgeon is stuck between a rock and a hard place now. She’s committed to the Scexit poll on the basis that she will take her disciples back into the EU then finds out that, actually, the Scots have become far more Eurosceptic in the last year. What does she do?

    Maybe she’ll apply to rejoin the EU, maybe she won’t. Maybe she’ll apply join the Single Market, maybe she won’t. Maybe she’ll apply to join the EEA, maybe she won’t. Maybe….maybe……maybe……


    She has to Win IndyRef2, and obtain whatever post Union economic partnership(s) she promises in that Campaign.

    If she loses the first-what is the future for NS?
    If she loses the second, what is the future for SNP?

  24. I suspect as the reality of potentially joining the EU with all its youth unemployment and debt issues looms, this might swing things back to a no vote on independence. Just a gut feel.

  25. New Scottish Social Attitude Survey puts support for independence among those aged 16-24 at an incredible 72%.

    Demographics … the youngsters have grown up with a Scottish Parliament being ruled by your bigger neighbour next door makes no sense to them

  26. Bantams

    “Nicola Sturgeon is stuck between a rock and a hard place now. She’s committed to the Scexit poll on the basis that she will take her disciples back into the EU then finds out that, actually, the Scots have become far more Eurosceptic in the last year”

    A somewhat exaggerated statement! “Disciples”??? That does suggest that you don’t really understand what is happening in Scottish politics.

    I suggest you read the ScotCen report. Yes, it refers to increase Euroscepticism in Scotland, but ” it would appear that more or less all of the overall increase in Scotland in Euroscpeticism during the EU referendum campaign occurred amongst those who wish to stay in the UK.”

    That’s not really surprising.

    If you look at the latest MORI poll, not only is support for EU membership much stronger among Yessers (64%, compared to only 31% of Noes), support for the EEA model much the same in both groups (26-27%). but opposition to an indy Scotland having any truck with Europe is a distinctly No attitude (31% of Noes, compared to only 5% of Yessers).

  27. Anthony’s attempt to create a Scottish apartheid always seems strange, considering that he has always been happy to let discussion of Europe dominate tgread after tread.

    Still, it’s his site, and he makes the rules – no matter how consistent they are.

    On the off chance that anyone is looking at this thread – Carfrew and others have asked “What has changed” since the last indyref.

    I’d suggest that a major change has been the perception of what a Tory dominated UK would be like.

    The “mood music” is important.

    While there has been movement both ways between Yes and No since 2014, the tone and decisions of many journalists like Kenny Farquerson has moved significantly.

    Jackie Kemp is an individual journalist. Her journey is no more significant than the guy in Fraserburgh who hates the EU.

    But that her journey is shared by many in the commentariat and their friends does probably have more impact.

  28. @ Old Nat

    OK, disciples might have been a bit strong but there’s a momentum building here which is recognisable to all who watch poll movement. The choice will be between Scotland as a totally independent country sorting out it’s own future or Scotland as a member of the UK sharing its future with the rest of us.

    I wouldn’t be agin a looser federal type setup where we have an English Parliament and maybe invite the Southern Irish to throw their hand in as I think they’ll be a lot better off with us.

  29. Bantams

    Yep. That’s the choice.

    Alternative models of the construction of a Confederal Union were available, but Unionists rejected them.

    So “we are where we are”. Lots of folk would have preferred not to have to make the choice, but the die was cast when Cameron chose to force a decision between independence and the current union set up, while Salmond was open to a Devo-Max option too..

    As we know, Cameron’s decision making has not been of the highest calibre!

    History repeats itself as Sturgeon offers a significant compromise on the Single Market, which May has just ignored.

    in the past, the UK has been at its best when it understood the idea of compromise and working with others.

    Sadly, the Tory party of the last few years more resembles Eden’s obsession, and the invasion of Egypt.

