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. Of course as the Tories would be quite glad to see the back of Scotland, it could be a cunning plan to help the Yes camp.

  2. Politically, I think it was the only smart Tory option available.

    Support the likely winner and you appear to have kept The Kingdom united.

    Support and you turn out to be on the wrong side and you were on the side of unity but that sour country across the border didn’t want help so we’ll leave them to it whilst noticing conveniently that your majority has risen since the last count.

    Oooooh it’s cunning.

  3. A very sage analysis of the meaning behind the figures – thanks Anthony. It’s not exactly how they’re being reported elsewhere.

    I don’t suppose any one would be so crude as to craft political advantage from a subject so serious – but one cannot help but say whither Salmond if this all goes down in a blaze of glory.

    Am I incorrect to assume that if Scotland does vote independence she will have to re-apply for EU membership since new applicant countries are hardly going to allow Scotland to continue with all its UK opt-outs in place. In which case would it not have to adopt the Euro as a price for membership?

    I understand that no negotiation will happen before there is a new reality and that once there is a new reality many impossible dreams may come true but the nature of the EU does give a veto to members over invitations to a new member. It’s hard to see why they would permit Scotland to have membership terms they were unable to negotiate for themselves….not least the Irish Republic.

  4. The reason it is unlikely to become an EU member is that Spain, for one, will not want a precedent set. It has it’s own separatist movements, as we know. Membership is not something Scotland should be predicting; much less relying on.

  5. Spain is not the only one, Belgium is fracturing, as is Italy…the ‘rUK’…maybe even Scotland….

    If ‘breakaways’ were allowed easy entry into the EU, this could potentially be the start of a chain reaction as consecutive regions decide to have it their own way within the safety of the bloc.

    Just like the ‘currency zone’ notion, to allow it would be the Turkey voting for Christmas.

  6. I am not at all convinced that an independent Scotland would need to reapply for EU-membership.

    The EU believes itself not to be an institution that simply furthers the national interest of its members (whatever that may be), but one with values and principles. And one of the key ones is democracy. Each candidate needs to show that its institutions function in a democratic way (and that means not just some sort of elections to a national parliament but a great deal more).

    The issue here is that because of this principle, it is difficult to see how the EU could effectively throw out a country that is already a member (and thus fulfils all requirements) and wishes to continue to be a member because it exercises a perfectly legitimate democratic choice without a very good reason. And independence through a referendum has been accepted as legitimate by the EU on a number of occasions, while concerns by a few member states that ‘we’re worried about what this means for independence movements in some of our own regions’ clearly do not constitute a good reason under any EU principles.

    I’d recon an independent Scotland could easily win a vote in the European Parliament, or even get a EU Court order preventing the Commission to deny it any benefits. And what would the Council (i.e. the member states) do then?

  7. The don’t knows must be a concern for either side, as to why they are unsure about their voting intention. Some appear to be deciding that they will be voting Yes, but I am not sure what information they are reacting to. For some it must be financial, as there has been some suggestion by the Yes campaign that people would be better off, with for example a lower retirement age.

    I have a feeling that when it comes to voting, that most of the don’t knows will vote No, because I am not sure they will have confidence in the information they are provided with. If the Yes campaugn cannot convince people that Scotland would be better off financially, therefore people would be better off, then I expect many will not take the chance.

  8. ” 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”

    If only that advice was heeded……..

  9. Regarding EU membership.

    Scots already are EU citizens (see passport) and there is NO suggestion post independence that Scots would have this citizenshp removed. In fact I don’t think that is legally possible.

    Therefore if prisoners etc must have the vote. I cannot imagine it would be legal to have leave citiens of the EU without representation.

    The whole throwing Scotland ot of the EU is just nonsense and to be frank unnecessary nastiness.

  10. Survation’s report with an explanation of its methodology changes is now available:

    and there’s a link from there to the tables.

