There was a new Ipsos MORI Scotland poll out this morning, using the wording that Alex Salmond has suggested for the Scottish referendum.

“Do you agree that Scotland should be an independent country?”

Topline results were 37% Yes, 50% No, 13% Don’t know. Taking only those certain to vote boost support for YES slightly, shifting the balance to Yes 39%, No 50%. On the other hand, those saying NO were more likely to say they had definitely decided how to vote. Full tabs are here.

As an aside, a year or two ago I did try to encourage people to keep discussion of Scottish independence to threads about Scottish polling, as it was developing a tendency to turn up and transform every discussion on the site into one about Scottish independence. It is starting to get that way again, so can I ask commenters to try and keep discussion of Scottish independence to threads about Scotland – like this one.


87 Responses to “Ipsos MORI poll on Scottish Independence”

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  1. I’m interested in this poll’s question about whether people had made their minds up – though I think the results for that one are fairly unsurprising. How reliable is that kind of question? With a panel that can be tracked over time YouGov might be in a better position than others to know whether when people say they’ve made up their mind, how likely they are to then change it – especially over a couple of years. Was there anything like this for the AV ref?

  2. Some on here may be able to answer this for me:

    Are there any countries (in the world) other than Scotland and Wales (and, I suppose, Northern Ireland) which are countries in their own right and yet not run by their own government?

  3. @Chris Todd,

    This is where I could make a eurosceptic joke about all the countries of the EU falling into that category :).

    It partly depends on what you define as a ‘country’, and also on your perspective. If you mean sovereign state, then Scotland and Wales do not fit in this category. If you are a Turkish Cypriot, you would probably count North Cyprus as being in the category- but no countries other than Turkey recognise their sovereignty. Also, some countries (e.g. Somalia) are countries, but their government system is hardly recognised by their own people.

  4. Chris – probably depends entirely on what you think counts as a country if you divorce it from the idea of a state. Catalonia perhaps? Kurdistan?

  5. Chris – England? haha.

  6. Thanks for the replies….

    I’d never given the matter (ie. definition of a country) much thought….

    I can see what you are saying, I suppose the Scots would count Scotland as a country. But then so would the Kurds. And neither have their own government.

    I suppose the opposite side of the coin might be: would Scotland be more readily defined as a country if it did have its own government?

    But even that begs the question: what is the definition of a country….

  7. It might do the Scots some good to study the recent history of how countries in Europe have managed to divorce ( ie Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia ).

    @Chris Todd

    Any number of African states but Nigeria and Sudan are relevant.. I understand Orkney and Shetland do not wish to be subject to Edinburgh.

  8. I’m not an expert on the subject but couldn’t it be that the SNP was outmanouvred on the question debate? As far as I can tell, the ‘agree’ question was proposed by Salmond but has been decried as a push poll question. By focusing on the wording of the question, it seems to me that the third question (devo max) is off the table and we’re only talking about the wording of the independence question. That’s exactly what Unionists wanted in the first place, and since the polls suggest that 50% are against independence even with the suggestive question isn’t this a lost cause for Nationalists anyway?

  9. Johnny

    England and Cornwall are the only ones I can think of at the moment, though there will be others.

    All the other sub-state nations have their own governments and Parliaments and run their own affairs within agreed limits.

    The question, perhaps, should not be about the powers that happen to be run jointly or separately, but where sovereignty lies.

    Sovereign countries can make treaties with others to pool powers or withdraw from such arrangements.

    Monaco is sovereign, though it chooses to follow France in most things. If it suited the Monegasques, they could withdraw from that.

  10. Wolf

    I think your understanding of Orkney and Shetland is in error.

    In any case, while they are grouped together for the purposes of electing an MP for Westminster, they are separate island groups, with very different histories. They shouldn’t be treated as one.

  11. The thing is, even the definition of sovereignty gets blurred in practice.

    The UK does, on paper, have the power to veto Scottish independence or even disband the Parliament without the Scottish people’s say-so, but that is now unthinkable.

