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.

185 Responses to “Latest Scottish Independence polling”

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  1. those look like great numbers for the Yes people

  2. Bardin1

    It will be interesting to see if the Greens can drive SLab into 4th place on the List vote – though I think that we will need to see the responses to May’s statement within the Scottish Unionist camp to get any real sense of how the current situation is developing.

  3. @OldNat – I think the greens have real purchase in Scoland – Harvie has played the long game very effectively. I live in England but I would vote Green in Scotland if I was there

  4. Bardin1

    Agreed re Greens.

    I know anecdotes aren’t evidence! but in 2014, I noted that in my daughter’s (young professional demographic) street in Sturgeon’s constituency, that there was a sole No window poster, a few SNP Yes ones, but a lot of Yes Green ones.

    I suspect they are very good at targeting limited resources on the right set of voters.

    According to the Scotland Votes site, that VI would mean for Holyrood –

    SNP 64 (+1)
    Con 32 (+1)
    Lab 17 (-7)
    SGP 11 (+5)
    LD 5 (nc)

    A majority of pro indy MSPs of 21.

  5. I can’t find any other reference to this Yougov Scottish poll elsewhere, James posted it at lunchtime. Anyone else able to verify it?

  6. Robert D,
    “The SNP are trying to open a rather unpleasant Pandoras box. Maybe they will get what they wish for, but often than ends up not being qutie what you imagine.”

    I think you are mistaken in imputing this to the SNP. Many of us understand the reasons why Scotland might wish to remain part of the UK. However, the reason they might wish to leave is exemplified by the Uk leaving the EU against the wishes of Scotland. It is England which has opened the box.

    I would assume that this process has been gamed by the SNP, who have step by step sought to offer olive branches to May and seen them publicly rejected. They have been building a case that England has not given any meaningful concessions to the SNP as it had promised at the last referendum. Indeed, the SNP argued this was the case before the supreme court and The British government agreed with them.

    This against a background that scotland believes leaving the EU is a wrong direction for the nation. This will be reinforced or reduced depending on the brexit situation at the time of a referendum. May has already added to her difficulties by refusing a referendum, whether this helps her ameliorate her other short term difficulties or not. Delaying the referendum, which is inevitable, could result in the background situation being even more negative for a unionist.

  7. Oldnat,

    I specifically meant “oppose the Scottish government campaigning for a second poll in the timescale that the SNP is proposing”.

    I didn’t mean “think that the UK government should block a referendum”. I don’t see how that “extrapolates” in the way you suggest. Presumably, you would agree that someone might oppose a particular policy of a devolved government, without thinking that the central government should block that policy?

    See the two most recent polls from Yougov and Survation: of the people with an opinion on the issue, a majority of people in Scotland oppose a referendum within the next two years or prior to Brexit, which are similar questions given the current timetable.

    Anyway, I don’t see how the Greens can argue that the SNP are being backed up by the “will of the Scottish people”, but as I said, it’s only their manifesto, and I’m sure they didn’t mean for people to take it literally.

    You might raise concerns about these two polls or my wording, but please ask yourself this question before getting into those tedious discussions: if the numbers were reversed, can you HONESTLY say that you would raise those points?

  8. Bill Patrick

    Thanks for correcting the misleading impression of your original post. However, since the varied questions asked by pollsters all predated Sturgeon’s announcement of her preferred window, it’s hard to see that they could have been thinking of “timescale that the SNP is proposing”.

    Everyone is agreed that “Now is not the time”, which only the more extreme indy supporters were suggesting anyway, so is hardly surprising.

    Everyone seems agreed that there should be no ScotRef until the Brexit terms are known.

    So it simply comes down to a question of timing.

    Will the terms of any agreement be known in 18 months time (or not)? The EU and UK Government have previously been clear that they will have to be, so that ratification can take place.

    So that is the earliest point at which Sturgeon has suggested ScotRef should take place. By Spring 2019 (her suggested end date for the preferred window for ScotRef) the UK will out of the EU – with, or without, a trade agreement.

