Tuesday, September 10, 2019

YouGov poll shows support for holding an independence referendum has soared

So this is a sort of request post - a couple of people asked me to write about a detail in last week's full-scale Scottish poll from YouGov that perhaps didn't receive due attention.

In principle, do you think there should or should not be a referendum on Scottish independence at some point in the next five years?

Should be a referendum: 45% (+3)
Should not be a referendum: 44% (-4)

The choice of question may seem a tad odd given that the Scottish government are proposing to hold a referendum a lot earlier than five years from now, but the wording was used to maintain consistency with the question that's been asked for a couple of years.  That means we can make a direct comparison with previous results, and I've commented a number of times before on the odd results this question has tended to produced.  Even when Panelbase were suggesting the public were split right down the middle on whether there should be a referendum in as little as two years, the YouGov question was stubbornly producing a solid majority against a referendum within the next five years.  It wasn't immediately clear why that was happening, as the YouGov question isn't in any way leading, so the diverging results could only have been a 'house effect' caused by the composition of YouGov's panel, or by their sampling, or by their weightings.

But whatever the reason, the fact that there is now a slim pro-referendum majority (once Don't Knows are excluded) must be seen as highly significant.  According to the What Scotland Thinks archives, this is the sixth time the question has been asked since April 2017, and on four of the five previous occasions 51% or more of respondents were opposed to a referendum.  The narrowing of the anti-referendum lead to just six points in the last YouGov poll looked dramatic enough, but now that it's been wiped out completely, the question arises as to whether other polling firms that have previously shown an even division in public opinion would show a decisive pro-referendum majority if they released a poll now.  It doesn't necessarily work that way, but it's a logical possibility.

Of course the main independence question in the new YouGov poll showed a no change position - it was 49% Yes in the spring, and it's 49% Yes now.  I saw a few silly suggestions from unionist commentators (taking their cue from Willie Rennie) that this was a sign that Scottish voters are shying away from independence due to the current demonstration of the chaos caused by a constitutional upheaval.  The reality is that as the Brexit crisis deepened earlier this year, the Yes vote in YouGov polling jumped to an unusually high 49% - in recent years the normal range in YouGov polls has been between 43% and 45%.  And that 49% has been maintained in the new poll - the new converts to Yes don't seem to be developing cold feet.  The most that can be said is that Scots perhaps didn't find Brexit under Theresa May any more palatable a prospect than Brexit under Boris Johnson.  But the changes on the 'do you want a referendum?' question suggest that there may indeed have been post-Boris movements in public opinion beneath the surface that haven't fed through to the main independence question yet.  Sometimes supplementary questions do give you a better guide than voting intention questions (for example leadership ratings are sometimes better predictors of election results than standard party political polling).

Regardless of the majority in favour of a referendum, it's still not clear how a referendum will actually come about.  Sometimes it's easy to lose sight of the obvious, so I don't think we should totally exclude the possibility that the SNP will secure the balance of power at the forthcoming general election, and will be able to win the concession of a Section 30 order as part of a deal to install a Labour-led government.  In the past, journalists have tended to assume that the SNP would have no real leverage in that scenario because they'd know they would pay too high a penalty for doing anything that might return the Tories to power.  But the electoral threat from Scottish Labour may now have receded to the point where the SNP won't feel they have much to lose from playing hardball with Labour in post-election negotiations.  And I'd suggest any future Section 30 order should permanently transfer the power to hold a referendum, rather than just for a time-limited period.

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John Bercow's last stand against "not a usual" prorogation a couple of hours ago is surely destined to become the stuff of political folklore, but we're also seemingly heading towards something else that is highly unusual: a general election in November.  Since 1979, the practice has always been to hold elections somewhere between April and June, presumably to take advantage of longer days and better weather.  Snow isn't totally unheard of in November, and given this country's inability to cope with unusual weather, that could cause chaos.  For example, if an independence referendum had been held on St Andrew's Day 2010 as the SNP government had originally wished, it would have taken place on a day of heavy snow and severe traffic disruption.  The credibility of the result would probably have been called into question.

