Sunday, May 24, 2015

YouGov poll : UK support for staying in the EU drops slightly

As things stand, it looks possible that we're going to face a long-running indyref-style lack of clarity over the true state of play in the EU referendum. The small number of telephone polls that we've seen have tended to show significantly bigger leads for the "stay in" option than online polls have.  That pattern continues today with a YouGov internet poll that shows a relatively small gap, and one that has tightened very slightly -

If there was a referendum on Britain's membership of the European Union and this was the question, how would you vote:
Do you think that the United Kingdom should be a member of the European Union?

Yes 44% (-1)
No 36% (n/c)

Admittedly the percentage change figures should be treated with caution, because YouGov have completely changed their question, to bring it more into line with what seems to be the government's current intentions. It's also worth bearing in mind that Northern Ireland, which makes up nearly 3% of the UK population, is almost never included in these polls. It wouldn't totally surprise me if opposition to EU membership was stronger there, although it's hard to be sure, because there's probably a big split in opinion between the two communities.

What we do know, however, is that support for the EU is much stronger in Scotland than in the rest of the UK. In the Scottish subsample of today's poll, continued membership is backed by a whopping 59% to 28% margin. That's very similar to the findings of a separate full-scale Scottish poll from YouGov in today's Sunday Post, which uses a completely different question -

If there is a referendum on Britain's membership of the European Union, how will you vote? (Scotland-only poll) :

I will vote to remain a member of the European Union : 54%
I will vote to leave the European Union : 25%

So unless something dramatic happens, it looks extremely likely that there will be a Yes vote in Scotland, which means that one-half of the "2017 scenario" (or perhaps even the "2016 scenario") that could lead to quick Scottish independence is now firmly in place. We'll just have to wait and see whether public opinion in England and Wales drifts more towards No, thus bringing the other half of the equation into play.

The Sunday Post poll also contains figures on independence, but I don't know what they are yet, because the datasets aren't up, and the Post's political editor is doing the tedious #buyapaper routine on Twitter. I'm quite happy to buy a paper, but I'd be no further forward, because it wouldn't be THAT paper. However, this is what we have been told so far -

* No still have the lead.

* Yes are in the lead among every age group apart from over-60s.

* The SNP wouldn't suffer much loss of support if they pledged a second referendum in their 2016 manifesto.

That last point is hugely significant, because it drives a coach-and-horses through one of the causes for optimism that the unionist parties have been clinging to. They've probably realised there will have to be some kind of conditional pledge for a referendum in the SNP manifesto (in the event of Brexit, for example), and they will have been hoping that might prove to be a massive turning-point. It seems not.

Finally, we've been told that John Curtice reckons that Yes will have to be polling at 60% before the SNP can be sure of victory. That sounds to me like a number plucked out of thin air - there's no such thing as certainty. Much bigger leads than 60-40 have crumbled over the course of a referendum campaign, and needless to say much smaller leads have remained intact. What really matters is the solidity of the support for either side, and that's something that supplementary questions and focus groups would be able to shed some light on.

*  *  *

I've just stumbled across two City AM headlines from a few months ago that seem rather amusing in retrospect -

'Why the Salmond surge won’t happen – and the Scots will back Labour in 2015'

'Labour's comeback kid: Jim Murphy slashes SNP poll lead'


  1. Sunshine on CrieffMay 24, 2015 at 4:35 PM

    Is it this one?

    Yes 47% No 53%

    1. Yes, that's the one. There's been no change at all, then.

    2. Does this include 16-18year olds?

    3. Doesn't look like it, but that wouldn't make a huge amount of difference.

    4. I was considering how things might shape up over the next few years.

    5. No 16-17 year olds!!!!

  2. How much more shit does the no vote have to take before things change significantly?A positive would be that we are starting at a higher level of support than the last referendum.

  3. The over 60s issue will resolve itself

    1. It's silly to talk like that. For example, pension scares have a chance of working on anyone who claims a pension, regardless of what their previous views were.

    2. Agree James.

      We will resolve it by reaching out to those who have been completely abandoned by Labour as a cursory glance at their leadership election proves. London Labour have basically written off scotland and that is an opportunity to persuade ever more scots in that age group that there is a better way than pointlessly hoping the out of touch westminster establishment parties will ever care deeply about pensioner poverty or making the NHS in scotland the best it can possibly be.

    3. Old folk are nae stupid. They vote no coz they are conservative not coz of any media scares. We will have to wait till they are no longer on the electoral roll

  4. Just a quick update on the scottish lib dem sleaze now that the coward Rennie has briefly popped out of hiding just long enough to 'forgive' Carmichael of his sins. (Since the voters and public opinion self-evidently don't matter to what remains of Clegg's ostrich faction) Not a joke BTW, the repulsive yellow tory spinners are still utterly delusional and trying to pretend Rennie isn't neck deep in this dirty tricks scandal with Carmichael.

    Carmichael and Rennie's odious spinners have even sunk so loaw as to try to distract the dimmer lib dems by engaging in pathetic whataboutery. Unprincipled as they obviously are they are doing so by lying about when Alex was talking about SCOTTISH Law Officers. (NOT EU legal advice despite their smears and lies)

    Any pitiful excuse to avoid facing up to the fact that they and Rennie STILL haven't apologised for Rennie's smearing and lies in the Torygraph.

    The idea that Rennie can absolve the disgraced Carmichael with an arrogant wave of his hand is complete and utter lunacy since it was Rennie was who Carmichael and the Torygraph both used to smear Nicola in the first place with their dirty tricks and lies.

    Make no mistake, the yellow tories are going to pay a truly massive price for this come 2016 and indeed every election afterwards.