    Ireland, on the other hand, has the power to ditch the euro if it wants to, but the economic consequences of doing this make it highly unlikely. Is Ireland really more sovereign than Scotland? It’s not straightforward.

    (Although, having said that, we’re heading towards a situation where the Greeks may choose to ditch the euro anyway and hang the consequences – and that will be uncharted territory.)

  12. When I was younger I spent a little time in a country which lacked any recognisable form of government: that experience convinced me that there ought to be a layer of government at every level.

    From local through national to supra-national.

    They may be cumbersome things and often spend our money unwisely but without them, well, things are very much worse.

  13. CHRIS NEVILLE-SMITH

    Sovereignty doesn’t get blurred.

    If Ireland felt that it was in its best interests, it could leave the EU. As long as it thinks that their best interests are served by remaining in, they do that.

    There are advantages and disadvantages in being in a union. Having the power to make the decision as to which outweighs the other is what matters.

    A sovereign Scotland and a sovereign rUK might agree to share many of the areas that they currently do

    It’s sovereignty that ultimately matters.

  14. My view is that Salmond’s question is highly ambiguous. Scotland is already to a large degree an independent country, so agreeing with the question could be taken as agreeing to the status quo, or perhaps wanting to implement some more devolution within the UK.

    On the other hand if independence really means withdrawing from the UK, then equally well independence also means withdrawing from the EU. I don’t see how it could be one and not the other.

    So if that is to be the only question then I don’t see that any particular constitutional changes would follow from a yes outcome, since no-one can be sure what the voters thought the question meant.

  15. Has any polling revealed whether people would be more likely to vote for independence if they believed that a referendum defeat for independence would strengthen Westminster’s hand against any further devolution of powers of any sort?
    I’m wondering if taking devo max off the referendum options might actually rebound on the Unionists if so. With no devo max question, Salmond will be able to argue that a vote against independence will neutralise the nationalists nuclear option of independence, thus sinking any chance of greater autonomy at all for Scotland, something for which there does appear to be clear support.

  16. @OldNat

    The problem with Ireland’s membership of the Euro is that, as long as the EU makes it difficult for countries to leave the euro (and keep the status quo is de facto making it difficult), “can’t” and “won’t” become the same thing.

    Is an Ireland who constitutionally cannot leave the euro that different in practice from an Ireland who economically cannot leave the euro? Once you’re in that situation, calling the latter one “sovereignty” gets quite meaningless.

  17. CHRIS NEVILLE-SMITH

    You are confusing the euro and the EU.

    Any EU member can give 2 years notice of their intention to withdraw – a time requirement to allow negotiations to take place.

  18. Hal

    You may think it ambiguous, but I doubt that anyone in Scotland does.

    However, ambiguity is one of the factors that will be field tested for, and if a sample of voters find it ambiguous, then the Electoral Commission will recommend an appropriate change.

    This is normal procedure for any referendum. Indeed that procedure is used to Scottish exam questions.

    A question is proposed. It is tested, and if adjustments are required, they are made.

  19. Old Nat — if for example the paucity of SNP votes in the borders was reflected in an independence vote yes nationwide but a decisive no in the borders would you be for imposing the will of the rest of scotland on the borders or would you let them detach to stay in britain (england?)

  20. “Any EU member can give 2 years notice of their intention to withdraw – a time requirement to allow negotiations to take place.”

    Unfortunately, there are those within the EU whose idea of leaving means you either implement all EU laws anyway in return for free trade (like Norway acceded to), or be excluded from the rest of Europe through punitive tariffs and border controls – at least, that is what they say will happen to the UK if it leaves. The UK would probably be big and ugly enough to argue over those terms if it ever came to this, but small countries like Ireland would be in a weaker position. And all this assumes Ireland can get out of the euro without unpalatable consequences.

    Ireland is arguably free to leave but not free to leave. And this makes the sovereign right to make its own decisions debatable.

  21. @JOE

    It does raise an interesting point. What happens if certain regions or constituencies vote overwhelmingly against independence.

    Can the SNP argue its own case if ignoring the wishes (and self determination) of some of Scotland’s people?