*  *  *

As expected, Stuart Campbell has topped off several days of abusive behaviour directed at this blog by blocking me on Twitter - which means I am now automatically on the notorious 'block-list' that he tries to persuade all his followers to use.  So please be aware of that if you're one of my followers on Twitter and if you wish to continue following me - using the block-list will lead to you blocking me without realising it (along with, I believe, another couple of thousand accounts, including some very surprising names that no indy supporter would want to block without good reason).

32 comments:

  1. You can see why France is happy enough with a hard brexit. They, like the rest of the EU, are totally prepared now after 3 years of work on this. Then there is the prize:

    https://uk.reuters.com/article/uk-britain-eu-markets/france-to-win-britains-finance-crown-in-eu-after-brexit-report-idUKKCN1VU2K5

    France to win Britain's finance crown in EU after Brexit - report

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  2. Thanks for this article which explains why a YouGov 45/44 split is sensational as you wrote earlier. Clear and to the point as ever.

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  3. All British citizens should be given a vote on whether Scotland should be independent and the result ignored.
    Der Rote Low blieb bis in de fruhen Morgenstunden geoffnet, um Scotch Pies und matschige Erben Zu servieren.

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    1. Muddled thinking as usual from GWC. Surely that should read "All EU citizens should be given a vote on whether the UK should be allowed to leave the EU"?

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    2. Aye, all the working classes from across Europe should get say.

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    3. Anon the UK is a sovereign state. The EU is a corrupt mafia institution. And hark at you Nat si, your lot thought the Scottish people were too stupid to vote in the EU referendum.
      I sat up last night and watched the forces of reaction trying to thwart democracy. Bercow and Blackford bum boys with their secret masonic handshake. Best laugh ever without the great Denis Skinner.

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    4. The Scottish people are sovereign, as agreed by the Parliament of the UK.

      They voted Remain, and for iref2.

      https://hansard.parliament.uk/Commons/2018-07-04/debates/18070455000001/ClaimOfRightForScotland

      This House endorses the principles of the Claim of Right for Scotland, agreed by the Scottish Constitutional Convention in 1989 and by the Scottish Parliament in 2012, and therefore acknowledges the sovereign right of the Scottish people to determine the form of government best suited to their needs.

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  4. Jeremy/Blackford, we want a general election, Boris, f aff. We demand an election, OK October 2019. Jeremy/Blackford, we wis only kidding Boris.

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  5. “That was when they suspended the Constitution. They said it would be temporary. There wasn't even any rioting in the streets.

    People stayed home at night, watching television, looking for some direction. There wasn't even an enemy you could put your finger on.”


    ― The Handmaid’s Tale

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    1. When the UK Parliament allowed the EEC 1975 referendum they effectively handed sovereignty to the people. We had to accept the result. Move forward to 2016 and the same happened. The difference now is the country is run by Liberal leftie fascists who detest the working classes. Come the general election we shall how many will be on the dole.

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    2. People stayed home at night, spamming...

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    3. The ghost of Mick Pork, perhaps? I wonder...

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    4. Why wasn't the result of the 1979 devolution referendum accepted?

      An overwhelming majority voted Yes.

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    5. By definition, any nation or kingdom that claims to be a democracy has given sovereignty to the people. That the people are the sovereign power in a nation is the definition of democracy. Of course, the world is currently full of oligarchies that claim to be democracies.

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  6. "so I don't think we should totally exclude the possibility that the SNP will secure the balance of power at the forthcoming general election, and will be able to win the concession of a Section 30 order as part of a deal to install a Labour-led government."


    Nope - not going to happen. Not now not ever. The only reason Cameron played fair last time was because support for indepedence was languishing between 25 and 30%. Now that it's been over 40% since 2104, andn now knocking at 50% - do you honestly think they are going to play game this time? Come on r=get real. Thye made be daft, but they are not stupid.

