Thursday, July 19, 2018

If an outright mandate for independence is sought at a parliamentary election, it should be done at Holyrood 2021, not Westminster 2022

You may have seen that Gordon MacIntyre-Kemp's column in The National today sets out what he believes is the most likely timetable for seeking a mandate on independence.  As you know, I entirely agree with him that the mandate must and will be sought in the near future, and it's great to see that point being made unapologetically by such an influential figure.  However, I do disagree with him about a number of the specifics.

First of all, he thinks Nicola Sturgeon may not renew her request for a Section 30 order until April or May of next year - by which time, of course, Scotland will already have been dragged out of the EU.  (That will be the case unless the exit date is extended by mutual consent, which is theoretically allowed under Article 50 but seems unlikely at the moment.)  I believe it would be a great mistake to let Brexit become an established fact on the ground before any action at all is taken.  The referendum itself may or may not have to wait until after Brexit, but the public should certainly know long before 29th March that an alternative choice is coming.  In any case, Nicola Sturgeon has been consistently saying for the last year that she will make her judgement this autumn, and if she were to backtrack on that, it would play into the London media's preferred (bogus) narrative that a referendum is to all intents and purposes off the table for the foreseeable future.  I do expect the announcement could be delayed until the tail-end of autumn, though, and I would just note in passing that Scotland's national day happens to be 30th November - the final day of meteorological autumn.  (Mind you, that choice of date might be just a little too obvious!)

Secondly, Gordon argues that when the Section 30 request is made, there is only a 50% chance that Theresa May will refuse it.  I would say the chances are more like 99% or higher.  The Tories have put all their eggs in the "now is not the time" basket, and nothing will change on that front until one of two things happen: either a) they suffer the shock of losing a significant number of seats in a Holyrood or Westminster election, or b) Nicola Sturgeon sidesteps the Section 30 problem altogether by calling a vote against Westminster's wishes.  That does not mean, however, that a Section 30 request should not be made - quite the reverse.  But when the moment comes, it should be made abundantly clear to Theresa May that "now is not the time" is not an acceptable answer - we will require either a "yes" or a "no", and if no such answer is received by a specific date, a "no" will be assumed and we will move on to other options.

Thirdly, Gordon believes that if a Section 30 order is refused, the alternative option should not be a consultative referendum.  He thinks there would be a danger of a unionist boycott which would remove legitimacy from the vote.  As I've said before, I don't understand that argument, because a consultative referendum would be an each-way bet - the unionist parties might not boycott it, in which case it becomes binding to all intents and purposes, but if they do, a Yes vote becomes inevitable and the anti-independence mandate of September 2014 will no longer be uncontested.  Either way, it's a major step forward.

Nevertheless, there is of course the possibility that a consultative referendum may not be possible if the Supreme Court strikes the legislation down, in which case we would need the Plan C of using a scheduled election as a de facto referendum.  Which brings me to the fourth of Gordon's points that I disagree with.  He thinks that the Westminster election of 2022 should be used as the mandate vote, and that the 2021 Holyrood election should merely be used to establish a mandate for using the Westminster vote to seek a mandate.  There are all sorts of problems with that idea, not least the fact that we don't even know whether the next general election will take place before or after the Holyrood vote - it could be any time up to 2022, including even this autumn.  But the biggest issue is that a Westminster election will be a British contest in which media coverage will be dominated by British issues, and in which the independence issue will be treated as a colourful sideshow.  It's plainly far more appropriate (and more strategically promising for that matter) to seek a mandate in a Scotland-only election.  Given the first-past-the-post voting system, a Westminster election also carries the significant risk of a contradictory mandate - one where pro-independence parties win the majority of seats but anti-independence parties win a majority of the vote, as happened last year.  The proportional representation system used at Holyrood doesn't eliminate that risk altogether, but it does reduce the risk significantly.  There's no way, for example, that either pro-independence or anti-independence parties could win a majority of seats at Holyrood on less than 40% of the vote.

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Fundraiser: If you find Scot Goes Pop's polling coverage useful and would like to help it continue, donations can be made via the 2017 fundraiser page.  The initial £7000 target was reached last summer, but one year on that money has all been used up.  I know there are always lots of very worthy pro-independence causes looking for support, so I've held off for as long as I possibly could before actively seeking donations again.

