Following the intervention of George Osborne into the debate over Scottish independence and what currency an independent Scotland might use there has been an obvious interest in the next Scottish polls and what they might show. Will it have closed or widened the gap, or made no difference? Today there are two new Scottish polls asking about the referendum, sadly neither quite answer the question.

To get the less interesting one out of the way first, TNS BMRB have a “new” Scottish referendum poll, but the fieldwork was actually conducted between the 28th January and 6th February (I can only assume that the long time scale is because the poll was conducted face-to-face… though even then, the fieldwork was completed a fortnight ago). The figures in TNS’s poll are YES 29%, NO 42%, 29% don’t know – entirely unchanged from their previous poll in mid-January. Given the fieldwork was conducted prior to Osborne’s intervention though, this clearly doesn’t answer the question.

More relevant is a new Survation poll in the Daily Mail. This was conducted on Monday and Tuesday, so after Osborne’s intervention and at the time Alex Salmond was actively responding. Topline figures there are YES 38%, NO 47%, Don’t know 16%. Survation’s previous poll was showing YES on 32%, NO on 52%, so prima facie it looks as though there has been a significant shift towards YES. But there’s a caveat – last month Survation weighted their data by recalled 2010 vote, this month they’ve weighted by 2011 Holyrood vote. According to John Curtice Survation’s weighting last month knocked about five points off of Yes, their new weighting has not, raising the possibility that the difference could just be down to weighting. Realistically its not that simple – there is a random element in sampling, one sample will not be the same as the next and, therefore, weighting will have a different effect from one poll to the next, and it seems like a big difference to all be down to weighting to a different election. All we can really be confident in saying is that the two polls are not really comparable, so we should probably hold off on judgement – there are sure to be some more Scottish polls along soon. The tabs should be up on Survation’s site in about half an hour.

Scottish independence referendum polls so far are here.

344 Responses to “New TNS BMRB and Survation Scottish polls”

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  1. John B,

    The Irish are “arrogant” now? I wouldn’t say that in a pub in Monaghan.

  2. “% of aggregate vote at GB by-elections since 2010: Lab 47%, Con 15%, LD 12%, UKIP 11%, Respect 5%, BNP 2%, Green 1%”

    Of course, since they’ve mostly been held in Labour-held seats, that doesn’t tell us too much.

  3. BP

    The UK would continue to exist? IN one sense, of course it would. But it would be a different UK – in a way which is different from the changes which came about with the formation of the Free State. When the Free State was established, the UK of GB and I became the UK of GB and NI. In a sense it was reduced in size, but did not change fundamentally.

    But without Scotland there is no GB because GB means the whole island. There would continue to be a UK but it is not ‘of GB’, because ‘GB’ by definition includes Scotland.

    Seeing that the origin of the term United Kingdom (in 1800 between GB and Ireland, as pointed out to us above by Alec) would no longer applies as the GB part would no longer exist as a political unit, there might need to be a new Act of Union between England, Wales and Northern Ireland. In practical terms, the name UK would continue, of course. But passports would need to carry a different name.

  4. I’m hoping Anthony will take pity on us & put up a new post shortly……


    That is the problem when you delve back into the politics and issues of 40 years ago. You won’t get the full story.

    To be absolutely honest, I don’t understand what the issues were at the time. I don’t think there was only a problem in the Labour movement with dodgy characters, with vague links to the party or affiliate organisations. I suspect that the Liberals and Tories had the same issues. I seem to remember there being allegations against Tories in the 1980’s, before twitter idiots indentified the wrong person.

  6. Ha ! No sooner said than done.

    New thread !

  7. John B,

    “might need to be a new Act of Union between England, Wales and Northern Ireland.”

    “But passports would need to carry a different name.”

    Nope. No more than it’s a problem for the Republic of Ireland that ‘Ireland’ was once (and still often is) used to refer to the whole island.

    You have failed to establish either that (a) independence would involve the creation of two new states OR (b) that independence would require a change of the name of the UK.

  8. Bill

    What have the Irish to do with it? Since the Good Friday Accords the Republic no longer claims the six counties.

