Sunday, May 10, 2015

YouGov poll finds big increase in English support for Scottish independence

YouGov have released a post-election poll covering a variety of topics (albeit not, interestingly enough, voting intentions for the next election), and you won't be surprised to hear that Scottish independence is one of them.  Among the Scottish subsample, there is majority support -

Respondents in Scotland only :

Support independence: 52%
Oppose independence: 43%

That's similar to the result of the Scottish subsample in the post-election Survation poll.  Of course the sample sizes are so small that these numbers aren't reliable, but they can probably be taken as an early indication that, at the very least, the election result hasn't caused support for independence to immediately drop back.

The most intriguing finding is that English respondents are now much more supportive of independence than they were prior to the referendum.  Across Britain, support has increased from 19% in mid-September to 30% now, and opposition has slumped from 65% to 51%.  The most likely explanation for some people changing their minds is that they've realised since the referendum that it's not impossible in certain circumstances for left-wing Scottish votes to have some mild influence over how England is governed.  There has been a complete transformation on the question of whether England would be better or worse off after independence - in September, a significant plurality said 'worse off', and now a significant plurality say 'better off'.

The SNP are also winning the battle of expectations - 54% of respondents across Britain, and 64% of respondents in Scotland, think that independence will happen within the next fifteen years.

I don't want to sound too paranoid about this, but YouGov have already started weighting by recalled vote from the 2015 election, and yet only 48% of the weighted Scottish subsample recall voting SNP, which is slightly too low.  I hope the now-defunct (and little mourned) Kellner Correction that was used in YouGov's full-scale Scottish polls isn't going to be replaced by yet another dubious weighting scheme.  The 74 SNP/Plaid voters in the raw sample of today's poll have been downweighted to count as just 47.

We also have the first post-election figures from YouGov on the EU referendum that we now know is definitely going to happen, and which could conceivably lead to a second independence referendum.

If there was a referendum on Britain's membership of the European Union, how would you vote? (Respondents across Britain) :

Stay in the EU: 45% (n/c)
Leave the EU: 36% (+3)

The Survation poll showed broadly similar figures.  The argument that a vote to remain in the EU is now inevitable goes like this - there is already a modest majority, and that can only increase as business and the political establishment start campaigning for continued membership.  But that was also the theory that held sway prior to the independence referendum, and it didn't quite work out like that.  I have a suspicion that the anti-EU movement has suffered in recent months from becoming too closely associated with the lunatic fringe of UKIP.  That will change as the vote approaches - a large number of Tory MPs, and a smattering of Labour MPs, will nail their colours to the mast for withdrawal, and the atmosphere will start to change.  It also doesn't take a genius to work out what line the right-wing tabloid press will be pushing.


  1. Hmmm....

    Have to say that my view is that whatever the right wing press say to stir things up, when it comes to the crunch they're owned by big business who know on which side their bread is buttered.

    You can expect all the tricks of Project Fear to be wheeled out and the English electorate haven't gone through the political education that Scots did during the Referendum so they'll buy it even more than we did.

    Remember that we went through this before in 1975 and in that case the establishment swung behind the stay in campaign and scored an easy victory.

    1. I'm not old enough to remember 1975, but whenever I see footage of it I'm always struck by how idealistic the Yes campaign was. It wasn't a grudging, fear-based campaign at all. It was the campaign that Scottish Labour should have fought last year but didn't. I'm not sure it would work now, though - even people who want to say in the EU are much more world-weary about the whole thing.

      I should underline, of course, that I'm personally very much in favour of remaining in the EU. It's only from a Machiavellian point of view that a vote to leave might prove useful.

    2. Speaking as part of the statistic of increasing English suport for Scottish independence (i.e. I am an English voter who, following the election, is now convinced that it is both proper and advantageous for Scotland to be self governing) I am interested in the pro-independence position on the mechanics of 'an end to austerity' ahead of independence. Would this be to prefer a complete fiscal autonomy (which, on TV just now, the SNP spokesperson seemed luke warm about, arguing it would 'take years' to implement) or to end austerity in Scotland by some other means? Or is it not possible for Scotland to 'end austerity' without independence?

    3. Cameron and the tories opposed Devo Max for those who somehow missed it.

      It would be vastly amusing to see a u-turn on it from Cameron but it just ain't gonna happen.

      Whatever hastily cobbled together small-beer they try to offer will have to pass the 'trust test' from the scottish public before it's even taken seriously. Something that's fairly unlikely to transpire given that we just saw the most historic and colossal landslide for the SNP at westminster and there are still more pandas than tory MPs in scotland.

      It's also telling that Cameron bottled out of EV4EL the last time it came up precisely because it is FAR more complicated than most of the idiotic tory twits realise.

      So it's not as if anyone should be holding their breath at the prospect of Cameron suddenly coming up with a rock-solid and workable solution to the WLQ that's also popular in scotland. (It also applies to Wales and NI too never forget)

    4. Okay, but what I am interested to ask is, what is the pro-independence position on 'an end to austerity'. Sturgeon has argued that the Scottish position cannot be ignored, that Scots demand 'an end to austerity' as if there should be some form of tangible response to this demand from the central government of the UK. What I am asking is, what is the response the SNP expect? Is it full fiscal autonomy? If not, then what else?

