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. Hireton

    The actual figures in that YG Full Scottish poll were (changes from Nov in brackets) –

    May : Well 37% (+1) : Badly 47% (+7)
    Corbyn : Well 13% (-7) : Badly 69% (+14)
    Sturgeon : Well 50% (-3) : Badly 37% (-2)
    Dugdale : Well 26% (+3) : Badly 42% (-2)
    Davidson : Well 47% (-2) : Badly 29% (+5)

  2. Bantams,
    ” 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.”

    I agree with Oldnat, and indeed that analysis of polling he mentioned. Brexit is a perfect example of how the English failed to implement their promises to give Scotland more say after nearly losing the last referendum. Sturgeon has been playing a long game here, producing discussion papers and seeking to negotiate a special deal for Scotland. Only for it all to be turned down pretty much out of hand. And then May caps it all by saying Scotland is not allowed to reconsider the matter.

    You might not be agin a federal Uk, but the tories are.

  3. @Oldnat

    I am aware of the “holding pen” discussions. So far as I am a aware they envisaged an independence vote before Brexit happens. That’s sort of my point.

    Having a referendum next year gives the SNP time to get arrangements in place for a smooth transition. That increases (IMO) the prospect of a successful Yes campaign by removing some of the doubts of “Heart Says Yes, Head Says No” voters.

    I think May’s motive in denying this is to remove that succour, and force the Yes campaign into a situation where all they can offer is the uncertainty of a negotiation with the EU and/or EFTA from outside the club.

    Of course, it may well be that disapproval of her move in Scotland will outweigh any benefit she might have been seeking to the No camp, but the proof of that pudding will as always be in the polling. It seems to me that the robotic “Now is not the time” message was coded to match what her advisors tell her the Scottish polls are saying.

    There is also the potential fly in the ointment of the two year A50 period being extended by mutual agreement, or a transitional deal being agreed, either of which might put the UK government in a cleft stick of either having to continue denying Indyref2, or letting it go ahead whilst smooth continuity is still feasible.

  4. Neil A

    Brexit wasn’t on the table in 2014, so it could hardly have been part of the EU planning back then! :-)

  5. @Oldnat

    Yes I phrased it badly.

    EU planning was based on the presumption that the UK would be in the EU at the point that Scotland became indepdent, which amounts to the same thing.

    Delaying Indyref2 breaks that presumption, which is why I think Sturgeon didn’t want to wait (and why May does).

  6. Although in point of fact, there were also “Holding Pen” discussions after the referendum result.

  7. Neil A

    “EU planning was based on the presumption that the UK would be in the EU at the point that Scotland became independent, which amounts to the same thing.”

    Mmm. That’s hardly “amounting to the same thing”!

    The entire point of the EU holding pen idea was simply to prevent the needless discontinuity of Scotland being in the EU, then temporarily out of it, then back in.

    In that respect the EU seems much more rational than the UK.

  8. I’m slightly surprised that nobody on here – or anywhere I have seen in the media – has mentioned that May’s apparent attempt to postpone indyref2 until after the UK has left the EU would automatically improve her chances of a No vote by removing the Scottish franchise from resident EU citizens.

  9. BZ

    no one cares.Not on this thread anyway. As old nat says:this thread is the servants quarters.

  10. Barbazenzero

    I had a quick look at the text of the Scotland Act 2016, but these Acts which are mainly a list of amendments to the substantive Act, are a pain to follow.

    The Scottish Parliament was given (and, of course, it can be removed) control over the franchise in Scottish elections – but I’m not sure of the limits on that power. I suspect that we would not be able to use the UK’s digital register without Fluffy approving, but might Scotland be able to maintain its own register?

    The rights of EU citizens currently include the right to vote in local elections, and the EU is keen to prioritise settling the issue of citizen rights early in the Brexit process. They may be keen to insist that existing EU citizens in the UK keep all of their existing rights.

  11. @BBZ

    I agree with Oldnat. I expect that all EU citizens that could have voted in 2018 and remain in the UK by 2020/21 are extremely likely to continue to enjoy the franchise under some negotiated agreement.

    But I do agree with you that it is not an irrelevant factor, as it may be that the general mood of EU citizens during Brexit is one of wanting to leave the UK, and that although pro rata one might expect this to be less an issue in Scotland than in England, it may still be that there are less EU citizens residing in Scotland in 2020/21 than there will be in 2018.

    Is the UK government that cynical? Probably. But I am not sure the net vote share gain for “No” would be particularly great. In all honestly I doubt it crossed their minds.