    Perhaps the pro-independent folk should move North and the pro-union folk should move South (jesting, but it would solve everyone’s problem). Independent Scotland from Stirling northwards, with Scone as the capital. That would put the political elite in a fix, with no Glasgow or Edinburgh to lord over.

  22. @Colin

    I’ve answered the question about Sweden on the previous board

    Regards, Martyn

  23. Joe

    Given that the basis of your question is wrong, the question itself is meaningless.

    2011 Election South of Scotland Region

    Seats, Vote, Party
    4, 41%, SNP
    3, 20%, Con
    2, 25%. Lab
    0, 5%, LD
    0, 3%, Green

    http://www.scottish.parliament.uk/Electionresults/2011%20election/6_Share_of_votes_region_party.pdf

  24. CHRIS NEVILLE-SMITH

    This discussion is pointless. I have already said that there are advantages and disadvantages in unions. Sovereign countries weigh these up and make the decision that is in their best interests.

    Countries that don’t have sovereignty don’t have that option under any circumstances.

  25. ANNE MURPHY

    No polling has been done specifically on that.

    The nearest data we have is from the recent ICM/Telegraph poll.

    They gave a straight Yes/No choice on independence, and Scots said – Yes 40% : No 43% : Don’t Know 17%

    Another question asked for their preference from 3 options, where the results were Independence 26% : Devo Max 26% : Status Quo 37% : Don’t Know 11%

    That means that the percentage of those, whose current first preference is Devo Max, 54% chose Independence, 23% reverted to the status quo, while 23% didn’t know how they would decide.

  26. Asking commenters to try and keep discussion of Scottish independence to threads about Scotland – like this one – seems to assume that no other country will be affected if Scotland leaves the other three parts of the UK.

    Are you sure there would be no impact on England, on Wales, or on Northern Ireland if, for example, Scotland were to declare itself a nuclear-free zone?.

  27. Since Anthony has banned references to MacBeth’s country on other threads ….

    Sir Fred Goodwin is now just plain Mr Fred Goodwin.

  28. After this afternoon’s statement (or Statement?), there has to be some concern about what happens if the referendum approves independence (or should that be Independence?). Will there need to be a ‘treaty’ or a ‘Treaty’?

  29. @OldNat

    But Scotland and Wales in practice do have the power to cut ties with the England if they want to. The only obstacle is the UK choosing to override the wishes of the people, and so far, no-one is showing any signs of doing that.

    Ireland’s power to leave the EU (at least in a way that would actually involve handing powers back to Ireland), on the other hand, is questionable. If “sovereignty” only gives you the freedom to pick the one viable option made available to you, it means little.

    I’d love to carry on this discussion, but I’m about to be without internet access for a few hours. Good evening.

  30. @Hal

    “Salmond’s question is highly ambiguous. Scotland is already to a large degree an independent country, so agreeing with the question could be taken as agreeing to the status quo, or perhaps wanting to implement some more devolution within the UK. On the other hand if independence really means withdrawing from the UK, then equally well independence also means withdrawing from the EU. I don’t see how it could be one and not the other.”
    ___________

    I agree. For most it will be straightforward enough, but for some it will confuse the issue. Should they support the independence Scotland has already attained as a country, without aspiring to full separation, it will be difficult to vote “no” to independence as a principle. And fostering and using that ambiguity is the purpose of the question, in order to maximise the “yes” share.

    Now contrast that with the clarity of the either/or question that Martin McGuinness has just said that he would like to see posed in NI within the next decade:
    “whether or not the people of the Six Counties wish to retain the link with what is described as the United Kingdom, or be part of a united Ireland”.

  31. @Chris Todd

    You said “…Some on here may be able to answer this for me: Are there any countries (in the world) other than Scotland and Wales (and, I suppose, Northern Ireland) which are countries in their own right and yet not run by their own government?…”

    * h ttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Personal_union
    * h ttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Constituent_country
    * h ttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/States_of_Germany
    * h ttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Autonomous_communities_of_Spain
    * h ttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Andorra
    * h ttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Holland
    * h ttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/England

    Regards, Martyn

  32. Chris Todd,

    Hong Kong? (mind you, it does get to have its own Olympic team)

  33. Quite apart from the interesting comments on a Scottish Independents thread, it does save certain posters arguing that a wolf is a duck, a house is a marsh mellow and Ed Miliband is a very popular and highly rated leader, by the general public.