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

An independence referendum looks ever more inevitable tonight as Tory rebels FAIL to vote down a hard Brexit

As I understand it, the SNP's strategy on an independence referendum since last summer's "reset" has been to focus all their energies on full-bloodedly and sincerely attempting to secure a soft Brexit for the whole UK, knowing that if they failed, they could then look the public in the eye and say with total honesty: "Every conceivable avenue for remaining in the single market and the customs union as part of the UK has now been exhausted.  Independence is the only game in town from now on."

That means, paradoxically, that their honest endeavours could have been moving them a little further away from their primary political objective.  Both last night and tonight, SNP MPs have taken part in knife-edge votes on the Trade Bill.  If they had been on the winning side in those votes, a softer Brexit would have looked much more likely, and the case for an early independence referendum would have looked considerably less clear-cut.  But courtesy of the very small and eccentric band of hard-core Labour Brexiteers, the most important votes were all lost.  Theresa May's astonishing capitulation to the Rees-Mogg faction yesterday has been confirmed by the Commons, we are hurtling towards either a Hard Brexit or a no deal Brexit, and it looks increasingly hard to see how Nicola Sturgeon will be able to justify to herself (let alone to anyone else) a decision to let the current mandate for an independence referendum expire.

The London media may still be in a state of absolute denial about it, but with a decision about a referendum still promised by the autumn, the day of reckoning cannot be far off now.

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Fundraiser: If you find Scot Goes Pop's polling coverage useful and would like to help it continue, donations can be made via the 2017 fundraiser page.  The initial £7000 target was reached last summer, but one year on that money has all been used up.  I know there are always lots of very worthy pro-independence causes looking for support, so I've held off for as long as I possibly could before actively seeking donations again.

Monday, July 16, 2018

Heartbreak for the mainstream media as "Operation Hush-up" fails - Survation poll reveals widespread public awareness of the power-grab

It's actually been quite difficult to get to grips with the new Survation poll that has been gradually released by Cleggy and the Vow-Meisters over the last few days, because as far I can see only the datasets for the questions on independence have been published so far.  Survation's website isn't the most user-friendly, though, so it's difficult to be 100% sure.  The latest figures to be released today relate to the removal of powers from the Scottish Parliament, and on the face of it would seem to confirm that the issue has now cut through - in spite of the heroic efforts by the BBC and other parts of the mainstream media over the last few months to mention it as little as possible and to downplay its importance whenever they do mention it.  41% of respondents agree that Westminster grabbing back 24 of Holyrood's existing powers amounts to a "power-grab" (logical enough, you'd think), while 34% disagree.  Perhaps the closeness of that result may seem a little disappointing, but when you consider that the SNP have been fighting against a virtual news blackout on this subject, I'd suggest we should look upon the glass as being very much half-full in this case.

The only caveat I'd add is that in the absence of the datasets it's not clear exactly what question Survation asked.  As we all know, people are very hostile towards the Tories and suspicious of the UK government's intentions (with good reason), and so it could be that if they were asked "the Tories are doing X, but say it doesn't mean anything, do you believe them?", that could have generated the 41% result without there necessarily having been as much pre-knowledge of the power-grab as we'd like to believe.  But we'll find out more when the wording of the question is eventually published.

I've been a bit tied up over recent days writing articles for The National and iScot (and yeah, OK, watching the World Cup and Wimbledon may have had something to do with it as well), so I didn't get round to adding some analysis of Survation's voting intention numbers for Holyrood and Westminster.  Here are a few belated thoughts.  I speculated in my piece in The National that the SNP's best poll showing since before the June 2017 election might be due to the walkout from the Commons a few weeks ago.  Of course the other potential game-changer was the Chequers "deal" and the subsequent spate of ministerial resignations, which took place in the middle of Survation's fieldwork period.  We should certainly take that seriously as a possible explanation, because there's plenty of polling evidence that it's shifted public opinion at Britain-wide level - there's been a swing from Tory to Labour that essentially reverses the trend of the last few months.  The odd thing, though, is that the Scottish Tory vote is not substantially down in the Survation poll - they've remained static in the Westminster vote, and have only dropped one point on the Scottish Parliament constituency ballot, which can easily be explained away as margin of error 'noise'.  (They're down four points on the list ballot, but I'd be inclined to take that less seriously given the apparent tendency of some respondents to treat the list as a second preference vote.)  Weirdly, it's Labour that appears to be suffering the most - the opposite of what is happening at Britain-wide level.  How do we explain that?  Perhaps pro-European voters are looking for the best available option, and in England that's Labour, but in Scotland it's the SNP?