    The previous poll was the first Scottish one that they had done and certainly bore the marks of inexperience[1]. However I’m not convinced that moving from weighting the Referendum by Westminster 2010 to by Holyrood Constituency 2011 is actually a good idea. Though everyone else is doing it too, so obviously the pressure on the new boy is to conform.

    [1] Most delightfully in deciding to do the regional breakdown not according to the Holyrood regions (which are roughly equal apart from H&I and have electoral implications) but according to the local government regions in use up to 1996.

  11. This on the other hand is funny and makes me think Oh OK then I’ll stay…

  12. If an independent Scotland wishes to be an EU member it will be accepted. The EU is an expansionist organization, and will want Scotland’s contribution to continue. But Scotland has no reason to believe that the process will be easy, or quick, or without cost in the form of for example loss of rebate, or contribution of oil or gas to “community resources”.

  13. Interesting how right now the SNP and others are trying to make out Survation has shown a “huge shift to YES!” don’t they even read the polls methods?

  14. “Just like the ‘currency zone’ notion, to allow it would be the Turkey voting for Christmas.”

    Turkey isn’t a member.

  15. Couper2802 – oh no, I think the broad consensus now is that the legal position is that an independent Scotland would not be a member of the EU (though whether they would need to go through the process of applying for membership, or a treaty change just recognising them as an independent member, is a matter of debate – but to quote the white paper “The Scottish Government recognises it will be for the EU member states, meeting under the auspices of the Council, to take forward the most appropriate procedure”)

    The Scottish government would seek to negotiate membership of the EU during the period between a YES vote and Scotland becoming independent in 2016, with the aim of settling things before Scotland became independent, thus allowing Scotland’s membership to continue uninterrupted. Whether they are right about the practicalities of that is a matter of debate, and thus outside the remit of this blog.

    In regard of John Murphy’s comment above, if Scotland ended up having to apply as a new member they probably wouldn’t be *entitled* to the opt-outs, but that doesn’t mean they necessarily couldn’t get them.

    In terms of Schengen, their’ only border is with the UK who aren’t members of Schengen so it’s rather an irrelevance – I can’t imagine that would be a problem.

    The most important British opt out is from the single currency and from the White Paper the Scottish government do not appear to expect to keep that opt out – rather they appear to seek to follow the Swedish approach to the single currency (sign up in theory, but do not join the ERM, therefore preventing the country ever practically qualifying to join).

    The White paper does say Scotland would seek opt outs on justice and home affairs, which would presumably be a matter of negotiation between Scotland and the EU.

  16. @AW

    I checked with one of the journalists on Twitter Benedict Brogan and he said that Scots would keep their EU citizenship post independence. So how can we be EU citizens but Scotland not be part of the EU? It doesn’t make sense.

  17. Skipy,

    Maybe not, but I guess we can’t be too hard on them for publicising favourable polls. All parties do it.

  18. 2015 will be David Dimbleby’s last Election Night on the BBC. In 2020 he’ll be replaced by Huw Edwards:

  19. Sometimes there is a difference between the instance, gut-instinct response to something and the long term impression it creates (immigration issues are the classic example).

    I wonder if there is a danger of this for Salmond and the SNP? I don’t think anyone would doubt that the immediate reaction of most Scots (and certainly anyone who is considering voting “Yes”) to the ConLabLib position on a currency union would be hostile.

    But Salmond’s response, whilst passionate, has been very much dedicated to highlighting just how interconnected and interdependent the Scottish economy is with the rest of the UK. As mood music, that’s a little bit dissonant with the rest of his message – about emphasising distinctness and the strength Scotland would have ‘on her own’.

    And, of course, by emphasising the harm that could be caused econmically (to both sides, yes, but that includes to Scotland) by having separate currencies, he may also be doing some of the “No” campaign’s work for them. After all, if there definitely won’t be a currency union (and Osborne, Balls and Alexander appear to be wanting to make us all think it is 100% impossible) then emphasising the downsides of not being in a currency union equates to emphasising the downsides of independence.

