Thursday, June 15, 2017

Survation poll reinforces the need for the SNP to strongly speak up for their mandate to hold a referendum

The Daily Record are full of beans about a poll they've commissioned from Survation showing that, by a roughly 2-1 margin, respondents think "Following the general election result, Nicola Sturgeon should remove her demand for a second independence referendum".  The most important thing to say straight away is that this poll question is about a billion light-years away from being neutrally-worded - it frames the issue as being about Nicola Sturgeon, rather than about Scotland, and implants the idea that she is someone who makes petulant "demands" rather than takes decisions.  It also explicitly ties the issue to the general election result, making it harder for respondents to ignore what they've read in the papers and seen on the TV about how Scotland has apparently just said "no" to a referendum by electing a majority of pro-independence MPs.  It seems overwhelmingly likely that a more neutral question (such as "Do you think there should be an independence referendum within the next five/ten years?") would have produced a more favourable result.

In spite of the poll's extreme shortcomings, though, it's important to note that it flatly contradicts the findings of a poll only a few weeks ago that found the public thought that the SNP would have a clear mandate for a referendum if they won a majority of Scottish seats at the general election.  This apparently irrational 180 degree shift in public opinion would suggest that the SNP have been extremely foolish in not strongly challenging the narrative of their opponents and the mainstream media that their victory at the general election was somehow a rebuff for a referendum.  Yes, it's incredibly difficult to fight against the tide when even the BBC abandon all pretence at objectivity and describe a landslide SNP triumph as a "rejection of independence", but nevertheless it seems likely that the problem could at least have been ameliorated if the SNP had stood up for the mandate they had just received in the hours following the election.  It would have been perfectly possible to acknowledge painful setbacks in certain regions of Scotland while emphasising that the nationwide SNP victory reinforced the mandate for a referendum.

Having made that tactical error, though, the important thing now is that the SNP hold their nerve in the face of polls like this.  We know that polls conducted immediately after an election tend to produce extreme results which are often quickly reversed as politics returns to normal.  (Witness the Panelbase and Survation polls in the immediate aftermath of the EU referendum showing a majority for independence - presumably they were one of the reasons that Kezia Dugdale panicked and almost reversed Labour's stance on an indyref.)  If everyone just holds tight, it's not unreasonable to suppose that we'll soon see a return to the status quo ante as far as attitudes towards both independence and a referendum are concerned.  Even in this poll, there is still a 43% Yes vote, which suggests an extraordinary resilience in support for independence.

For the reasons I've given previously, it would be a historic error for the SNP to panic in the face of this media onslaught and abandon their commitment to an independence referendum at the end of the Brexit process.  This is a difficult moment, but it will soon pass.  Let's make sure we've kept the flame alight for when it does.


  1. Stay cool and wait for the brexit disaster to unfold.

    1. This is such a bad strategy. In fact, this is what you'd do if you had literally no idea what to do. Rather than waiting on some disaster foretold like a religious sect, independence supporters need to work on building a case than can actually convince people it will work, that their lives will be better in an independent Scotland.

      Anything else is a waste of time.

    2. There is absolutely no evidence that any Brexit disaster will change minds, because WM and the compliant MSM will hail any outcome as a triumph and any deal as just what the UK needs to develop lucrative trading arrangements with the rest of the world, allowing the UK economy to leap ahead. Is this likely to bring voters flooding to Yes?

      Even if there are voices expressing different opinions, the resultant confusion is more likely to prevent voters changing their minds as they wait and see what develops.

      This isn't a bad strategy. It's a hopeless strategy.

  2. A horrendous question. Independence supporters who worry that we wouldn't win a referendum under current circumstances would answer yes to this question because they wouldn't want the chance wasted. They will still be supportive of independence and agree that the mandate to hold one exists.

  3. I knew this would happen after the results last week. Time to hold the line, bide our time, and have a quiet summer. Brexit talks are going to be starting eminently, it is no accident that unionists and their MSM supporters are putting pressure on Sturgeon and the SNP to drop the referendum. To do so would be cowardly and completely unprincipled. Sturgeon and company should keep a low profile for a few months, and we will soon know how the Brexit negotiations are panning out.

  4. I agree with both Dan and Callum.

    Brexit will bring its disaster but we should never rely on anything other than our determination to make our country independent.