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    1. Possibly but you have to deal with what the effects of a UDI would be (and an 'unapproved' referendum would lead to a UDI). It would not be recognised by international organisation such as the UN and the EU and the results would be disastrous. That must be a last resort.

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    2. There's no particular reason why an unapproved referendum would lead to UDI - the main purpose of it would be to apply moral pressure on the Westminster government to negotiate a legal independence process, or indeed to hold a second referendum by agreement.

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    3. "Nope - not going to happen. Not now not ever. The only reason Cameron played fair last time was because support for indepedence was languishing between 25 and 30%. Now that it's been over 40% since 2104, andn now knocking at 50% - do you honestly think they are going to play game this time? Come on r=get real. Thye made be daft, but they are not stupid."

      If it's the only way to get into government, why not? The current UK Labour leadership have little interest in the Union. If anything, it would currently be in their electoral interest for Scotland to be independent.

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    4. Absolutely - I think the Corbyn leadership would be tempted to go for it if the arithmetic dictated it. The trickier question would be whether discipline on the backbenches could be maintained, but there would be self-interest at stake there as well.

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    5. Didn't Corbyn signal recently that he could definitely go for it? If I remember correctly, his only objection was to the timing? And I feel that non-tory backbench settlement will be for anyone not de Pfiffel after last night. If the choice is between de Pfiffel and bringing the SNP on board with a promise for a referendum, the referendum is on. The labour unionists will feel they can always use the BBC and others to tilt the referendum their way, and that will be a problem only down the road while getting the Tories out of power solves an immediate threat to democracy.

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  7. The referendum legislation needs to be pushed through Holyrood as fast as possible so that we can be ready as soon as possible.

    If we hold a referendum without a section 30 order, we will have sympathy in Europe because the EU member States are now intimately familiar with the Westminster regime's bad faith and stalling tactics. In short, it is possible to demand recognition of our independence after we have voted for it.

    Does it really matter very much whether we have a section 30 order already in hand on the date of the referendum or not? After all, national self-determination is a right guaranteed to us under the United Nations Charter, even before we get to any subsequent international law, or - most germanely - the Claim of Right as affirmed by the Westminster parliament last July.

    There's also the old dictum that it's sometimes easier to beg forgiveness than ask permission, though we do not in fact need permission to hold a referendum. The Westminster regime only thinks we do, or pretends to.

    If we announce our intention to hold a referendum without obtaining a section 30 order beforehand, the Westminster regime would be in pretty much the same position as David Cameron in 2014: it would be faced with the choice of whether to refuse or to grant, in the secure knowledge that the political cost of attempting to refuse our right and our Government's mandate to hold an independence referendum would be very high indeed.

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    1. What would be this cost? I'm not seeing it.

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    2. About £84.49. Glad to help.

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    3. Brexit makes a huge change in the EU's likely stance. A EU body made up of the heads of state of the various states will always support a member state against an independence movement.

      But, Brexit means that the UK is no longer a member of the EU. The UK government has given up their seat at the table. Now its a question of a region wanting to leave a non-EU member and join the EU as a new member. That's a very different equation. It is helped by the fact that Scotland is already following EU rules. And the big piles of 'good will' that the UK Tories have built up in Brussels will be another plus.

      If Labour wins an election, and goes for a single-market/common market 2.0 sort of deal, then the equation still changes as the UK is still outside the EU, albeit likely on better terms with the EU than Boris the Spider.

      This time around, I suspect the EU will state in advance that Scotland is welcome in the EU as an independent nation, and that the joining process can be quick and easy.