    5. When Scotland can issue its own bonds it can pursue a different policy, but as Sturgeon said on the Marr show today, this requires than the debt as it stands be divided up, and a transfer for services be arranged.

    6. We argued against the continuation of the counter-productive austerity fetish of Cameron, Osbrowne and the tories during the entire election campaign. (There was a UK wide debate or two which Nicola won for those who don't remember that either) Not only did we win those debates we won a staggering historic landslide of unprecedented proportions in scotland.

      So Cameron and the tories can either ignore that and treat scotland like nothing happened or they can keep hammering the poor, disabled vulnerable and public services with yet more austerity and prove what we all knew anyway. They they don't give a shit about scottish public opinion and it's the poll tax all over again.

      Like I already said, Cameron and the tories are against Devo Max so weak posturing on FFA just ain't gonna cut it. It sure as hell didn't cut it for Labour as their VOW was not just worthless but the final straw for many of their voters. Talk is cheap, the WLQ won't be solved with a wave of the fop's hand nor can Devo Max be magically implemented in a few months even if it was on the cards, which it is not.

      So if you think the tories can't get any more unpopular in scotland then I suggest you keep watching as Clegg's ostrich faction operated under the same out of touch delusion these last five years and are now an utter irrelevance.

      We have no intention of sitting back and letting the tories do as they please and have plans for both westminster and Holyrood to not only put a spotlight on the nasty party (and 'Now Labour' (LOL)) but another campaign is taking shape for 2016 right now which we will be starting very shortly indeed.

      Then we will see precisely what the scottish public thinks of yet more tory austerity and their back of a fag packet plans for more powers.

    7. "but as Sturgeon said on the Marr show today, this requires than the debt as it stands be divided up".. Fiscal autonomy would require that, by which I presume she means this is the mechanism by which Scotland will end austerity. That answers my question. I had just wondered if that was what was meant, or something other. The SNP asserted that (following a yes vote in the referendum) full independence could be achieved in less than 2 years, so fiscal autonomy (which I think would be a positive move both sides of the border) ought to take no longer than this. David Cameron might not want that, but I believe there would be significant support for it in England, provided the arrangement was implemented in a way that appeared fair to both sides.

    8. "full independence could be achieved in less than 2 years, so fiscal autonomy (which I think would be a positive move both sides of the border) ought to take no longer than this."

      I suggest you actually look into the matter in a touch more depth then. I mean perhaps, just perhaps, there's a reason the WLQ became a byword for an intractable problem thrown up by devolution with no quick or easy solution.

      Everything has a knock on effect and areas which are outwith even Devo Max would still inevitably have to be accounted for and factored in since they will still impact on the likes of spending and budget just for starters. Not merely for proposals between England and scotland but Wales and NI too. (and make no mistake, their MPs and public will be watching like a hawk)

      Independence is a clean break where negotiations would still have to occur but there is a well defined endpoint and handover of all responsiblities over to the scottish government.

      No such situation prevails for the ill-defined vagaries that a few tories have thrown about masquerading under the shorthand of FFA.

      Devo Max had widespread support in scotland and a starting blueprint but it would STILL have been something that required almost certainly an entire parliament to work through even with the wholehearted support of all involved.

      I can assure you, Cameron and the tories have no intention of offering Devo Max nor do they have anything like the time required to implement well thought out and coherent powers that are fair to all concerned.

      They will be a touch busy trying to keep their own party from tearing itself apart over the EU referendum from 2016 onwards. (if not sooner)

      Such plans for more powers are not impossible but there is a long, long history of commissions and reports in scotland (because you can't just quickly legislate on devolving significant power on the hoof) that promised the moon and delivered little to nothing because they inevitably could not deliver the support of westminster parties who simply do not want to hand over power if they can possibly help it. The westminster establishment has proven this time and time again. Put simply, we've heard it all before.

      That is what we are talking about after all. Westminster handing over significant powers to scotland and likely Wales, NI, the north of England etc.

      If those powers are so circumscribed and ill-thought out as to be actively counterproductive, and a curtailing of existing powers in disguise, then you can hardly expect either the SNP or the scottish public to cheer that on. Nor will they. We have been dealing with this for slightly longer than Cameron and his chums have been on the scene so we are well aware of the complexities and pitfalls involved.

      For that matter the McKay Commission only scratched the surface of merely the westminster voting problem and ended up WAY too complex and way too much for Cameron to stomach.

    9. Mick, I agree with you; devo-max or anything close too it would be more difficult and time-consuming to set up than independence. Why would Westminster want to through all the negotiations needed for devo-max or FFA, knowing that the new arrangements would probably just be a stepping stone for full independence?

      My guess is that if the Westminster government ever concludes that the only viable solutions to their Scottish 'problem' are devo-max and independence, they will choose independence as being by far the easier option.

    10. They might choose the isle of Mann solution. This isn't just about money - one of the barriers to independence is international prestige and that precious seat on the security council.

      A Mann solution would be like the dominion solutions proposed for India or Canada which Westminster was foolish enough to reject as they probably will do this time.