  5. Hold firm on Indyref2 . Our first minister is made of far stronger stuff unlike wet and wimpy Labour who sold out on Trident because it aint popular sold out on free movement because it aint popular.
    The British state is in crisis, A government held together by the support of bigots and homophobic nutters . A giant iceberg is about to hit the bad ship HMS Britannia in the shape of Brexit . Ultimately the situation is going to benefit to benefit the SNP and Indy

  6. Sadly, it is becoming ever more obvious that at least Nicola's heart is just not in Indy. She must lead the SNP to embrace or abandon Indy, and if she does not have that in her then she should go and make way for someone better fitted to the task.

  7. (statement copied from the Guardian)

    Nicola Sturgeon has made it very clear that we would reflect on the results of the election last week. What we asked the Scottish people to do at the 2016 Scottish election was vote for us on the basis that if there were a change in circumstances, the [Scottish] government and the [Holyrood] parliament would have the right to seek a referendum if that were appropriate.

    What we now see is a situation where I think it’s more likely we can achieve compromise while protecting the people of Scotland who have been dragged out of the single market against our will. So that’s the immediate priority.
    - Ian Blackford, new SNP Westminster Leader

    1. I'm not sure I understand that. In the highly unlikely event that Britain remains within the single market, then yes, that would be a compromise that would avoid the need for an early referendum. But I very much doubt if a compromise that falls short of single market membership would be acceptable to most SNP members, so I hope that's not what he's suggesting.

    2. I saw that interview with Ian Blackford . my initial reaction was he has repeated that we have a mandate , but we are going to try and seek a compromise It sort of came across to me that he standing firm but hey we will see what we can do to influence Brexit .Seeing the interview written down does sort of change my perception of what was said

    3. Hopefully your initial impression was the correct one. It may just have been clumsily worded.

  8. Nicola's heart not in Indy , rubbish.
    Nicola is made of stronger stuff. She will not take Indyref2 off the the table . She will not bend with the wind and the prevailing mood

    When the other parties flip and flop , she will stick to the her belief and principles which are

    1)Brexit will be an absolute disaster for Scotland.

    2)The Scottish people voted 62% to remain.

    3)The Scottish people voted to be given the right to have a vote on the Brexit deal in the 2016 election

    I also don't think the party should do anything at the moment ,reacting to these election results in a panic is the wrong thing to do . Yes reinforce the benefits of Independence but doing anything radical as others suggest is in my opinion is to misread the situation

    Westminster is in turmoil unstable and unable to adopt a coherent approach to the Brexit negotiations. Eventually people will contrast the instability with Westminster with the safe secure leadership provided by Nicola and the Scottish Parliament. Chaos at Westminster contrasted with stability at Holyrood

    We just have to stand firm and events will go our way

  9. At this point the Scottish Government and the Greens just need to hold the line and in fact do so quietly. Nothing is going to happen until we see the colour of Brexit's eyes. By then the entire backdrop of Brexit will determine the mood of the Nation. If the Tories have made a shambles of it (correct usage Mr Mogg) then no one will even remember the "take it off the table" shtick.

    The reason why the Unionist cheerleaders are so keen for a commitment not to hold one is that they know perfectly well that everything could change in two years time and that the might very well have a hard job preventing a successful second referendum. They are desperate to avoid that scenario. All their nonsense about division and day jobs is simply deflector shields set to 11.

  10. The unionists have neither the numbers nor the moral authority to demand that Scotland permanently shelves deciding our constitutional future arrangements.
    That is something that most countries in the world accept as being "normal".
    They tried to manipulate the electoral systems for local governance and Westminster in such a way as to represent a plebiscite on independence but failed to get a credible answer.
    The only real answer as to whether Scots want to be "normal" or not is through a direct question on the subject.
    Dependency or independence that is the question.
    I am pretty sure that they wanted to ensure that the question was shelved before the disaster that Brexit will be becomes apparent to the Scottish electorate.
    HM press and the BBC will no doubt do their best to put a positive spin on matters but when living standards take a hit and holidays abroad become more expensive and difficult,minds will definitely change.
    The unionists,in particular the Tories,have more than demonstrated their opposition to the democratic process and their desire simply to retain power over Scotland's future but for what purpose?

  11. The SNP should announce now is not the time to seek a section 30 order as no-one can rely on a lame duck PM to give an authoritative response.

  12. The SNP line on a second referendum has been and it appears from Blackford's statement continues to be poorly expressed. It was always about Brexit FFS but they allow Unionists to attack it as just another Indyref with no rational justification. I know the media wouldn't help but a robust rebuttal (something they appear incapable of mustering) should be presented at every opportunity