Ipsos-Mori's latest Scottish poll suggests that the SNP's lead in voting intention for the Scottish Parliament has narrowed, but still stands at a reasonably healthy five points. The party's raw share of the vote is, at 40%, some seven points higher than when Alex Salmond first took power in 2007. Here are the full figures -
SNP 40% (-5)
Labour 35% (+3)
Conservatives 13% (+1)
Liberal Democrats 8% (+2)
There is also a question on voting intention for the independence referendum.
Yes 30% (-5)
No 58% (+3)
Which is very much in line with the drop in support for independence recorded recently by TNS-BMRB. As I said the other day in my guest post at PB, the obvious grounds for optimism is the possibility that we are currently witnessing a "London 2012" blip, which will shortly be reversed as memories of the summer gradually fade. It seems entirely plausible that will prove to be the case (after all, the Olympics were a complete one-off, and certainly won't be replicated by 'celebrating' the 100th anniversary of the start of a global catastrophe), but only time will tell.
Oh, and by the way, the Times seem to think Alex Salmond should regard his net personal rating of +10 as bad news. Just remind me of how far below zero Cameron, Miliband and Clegg currently are?
UPDATE : Ipsos-Mori have been in touch, and have asked me to correct this post, which originally stated -
"There is also a question on voting intention for the independence referendum. Caution should be exercised here, because from the little I've seen of the report in the Times, it looks very much like this is yet another example of a unionist newspaper commissioning a pollster to ask a question that bears little resemblance to the actual proposed referendum question. However, for what it's worth, here are the figures..."
In fact, the question asked was identical to the one proposed by the Scottish Government, ie. "Do you agree that Scotland should be an independent country?". The reason for my mistake is that I wrote the post overnight, when Ipsos-Mori hadn't yet (as far as I could see) posted the details of the poll on their website, so I was reliant on an extract from the Times report which gave the impression that respondents had been asked if they supported the union or independence.
I'm very happy to correct the error, and I also hope that Ipsos-Mori's excellent practice in using the real referendum question will now be followed by other pollsters, notably YouGov and TNS-BMRB. There really is no remaining excuse for them not to do so, especially now that we know the Scottish Parliament will ultimately control the wording of the question.
* * *
There are times when all you can do with Simon 'Says Separation' Johnson of the Telegraph is sit back and admire his unique artistry. Has there ever been such an exquisitely contradictory sentence as this?
"The FCO said independence could even result in customs posts at the Border as Scotland would no longer benefit from the UK’s opt-out to the Schengen Agreement, which guarantees free movement between EU member states."
OK, let's untangle this, if such a feat is humanly possible. Scotland would no longer benefit from NOT having the benefit of free movement between EU member states. So it seems the existence of border posts and a lack of free movement is in itself a benefit. Presumably this means that having even more border posts imposed on us by partitionists in London would constitute even more of a benefit? Er...no.
The sophistication of this theology is positively Harrisian. Border posts and restrictions on movement are simultaneously both a good thing and a bad thing. Okey-dokey.
"Although the document does not name specific threats to Britain’s influence, it is understood they fear Argentina would try and have the UK removed as one of the five permanent members of the UN’s Security Council."
I must say I'm extraordinarily relaxed about the idea of the UK losing its permanent seat on the Security Council. The veto power of the permanent members is a relic of colonialism, and should be scrapped as soon as possible - but won't be, for the obvious reason that a change in the rules would be vetoed by the permanent members. And there's the point - I'm sure Argentina and a whole host of other countries would be only too delighted to see the UK dislodged from the council, but they are powerless to make that happen. The only permanent member to have been previously cast out by a vote in the General Assembly was Taiwan - but that was done by the sleight of hand of redefining what was meant by "China", and replacing the Republic of China with the People's Republic of China. The automatic right of China itself to a permanent place on the council was never in question. I suppose Argentina could always try redefining what is meant by "the UK" (perhaps it means Scotland?) but I doubt if they'd gain much traction.
In other words : red herring. Alas.
"The UK’s criticism of regimes in countries like Iran and Syria would also be blunted, with their leaders likely to crow over Scotland deciding to separate."
Are we really supposed to believe that the Western Alliance is so feeble that it can't survive a tiny bit of "crowing"?
"Scotland would lose its representation on the Security Council or the G20 group of the world’s largest economies, the submission said."
Scotland doesn't have any representation to lose, Simon. Or perhaps you're talking about William Hague? Dear God...
"Its ability to influence the EU would also suffer under a new proportional voting system that favours larger nations being introduced in 2014."
Can an increase in voting power from zero to a proportionate share really be characterised as "suffering"?
"Scots abroad could also be put at greater risk of "child abduction, forced marriage or crime" through the loss of the UK's consular assistance."
Snigger. Will that happen before or after UK embassies cripple our economy by withdrawing their tireless promotional efforts for Scotch whisky?