    Of course, if every state agrees to an extension of time for further negotiations, they may continue for a few months more, in which case Sturgeon has already indicated a flexibility to cover that.

    We’ll need to see some more polling over the next wee while to have an idea of how long after the details of the Brexit deal are known, that Scots think it reasonable to allow before a decision is taken – and the arrangements for such a referendum would have to be made well in advance of that.

    I’m happy to accept that you not only misspoke originally, but also misunderstood the Scottish Government’s proposal that ScotRef should take place after the Brexit details are known

    I totally agree that polling suggests that most want to see that agreement (if any) before having to decide on independence.

    It’s good to find common ground.

  9. So Gordon Brown steps into the debate:

    Interesting idea, with some merit IMO..

  10. @ Anthony

    The ” Yougov Scottish VI” published on here from yesterday, is it correct as there seems to be just one main source, it looks authentic but no other mainstream sites are using it?

  11. @catman jeff

    Possibly but:

    a. the UK Government has already indicated that they will not be pursuing that policy.

    b. if the UK Parliament cannot even agree how to reform the House of Lords, what chance is there of any agreement on a major constitutional change across the whole UK which this would require?

    c. and as Angus Robertson said this morning the reality is that, at the moment at least, Labour “cannot deliver a pizza” let alone a major constitutional reform.

  12. Hireton

    ” Perhaps they just don’t like you”

    ‘ They’ being one person who I had never met before and therefore did not know me….You have a a very strange way of making your points. Seemingly you sympathize with the person who made that comment to me –and to my relief has now left the club. Because you dislike someone is no excuse for making racial remarks or perhaps you think it is.

    Are you really English or just pretending to be one ?

    Peter Cairns

    There was much about your reply to my original comment that I liked but my friends in Inverness tell me that the enthusiasm for another referendum is no less muted than in Edinburgh. Oh well we shall see who is right come the local elections ….

  13. @Nick Keene

    I’m English, Londoner all my life until 20 years ago. No, racist comments are never acceptable but you sometimes need to look at what causes them. There are some English people in Scotland who seem to go out of their way to talk Scotland and the Scots down and then wonder why people.don’t like them. It seems you are not one of them.

  14. Britain Elects has the Yougov Scottish poll up now so happy.

  15. IT will be interesting to see how attitudes to a new Referendum change now we have “Real” dates.

    Once we have an official announcement it tends to crystallise opinion with DK’s falling. Pollsters often ask “If there was an election tomorrow”but know it is an artificial question because there won’t be.

    During the first Ref there were three spikes in interest, where campaigning and activity stepped up; Sept 13, it’s only a year from now, Jan 14, Oh it’s this year!, Sept 14…. Bloody hell it’s les than a fortnight.

    As dates firm up so do opinions.


  16. @alec

    As it seems we can only discuss Scottish issues on Scottish threads just a quick response to your reply to carfrew’s point about @oldnat trying to ridge discussion on education.

    Actually he made the very valid point that a judgement on the SG’s education record depends on what measures you choose to use. He mentioned the better performance of Scotland on the NEET’s issue. You could point to other measures which would give you a more rounded assessment of the SG’s record (e.g the increase in the number of young people from deprived backgrounds going to university). He then took the issue back to what polling said about Scottish voter’s views which shows a fairly even split .

    How exactly is that shutting down the debate?

  17. Hireton

    I was a bit confused by Anthony’s admonition on the other thread. He’s normally a very good communicator, but he appeared to conflate “Scottish politics” and “Scottish Independence” in his comment.

    I’ve asked for elucidation, but am waiting for a response.

    Although I’ve always found it odd that English Independence (aka Brexit) is happily allowed to dominate every damn thread, it’s his site and I’m happy to accept his rules – if only I knew what they were!

  18. Clarification from Anthony now received. He has removed my comment from the other thread, so I’ll repost it here.


    I agree with your comment that there is nothing wrong with arrangements being different in different areas, when they are the result of local decisions to do things that way (as opposed to random decisions made by administrators to respond differently to budget cuts – that is pretty much a “postcode lottery”.)

    Polling too is done differently in different polities – YG is a good example.

