But of course there are limits to the Scottish Government's powers, and the public have also been given a vivid life-and-death demonstration of what those limits are and what practical effect they have. In the past, voters may only have had the dimmest of ideas of what it would mean for them if the Scottish Parliament had "more powers", but they're now in an excellent position to judge what the impact would be if, for example, Holyrood had control over borders. I decided to use our crowdfunded Panelbase poll to find out exactly what they think.
Scot Goes Pop / Panelbase poll (1st-5th June 2020):
Some decisions about the lockdown in Scotland, such as whether to keep schools and shops closed, are the responsibility of the Scottish Government. Other decisions, such as whether to introduce airport checks and border controls, are the responsibility of the UK Government. Do you think people in Scotland would be more safe or less safe if the UK Government's decision-making powers relating to the lockdown were transferred to the Scottish Government?
More safe: 58%
Less safe: 21%
That result would have been truly staggering until a couple of days ago, but of course it's bang in line with the roughly 3-1 majorities who are now "less convinced" that Scotland is safer if it remains part of the UK, and "more confident" that Scotland will be well-governed if it becomes an independent country.
The pandemic really does seem to have had a transformative effect on underlying attitudes towards constitutional matters. To see the full extent of that, take a look at some of the surprising groups who feel that the Scottish public would be "more safe" if all decision-making powers relating to the lockdown were transferred to the Scottish Government -
2014 No voters:
More safe: 46%
Less safe: 28%
2019 Labour voters:
More safe: 59%
Less safe: 24%
2019 Liberal Democrat voters:
More safe: 41%
Less safe: 24%
2016 Leave voters:
More safe: 49%
Less safe: 29%
And now we come to what, in my opinion, is the most extraordinary detail from this entire poll. Conservative voters can normally be relied upon to be absolutely scathing towards any suggestion that Scottish self-rule might be preferable to being run from London, but on this occasion they're evenly divided -
2019 Conservative voters:
More safe: 35%
Less safe: 38%
Perhaps there's nothing quite like a threat to the safety of one's family and friends to help shake off deep-rooted political prejudices.
When you look at these figures, it can be no surprise at all that there is now a pro-independence majority - indeed, perhaps the only puzzling point is that the Yes vote has only risen by 2%. But it's not hard to see how it could rise further unless the UK parties are able to swiftly restore faith in London rule.
* * *
There's one more result to come from the poll, and if you'd like to be the first to know about it, you can follow me on Twitter HERE. You can also read my piece in The National about last night's 'Plan B' poll results HERE.
* * *
You may have seen that Stuart Campbell embarked on yet another angry rant today, this time about the Scot Goes Pop poll. I had actually already responded to his central accusation before he even posted the article, because he turned up on the comments section here late last night and made the same point (with a fair bit of abusive swearing and playground name-calling chucked in for good measure). You can read my reply HERE. The only thing I'd add to it is that I really don't know whether to laugh or cry at the glorious irony of his claim that I have written "abusive diatribes" about him. Anyone can see for themselves that the posts he's referring to are scrupulously non-abusive. I'm more than content for the contrast between those posts and Stuart's own legendarily abusive posting style (especially on social media) to speak for itself. He similarly claimed that an iScot article I wrote a few months ago about the Wings Party was "abusive" - but rather undermined that claim by posting a screenshot of the entire article, which helpfully demonstrated there wasn't a single abusive comment in it. He really does make himself look a bit silly with this sort of nonsense.