  12. @S Thomas.

    Don’t be an ass. Personally I think AW’s bifurcation of the debate has helped keep both threads more on topic and made it far easier to follow the conversations than if they were all mingled together.

  13. @Oldnat

    Re: “amounting to the same thing”.

    Of course not in literal terms, but in terms of the point I was making then I think that’s a fair characterisation. Of course you don’t want to engage with the point I’m making, so fair enough.

  14. Neil A

    It’s not “not wanting to engage with your point” – it’s not being at all sure of what point you are trying to make!

  15. @Oldnat

    1) The SNP and the EU had a plan for how to handle Scotland post-independence.

    2) If Scotland votes for Independence well in advance of Brexit that plan is still viable.

    3) If Scotland votes for Independence after Brexit, that plan is no longer viable.

    4) Scottish voters are likely to be more confident of the financial outlook for Scotland if 2) applies than if 3) applies.

    5) Financial confidence is likely (in my opinion) to be a major issue for swing voters in Indyref2.

  16. OLDNAT
    The rights of EU citizens currently include the right to vote in local elections, and the EU is keen to prioritise settling the issue of citizen rights early in the Brexit process. They may be keen to insist that existing EU citizens in the UK keep all of their existing rights.

    Quite so, and I’m sure the word will somehow find its way to Brussels & the EU27. I do seem to recall May saying that sorting out rights of EU citizens will be an early priority but somehow I don’t see what she suggests it as a positive way of winning friends.

    NEIL A
    In all honestly I doubt it crossed their minds.

    Perhaps not in Westminster – it’s more likely that they had no interest in or knowledge of the franchises in devolved areas – but someone like Davidson could well have briefed them.

  17. Neil A

    1) As far as I know, the SNP had no knowledge of the EU contingency plan in 2014. If they had, I’m damn sure they would have used it!

    2) Agreed

    3) Here’s where I don’t understand your point. It would be just as easy for the EU to plan for that procedure to be adopted again. Certainly, the longer the gap between the UK Government legislating to remove the acquis communautaire and indy makes it necessary for the Scottish Government to keep track of such changes, and have the legislation in preparation to instantly restore them – but they are well aware of that need.

    4) and 5) Agreed – but that situation only becomes relevant if your version of 3) is correct – which I don’t think it is.

  18. @Oldnat

    If you read Dr Hughes’ comments in the article I linked, perhaps she explains it better.

    Speaking to Holyrood’s Europe Committee, she said: “I talk to people in Brussels, off the record, who are talking about Scotland being in some sort of transitional holding pen. It wouldn’t have a seat in the Council of Ministers until ratification of the treaties, but it wouldn’t have to go through an absurd out and then in process.”

    On the timing of a future referendum, Dr Hughes added: “If Scotland waits until nearly the end of the two years to say, ‘This isn’t okay and now we’re having an independence referendum’, you might not have had that and had time to have the negotiations with the rest of the UK on dissolving the union before the whole of the UK has left.

    “So, it’s obviously a very big political judgement about whether and when to call an independence referendum. If it was only a question of logic, you would call it as soon as possible in my view.

    “You would call it, let’s say, by next summer because then you would have actually had the dissolution talks – if it was successful – with the UK before the UK left. That would make it much easier for the EU to get into some of these transitional holding pen arrangements than otherwise.”

  19. Neil A

    We aren’t really disagreeing.

    Would it be easier if an indy decision were made earlier rather than later? Obviously (and that was Hughes was saying to the Committee)

    Is the timing totally within the control of the Scottish Parliament? Obviously not.

    If the delay is caused by May’s intransigence, and not the choice of Scotland, will that make the EU less prepared to accommodate the reality of where Scotland was forced to be? I doubt it, but neither of us can know. It’s one of these glass half-full or half-empty questions.

    I’ve said that journos/commentators don’t know everything!, but some of them do decent research.

    The comments of Alberto Nardelli, the Europe Editor of Buzzfeed are worth noting – at the very least he has talked to lots of key individuals around the EU – which is more than you or I have done!

    Lots of the usual confusion about independent Scotland and EU:

    1) In terms of process, Scotland would need to apply to become an EU member
    2) But Scotland meets most of the criteria. Have yet to meet one official/gov’t that doesn’t think Scotland would go through process fast
    3) There is a question of interim: how can some argue UK can get a transitional deal, but Scotland can’t (when latter’s would be simpler)?
    4) Finally, I wouldn’t underestimate the amount of goodwill there is in EU towards Scotland/Sturgeon

  20. Nytol – and thanks Neil A for an interesting discussion. No doubt we will revisit the topic! :-)

  21. @OLDNAT “In response to a tweet from an SNP MP “Just imagine Brussels had told the UK that they are not allowed to have a referendum. That’s the difference between Scotland’s ‘two Unions.’”
    with May blundered straight into this obvious trap.
    Almost too awful to watch.