    In any case, the two situations re very different. If, following a Yes vote, the Borders decided that they weren’t going along with it and wanted to stay with England, then we would be in a similar situation to Ireland in the 1920s.
    And whilst “Eire” means the whole island, in Gaelic, calling themselves ‘The Republic of Ireland’ (at least in English) meant that they were acknowledging that there might be a difference between the political unit and the geographical unit.

    My point is a simple one: Great Britain means, by definition, the whole island. It cannot be used just to apply to England and Wales.

  9. @Mr N
    Recent events in the Socialist Workers Party, and the CPGB(M-L) “slavery” case suggests there’s more wrong there than tactical inadequacy.

  10. John B,

    Right, and the UK wouldn’t claim Scotland.

    “Great Britain means, by definition, the whole island. It cannot be used just to apply to England and Wales.”

    Yes it can. It can be used to refer to Outer Mongolia, if conventions change.

  11. Just, as you acknowledege, we don’t use “the Republic of Ireland” to refer to the whole island, even though that’s how the term would probably be understood if you asked someone in 1914.

  12. The rUk can continue by its present name after Scotland’s independence because there is no international mechanism to force it to change. It is already a member of the UN under its present name and it can continue. There is only one disputed name at present. There is a dispute about the Republic of Macedonia which wishes to join the UN under that name, but Greece objects. However, the UK is already a UN member, and will be the continuator state. Of course, it might voluntarily decide to change – but that would be a decision of the Westminster Parliament.

  13. @John B – you actually said – “Scotland is not ‘walking away’ from the UK. The UK parliament has agreed to allow for the end of the Union.”

    No it has not – it has agreed to allow Scotland to leave the union if it so wishes.

    You also said – “The UK of Great Britain and Northern Ireland would cease to exist.”

    It wouldn’t – it would remain, but, as you suggest, it would probably be better to drop the GB bit, if the people of the UK wanted to – that would be a choice for them and nothing to do with Scotland. It’s just a name.

    You also said – “From one kingdom to two. Two new States. Therefore, logically, two new States applying to join the EU.”

    Again, this is completely incorrect. The current union is actually two kingdoms already, theoretically (Northern Ireland, as per the 1800 Act) and this union would endure as an existing country. Scotland would be a new country only.

    I do find it screamingly funny that the man who was lecturing me last night about how much his nation is ignored by England, proceeds in turn to ignore the other small nation, assuming that his nation alone can define what the other member nations of the union must do.

  14. @ John B

    The name Great Britain is derived from the time following the period when the Romans divided the 2/3rds of the UK which they governed into two provinces: Britannia Superior (Great Britain) & Britannia Inferior. When the two provinces (neither of which encompassed Scotland or Ireland) were reunited they became the [re]United Kingdom of Great Britain.

    So I think you have your ‘facts’ wrong; which makes your comment saying that the UK cannot call itself Great Britain breathtakingly arrogant.

  15. @John B – Got another post in mod, but you’re wrong on all counts. The UK will continue as now, and at some point we may pass a similar bill to the 1927 Royal and Parliamentary Titles Act to effect the dropping of GB. This would be our choice entirely, but is merely a change of name. It’s interesting that this Act was 5 years after the Irish settlement, so for that time we were still officially the ‘UK of GB and (all) Ireland’, even though we weren’t – it was just a name.

    Alternatively, the 58m people of the UK may decide that between England, Wales and Northern Ireland, we still have all the great bits, so retaining ‘Great’ Britain would be quite apposite.

    A yes vote means Scotland is walking away from the union, there is absolutely no question about that. The UK has no obligation to change it’s name, and there would be no need for any new legislation to create a different union.

  16. @Amberstar – very neatly wrapped up, if I may say so.

  17. Amber Star (Scottish person brought up in Scotland) Alec (Scottish person brought up in England) and I (born in England, raised in Scotland) all agree.

    Better together?

  18. @ Alec

    Thank you. I find the Roman/British period & its aftermath fascinating.

  19. John B: “In Scotland the people are sovereign..”

    And how are the English and Welsh any ‘less sovereign’?

    Last time I checked, we are a democracy with the power to dissolve the monarchy and parliament.

  20. This site is educational! Many thanks to all for the historical input.

    Time for a switch to the new thread.

  21. @ John B

    You’re welcome. And I am indeed moving to the new thread ‘cos I’ve publicly promised not to comment about Scottish independence (although I’m still going to pick up factual errors & post about actual polling stuff).

