ComRes have conducted a new poll of European election voting intentions, showing that UKIP hold a narrow lead across Great Britain as a whole. But here is the level of support for Nigel Farage's party by region -
South-east of England : 29%
English Midlands : 39%
North of England : 31%
Wales & South-west of England : 36%
Scotland : 6%
Now, if it's not immediately apparent to you why these figures mean that public opinion in Scotland is in fact virtually identical to public opinion in the rest of the UK, I gather that ultra-Blairite commentator David Aaronovitch will be on hand to explain later. Don't worry - he's used to dealing with people who are even stupider than you.
As I've said before, I think the idea that a GB-wide UKIP victory will assist the pro-independence campaign is probably misguided. The main effect would be a temporary boost in UKIP's opinion poll ratings for Westminster, largely at the expense of the Tories rather than Labour. This would mask the fact that David Cameron is comfortably heading for re-election next year, and that independence is the only way to protect Scotland from the Bullingdon Boys. In truth, the nightmare result in May for the No campaign would be the Tories in first place and UKIP in second. I don't expect that to happen, although on an ultra-low turnout anything is possible.
What we can start to be a bit more optimistic about, though, is the result of the European elections in Scotland itself. Here are the full results of the ComRes Scottish subsample -
Liberal Democrats 12%
Those numbers need to be taken with a huge dose of salt, as they're based on a tiny sample size and are not properly weighted. All the same, they represent an intriguing straw in the wind, particularly as they're eerily similar to the results of ICM's full-scale European voting intention poll a few weeks ago (which I must admit seemed a bit too good to be true at the time). It's absolutely vital that the SNP go into the referendum campaign with momentum from having won the popular vote in the European elections - the seat breakdown is less important in my view, although it would obviously be fantastic if they could finally claim that elusive third seat.
Incidentally, the SNP also hold a narrow lead in Westminster voting intentions in the Scottish subsample -
Liberal Democrats 7%
Again, these numbers are subject to a huge margin of error. But I do find it interesting that they were produced by ComRes, a pollster that only conducts polls once every few weeks (this is their fifth of the year). By contrast, YouGov conduct a poll almost every day, and yet as far as I'm aware their Scottish subsample has only shown the SNP in a clear lead once this year. It really does call into question the weighting procedure that YouGov apply to Scottish respondents in their GB-wide polls. Day in, day out, the people who identify the SNP as 'their party' are downweighted in YouGov's results to a significant degree. As an example, here are the last few polls available in the YouGov archives -
12th/13th March - 67 SNP/Plaid Cymru identifiers downweighted to 36
11th/12th March - 63 SNP/Plaid Cymru identifiers downweighted to 36
10th/11th March - 62 SNP/Plaid Cymru identifiers downweighted to 35
9th/10th March - 86 SNP/Plaid Cymru identifiers downweighted to 54
6th/7th March - 58 SNP/Plaid Cymru identifiers downweighted to 34
It's true that YouGov usually have to downweight their Scottish sample as a whole, but that doesn't account for anything close to all of the discrepancy. The lesson I draw is that it's perfectly possible that Survation's last two full-scale Scottish polls are correct, and that the number of people who are currently planning to vote SNP in next year's UK general election is much higher than YouGov's daily polls would typically lead us to believe. (That said, the SNP were on 33% in the YouGov subsample on Friday, just 1% behind Labour!)