    11. I see the point being made, although I think it is being stretched a little. It is not the case that full independence is entirely simple and clean, and that anything less is impossibly complex. Either would be difficult, but could be achieved with determination, fairness and goodwill on both sides. But I can understand a desire not accept anything intermediate to full independence. I hope that Scotland gets a second referendum soon, and that this time the people of Scotland do not step away from the bold outcome. I wish you all well.

  2. In the 1975 referendum the Yes campaign received the backing of most of the Tory establishment and business, most of the Labour Cabinet and the Liberal Party. The No campaign was a poorly funded organisation spread over, SNP, minority of Labour Cabinet members, small amount of Tory MP's including Enoch Powell. The press swung public opinion from looking like a NO vote at the beginning of the campaign to a comfortable Yes victory.

  3. Things don't look good for advocates of Brexit: they're behind in the polls, business is against them, all major political parties are against them, UKIP are in disarray, and the referendum is in the hands of cast-iron Cameron. Their sole advantage is the newspapers.

    1. "and the referendum is in the hands of cast-iron Cameron. "


      Like Lisbon was?

      The weak Cameron was doing John Major impersonations even before this small majority and the idea that the entire tory party will meekly fall in line with the leadership to support IN (after 'renegotiation' turns out to be yet more inept posturing for the gullible) is ludicrous.

      Sure, the kippers are looking like complete fools right now because of Farage but Carswell knows how tory Eurosceptics think far, far better than Cameron and the tory leadership do. Not to mention the fact that if Cameron thought the tory grass roots were full of swivel-eyed loons before then he ain't seen nothing yet.

      This is Cameron's referendum. He can't hide behind anyone else for it and he is going to be centre-stage in England pushing for an IN vote with a split party certain to go bananas over it. Not exactly ideal conditions for a coherent and winning campaign.

      There's also the small matter of Cameron already saying he won't be PM for the next election which is going to pour petrol on the flames as the next leadership hopefuls try to win over the grass roots and MPs in the teeth of this EU referendum and the kippers being second in a very large number of tory constituencies.

      Most of the right-wing tory newspapers will swing behind the tory leadership and support IN when push comes to shove but they've been banging on about Europe being the source of all evil for so long it scarcely matters.

  4. Iain McLean has an interesting take on the 1975 referendum in his 'What's wrong with the British constitution?' Initially there was widespread support for No both on the right and the left. But this made it easy for the centre - mainstream Labour, Liberal and Tories - to play off one against the other and demonise both as extremists - crudely, the Noes were Enoch Powell allied to Michael Foot.

    There's no obvious way of re-creating that particular dynamic in 2015 and there's a lot less optimism around than there was. The EU no longer looks like a safe haven of peace and prosperity. Many people justifiably fear a future of increasing competition, increasing inequality and declining living standards. The argument from fear is potent but it cuts both ways. Would the UK really be richer and more secure outside the EU?

  5. I expect the anti-EU campaign will take the same tactic you guys did.

    Yes were very diligent about saying 'It's not the English we have a problem with, it's Westminster'. Which was a very good line to take.
    I expect we'll see 'It's not the Europeans we have a problem with, it's Brussels', and given some of the shenanigans that have happened there over the last few decades they'll have plenty of ammunition.

    Hopefully the polls are right this time and the EU exit faction is significantly in the minority.

  6. "Which was a very good line to take."

    It wasn't a just a "line". Nicola proved beyond question that we are a progressive and welcoming party. It's why she won the debates, why we achieved an astonishing landslide and why our membership skyrocketed and is still rising. Never mistake the hysterical shrieking of tabloid hatemongers like the Daily Mail for the truth.

    "It's not the Europeans we have a problem with, it's Brussels"

    Simply not feasible since so much of not just UKIP but the tory Eurosceptics focus is now on immigration and immigrants from Europe. They will not be playing that down. Quite the reverse.

  7. One issue that has the potential to affect the outcome of an EU referendum is the proposed TTIP, which could transfer a significant amount of power from EU member states and the EU itself to multinational corporations. I have been in favour of EU membership, but if the EU signs up to the TTIP in anything like its current form I would definitely vote against continued membership.

  8. I felt badly let down by the EU during the referendum. In particular, barosso's intervention was, in my view, anti democratic and sought to exploit the unwillingness of the UK government to seek clarity about Indy Scotland and the EU. In many ways, the EU is undemocratic and corrupt. I say that from long experience of EU funding and awareness of uses and abuses of same money. Although no longer involved, it is no coincidence that EU auditors can't sign off EU accounts. I am conflicted about our continued membership for these same reasons. I recognise that markets and the EU are important and I benefit from the border free travel once on the mainland but I am aware that the TTIP negotiations confirm my view of anti democratic behaviour at the centre of the EU.

    1. They usually can't sign off accounts because national govts are responsible for dispersing the funds and have little control of it.
      An example is how the Valencia govt is being taken to court by the EU for fraud.

  9. It's going to be interesting to see how much time/money/effort the SNP commit to the EU referendum. It might be an interesting balance to strike.

  10. But James, who believes the polls NOW?

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