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  8. There's much the insistent YES movement need to take into consideration and the people who think the SNP are their tame political party to be told by the YES movement what they should and shouldn't do, and it's this
    The SNP are the Scottish government and can no more go against the wishes of one section of the country as another, until the numbers are sufficient for a YES vote and the country is content with that the SNP cannot just overide the wishes of those who are against Independence
    There are some who attempt to make their own political capital over this by pushing the agenda that the SNP aren't doing this or that to achieve what they want, but again I have to say the job of the Scottish government is to do what they believe everybody or the majority wants, because if they don't they'll be seen as not following the rules of democracy and that would be as bad as the eedjits who are running things in Westminster and nobody wants that or they can't be trusted in the future to not be the kind of dictators that the Tories and Labour are and the Liberal Democrats would be

    Independence will come, of that I'm sure, and probably quite soon, but it must be done right or Scotland will end up in a Belfast situation where at the moment they're already heading for the same violence they had in the past all brought about over this Brexit debacle

    The SNP has to do this the right way or it ends badly, win or lose
    Patience is a pain in the neck and leads to frustration but don't let the loudest shouters use the situation for their desire to bend the rules or rush to the finish line or deride the SNP for not doing what they think they're instructing them to do just because they say they support Independence

    Speed is good, haste always works out bad

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    1. What you say is correct; what I worry about, though, is if the Westminster regime cuts up rough or becomes even more dysfunctional, we cannot afford to allow it a veto over Scottish independence. We should do things by the book, unless Westminster slams the book shut on us.

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    2. Too many people like to attribute more power to the SNP than they actually have, as if they can just *dae sumthin* when they can't and they use this to over stimulate their argument that the SNP are bad for not doing something

      People power is the argument the the SNP have but it must become obvious and that's not easy when we don't live in a democracy where news reporting should be evenly spread but it's not, and there's nothing we can do about that

      Social media works to an extent but not as much as social media users think it does and that's why I believe social media must in some way try to unite the YES campaign and not attempt to disrupt it as I'm afraid at the moment Wings over Scotland is trying to do by waging his own personal war with this blog and the SNP, he's nowhere near as influential as he believes himself to be so he's using anger and betrayal noises as an instrument of electioneering for himself and that's a distraction we can do without, but I reckon his arrogance won't allow him to desist which is a pity

      There are twists and turns yet with Westminster and the SNP are responsible for figuring these out and no doubt they know that when push comes to shove every single Unionist party will turn against them and Scotland because without us they have nothing to sell as far as trade is concerned

      Jim Rogers the world renowned economist said *without Scotland's oil the UK £ will fall to around $0.80 cents post Brexit because the oil will return to Scotland and the maritime border will return to its original point leaving England with zero oil if Scotland takes its Independence putting Scotland from day one of Independence in a position of surplus*

      The UK parties know this very well, as well as they know strategically Scotland's waters and airspace are the most important in Europe

      They don't want to relinquish their hold on an asset as important as that so expect the Federalist VOW coming our way and with every fibre of their being they'll promise to love us and cherish us, then if we say NO they'll threaten to starve us, then if we say NO they'll threaten worse

      It's a lot for the SNP to contend with and they know it's coming



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    3. One question is how difficult will it be to get a third indyref? Calls for a third indyref will be met by the unionists with cries of "C'mon, you've already voted against indy twice." And if the third indyref wins by a very small majority, does that carry enough weight?

      Just saying that for Indyref2, waiting until you are sure you can win may not be the worst thought in the world. A loss in an indyref2 might mean an indyref3 someday down the road is harder to achieve.

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    4. That's an argument for never holding a referendum. The answer to the question "when will be sure of victory?" is "never".

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  9. When do you decide you want to start eating bread if you have'nt had it for a while ? If your answer isn't *whenever you want* then you're not free to choose are you, and that will never be democracy

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  10. Use the GE as a plebiscite on Independence. With a mandate then offer Labour a confidence and supply agreement in return for a section 30 order for a referendum on the terms of the independence settlement and include staying in a UK as option. This meets all the criteria for recognition and means the unionists can't boycott it as the default is independence

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