Both UKIP and the Liberal Democrats - parties that are on opposite extremes of the Brexit debate - are doing unusually well in the Survation poll, which would tend to confirm that Europe is on voters' minds to a greater extent than usual, and might suggest that other changes in the poll have a similar explanation.  In case you've been wondering why the seats projection for Holyrood gave the pro-independence parties a majority of seats on a minority of the vote, part of the explanation is that UKIP's 5% list vote is effectively 'wasting' a significant chunk of unionist votes, because it's just short of what would be required to actually win any seats.  If UKIP's list vote was to continue to rise, or if all the UKIP votes were to go to the Tories, the seats projection would look somewhat less favourable from a pro-independence point of view.

In relation to Survation's inexplicable decision to suddenly stop including 16 and 17 year olds in their independence polling, someone asked on an earlier thread whether that meant they were also excluding EU nationals.  The answer is that I don't know, because that information simply isn't available in the datasets.  If Survation are now using the Westminster franchise rather than the Holyrood/local government/indyref franchise as the basis for their sampling, it would seem logical that they would be excluding EU nationals as well as 16 and 17 year olds, which might theoretically be leading to a marginal underestimation of the Yes vote.  But that's just speculation at this stage.

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Fundraiser: If you find Scot Goes Pop's polling coverage useful and would like to help it continue, donations can be made via the 2017 fundraiser page.  The initial £7000 target was reached last summer, but one year on that money has all been used up.  I know there are always lots of very worthy pro-independence causes looking for support, so I've held off for as long as I possibly could before actively seeking donations again.

Saturday, July 14, 2018

More about that sensational Survation poll

Just a quick note to let you know that I have a new article in The National about yesterday's Survation poll, which put the SNP back up to levels of support that haven't been seen since before the general election.  You can read the article HERE.

Friday, July 13, 2018

Spectacular Survation poll suggests SNP are on course for landslide

Scottish voting intentions for next UK general election:

SNP 42% (+3)
Conservatives 24% (n/c)
Labour 23% (-4)
Liberal Democrats: 8% (+1)

Scottish Parliament voting intentions (constituency ballot):

SNP 43% (+1)
Conservatives 24% (-1)
Labour 21% (-4)
Liberal Democrats 9% (+3)

Scottish Parliament voting intentions (regional list ballot):

SNP 33% (+1)
Labour 21% (-2)
Conservatives 19% (-4)
Greens 11% (+2)
Liberal Democrats 9% (+1)
UKIP 5% (+2)

I've got a few things on today, so I'll update this with analysis when I have a chance, but a couple of quick observations...

Most importantly, this is the most favourable poll for the SNP and the pro-independence parties since the general election.  If these numbers were replicated at the ballot box, there would still be a pro-independence majority at Holyrood, the SNP would regain all of the six Westminster seats they lost to Labour last year, and would even regain the bulk of the twelve seats they lost to the Tories.

Secondly, it appears from the partial datasets published yesterday that 16 and 17 year olds weren't interviewed for the poll.  If that isn't a misprint, it represents a major and inexplicable retrograde step for Survation, who previously have been good about interviewing the correct electorate.  It raises the question of whether the 47% figure for Yes published yesterday may have been a smidgeon too low.

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Fundraiser: If you find Scot Goes Pop's polling coverage useful and would like to help it continue, donations can be made via the 2017 fundraiser page.  The initial £7000 target was reached last summer, but one year on that money has all been used up.  I know there are always lots of very worthy pro-independence causes looking for support, so I've held off for as long as I possibly could before actively seeking donations again.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Drama as Survation poll shows support for independence INCREASING - and almost half of Scots DEMAND that Nicola Sturgeon should call a referendum

The ever-delightful Cleggy and the Vow-Meisters have today published their latest full-scale Scottish poll from Survation.  It tells a familiar tale, with respondents roughly split down the middle on whether Nicola Sturgeon should call a second independence referendum.  A total of 42% think she should, and 49% think she shouldn't.  Bear in mind there's a margin of error of 3%, meaning those numbers are close enough to being a statistical tie as makes no difference. 

