As we've discussed on this blog a number of times, the recent Panelbase poll for the Sunday Times holds the world record for being more distorted more often by more people than any other poll in human history. It showed that more than 49% of the public wanted a second independence referendum within a maximum of TWO YEARS, and yet it was somehow reported as showing that support for a referendum had "dropped to 27%". Mercifully, for the new Panelbase poll commissioned by Wings, a new question format has been used, which will make such extreme misreporting somewhat harder (although I dare say not impossible). There are now an equal number of pro-referendum and anti-referendum options offered - two on each side. A total of 51.2% of respondents support a referendum taking place either before Britain leaves the EU, or afterwards. A total of 48.8% of respondents either do not want a referendum to take place at any point, or think it should not happen for at least twenty years.
The observant among you will spot that this means there is a narrow majority in favour of holding another independence referendum within the foreseeable future - a finding that will prove rather problematic for unionist politicians and journalists the next time they say "the people of Scotland don't want a referendum, so get on with your day job". It's also a reversal of the last Panelbase poll which found a razor-thin majority against an early referendum - although the change in format means that the two polls cannot be directly compared. The previous wording was far from ideal, because it effectively forced anyone who didn't want a referendum within just two years to pick the anti-referendum option.
The most popular of the four individual options in the new poll is that there should be a referendum before Brexit occurs - a proposition supported by 32% of respondents. On the face of it, that's an increase from the 27% of people in the previous poll who said they wanted a referendum before Brexit negotiations are concluded. However, that poll specified (perhaps misleadingly) that this would entail a referendum within "one or two years", whereas the new poll doesn't. That can probably explain much of the apparent increase, and just goes to show how susceptible people can be to little nudges from the question wording. The misreporting of a "fall in support to 27%" a couple of weeks ago failed to take any account of the fact that the wording had just been changed from "two or three years" to "one or two years".
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The poll also found (unsurprisingly) that Flower of Scotland is the overwhelming choice for Scotland's national anthem, with Dougie MacLean's Caledonia in a distant second place. However, this tune (Hey Tuttie Tatie, known in France as La Marche des Soldats de Robert Bruce) wasn't included as one of the options. As we discussed a couple of years ago, in many ways it's our most natural anthem - it was supposedly played by the Scottish army prior to the Battle of Bannockburn, and also by the Scottish soldiers who fought for Joan of Arc at the Siege of Orléans. For centuries, it served as unofficial national anthem due to the words of Scots Wha Hae being set to a slower version. As you can hear in the above link, the faster version is much more inspiring.
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