    On domestic policy issues such as NHS or schooling YG for English issues asks

    “Here is a list of problems facing the country. Could you say for each of them which political party you think would handle the problem best?”

    In Scotland YG asks “How well or badly do you think the Scottish Government handles …..”

    Obviously these are very different questions.

    In England, voters are being asked to judge the alternative offers on these issues from the different parties. Theoretically at least, we can see how these different offerings, and their salience, relate to VI

    The Scottish question ignores the views on the issues from those parties outwith government (assuming that they have any).

    The results tell us nothing about how other options to current government policy (assuming the opposition parties have any) are viewed.

    If SLab, SCon and SLD have different visions for how the NHS should work from the current Government, then it makes no sense whatsoever to lump all the voters who support one of these disparate (assuming that they are disparate) policies together.

    As a polling question, the YG Scottish question may not be inept – but it certainly isn’t ept!

  19. ORB tables on that GB (not UK) poll on Scottish independence are now up

    Wee Scots sample, as one would expect (173), but in response to ” Do you support or oppose Scotland becoming an independent country and leaving the UK?” they split 50% Support to 41% Oppose, compared with E&W which had 39% Support against 61% Oppose.

    Strangely, they don’t seem to have crossbreaks by Voted Leave/Remain, so it’s entirely unclear as to how Remainers were supposed to respond to “I would still back Brexit even if I knew it could lead to the breakup of the UK (ie Scotland gaining independence)”

    That does suggest that the poll was constructed in a somewhat polarised environment!

    They even polled on who should lead the No campaign!

    31% T May
    16% R Davidson
    13% JK Rowling (Deatheaters were not specifically mentioned)]
    10% G Brown
    10% A Darling
    7% J Corbyn
    6% M Campbell

  20. Since no serious commentator will pay much attention to Gordie Broon’s latest, we may as well settle for Peat Worrier’s assessment –

    “The former Prime Minister today identifies another third way for Scotland after his last third way turned out to be insufficiently thirdy.”

  21. On the assumption that discussing polling in Wales is acceptable on min threads (though regrettably almost always ignored) Scully has a couple of posts about the BBC/ICM poll.


    Given that the questions were selected by the BBC, perhaps there should be no surprise that Scully comments “The lack of any insight into the respective attitudes of Remainers and Leavers, or of the supporters of the main parties, does make the BBC/ICM poll appear like something of a missed opportunity.”

    In that respect the BBC match the incompetence of those phrasing the Telegraph/ORB poll questions.

  22. @Hireton

    “How exactly is that shutting down the debate?”


    You’re changing it. I certainly wasn’t on about shutting it down, but shifting debate away to topics more convenient. Alec on the other hand gave a more thorough attempt in response to the Prof’s question, rather than mostly quibbling about measures and stuff and just throwing in a bit about NEETS. A balanced approach would acknowledge significant downsides.

  23. @Oldnat (RE: Peatworrier)

    Chuckling with glee here. :D

  24. Carfrew

    Prof Howard was interested in the perceptions of the Scottish Government’s performance – though it took him a couple of questions to frame that interest accurately.

    You may consider the percentage of NEETs to be a a minor factor, but that has been a widespread OECD concern, and one that I’m glad that the Scottish Government continues to focus on. What happens in your part of the world, I don’t know, but would be interested to learn.

    As to “downsides”, the stubborn resistance to reducing the attainment gap between the most and least advantaged has been a constant concern to all parties responsible for Scottish education – whether that be the Tories in the 90s, the Lab/Lib Executive, or the current SNP Government.

    It may be that the current strategy of investing heavily in Early Years Education as the best way of tackling the problem is the best. The early indicators are positive (as one might expect, given the research into the causes of the attainment gap) but we will need to wait and see how it pans out.

    Whether or not the SNP have “got the strategy right”, I don’t know – but the curriculum initiative from the previous Lab/LD coalition got us off to a good start, and the SNP have continued to support that policy, and enhanced the Early Years approach.

    In terms of Scotland’s education policy, who is offering any different a strategy – perhaps SCon, with a rather incoherent wish to return to the 1950s? (but even that isn’t clear).