The 42% in favour of a referendum break down as follows: 23% want Ms Sturgeon to call a referendum this autumn, and 19% want her to call it later.  The wording of the question on this point is deeply unsatisfactory, and I strongly suspect that most respondents will have wrongly assumed that they were being asked whether a referendum should actually take place this autumn.  What Survation are really asking is whether a referendum should merely be announced this autumn, but they don't spell that out, and therefore the results on timing should be taken with a massive dose of salt.  It's actually quite impressive that one-quarter of the population seemingly want a referendum to take place in as little as two or three months' time!  And of course the 19% who chose the 'later than the autumn' option could mean that they think this winter or next spring would be the appropriate time - they aren't given the opportunity to specify what 'later' actually means.

Disappointingly, Survation have misrepresented their own numbers on this occasion in a much more serious way than the Daily Record have. It's quite rare for a polling company to do that, but the short Survation article on the poll is headlined "Scottish Voters Opposed to Second Independence Referendum".  As you can see for yourself, that's quite simply untrue - the 42% in support of a referendum, when combined with the small number of Don't Knows, outnumber the 49% who are opposed.  There is no absolute majority in either direction, and it's anyone's guess why Survation are so keen to give the false impression that there is.  Maybe a mole from Tory central office has infiltrated their PR department?

The only other result to be published from the poll so far is the straight question on independence, and it shows a modest increase in the Yes vote - albeit one that can potentially be easily explained by the margin of error.

Should Scotland be an independent country? (Don't Knows excluded)

Yes 47% (+1)
No 53% (-1)

Presumably we'll see Holyrood and/or Westminster voting intention numbers tomorrow or over the coming days.

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Fundraiser: If you find Scot Goes Pop's polling coverage useful and would like to help it continue, donations can be made via the 2017 fundraiser page.  The initial £7000 target was reached last summer, but one year on that money has all been used up.  I know there are always lots of very worthy pro-independence causes looking for support, so I've held off for as long as I possibly could before actively seeking donations again.

Saturday, July 7, 2018

The Brexit delusion over who calls the shots

I don't know about anyone else, but I've been rubbing my eyes in disbelief over the last few hours.  If you've been listening to the mainstream media's verdict on what was agreed at Chequers, you'd be forgiven for thinking that the fabled Brexit deal that Theresa May has been tasked with striking needed only to be a deal with the rest of her own Cabinet, and not with the European Union.   By that rather lower standard, what's just happened might indeed be seen as a stunning personal triumph for the Prime Minister and a guarantee of a (somewhat) softer Brexit, exactly as Stormfront Lite is claiming tonight.  The agreement will only be subject to a few modifications if Brussels raises any objections, reveals the Guardian, which apparently believes that the EU has only a limited consultative role in the whole process.  It's the old imperial delusion - decisions are things that happen in London.  The same commentators who complacently tell us that an indyref is a non-starter because Theresa May will say "no" also apparently believe that it's a mere point of trivia that the EU have already ruled out many elements of May's Brexit proposal.  Back in the real world, without the EU's assent there is no deal at all, and that would mean the hardest of hard Brexits.

A rare injection of realism was provided by Sam Coates of the Times, who acknowledged that the EU may well still insist on a straight choice between a looser Canada-type deal, and the Norway model that would entail the retention of the single market.  But he argued that the Chequers proposal was around 80% of the way towards the Norway model, thus making it that much easier for the Prime Minister to jump towards Norway if forced to choose.  What he didn't expand on is the consequence of such a decision.  It's highly debatable whether the government really are now 80% of the way towards Norway, but even assuming for the sake of argument that they are, the reason they haven't travelled the remaining 20% of the distance is that doing so would completely breach the red lines on formally leaving the single market and ending freedom of movement.  Some say that a soft Brexit is inevitable because there is a natural parliamentary majority for it - but that majority is cross-party in nature, and neither the government nor the Prime Minister are sustained in office on a cross-party basis.  I find it inconceivable that a Tory government led by Theresa May could keep Britain in the European Economic Area or retain freedom of movement, even if they wanted to.

And if that proves to be correct, there are only really four alternatives -

1) The EU backs down and accepts British cherry-picking of the most desirable aspects of the single market and customs union.  This is almost unimaginable because it would create a precedent that Eurosceptics in other member states would try to follow, thus risking the unravelling of the EU.