  22. JohnB, you could answer my question before you run.

    It’s right there above your last post.

  23. Latest news from 1974: Vanessa Redgrave loses her deposit. Described by Brunette as “tonight’s most decorative candidate”.

    You’ve come a long way, baby

  24. Amber Star

    The name Great Britain is derived from the time following the period when the Romans divided the 2/3rds of the UK which they governed into two provinces: Britannia Superior (Great Britain) & Britannia Inferior. When the two provinces (neither of which encompassed Scotland or Ireland) were reunited they became the [re]United Kingdom of Great Britain.

    Nonsense. Britain as a name for the island (and British Isles for the island group) predates the Romans, going back to at least Pytheas the Greek. It probably has a local origin:

    As far as the Roman provinces go (and both the border with the North and the number and names of the provinces varied during Roman occupation) the more normal translation would be Lower and Upper Britain. The names don’t imply that only all of Britain was contained in them. There were provinces called Germania Superior and Inferior too, but most of Germany was outside Roman control.

    Your ‘reunited’ provinces don’t even include all of England never mind all of Britain. Are you trying to make a land grab for half of Northumberland?

    A successor rUK without Scotland could call itself whatever it wanted, just as it didn’t need to put the ‘Northern’ bit before Ireland after 1922. But it would just look a bit silly.

  25. @AMBER STAR:

    Interesting theory although I’m not sure it’s widely accepted as the origin of the term. There are other explanations, such as Great Britain in the geographical sense of being the largest of the British Isles (as here: ) and Great Britain to distinguish it from Lesser (or Little) Britain, i.e. Brittany.

    I imagine Great Britain will continue in common usage regardless of any decisions, though.

  26. @ Roger Mexico

    Nonsense, back at you, sir! You haven’t even read my comment properly before firing off yours. I certainly didn’t say the name “Britain” was coined during the period which I mention. Of course I’m aware that the ‘Britain’ part of it pre-dates the period of which I wrote.

    Nor did I say that the Roman provinces encompassed all of England & Wales; I said that they did not encompass all of Scotland & Ireland.

    The reason that upper & lower is now the convention when talking about the provinces is to distinguish it from Great & Less Britain (part of France) which Roger H mentions (a point I consciously chose to omit at the time for the sake of brevity).

    My point to John B was simple & I thought clear i.e. any reasonably competent historian could make a case for the UK continuing to use the term: The United Kingdom of Great Britain because there is plenty of historical evidence to show that it pre-dates the period to which John B was referring.

  27. @Steve2 – “JohnB, you could answer my question before you run.”

    I think John has moved to the new thread, but the point he makes is derived from the basis of democratic rights in Scotland and England. I can’t quote this precisely, but in Scotland the will of the people is effectively enshrined in law, whereas in England, rights are exercised in the name of the sovereign. Eg – Cameron is not ‘our’ Prime Minister, but the Queen’s Prime Minister. The Queen is our ruler, who by arrangement with Parliament passes over authority to her ministers.

    In practical terms it doesn’t have much impact, although it is an important historical point.

  28. Well, I think the upshot of all that is “what’s in a name?” ie rUK can call itself whatever it likes, but it would make sense to drop ‘Great Britain’ from the title.

    So can we all agree on either plain, unvarnished United Kingdom or, if we must complicate things, The United Kingdom of England, Wales and Northern Ireland?

  29. @ JohnKay

    So can we all agree on either plain, unvarnished United Kingdom or, if we must complicate things, The United Kingdom of England, Wales and Northern Ireland?
    No, the conclusion appears to be that it will remain the United Kingdom of Great Britain in the [unlikely] event that Scotland votes for separation.

  30. @ amber star

    Oh well, it’s very hypothetical. But I suspect most UK citizens who know anything about the background to their country’s name (and I’d be surprised if more than 25% could accurately name it) would assume that Great Britain means England, Wales and Scotland.

  31. Stsve2

    Sorry about logging out before your supplementary.

    English constitutional position: sovereignty is held by the Crown in Parliament (not by the Crown on its own)

    Scottish constitutional position: sovereignty is held by the people of Scotland.

    Democracy, I think, has to do with how that sovereignty is exercised.

