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.


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.


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Ipsos MORI today released a new Scottish poll for STV, showing a 50%-50% tie between YES and NO were there to be a second independence referendum. This is the first poll not to show NO ahead for some time – there were a couple of snap polls immediately after the EU referendum that showed YES ahead, but apart from that you need to go back to February 2016.

As ever, one shouldn’t get too excited about one poll. Looking at other recent Scottish polls there’s a mixed picture. While a BMG poll at the end of January still showed a narrow lead for NO, it suggested a significant drop in the NO lead compared to BMG’s previous polls. In contrast two Panelbase polls this year haven’t shown any significant movement and still had NO well ahead. The MORI and BMG polls suggest there could be some movement in attitudes to Scottish Independence, but we probably need some more polls before we can be sure.

MORI also asked whether people thought an independent Scotland should be a member of the EU – 48% thought it should be, 27% thought it should be a member of the single market but not the EU, 17% supported neither.

Finally there was a question on voting intention in the Scottish local elections – or at least, people’s first preferences. Topline figures were SNP 46%, CON 19%, LAB 17%, GRN 8%, LD 6%. Full details of the poll are here.


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.


YouGov have a new Scottish poll in yesterday and today’s Times. Topline voting intention figures for Holyrood are CON 25%, LAB 15%, LDEM 6%, SNP 48% for the constituency vote; CON 24%, LAB 14%, LDEM 6%, SNP 39%, GRN 11% for the regional vote. The SNP obviously remain dominant, but the Conservatives are now in a very clear second place. Since the referendum Scottish voting behaviour appears to have been increasingly based on independence vs unionism – the SNP have recieved the overwhelming support of those who voted Yes back in 2014 (85% of them would give their constituency vote to the SNP in an election tomorrow). The Conservatives – the most unabashedly unionist of the Scottish parties – increasingly seem to get the largest share of those who voted NO. They are probably also helped by Ruth Davidson’s continuing popularity and that fact that they are the largest opposition party in Holyrood, so are in some sense the natural home for those opposed to the SNP government.

What it is probably isn’t is a continuation of Theresa May’s honeymoon. While May’s ratings are still very high in GB polling they’ve started to turn in this Scottish poll. 40% now think May is doing badly as PM (up from 22%), only 35% well (unchanged).

On the other leaders, Nicola Sturgeon’s ratings are down from the Summer, but still positive. 50% think she is doing well, 39% badly, a net rating of plus 11 compared to plus 20 in August. Ruth Davidson’s ratings continue to far outstrip her party – 49% think she is doing well, 24% badly. Looking at the crossbreaks it’s clear that there are some SNP supporters and a majority of Labour supporters who can think that Davidson is doing a good job without being tempted to actually vote for her party.

Moving onto Scottish independence there is still no sign of any post-EU Ref movement in favour of independence. Asked how they’d vote in a referendum tomorrow 44% would vote YES to Scottish independence, 56% would vote NO. While the change since the summer is not in itself significant, for the record it’s the first time since the IndyRef that YouGov have shown a larger lead for NO than at the referendum itself. I think we can now be confident that the EU referendum result in itself has not lead to any increase in support for Scottish Independence. When the details of Brexit start to become clear that may change of course, but only time can tell us that – the mere threat of Brexit has not been enough to make Scotland want out.

On the subject of Brexit, Scots are evenly split over whether they would support Scotland seeking to remain within the European Union if Britain as a whole leaves – 42% would support attempting to do so, 41% of people would be opposed. The majority think any such attempt would be unlikely to succeed anyway (or at least, would be unlikely to work unless Scottish independence has been achieved). 62% think it would probably not be possible, only 22% think it would be.

Full tabs are here.