Since it became clear in the immediate post-referendum period that the SNP had racked up a huge and unprecedented lead in Westminster voting intentions, there have been two future events we've been looking ahead to which have the potential to change things. One is the TV leaders' debates (if they go ahead, and especially if they go ahead in the proposed rigged format). And the other is the moment we've just arrived at - the publication of the Smith recommendations. Predictably, the last 48 hours have seen a determined and coordinated effort between unionist parties and the media to use Smith to change the public's perception that they were conned by the No campaign. We've been treated to a glossy Hollywood production which has taken the pathetic re-hash of the Calman proposals and somehow presented it as "radical" and "far-reaching". Will this gain any traction? There were one or two worrying signs in the vox pops on Scotland 2014 the other night that people had indeed been hoodwinked - in particular, there was one young woman who was almost word-perfect as she unwittingly read from the planned script of "oh, we're so grateful for these SURPRISE new powers, now let's all get back in our box". I almost expected her to say "I never thought in my wildest dreams that we'd get control of ROAD SIGNS!"
However, we all know that vox pops can be unrepresentative, so what we really need is hard polling evidence. As of this moment (late afternoon on Saturday), all we have to go on is subsample information from two GB-wide polls, both of which were conducted on Wednesday and Thursday, meaning that only part of the fieldwork took place after the Smith announcement (although of course quite a bit had been leaked even by Wednesday morning). One was a YouGov poll, in which the Scottish subsample had the SNP in a 44% to 23% lead over Labour. That's within the normal range of the last few weeks, albeit with a slightly higher-than-average SNP lead. By complete contrast, the Scottish subsample from the poll conducted by Populus had Labour ahead of the SNP by a wafer-thin 32% to 30% margin. But again, that's within the normal range for Populus, who are the one and only firm to have produced subsamples putting Labour ahead of the SNP since the referendum. I'm losing track, but I think this may be the fifth time they've done it (it's at least the fourth). To put in perspective just how far out of line Populus are with the others, YouGov conduct five polls every week, and yet in the two-and-a-bit months since the referendum they've failed to produce a single Scottish subsample showing anything other than an SNP lead.
So as things stand there's no evidence of any change in public opinion yet, but we'll have to see if that still holds true when the Sunday polls (in particular the regular YouGov poll for the Sunday Times) are published.
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Two more hammerblows for the Kenny Farquharson/Murdo Fraser worldview of "Scottish public opinion is more or less the same as public opinion in the rest of the UK". Firstly, a ComRes poll reveals a huge disparity between Scottish and UK voting intentions for David Cameron's proposed in/out referendum on Europe -
If a referendum were held tomorrow on whether or not the UK should stay in or leave the European Union, how would you vote?
Respondents in Scotland -
Remain in the EU : 55%
Leave the EU : 45%
Respondents throughout Britain -
Remain in the EU : 40%
Leave the EU : 60%
The scenario of Scotland becoming independent over the next few years in order to avoid being forced out of the EU against its will becomes ever more plausible.
Secondly, a bombshell YouGov poll reveals that Scottish respondents are considerably more likely to believe that Jesus would want the railways to be taken back into public ownership...
Percentage who think Jesus would support the renationalisation of the railways :
London : 35%
South excluding London : 38%
Wales and English Midlands : 38%
North of England : 37%
Scotland : 44%
You see, Murdo? Even Jesus is more left-wing in Scotland.
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SCOT GOES POP POLL OF POLLS
Today's update of the Poll of Polls is based on just five Scottish subsamples from GB-wide polls (four from YouGov and one from Populus), and therefore should be treated with even more caution than usual.
Scottish voting intentions for the May 2015 UK general election :
SNP 38.6% (-4.0)
Labour 27.6% (+0.8)
Conservatives 19.6% (+1.6)
Liberal Democrats 5.2% (-0.3)
Greens 4.4% (+0.8)
UKIP 3.6% (+0.6)
(The Poll of Polls uses the Scottish subsamples from all GB-wide polls that have been conducted entirely within the last seven days and for which datasets have been provided, and also all full-scale Scottish polls that have been conducted at least partly within the last seven days. Full-scale polls are given ten times the weighting of subsamples.)