  32. Remarkable how the conversation developed after I had gone off for a bite of lunch.

    The problem of the name is seen in athletics. Why ‘team GB’, as this excluded NI. Why not ‘team UK’?

    And recently there was an athletics meet at Glasgow in which Scotland competed (not entirely successfully) against ‘GB’ and the Commonwealth. But how come the GB team didn’t change its name to recognise the fact that it was GB minus Scotland?

    On another matter there was some discussion earlier about events that might impact upon voting in the next GE, such as the press trials & co.

    One event that might impact on the referendum is the soccer World Cup. Too much England England England might rub some people up the wrong way.

    And, yes, when I came back I went first to the other thread, assuming that this one would have died a natural. Wrong yet again!

  33. “Too much England England England might rub some people up the wrong way.”

    Some of us haven’t forgotten 1978, though.

  34. too true! and that includes the Scots.

  35. Washington managed to found the United States of America as a country covering less than a quarter of America, so I don’t think United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is particularly oxymoronic as a name for rUK.

  36. Neil A

    See mine of 11.33 a.m..
    Also various contributions regarding what the term ‘Great Britain’ means – though that is not as clear as I once thought…..

    If England and Wales want to claim that they are ‘Great Britain’ all well and good. But it does leave the impression that being with or without Scotland makes no difference to what Great Britain is – and if this is the case why try and stop Scotland going its own way?

  37. Neil A

    Except that if the “old” nation is called the UK of GB and NI, and Scotland and England are Britain; and England, Scotland and Wales are Great Britain; if Scotland is lost, Britain is lost.

    How about Brittania and NI? Or the Triple Crown?

  38. @RAF,

    If the USA lost Maine and New Hampshire would they no longer be the USA?

    Actually the trickiest bit would be the “United Kingdom” bit rather than the “Great Britain” bit (having lost one of the Kingdoms). But technically we are still in a Union with the Kingdom of Ireland, so even that would be justifiable.

    Do you have to contain “all” of something to be “of” it?

    Should Romania really be called “The Republic of Most of Romania except the bit the Russians nicked and Called Moldova”?

    Should Ireland really be called “The Republic of Most of Ireland”?

  39. Neil

    I think that if you can stand wading through the mire the answer to your points is given in preceding points made by several contributors.

    The USA remains the USA as long as there are two states holding together. The point of ‘GB’ is that it is a geographical name and implies the whole island. Few other nations use this form of self denomination and I cannot at the moment think of any State which came into being by the unification of two or more previously sovereign States, gave this new entity a new and distinct name, and then split up again with the name of the united body being kept by one parties.

    If you can suggest some candidate I’ll be delighted to consider your thinking tomorrow at some point.

  40. @Neil A

    I see your point.

    However, the Irish Republic until very recently maintained a territorial claim to Northern Ireland. The matter remains highly controversial.

    As for Moldova, the current state of Moldova became independent from the Soviet Union, not Romania in 1991. It was at one time part of Romania (and part of its historical kingdom still is) but it not correct to say that Moldova broke away from Romania.

  41. You’re speaking as if the United Kingdom of Great Britain must refer to relatively modern day ‘Kingdoms’. There used to be lots of Kingdoms within England & within Scotland e.g. Fife used to be ‘the Kingdom of Fife’.

  42. @Neil A: “Actually the trickiest bit would be the “United Kingdom” bit rather than the “Great Britain” bit (having lost one of the Kingdoms). But technically we are still in a Union with the Kingdom of Ireland, so even that would be justifiable.”

    Except N Ireland isn’t part of Great Britain.

  43. Another slant on this – Would the EU be wise to throw out its only major oil-producing country?

    Surely Scotland’s natural resources must count for something, if the EU is at all serious about energy security. (There are still untapped reserves around Scotland’s shores.) Better to buy oil & gas from a sane democratic country like Scotland than a bunch of crooks in Russia or Algeria!

    By the way, i’m English.

  44. Is it not a geographical fact that ‘Great Britain’ refers to the largest island of the British Isles, but NOT any of the others? Strictly speaking, while it includes England, Scotland and Wales, it does NOT include islands such as Anglesey, Orkney, Shetland, Isle of Wight etc. So it could be said that the current ‘United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland’ is not an inclusive enough term!

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