  30. @ Old Nat

    I don’t think TM has ignored the Single Market, I suspect she wants a clean sheet without preconditions attached and to start again completely from scratch. We’ll see.

  31. Bantams

    Sorry. I didn’t make my point clear.

    The Scottish Government paper on how Scotland could remain in the EU Single Market, while E&W went off and did their own thing, is what May ignored.

  32. @ Old Nat

    I think a deal will be done acceptable to all parties. We buy from a German company and I’m good pals with the boss. He’s heavily involved with the BDI, our equivalent of the CBI, and they are putting growing pressure on the government there to ensure they don’t cut their noses off to spite their faces.

    As long as the Brussels bureaucrats (and ours) act in the right manner there’s every chance of a deal to suit everybody.

  33. Oldnat
    Do you have a link for the MORI poll you quote – the figures seem very different from the ScotCen ones (33% of Indy supporters say they voted to leave the EU, compared with 37% of UK union supporters)?

    Some of the ScotCen data had me wondering if I was underestimating the potential for 2014 Yes-Leave voters to switch. It certainly made the EEA option look a good political compromise (as well as perhaps being easier to deliver than rolling over the UK membership of the EU, and that’s going to be a concern for risk averse voters).

  34. Bantams

    If you are right, and that a “good deal” for Scotland, as well as rUK can be achieved during the negotiations, then Scotland may well vote to continue its participation in the UK.

    Or the Tories might negotiate a great deal for SE England, but which is rubbish for the rest of the UK.

    Or the UK negotiators may be so inexperienced and lacking in knowledge that they do a really bad job.

    Or, or, or.

    That’s precisely why Sturgeon has identified the window for ScotRef that she has – to ensure that voters have the maximum amount of information before making their choice.

    No serious person would want ScotRef to be a rerun of the nonsense that was the EUref!

    Politics “isn’t a game” as so many in the EUref considered it to be. People’s futures depend on the decisions made.

  35. One (unlikely) possibility that worries me is May blocking a referendum and Holyrood holding a unilateral referendum. I can see a unionist voter boycott, leading to a constitutional crisis of major proportions, because nationalists would be tempted to take the referendum as binding even if it effectively collapsed into farce.

  36. Bill Patrick

    “One (unlikely) possibility that worries me is May blocking a referendum and Holyrood holding a unilateral referendum.”

    I agree that that prospect is unlikely – given that any Scottish parliament decision to hold a referendum without Section 30 agreement would inevitably lead to legal challenge.

    While I also think this possibility unlikely, an easier route would be for the Scottish Parliament to precipitate a General Election, and declare that the result would provide the authorisation (or not) for negotiating independence.

  37. @Peter Cairns

    A third to a half of the votes are outside of Scotland. Same old story. “We in Scotland” is nothing of the sort.

  38. @ Old Nat

    Whether we like it or nor the Tories are the only show in town. And to say the reason Nicola Sturgeon is calling for another referendum just.before the UK leaves the EU is for the greater good of Scottish voters is either tongue in cheek or just a little naive.

  39. Bantams

    What town do you live in? The Tories are very much a “no show” in mine.

    I have no idea what your last sentence is supposed to mean. It seems to be a mixture of confusion and resentment, but perhaps you can explain what you meant in a more rational way.

    Don’t you understand the sense of Scots having the maximum amount of information about what Brexit would actually entail, before being asked to make their decision – while still leaving time to alter the direction of travel?

  40. @ Old Nat

    When it comes to negotiating Brexit the Tories are the only show in town.

    The only change in direction the Scots can make in Spring 2019 is to go it completely alone out into the big wide world. There’s no resentment or confusion from my perspective, I want the best outcome for Scotland. The timing could be considered to be a purely political decision to cause the maximum disruption and not really to give Scottish voters the ability to absorb a full breakdown of the facts. That can only be achieved by waiting until we leave the EU and to see whether or not the UK has a good enough deal and also to see if the prospects with none EU countries are genuinely looking promising. Spring 2020 might be a better date.