2) A Canada-type deal is negotiated after all.  This is possible, but it would require turning the super-tanker around, because it's clearly not close to what Theresa May has in mind at the moment.  It would mean a very hard Brexit in any case.

3) There is no deal at all.

4) The Prime Minister's failure to strike a deal (or a deal that is consistent with her red lines) triggers a political crisis that results in a change of leadership and/or a general election.

I can recall at least two previous occasions when we've been told that the PM has made a decisive move towards a soft Brexit, only for us to realise weeks later that there had been no change of any real significance.  I fully expect the same to prove true on this occasion.

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Fundraiser: If you find Scot Goes Pop's polling coverage useful and would like to help it continue, donations can be made via the 2017 fundraiser page.  The initial £7000 target was reached last summer, but one year on that money has all been used up.  I know there are always lots of very worthy pro-independence causes looking for support, so I've held off for as long as I possibly could before actively seeking donations again.

Friday, July 6, 2018

Thoughts on the Plaid Cymru leadership election

This speaks volumes about just how unequal this "union of equals" actually is, but I would have been totally oblivious to the fact that a Plaid leadership election is now underway if I had been reliant on the London-based mainstream media.  I just happened to stumble upon the information on Twitter.  Adam Price and Rhun ap Iorwerth, both highly charismatic and telegenic figures who have long been regarded as obvious leaders of the future, are both challenging Leanne Wood for the top job.  To put this development in perspective, imagine that John Swinney had not resigned as SNP leader in 2004 but had instead been challenged by both Alex Salmond and Nicola Sturgeon.  Totally unthinkable given the closeness of those three people, but just imagine.  That's the sort of scenario Plaid are facing - there's not just the question of whether the current leader will survive, there's also the subplot of a battle between two different Kings Over The Water that only one (at most) can possibly win.  It really is the leadership contest to end them all.

I've followed Rhun ap Iorwerth on Twitter for quite some time and he's always come across as extremely progressive, so I was surprised to see the suggestion in a BBC Wales article that he might be more receptive to an arrangement with the Tories than Leanne Wood is.  I know unsubstantiated gossip from the BBC should be treated with healthy scepticism (if you believe Sarah Smith's running commentary on Nicola Sturgeon's supposed 'private views', you'll believe anything), but what doesn't seem to be in any dispute is that Mr ap Iorweth is taking a pro-nuclear stance by supporting the construction of the Wylfa Newydd nuclear power plant in his constituency, while Leanne Wood is taking the opposite stance as leader.  That's a classic case of local people backing nuclear power while those further away from the plant paradoxically tend to be the ones more worried about environmental and health effects - we used to see much the same pattern in the debate about Dounreay.  But that doesn't necessarily mean that the people further away don't have a more clear-sighted perspective, of course.

The same BBC Wales article characterises Adam Price as seeking equidistance between Labour and the Tories, with the implication that this also puts him somewhere in between Mr ap Iorwerth and the more Labour-friendly Ms Wood.  I do seem to recall, though, that back in 2007 Mr Price was a key cheerleader for the idea that Plaid should opt for coalition with Labour and not with the Tories and Lib Dems.

If the suggestion that Ms Wood is the most left-wing of the three candidates is true, and from what I know about her I can believe there might be a grain of truth in it, that would leave me with a big headache if I was a Plaid member with a vote.  Ms Wood is probably closest of all the candidates to my own political views, but my gut feeling is that the Welsh public might look upon either Mr Price or Mr ap Iorweth as credible potential First Ministers, in a way that they perhaps don't with Ms Wood. It's the age-old dilemma - do you vote for the candidate with the best policies, or for the best candidate?  Having seen what happened to Labour after head ruled heart in 1994, I suspect I would probably follow my heart and vote to re-elect Ms Wood - although there would be a loud, nagging voice inside my head wondering if I was doing the right thing.

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Pressure mounts on Theresa May to pass a Section 30 order after UK House of Commons UNANIMOUSLY votes to accept the sovereignty of the Scottish people

When it emerged last night that the SNP were about to hold an opposition day debate in the Commons on the Claim of Right, I speculated on the pickle the unionist parties might get into depending on how they decided to vote.  I expected the Tories to vote against the motion, in which case they would have to explain why they were opposed to the Scottish people's right to self-determination, and I thought Labour and the Liberal Democrats might abstain, in which case they would have to explain why they were refusing to support the founding principle of their own Scottish Constitutional Convention.  In the end, all three parties declined to walk into that trap.  They all backed the motion, which meant that it passed by acclamation - essentially a unanimous vote without a single MP registering an objection (not even the notorious 'Mr Upskirt').