    Yeah except that the EU ignores the outcomes of Referendums and the UK does not!

  22. There is a lot of discussion here about whether May’s comments might not be more likely to inflame Scotland in favour of independence rather than against it.

    Ok, so why would conservatives want Scotland to stay in the UK? Her principle goals are presumably
    1) Maintain a parliamentary majority. Scotland is 50 seats which are not likely tro come her way and if anything more likely to lend support to labour. Solution, Scotland becomes independent.
    2) Passify Leave and eliminate UKIP. So all speeches must be critical of any voice critical of leave, regardless of other consequences.
    3) Make noises more generally appealing to other English voters, Scotland’s being already lost. Criticising Scotland for interfering in England’s politcal decison making.
    3) Fix the deficit, which has to include the subsidy of Scotland.

    Is the strategy really one of deliberately pushing Scotland out? (but of course not being seen to do so)

  23. @seachange

    Which referendum results have the EU ignored and how did they do that?

  24. Neil A

    i think the correct spelling is “arse” an “ass” is a donkey although perhaps you meant that.

  25. Hireton

    Aren’t you the lucky one.

    The worst incident -witnessed thank goodness-occurred in my golf club where I was accused of stealing Scotland’s assets and told to f…off back to England. Charming !

    What polling evidence is there that people want another referendum before Brexit?


  26. Nick Keene,

    “What polling evidence is there that people want another referendum before Brexit?”

    Eh,…. the topic before this one….


  27. @Nick Keene

    Perhaps they just don’t like you?

  28. The SNP are quite funny. They condemn how unprepared we are to negotiate with the EU but they have said pretty much nothing about the type of arrangement that they are after if they split from the UK. This will be a much more tricky separation.
    Any referendum should have 3 options.
    Stay in the UK
    Independent in the EU
    Fully independent.
    They are all very different.

  29. Just been reading an article by Fraser Nelson. He is the editor of The Spectator and a scotsman.
    He says the Scottish Green Party has no mandate to vote with the SNP next week in the Scottish Parliament as their last manifesto said they would only be in favour of a second referendum if there was a clear majority of the Scots in favour.
    Nelson says that as all polling shows there is not, the Scottish Greens should vote against the SNP.

  30. Jasper22,

    “Nelson says that as all polling shows there is not, the Scottish Greens should vote against the SNP.”

    They aren’t voting for a referendum, they are voting to ask Westminster for a Section 30 order to be allowed to hold one.


  31. @robertd

    You may recall.that the UK Government were adamant in the last indyref that there could only be one question on the ballot paper. Are you suggesting they will do a u turn on that?

  32. Hireton,

    You can’t bind future Governments.

    The format and timing of a future referendum is open for discussion and debate.


  33. @jasper 22

    Here is a link to the Scottish Green ‘s 2016 Manifesto:

    See if you can find the reference on an independence referendum which Nelson refers to. Hint: you can’t as it is isn’t there.

  34. @Peter Cairns SNP

    I know, I’m just teasing our Unionist friend.

  35. Do you think we can keep this thread running until Indy2?

    We might get ourselves in the Guinness Book of Records for the longest ever thread, maybe raise a bit of dosh for charity.

  36. Well i guess I think the Union is best for Scotland, as do most Scots it seems.

    Independence in the Eu is pretty bad for Greece, and it would be even worse for Scotland. I expect Scotland would only be accepted in if it accepts to be a net contributor. Scotland has a worse deficit and would instantly face the same types of issues as Greece does in its negotiations with Germany etc.

    The SNP are trying to open a rather unpleasant Pandoras box. Maybe they will get what they wish for, but often than ends up not being qutie what you imagine.

  37. RobertD,

    Most people who launch into anti independence rants try to separate them out into separate posts to avoid contradicting themselves…

    “Independence in the Eu is pretty bad for Greece”
    But not Germany or Sweden….

    “I expect Scotland would only be accepted in if it accepts to be a net contributor. Scotland has a worse deficit ”

    If we have the worst deficit we aren’t going to be a net contributor, though I have no problem that if we are and we get on fine with the Germans.