    Have ConLabLib blundered? Or is it a cunning trap?

  20. Did I fail to hear correctly what a lawyer said on the Today programme a week or so back? This was to the effect that the UK is a member of the EU and that includes Scotland. If the Scots and the UK fracture, that doesn’t affect the current citizens of the UK at all. They have all equally changed status and are two new states. Therefore, if Scotland has to re-apply, so will the rest of the UK. If the rest of the UK doesn’t, nor will Scotland.

  21. CD

    “Did I fail to hear correctly what a lawyer said on the Today programme a week or so back? ”

    I dunno.

  22. Well if both Scotland and the rUK have to re-apply to join the EU. Why don’t they just have their own currency and political uni- Oh.

  23. All the “what ifs” are a waste of valuable thinking time as the Scots will vote to remain in the UK – 60/40.

  24. @Neil A

    I think that what the SNP really want is DevoMax. If we are going to have a currency union, shared army for NATO, the Queen etc…it is hardly independence really.

    After a Yes vote the practicalities will probably mean that we end up with Devo Max.

    If the powers of the Scottish parliament can be expanded to include tax receipts and all spending decisions including welfare, pensions etc. Then that I think is the most that can be done

  25. If Scotland leaves the UK it leaves the EU. Prof Armstrong, Cambridge, has given a full analysis of the TEU and TFEU and the implications for an independent Scotland. See Scottish Parliament External Committee, Jan 16th 2014. If, after independence, scottish citizens retain their British Citizenship, dually with scottish citizenship, then they retain EU citizenship. EU citizenship depends upon national citizenship – it is not a free standing citizenship. It is inconceivable that scottish citizen will be deprived of British citizenship, but Scots can voluntarily decide to keep or reject EU citizenship if they decide to keep or reject dual nationality.

  26. @R&D

    If everyone in the rUK were like you puppies we certainly would stay. The problem is the rUK and I mean England vote Tory.

    So the choice is vote No and risk a DC victory in 2015 or vote Yes and never have a Tory government again but abandon our friends in the rUK.


  27. @Colin,

    It sounds like “one interpretation”.

    Another interpretation would be that the member of the EU is the UK. Scotland isn’t, in its own right, a member of the EU. If Scotland votes to leave the UK they are also voting to leave anything that the UK is a member of, including the EU (and NATO etc).

    The UK wouldn’t be “fracturing”, it would simply be losing some territory.

    I happen to believe that the realpolitik of a post-Yes vote world would be that Scotland would get into the EU quite easily, albeit potentially on conditions that might be slightly unpalatable.

  28. Couper
    “I think that what the SNP really want is DevoMax.”

    So why demand independence ?

    What happens to the SNP if the referendum fails to win a Yes vote ?

    If Yes wins, is Scotland to become a single-party state ?

    If not, where does the opposition come from ?

  29. couper2802

    happy birthday when it comes and thankyou.

    I sympathise with that problem but there seems no such solution for Newcastle, Liverpool, Manchester etc.

    Anyway, my prediction is that Labour will win, following a conclusive NO from Scotland and devo-max [which given the currency debacle seems what is wanted anyway] will be introduced.

  30. Hi Neil A,

    Lawyers, eh! But who would be the judge? And if the question were raised (as it would be,) and the process of judging took an age (as it always does,) then surely by the time such legal matters were resolved, the question would be academic? If the judgement went Scotland’s way, no argument. If it went against them, they would have been a ‘de facto’ EU member for so long they’d have new grounds for staying in anyway.

  31. @NEIL A

    I agree with that analysis. There is not a *real* problem with EU membership. The currency is a different matter.

  32. @Cooper2802

    England does not “vote Tory”. Some people in England vote Tory, some Labour, some LibDem and if the SNP stood here then some would vote SNP.