  34. @ERIC T
    Scotland will undoubtedly claim it is a “nuclear free zone”.
    Therefore, a vast amount of money will need to be spent, configuring Plymouth to dock Nuclear Sub’s. It will take about 10 years at British pace to build such a new base.

  35. @ Chris Todd

    I study IR at university, and you have to have a simple definition of a country sometimes which is without fail a Sovereign State recognised by the UN, meaning no constituent “country” of the

  36. .. United Kingdom would qualify. In reality I would describe them as “Nations” a very different word.

    As for the uniqueness of the situation, it’s actually not that unique at all, the world is ridden with comparable situations, with such deep ethnic identities conflicting with state boundaries. Even on a practical level so many sovereign states have an a much larger amount of “devolution” to their regions or states.

  37. Chouenlai

    Docking the subs elsewhere is fairly easy. The problem is storage facilities for the missiles and the nuclear warheads.

  38. MARTYN

    Yes-thanks again.

  39. @Phil,

    “Now contrast that with the clarity of the either/or question that Martin McGuinness has just said that he would like to see posed in NI within the next decade:
    “whether or not the people of the Six Counties wish to retain the link with what is described as the United Kingdom, or be part of a united Ireland”.”
    —-

    Yes, I agree. Martin McGuinness’ question is specific enough that a yes vote should lead to the negotiation of a change in the constitutional arrangements.

  40. @Chouenlai

    And Cuba is Communist. Except for the Guantanamo base.

    And China is Communist, except for Hong Kong and Macao (and possibly Taiwan depending).

    And Ukraine is self governed. Apart from the huge Russian naval base…

    There are ways around these things, which might not be perfect, but would probably be realistic in a velvet divorce.

  41. Oldnat, please can you guarantee that if Scotland becomes independent, that you keep Fred Goodwin locked up in Scotland.

  42. [email protected]

    I suspect that if such a question was being formally proposed by the Government of Northern Ireland, you guys would be working yourselves up into a lather of outrage! :-)

    Have either of you actually read that question? If you imagine that such a question would pass field testing and Electoral Commission scrutiny, then you really know little about the process – as I don’t think you actually do.

  43. THESHEEP

    Indeed. The cost of providing alternative storage facilities gives Scotland a bit of leverage in the negotiations.

    Naturally, both Governments have an eye to positioning themselves with that in mind.

  44. @Oldnat,

    I didn’t suggest that Martin McGuinness’ question is either likely to be put or that it is correctly worded – I very much doubt both. My point is merely that it is specific enough to be clear what it means.

  45. McGuinness’s question is a vast improvement on that of Salmond in setting out a clear choice.
    However, it is somewhat ‘leading’

    “retain the link with what is described as the United Kingdom”
    Pejorative perhaps ?

    And ‘retain the link with’ sounds a lot less appealing than ‘be a part of’ when they both amount to meaning the same thing……

  46. R HUCKLE

    I imagine the finance industry is delighted by Goodwin’s fate.

    Instead of the appalling behaviour of the entire industry being savaged, all the blame is focussed on only one of the people involved. Goodwin has been their lightning conductor.

    Remember the origin of “scapegoat” is precisely that.

    “Such “elimination rites”, in which an animal, without confession of sins, is the vehicle of evils (not sins) that are chased from the community are widely attested in the Ancient Near East.” (Wiki)

  47. Sorry, italics went wrong. That’ll learn me…. :-)

  48. Hmm, I think the “Six Counties” and “what is described as” are both typical Republican constructions.

    On the other hand “Retain the link with” is probably not a good expression to use, from their point of view. I expect only diehard republicans would want to cut all links with the United Kingdom. After all, the UK and Ireland are like siamese twins in many respects.

  49. Bah.. b*ggered up my there…

  50. Arrgh! B*ggered up my closed Bold bracket there.

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