    Has every Scottish party got education policy wrong, and the magic answer lies somewhere else?

    Could be – but the Curriculum for Excellence model developed under SLab/SLD was devised after looking at initiatives around the world for the best models to adapt to Scottish circumstances.

    Long term problems do tend to require long term solutions, and my preference is for what both the former SLab/SLD Executive, and the current SNP Government have gone for – which is a strategy that extends well beyond the electoral cycle that parties intent on only short term measures think is appropriate.

  25. Fraser Nelson (Unionist journalist) was quoted on this site earlier.

    Of minor interest he retweeted a comment from his auntie about being at a great SNP meeting wityh the words

    From my Aunt Patsy, now an SNP foot soldier. Unlike the Tories, the SNP leadership fraternises with its activists. Works irritatingly well.

    There’s a message there! :-)

  26. Survation/Sunday Times (via Number Cruncher)

    westminster VI

    SNP 47 (=)
    CON 28 (+1)
    LAB 14 (-1)
    LD 4 (=)
    UKIP 3 (=)
    GRN 3 (=)

    ScotRef should be

    NEXT 1-2 YRS 32


    YES 44 (-2)
    NO 56 (+2)

  27. @oldnat

    Yes, this is the sort of thing we’ve seen before: However bad it is, the SNP are not to take any blame because of some vague idea they are just ‘following the research’ and if they are in error, well the other parties must take the blame alongside. Thin gruel, but hey…

  28. P.S. I didn’t say the NEET thing was minor, just that wasn’t exactly a robust response to just mention that in passing.

  29. OLDNAT

    Yes, i saw that poll in the ST as well. Not good news for the SNP I would have thought. My own guess, if there is another meaningful referendum on Scottish Independance at all, is that it would take place in 2022-2023. What’s your view?

  30. TOH

    47% of the VI for Westminster seems pretty good for the SNP, I’d have thought.

    If you are referring to the timing of ScotRef question, then Survation seem to be as bad at asking a sensible question on this as most other pollsters!

    “Next 1-2 years” would include the period when the Brexit negotiations are finished, and the deal gone for ratification, so it isn’t at all clear what the respondents opting for that saw as the difference from “Post Brexit negotiations”

    “Not in Next few years” seems a fairly meaningless idea. Presumably it will include responses from those who think ScotRef should never happen, and those who want to see how Brexit pans out.

    Rubbish questions don’t tell us very much! However, Scotland seems pretty much still divided on the timing question, as it is on the preferred outcome!

  31. TOH

    Forgot to answer your last question!

    Hard to tell. If opinion shifts in Scotland during the Brexit negotiations, then late 2019 might be a possibility – otherwise, I suspect it would end up being postponed till after the nest round of GEs on 2020 and 2021.

  32. @carfrew

    It is a while since I read the OECD report (2015) of Scottish education. If my memory is good enoug the New Curriculum has not been firmly embedded. difficulties lie at different levels.Some teachers have failed to embrace the New Curriculum. Local authorities, have in some cases, failed to supply support to the introduction of the curriculum. SNP government carries the can for the overall oversight and not commissioning adequate research into the implementation of the changes.

  33. Observer reporting a new “UK” Opinium poll.

    Details are a bit sketchy, but tables might reveal more when they are published.

  34. Tables are up – and lots of them!

    UK poll, so the crossbreaks for the devolved nations are very wee, but –

    “I would prefer Scotland to vote ‘Yes’ for independence” Eng 47% : Sco 47%
    “I would prefer Scotland to vote ‘No’ for independence” Eng 14% : Sco 44%
    “No preference” Eng 28% : Sco 4%

    Leader approval ratings (all UK) – Sturgeon (by Party VI)

    Approve : Disapprove : Party
    94% : 2% : SNP
    46% : 25% : LD
    46% : 28% : Green
    38% : 31% : Lab
    24% : 41% : Plaid
    11% : 69% : Con
    10% : 69% : UKIP
    9% : 59% : Other (mainly NI, I suspect)

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