But of course there are also consequences that flow from backing the Claim of Right.  If, when Nicola Sturgeon renews her request for a Section 30 order, the answer continues to be "no", it will be reasonable to ask what the Tories actually meant when they voted in favour of "the sovereign right of the Scottish people to determine the form of Government best suited to their needs".  As a veteran of interminable back-and-forths about Devo Max with Tory supporters on Stormfront Lite, I'm well aware of the argument that the sovereignty of the Scottish people cannot be absolute when the objective is an enhanced form of self-government within the United Kingdom, because any change in the UK's internal constitutional arrangements affects the whole of the UK and can only be decided by mutual consent, not unilaterally.  But that excuse falls apart if you're still claiming that the sovereignty of the people is not absolute even when the decision is about whether to leave the UK altogether.  The choice on independence really is nobody's business but Scotland's, and the sovereignty of the Scottish people means nothing if it doesn't mean the right to say "Now Is Not The Time is an interesting opinion, but we disagree with it, and the decision is ours, not yours".  It means exactly the same right to decide whether to leave at a time and manner of our own choosing that the British people exercised in relation to the EU.


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Fundraiser: If you find Scot Goes Pop's polling coverage useful and would like to help it continue, donations can be made via the 2017 fundraiser page.  The initial £7000 target was reached last summer, but one year on that money has all been used up.  I know there are always lots of very worthy pro-independence causes looking for support, so I've held off for as long as I possibly could before actively seeking donations again.

Border checks at Gretna Green? We're totally cool with that, say majority of Scots in new SHOCK poll

As you've probably already seen, the latest release from the new Panelbase/Wings poll asks how people in Scotland would feel about border checks if that were necessary for Scotland to enjoy the same special status in relation to the EU that has been mooted for Northern Ireland.

If Northern Ireland were to be granted special status which effectively meant it remained in the EU, but saw the imposition of customs and immigration checks between it and the rest of the UK, which of these is closest to your opinion?

The same status should be granted to Scotland: 53%
The same status should NOT be granted to Scotland: 26%

I think that's quite possibly the most remarkable finding in the poll so far, and it has all sorts of interesting implications.  The question is not sneakily worded in any way - it lays on the line that the border checks being talked about are the sort traditionally associated with a hard border between two sovereign states.  And yet, in spite of the fact that Better Together thought their fairy tales about barbed wire fences and Trump-style walls were a major Achilles heel for Yes back in 2014, an absolute majority of respondents - even when Don't Knows are taken into account - clearly do not believe that border checks are a dealbreaker.  And if they're not a dealbreaker for voters pondering an intra-UK border, it's hard to see why they would be a dealbreaker for voters thinking about a border between an independent Scotland and rUK.

In practice, of course, people are typically poor at answering hypothetical questions, and after being exposed to a second helping of Project Fear, they might well suddenly decide that border checks are quite scary after all.  In a way, the dream scenario would be if Scotland did actually gain the kind of special status referred to in this poll, because it would allow people to get used to a lot of the things associated with independence before making what would be a much smaller psychological jump.  That is one of the many reasons why the Tories will never allow it to happen.  But this poll leaves the Tory government with another problem: if the majority were not deterred by the mention of border checks, that means they must feel very, very strongly that it would be unacceptable for Scotland not to be given any special status awarded to Northern Ireland.  Can the government risk a massive public backlash in Scotland at a time like this?  If not, it significantly reduces their options in resolving the impasse over Brexit.

And a final thought: if people were not deterred by border checks, that must also mean they feel very, very strongly about the benefits of "effectively remaining in the EU".  That constitutes another timely warning that it could be a big strategic blunder for the SNP to water down its pro-Europeanism in pursuit of the minority of Yes voters from 2014 who want to leave the EU.

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Fundraiser: If you find Scot Goes Pop's polling coverage useful and would like to help it continue, donations can be made via the 2017 fundraiser page.  The initial £7000 target was reached last summer, but one year on that money has all been used up.  I know there are always lots of very worthy pro-independence causes looking for support, so I've held off for as long as I possibly could before actively seeking donations again.