    It's not actually that clever an idea to have a pair of disgraced liars and smearers as the public face of your party in scotland. Even more so after you the voter has just told you precisely where to go and you desperately need to rebuild shattered trust.

    As they shall see soon enough.

    1. Also for the yellow tory spinners bleating about Carmichael's 'selfless' (LOL) giving up of £17,000 he clearly isn't entitled to.

      Carmichael took £350,000 in salary and expenses as Sec of State for Scotland last year.

      I'll just let that sink in while you all search for the world's smallest violin. ;-D

      The disgraced liar Carmichael also has quite a bit of form on the subject of expenses and looking after number one.

      Name: Alistair Carmichael

      Party: Liberal Democrats

      Constituency: Orkney and Shetland

      What Sir Thomas Legg concluded:

      Mr Carmichael was asked to pay back £480.78 and has not yet done so.

      Sir Thomas Legg found he was paid a total of £243.90 twice for three items - phone bill in September 2005, £70.12; phone bill in December 2005, £42.28; and TV licence in July 2006, £131.50.

      He was also paid £90 for legal costs associated with non-payment of council tax in 2007-08 and £146.88 legal fees due to late payment of service charge/ground rent in May 2007.

      These costs, totalling £236.88, were not allowable under the Green Book rules

      So much for that 'noble' sacrifice.

      Perhaps these delusional unprincipled liars might also like to remind themselves that dirty tricks, smearing scotland's first minister then lying though your teeth about it to try and cover it up doesn't make YOU the victim. Quite the reverse.

      We know precisely what a witch hunt looks like because it was instigated by Carmichael, Rennie and the Torygraph across every newspaper and TV broadcaster in the land.

      A somewhat stark contrast to the weak shamefaced response now from the unionist dominated media (since they all jumped on and endorsed the Carmichael/Rennie smears when they first appeared) to Carmichael now being caught red-handed as the lib dem leadership, Rennie and their spinners desperately try to cover it all up and pretend it's none of the voters business.

      I think you'll find that the voters might, just might, take the completely opposite view. In 2016 for starters and in Orkney and Shetland from here on in.

  5. So No need to be on 60% in polls to be sure of victory according to Curtice (this works both ways for a binary question). Interesting...

    1. I think there's a good possibility Scotland will catch fire next time, and a bandwagon for Yes will roll. It could have happened last time but for the BBC relentlessly squashing every scrap of positive publicity for Yes and blasting out every lie, scare and bribe from the unionists.

      Of course Yes needs to be consistently ahead before we go for again, but not necessarily by all that much. I'd feel pretty confortable with a consistent and repeatable 55%.

      Next time, the Yes campaign won't be farmed out to people of questionable committment either, but run hands on by the SNP. That's going to eliminate some problems.

    2. I'm not so sure about that, being honest, we need a centre right option for potential voters to feel comfortable enough to vote for an indy Scotland. If it's a left wing effort every single day of campaigning, then the result will be the same.

      I'm not centre right etc, but the fact that there was a centre right group that got totally sidelined during the referendum meant that a considerable amount of people on that side of the fence that want independence didn't feel comfortable voting for it. If we want to win we have to include everyone in the movement.

    3. I completely agree with chalks. In my view, the main Yes campaign was spot on its positioning - mainstream centre left and RIC did phenomenal work to the left of that but it felt like there was a missing limb, something lacking for the lower case conservatives and liberals. There was Wealthy Nation but that had a very low profile, despite smart folk like Michael Fry and Peter de Vink being involved, and never set the agenda. The only thing that did feature from prospectus was the corporation tax cut and that's gone now. There's no reason why there shouldn't be competing visions of what independence could look like being put forward - RIC showed that.

      I see the way forward as being maybe some kind of semi-separate campaign on the centre right to supplement the centre left main campaign and RIC. I do accept that it's kind of difficult to see where it's going to come from though. I had hopes early on that Business for Scotland might have been able to articulate some of that but their main message largely buttressed the social democratic main Yes campaign.

      I'd just like to affirm that I'm not a Tartan Tory and I don't want Scotland, upon becoming independent, to turn into some US Republican, neo-liberal wet dream. I do however think that this is an important means of bringing people into the independence fold who didn't feel like they were being spoken to in the last campaign. I know people who could have been won over had there been something like this and that could have gone some way to making up the gap.

  6. Finally, we've been told that John Curtice reckons that Yes will have to be polling at 60% before the SNP can be sure of victory. That sounds to me like a number plucked out of thin air - there's no such thing as certainty.

    Sounds like a very good idea to me. I agree with John Curtice.

  7. Whilst I agree it would be good to have a consistent lead in the polls prior to 2nd referendum I'm not sure that it is everything. In all fields of conflict you have to figure out if its best to attack when you at at maximum strength and ignore how capable your opponent is or attack when your opponent is in disarray and ignore any weaknesses you may have.

    At this point and probably for at least the next 3 years the No campaign will never be weaker. They could not put another 'Better Together' again as I don't believe even the Scottish Labour party are that stupid to work with the Tories again. More importantly there is now a complete lack of respected/capable Unionist politicians to lead any campaign. This, in my opinion, would force the Tories to both organise and lead the No campaign. Can you imagine David Cameron, George Osbourne or Boris Johnson trying to convince Scotland to vote No?

    Conversely if we wait for polling to show Yes leading by a healthy margin we may have to wait until 2020 or beyond which could in theory give say the Scottish Labour a chance to find a leader who might front a No campaign or allow some other factor to occur which changes the political momentum away from either left of centre politics, SNP, Greens or broader Yes movement.

    Its a gamble but if it were me I would be very tempted to have it asap and before 2020.

    1. I like your thinking, it's a killer strategy but it's risky.

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