    As for EU membership – we simply don’t know. It’s possible that one (or more) EU states would block membership for Scotland, but I’m pretty certain that the UK would strongly support membership. Scots citizens only have EU citizenship though being citizens of a member state, in the (unlikely) event of Scotland not being admitted I’m sure that there would be a right to apply for citizenship of the UK for them.

    I agree with Neil A that in reality it is highly likely that Scotland would be admitted to the EU on some technicality or other so this won’t become an issue.

  33. On a related issue, a number of Scots commentators have mentioned the desire to vote Yes to strengthen the move towards DevoMax, whilst actually expecting/hoping for a No vote.

    Is there any polling on this?

  34. It’s odd that the prospect of Scotland losing EU membership seems to be seen as a big negative, when much of the rUK population appears to be in favour of leaving the EU. I haven’t seen anyone say “let’s vote yes. At least we’ll be rid of the EU.”

    Is it just a case of leaving the EU seeming attractive until you start to think about what it would really mean?

  35. AW-YouGov website now operating OK-& full survey results loading OK

  36. :@JohnKay,

    Interesting point, but I think there are two problems with the comparison.

    One is that (so far as I understand it) the Scots are more pro-EU membership than the English are, and therefore won’t necessarily see leaving the EU as a good thing.

    The second is that a UK outside the EU is quite a different prospect to a Scotland outside the EU. The bigger you are, the more important your markets are and the more incentive there is for other players to deal equitably with you. Scotland wouldn’t be a weakling – the fossil fuel supply alone would give her some clout. But with the rest of the UK still inside the EU I think it would be quite dangerous for Scotland outside.

    That said, I am broadly in favour of EU membership so I suppose I see it through my own prism.

  37. In the 1975 Referendum Scotland was a fair bit less pro-EEC than the UK as a whole.

  38. UKIP should change their name to RUKIP and campaign for a yes vote as without Scotland exiting the EU is less unlikely.

    FWIW – imo if there is a yes the RUK Government would assist Scotland as much as practicable including maintaining EU membership.

  39. @Neil A

    Quite so. But it does raise the delicious possibility of newly independent Scotland knocking on the EU’s door to get in just as rUK is threatening to leave unless it gets its way in renegotiations.

  40. “Rest Of The South” is just getting Torier and Torier, according to that poll.

    Can they win a majority by getting 80% of the vote in all their southern seats, and nothing much in urban, northern, Welsh or even Midland areas?

  41. On Scotland and post-independence currency.

    I’m still playing catch up on this one. 7 years ago, the SNP were advocating that the Euro was the right currency for Scotland. What happened to change that?

  42. R&D: “I sympathise with that problem but there seems no such solution for Newcastle, Liverpool, Manchester etc.”

    London is also a major Labour territory….

  43. @ leftylampton

    “7 years ago, the SNP were advocating that the Euro was the right currency for Scotland. What happened to change that?”

    I’m not sure if that’s an ironical question, but FWIW, what changed is that the euro became a vote-loser.

    I actually think the worst is over for the euro, and joining wouldn’t be such a bad thing, subject to the huge proviso of joining at the right, highly competitive exchange rate and then maintaining the resulting competitive advantage by keeping inflation at or below the prevailing eurozone rate. The UK’s ERM debacle was a result of joining at way too high a rate and then refusing to adjust that rate (which would have been possible, albeit incurring loss of face).

  44. R&D:

    Also Birmingham, South Yorkshire, Leicester, Derby, Nottingham…

    At this point the Lib Dem idea of a federal UK doesn’t look so mental.

  45. LEFTY

    Good question.

    Most of the navel gazing & minutae on this leave me cold.

    But your question prompts my general impression, which is that Salmon constantly seems to duck & dive .
    . The issues of the currency & EU membership must be two of the most important ones for Scotland. But when The UK Treasury The CoE & his Shadow, the Governor of the BoE, and the President of the EU Commission all indicate that Samond’s assumptions on both issues are flawed-perhaps fatally so-he complains of bullying , strikes the Braveheart pose, and tells Scots it’ll be alright on the night.