    As to Pandoras box, some think they can control it but you can’t, it’s going to open you just have to deal with it.

    Thinking if you hide or walk away from a problem your safe doesn’t work.

    Almost all the problems we’ll face if we are Independent are only variations of the ones we’ll face if we stay.

    The world for the UK after Brexit will have more or less like the one before there’s no running away.



    “Nelson says that as all polling shows there is not, the Scottish Greens should vote against the SNP.”
    They aren’t voting for a referendum, they are voting to ask Westminster for a Section 30 order to be allowed to hold one.

    Either I am extremely dense, or else this amounts to exactly the same thing and you are being extraordinarily pedantic even by your standards.

  39. I guess I thought that contributor vs receiver is decided on GDP per head not the govt deficit. Maybe this is not the case.

    It may be a point up for negotiation I guess. I would think it unlikely that after losing one of the main contributor that the EU is going to vote for a receiver.

    I am surprised you think I am ranting. I am just trying to point out some of the tricky issues that the SNP like to ignore.

  40. @Peter Cairns.

    Do you think it is a contradiction to say the EU is bad for Greece?

    Because it is good for Germany?

    I do not understand this. Perhaps it is wrong, but I do not see how it has to be a contradiction.

  41. @ RobertD

    Has the EU been bad for Ireland?

  42. @bardin1

    I do not know if the EU is bad for Ireland.

    I think the case for Greece is much easier to say. They were fed outrageous amounts of debt. They have no good way out of it.

  43. Scottish Greens on independence:

    “If a new referendum is to happen, it should come about by the will of the people, and not be driven by calculations of party political advantage.”

    Since the majority of people on Scotland oppose a second referendum, does this mean that the Greens will vote against an indyref2 bill at Holyrood?

    Answer: probably not, since this was only a manifesto, not a statement of what the Greens are expected to really believe!

  44. Sturgeon blinks first?

    It is all looking a bit gamed by sturgeon. A litttle predictable. When May wont talk to her then it is another grevience to file away. The only problem for NS is that she has managed to unite a large no of scots behind a Tory PM.Great tactics.

  45. I think that both sides seem rather underprepared and generally unpolished. This isn’t surprising from the UK government, whose minds are all on Brexit, but I would have thought that the SNP could have put on a more slick operation, as they did in 2011.

  46. I wonder if NS has had some private polling done, it’s been a quick drawback.

  47. Bill Patrick

    “Since the majority of people on Scotland oppose a second referendum”

    I’m not sure that question has been asked in polls, so it’s unclear as to what evidence you have for such an assertion.

    Most of the polling has concerned the timing of a second indy ref.

    The most recent poll that I can think of which would allow any kind of extrapolation to a conclusion about your assertion would seem to contradict you.

    Survation (March 2017) about what May should do in reference to a request for a 2nd indy ref –

    36% – Refuse to devolve the power to hold a referendum to the Scottish government

    32% – Agree to devolve the power to hold a referendum to the Scottish government

    18% – Agree to devolve the power to hold a referendum to the Scottish government, but only after the UK exits the EU in 2019

    Badly worded question, of course, since a Section 30 order transfers power to the Scottish Parliament, not Government.

    However, only 36% consider that the Scottish Parliament should not get the Section 30 powers to hold an indy ref.

  48. @RobertD

    I agree re Greece – but I think Ireland is a far closer parallel to Scotland

  49. Bardin1

    “I think Ireland is a far closer parallel to Scotland”

    In a number of fairly obvious ways – population etc – I agree.

    The problem of making any economic comparisons with Scotland, we just don’t have the data to make a judgement as to which other EEA state would be the best comparator.

    As Richard Murphy has been pointing out, the GERS figures are the most thorough disaggregation of UK statistics to a sub-state level, but that doesn’t stop them being CRAP (Completely Rubbish AProximations).

    Not that little matters like the data being dodgy has ever stopped any politician from any side on any issue plucking figures out, and claiming that they are unassailable “facts”!

  50. YG Full Sottish poll – more data (via Scot Goes Pop)

    Holyrood VI

    Constituency Ballot
    SNP 51% (+3)
    Greens 4% (+1)

    Conservatives 24% (-1)
    Labour 14% (-1)
    Liberal Democrats 6% (n/c)
    UKIP 1% (n/c)

    Regional list ballot :
    SNP 40% (+1)
    Greens 12% (+1)
    RISE 1% (n/c)

    Conservatives 25% (+1)
    Labour 14% (n/c)
    Liberal Democrats 5% (-1)
    UKIP 2% (-2)

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