There were a couple of Scottish independence polls in the week, but both of these that had fieldwork that actually pre-dated Nicola Sturgeon’s call for a second referendum. The Sunday Times today have the first Scottish poll carried out after Sturgeon’s speech, conducted by Panelbase between Monday and Friday.
Voting intention in a second referendum stands at YES 44%, NO 56%, similar to that in the YouGov poll in the week. As I said then, there are conflicting pictures from different pollsters. YouGov and Panelbase are both showing support for independence at a very similar level to the 2014 referendum, the most recent BMG and MORI polls have shown a narrowing of the NO lead.
Scotland also remains split over whether or not to have a second referendum. About half want a referendum in the next few years (32% while Brexit negotiations are ongoing, 18% after the end of negoiations), 51% do not want a referendum in the next few years.
Westminster voting intentions in Scotland stand at SNP 47%, CON 28%, LAB 14%, LDEM 4%, UKIP 3%.
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.
The Sunday Times had a Panelbase Scottish poll yesterday, with tables out today here – from memory I think it’s the first Scottish poll of the year. There are no voting intentions (or at least, none that have been published so far), instead it concentrates in Brexit and the potential for a second referendum on Scottish independence.
On independence voting intention remains little changed from the 2014 referendum – 46% would vote YES, 54% would vote NO. Opinion on whether there should be another referendum soon is pretty evenly split. Half want a referendum in the relatively near future (27% in the next year or two, 23% in “about two years, when the UK has finished negotiating to leave the EU”), half don’t want a second indyref in the next few years.
There is also little sign of any change of opinion on Europe since the referendum. Last year people in Scotland voted by 62% to 38% to remain in the EU, in a referendum tomorrow they say they would vote 61% to 39% to stay in the EU. Asking about some of the specifics on Brexit the poll asked about free trade and immigration, albeit in a slightly odd way (the question focused on just EU companies having access to Scottish markets, rather than vice-versa). By 65% to 11% people thought EU companies should still have free trade with Scotland, by just 40% to 36% they thought EU citizens should still have a right to live and work in Scotland.
Finally Panelbase asked if Britain left the EU, and then Scotland became independent, would people want an independent Scotland to join the European Union – an interesting question I don’t think I’ve seen asked before. 48% would support an independent Scotland joining the EU, 31% would be opposed.
A quick update on polls in the weekend papers. The Independent on Sunday is no more, but the Sunday edition of the Indy’s website seems to be continuing with their monthly ComRes online poll (shared with the Sunday Mirror). Topline voting intention figures are CON 35%(-3), LAB 30%(+1), LDEM 8%(+1), UKIP 16%(nc), GRN 4%(nc).
ComRes still have the Conservatives ahead in the polls, but their online polls are consistently the most favourable for the Tories – the Tory lead here (and the contrast with other companies polls) are solely down to likelihood to vote weighting; before running the answers through ComRes’s turnout model Labour were ahead. The trend is exactly the same as in other polls, a deteriorating Conservative position. It’s a five point Tory lead this month, but a month ago it was nine points, a month before that fourteen points. Full tabs are here.
There was also a new Scottish poll by Panelbase, carried out for the Sunday Times. Holyrood constituency VI is SNP 51%, LAB 19%, CON 18%, LDEM 5%; regional VI is SNP 47%, CON 19%, LAB 18%, LDEM 4%, GRN 8%. Panelbase have Labour and the Conservatives essentially neck-and-neck in Scotland (and given the distribution of the vote and the impact of the regional vote, it may well produce more Tory MSPs than Labour ones) – this is something that YouGov Scottish polls have also shown, but Scottish polling from other companies has tended to show Labour in a clear second place.
The monthly ICM poll for the Guardian is out today and has topline figures of CON 40%, LAB 35%, LDEM 6%, UKIP 10%, GRN 3%. The full details are on ICM’s website here and again come with some pretty candid and downbeat commentary from Martin Boon, who writes that the raw data is still heavily skewed towards Labour and that – to his mind – the existing data correction at the analysis stage isn’t succeeding in correcting it (Martin was also interviewed in Radio 4’s interesting programme this week on why the polls went wrong, as was Joe Tywman of YouGov, Damian Lyons Lowe of Survation, James Morris of GQRR and Pat Sturgis – the Chair of tomorrow’s inquiry into the polling failure).
There were three other GB voting intention polls in the weekend papers. ComRes for the Indy on Sunday had figures of CON 40%, LAB 29%, LDEM 7%, UKIP 16%, GRN 3%, Panelbase in the Sunday Times had toplines of CON 39%, LAB 31%, LDEM 6%, UKIP 14% and Survation in the Mail on Sunday had CON 37%, LAB 30%, LDEM 7%, UKIP 16%, GRN 3%.