    If I were a Scot with a vote on this-this would all be sounding a bit iffy.

    But as Paul Croft says -it’s probably all academic since they will probably vote No. ( I am increasingly sad to concede)

    Just a thought on EU membership. I wonder how keen the EU will be to have a new member which does not wish to join the EZ?

  46. @Coupar2082 – “Scots already are EU citizens (see passport) and there is NO suggestion post independence that Scots would have this citizenshp removed. In fact I don’t think that is legally possible.”

    I had a look at the Maastricht Treaty and other sources on this, and it is completely clear that under independence, and if they were outwith the EU, Scots would not be entitled to EU citizenship.

    You need to bear in mind that while EU citizenship is additional to national citizenship, the treaties state with abundant clarity that it is available only to citizens of member states.

    However, the treaties also state with abundant clarity that is it for national governments to determine how they define nationality. This, I think, is where the confusion arises.

    In the (highly unlikely) event that Scotland leaves the UK and cannot get EU membership, it’s generally been felt (particularly among Yes supporters) that the UK will have to allow dual citizenship. I find this very odd, but it does fit with historical precedent. My understanding is that Irish citizens from pre 1922 had UK residency rights, although more recent law changes obscure this and I’m struggling with the details.

    A key consideration would be the attitude of the EU – would they want 5m people not in the EU to have citizens rights, and if they didn’t, could they force UK to drop dual nationality laws? Indeed, would the UK itself allow dual nationality?

    I think the simple answer to all of this is that if these eventualities were to occur, people would make it up as they went along. It is entirely incorrect to say, as some have tried, that EU citizenship cannot be taken away from a states citizens – of course it could be, if that state left the EU. The problem comes with a state separating, and what that states view of their past citizens is.

    In the end though, this is entirely academic. Salmond would not, in a million years, lead Scotland into the wilderness.

    EU re entry/continuation negotiations will be difficult, long winded and (I suspect) painful, but will commence soon after a Yes vote. Under the SNP’s own preferred route of Article 48 of the Lisbon Treaty, the UK will have a veto of any proposals. [For this reason alone, Scotland will be forced to make legal undertakings on their debt share, sterling or no]. But independence will not happen until a synchronous settlement of the EU issue is arranged. Failure to do so would be madness in the extreme, and the SNP are not mad.

  47. “Rest Of The South” is just getting Torier and Torier, according to that poll.”

    Rushing for a bite, NickP, but that feels right. Does it link with the benefits and housing benefit policies being pursued, under which the not-well-heeled are edged out of those areas, and the better off who can afford the housing take the jobs there? The fencing off of the South like a walled condominium?

  48. “Can they win a majority by getting 80% of the vote in all their southern seats, and nothing much in urban, northern, Welsh or even Midland areas?”

    I’d be surprised if they can manage 80% in any seat.

  49. I wouldn’t be certain that a Yes vote would keep left-of-centre parties in power in Scotland for perpetuity.
    Other then the last 20 years the Tories have historically come a close second in general elections north of the border. They even polled second in ’92 after the Poll Tax debacle.

    It is conceivable that a Scottish Tory party fully liberated from London could challenge for power in a post independent Scotland.

  50. Don’t forget Plymouth, Southampton etc.

    Plenty of urban Labour support in the South.

    Just as there is plenty of rural Tory support in the North. It’s just that cities have a lot more voters than farmland does.

    It’s the suburbs and dormitory towns that make the difference. In the south they tend to be Tory (and there are a lot of them). In the north they tend to be Labour.

    That’s why we have this “squeezed middle” and “hard working families” malarkey. Elections are not won on farms and council estates, but in leafy streets of semi-detached houses and new-build Redrow/Barrett estates.

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