  41. Bantams

    Ah. You just meant that the Tories are the UK Government, and will be the ones negotiating Brexit.

    Thanks for the information, but like everybody else, I already knew that.

    For all I know, your choice of a “better date” for ScotRef might be motivated by the best interests of Scotland – though from the tenor of your posts, that does seem a little unlikely.

    However, your views on the best timing are just as irrelevant as mine – though I have the good sense not to take a view on that, since it’s a matter of fine judgment, and not just the arbitrary position of some random poster who isn’t privy to the full range of data available to the FM.

    I have no objection to your taking a position on that – I just hope you realise how meaningless that position is.

    In Scotland “the SNP and the SGP are the only shows in town”.

  42. “A third to a half of the votes are outside of Scotland. Same old story. “We in Scotland” is nothing of the sort.”

    If you look at petition map, you’ll see that the concentration is from Scottish constituencies. The rest of the UK has been very restrained in avoiding getting involved in the issue.

  43. @Neil

    At 591 constituencies, and let’s say average of 100 votes each (some are well above 100, some are well below), that’s 59K of the 144K so far.

    ‘Restrained’ it may be, but 1/10th of rUK can more than match Scotland vote for vote.

    If anything, it highlights the democratic deficit that Scotland faces every time rUK involves itself in Scottish matters.

  44. Oldnat
    Thanks for that link. I guess what the figures tell us is that a rather large proportion of UK union supporters would prioritise independent Scotland’s relationship with the UK over her relationship with the EU (subject to all the usual caveats about how bad people are at answering hypothetical questions).

    I find that surprising, but perhaps I shouldn’t – there are other data indicating that Scottish independence is an emotional matter of identity for people on both sides. A warning to me to remember the biases in the wee Scottish sample to which I have privileged access!

  45. Sorbus

    “a rather large proportion of UK union supporters would prioritise independent Scotland’s relationship with the UK over her relationship with the EU”

    In this case, I’d suggest it’s probably more accurate to say “Scotland’s relationship with” England. Sadly, Wales is seldom mentioned by anyone (!) and NI is a different issue.

    I’ve commented before that most small nations, faced with a much larger and dominant neighbour) are split as to how to manage that situation. That’s been true throughout Scottish history, and we have adopted different strategies at different times – depending on which view gains control over decision making.

    Both are perfectly reasonable strategies, and both are designed to protect Scottish interests. To caricature them –

    1. Stick close to England, and manoeuvre within its politics, to extract the most you can get for Scotland.

    2. Create strong alliances with England’s rivals, and manoeuvre within their politics, to extract the most you can get for Scotland.

  46. Peter Cairns

    It is many years since i last made a comment on this site in reply to one of yours ( it was about local income tax-what happened to that?).

    As an Englishman married to a Scot and resident in Edinburgh for 31 years and somebody who suffered racial abuse during the last independence campaign I view with utter horror the prospect of another one. if you want to drive people like me out of Scotland then your party is going the right way about it. I have yet to meet a single person on either side of the fence who wants another referendum.
    It is not too late to turn back

  47. @ Nick Keene

    I do. Can’t tell you why on this site, though. Do you think UK government has been good for Scotland as a whole?

  48. May has said she’ll block a Scottish referendum. It’ll all kick off now. Another monumentally stupid move from the Conservative & Unionist party. This now becomes a battle of ‘who governs Scotland’ – the MPs and MSPs elected by the Scottish people of WM Tories ….. only one winner.

    So NS next move – vote in Holyrood – it will be fun to see if the Labour line will hold this might just push a few over the edge

    Then request for section 30 order
    Section 30 order request officially refused
    Possible court case – EU court on Right of self-determination or UN
    Possible Scottish Parliament election Autumn 2018, Spring 2019
    Possible indyref Autumn 2018 or Spring 2019

    Who knows but independence now inevitable

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