When I asked for your suggestions for questions to add to our crowdfunded Panelbase poll, a number of you wanted me to find out whether the public were in favour of the so-called "Plan B" of using the 2021 Holyrood election to seek an outright mandate for independence, if the Tory government continues to refuse to grant a Section 30 order. I was initially reluctant to ask a question along those lines, because it seemed to me that the pandemic makes the 2021 timing look a lot more ambitious than was previously the case. But it then struck me that it would be possible to ask a question about the general principle of using an election as a de facto referendum, without specifying any date. So it could be the 2021 election, or it could be another scheduled election, or it could even be an early Holyrood election held midway through the 2021-26 parliamentary term. (Nicola Sturgeon doesn't literally have the power to "call" an early election, but under the rules it probably wouldn't be too difficult to bring one about.)
Scot Goes Pop / Panelbase poll, 1st-5th June 2020:
If Boris Johnson and the UK Government manage to block an independence referendum, do you think that pro-independence parties such as the SNP and the Greens should consider including an outright promise of independence in their manifestos for a future election, to give people an opportunity to vote for or against the idea?
With Don't Knows excluded, it's roughly...
That's a much more emphatic result than I expected. The five key groups that are all in favour of the proposal are SNP voters (Yes 80%, No 4%), Green voters (Yes 61%, No 29%), independence supporters (Yes 86%, No 1%), Remain voters (Yes 57%, No 21%) and most intriguingly of all Labour voters (Yes 45%, No 35%).
You might remember that our earlier poll in January also found clear public support for the idea of the Scottish Parliament going ahead and legislating for a consultative referendum in the absence of a Section 30 order, and allowing the courts to decide whether it can take place. So we now have polling evidence that voters support both of the two main options for circumventing a Westminster veto - which suggests to me that the wider population basically agrees with the Yes movement that Scotland must have the ability to make a choice on independence and that a "no" from Boris Johnson cannot and must not be the end of the matter. It also suggests that any fears the SNP leadership may harbour about a public backlash if they seek an independence mandate by an 'alternative' means are probably not well-founded. As long as the public understand that this is about facilitating a democratic choice, it looks like voters will be on board.
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UPDATE: I've just caught up with Keith Brown's response to this poll, which I think people will find frustrating, because it doesn't actually engage with the 'Plan B' idea, but nevertheless tries to shut it down in an indirect way that involves a number of red herrings -
"The process by which we choose Scotland’s future must be capable of actually achieving independence. It must allow majority support to be expressed clearly and unambiguously. It must be legal. And it must have the recognition of the international community."
The subtext is that using an election to seek an outright mandate for independence is 'not legal', but that's quite plainly untrue. In fact it's exactly what the SNP did in every general election until the 1990s. What would be illegal, at least as far as UK domestic law is concerned, is a unilateral declaration of independence - but that's categorically not what we're talking about here. We're talking about a method of securing a mandate. It's up to the UK government to decide whether to respect that mandate - if they do, there would be no question that the independence process would have international recognition. If they don't, they would come under considerable pressure, both domestically and internationally, to negotiate with the Scottish Government to find a resolution.
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There are a couple more questions to come from the poll. To be the first to know when they're released, you can follow me on Twitter HERE. You can also read my piece in The National about last night's Holyrood voting intention results HERE.