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.


ComRes have a poll in Sunday’s Independent and the Sunday Mirror. Most interestingly, it found that people agreed by 45% to 39% that John Bercow was right to refuse to invite Donald Trump to address the Commons, but also that people thought by 47% to 37% that the Queen should meet Donald Trump if he visits the country. As we’ve already seen elsewhere, the British public have little sympathy for Donald Trump’s immigration policy (33% think he was right, 52% think he was wrong) though it’s worth noting that the question wording went considerably wider than Trump’s actual policy (ComRes asked about halting immigration from “Muslim-majority” countries in general, whereas Donald Trump’s policy deals with seven specific countries they claim have an issue with terrorism or vetting).

The poll also had voting intention figures of CON 41%, LAB 26%, LDEM 11%, UKIP 11%, GRN 4%. This is the first ComRes voting intenton poll since way back in June 2016 – after one of the poorer performing polls in the EU referendum (the final ComRes poll had Remain eight points ahead), they paused their voting intention polls while they conducted a review into their methods. They have now recommenced voting intention polls with – as far as I can tell – no changes to their pre-referendum methods. ComRes’s view appears to be that the referendum was an exceptional event, and while the turnout model they adopted after the polling errors of 2015 worked badly there, it worked well at the London mayoral election, so is being retained for Westminster polls. For better or for worse, the ComRes results seem to be very much in line with those from other companies, with a Conservative lead in the mid-teens.

Full tabs for the ComRes poll are here.

While I’m here, I should also mention a BMG Scottish poll that came out at the start of the week (I’ve been laid low with a heavy cold). Voting intention in a second independence referendum stood at YES 49%(+3.5%), NO 49%(-3.5%). This is the lowest lead for NO that any Scottish Indy poll has recorded since the EU referendum. This was interpreted by the Herald as a response to Theresa May’s announcement of her negotiating stance on Brexit. I think that is somewhat premature – so far we’ve had two Scottish polls conducted since May’s speech, a Panelbase poll showing a very small (and not statistically significant) movement towards NO and a BMG poll showing a somewhat larger (but still barely significant) movement towards YES. In short, there is nothing yet that couldn’t be normal sample variation – wait for the next few polls on attitudes towards Scottish independence before concluding whether there is or is not any movement. Full tabs are here


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A quick update on two polls released today. The regular ICM poll for the Guardian has topline voting intentions of CON 43%(nc), LAB 27%(+1), LDEM 8%(nc), UKIP 12%(+1), GRN 5%(-1). Changes are since mid October. Fieldwork was conducted over the weekend, and the full tabs are here.

BMG also released a new poll, though this is actually less recent than the ICM one (fieldwork was done between the 19th and 24th of October, so just over a week ago). Topline figures with changes from September are CON 42%(+3), LAB 28%(nc), LDEM 8%(nc), UKIP 12%(-1), GRN 4%(-1). Full details are here.

Both polls show the Conservatives still holding a large, robust lead. Note also that UKIP support is pretty steady in both – the drop in UKIP support that we saw in MORI’s poll does not appear to have been echoed in anyone else’s data.


The Evening Standard have published a new BMG poll of the Richmond Park by-election, suggesting a significantly less exciting race than some people thought (and than the Lib Dems hoped). Topline voting intention figures are:

GOLDSMITH (Ind) 56% (down 2 from the Con share in 2015)
OLNEY (Lib Dem) 29% (up 10 from the LD share in 2015)
LABOUR 10% (-2)
OTHER 5% (-5)

While there is a month to go, this suggests that Goldsmith should hold the seat relatively easily. The idea that, with both main candidates opposing Heathrow expansion, it could become an by-election about Brexit in a pro-EU seat doesn’t really seem to working out at present. 25% of voters say that Brexit will be the most important issue in deciding their vote, but they are mostly voting Lib Dem and Labour already. Goldsmith’s voters say their most important considerations are Goldsmith’s own record and views, followed by Heathrow opposition.

BMG also asked people how they would have voted if the Conservatives had put up an official Conservative candidate against Goldsmith. Topline figures would have been GOLDSMITH 34%, LIB DEM 25%, CONSERVATIVE 20% – so the race would have been far more competitive, but with the Tories trailing in third place. It was an unusual decision not to stand, but the polling suggests it was the right one for the Tories (or at least, neither option would have produced a Tory MP, but the Conservatives presumably prefer Goldsmith winning to a Lib Dem). Full details are here.


BMG were supposed to put out their final EU poll yesterday, but it was put back for a day because of the murder of Jo Cox and eventually emerged this morning. BMG carried out parallel telephone and online polls, and unlike ICM who no longer find any difference at at in their dual-mode experiments, BMG continue to find a big gulf:

  • In their online poll BMG found topline figures of REMAIN 41%, LEAVE 51%, Don’t know 9%. Like other recent polls this reflected a big shift towards leave, with remain down by 2 points, Leave up by 6 points
  • In their telephone poll BMG found a small lead for Remain – REMAIN 46%, LEAVE 43%, Don’t know 11%

BMG also reallocated don’t knows based upon how they answered other EU questions in their phone survey, this produced final topline figures of Remain 53%, Leave 47%. Note that the fieldwork for the poll was conducted between the 10th-15th June, so wholly before the death of Jo Cox. Full details of the polls are here.

Secondly today we have a poll from Surveymonkey. Many readers will recognise Surveymonkey as a software platform for conducting surveys – the poll was conducted by randomly picking some of the people taking other Surveymonkey surveys and then directing them an EU survey – so very different from panel-based online surveys. Surveymonkey did the same at the general election with somewhat mixed results: their poll had the Conservatives six points ahead of Labour, so in that sense was far more accurate than other polls… but the reason was because they significantly underestimated both Conservative and Labour support, so actually had a larger average error than some other polls. Anyway, on the EU referendum they found topline figures of REMAIN 48%, LEAVE 48%, No answer 4%. Make of that what you will – full details are here. Fieldwork was between the 8th and 15th June, so again, before Jo Cox’s murder.

Third is a poll from a company called qriously, whom I have never previously heard of. As far as I can tell the poll was conducted by embedding survey questions in adverts on smartphone apps. The data is weighted by age, gender, region, past vote and education so is making an effort to produce representative results – the question is to what degree, if at all, the sampling method is capable of producing a representative sample, which we cannot really tell. Their poll between the 13th and 16th June found topline figures of REMAIN 40%, LEAVE 52%, Don’t know 9% – so more favourable towards Leave than any other polling. They also released figures for people interviewed on Friday morning after Jo Cox’s murder, which were REMAIN 32%, LEAVE 52%, Don’t know 16% – a significant movement from Remain to don’t know. I would treat these Friday figures with a lot of caution, it’s a method that is unproven in political polling, the shift from remain to don’t know doesn’t make much intuitive sense as a reaction to the murder, and most importantly, the fieldwork was only conducted on a weekday morning, which may itself skew the make up of the sample. I would strongly suggest waiting to see what other polls conducted after the murder show. Details of the polling are here.

Tonight we should get new figures from at least YouGov in the Sunday Times and Opinium in the Observer, possibly others.