Wednesday, June 10, 2020

Scot Goes Pop / Panelbase poll: From a Remain country to a Rejoin country - by emphatic 60-40 margin, voters say "Scotland should rejoin the European Union"

When we say there's a mandate to hold a second independence referendum, we're generally (not always, but generally) referring to the SNP's victory in the 2016 Scottish Parliament election, which took place before the EU referendum, and in which the manifesto pledge was conditional on there being a material change of circumstances, such as Scotland being dragged out of the EU against its will.  Unionist parties, and in particular the Tories, have raised a number of hair-splitting objections to the notion that Scotland's democratic will is being disregarded in a way that would make the indyref mandate valid.  For example, they point out that the 62% of the Scottish public who voted Remain were voting for the United Kingdom to continue as a member state of the EU, and were not strictly speaking expressing a view on whether they would want Scotland to stay in if the rest of the UK came out.  This of course carries the wildly implausible implication that Scotland was only ever pro-EU due to the superb quality of representation we received in Brussels from London ministers, but nevertheless that's what they say.  It's also suggested that now that Brexit is a fact on the ground, rejoining the EU is a very different proposition from remaining within it, and that there's no way of knowing whether Scottish voters would really want to rejoin.  So even if Brexit was a breach of Scottish democratic wishes in 2016, that's no longer the case because Scotland supposedly might want to "move on" and make the best of it.

Opinion polls haven't often been much use in clearing away these technical (or perhaps I should say imaginative) objections, because polls showing an enormous pro-EU majority in Scotland were mostly conducted before Brexit Day at the end of January, and generally framed the choice as "Remain" v "Leave", rather than "Rejoin" v "Don't Rejoin".  A lot of them also asked about the UK's status within Europe rather than Scotland's.  And those that did mention Scotland usually tied the issue to independence, which is a cop-out in another sense because there are ways in which Scotland could be part of the EU from within Brexit Britain.  The Tory government (and indeed Labour and the Liberal Democrats) are not remotely interested in exploring that option, but that doesn't mean it isn't possible in theory.  There are three component parts of the state of Denmark (Greenland, the Faroe Islands and Denmark proper) and only one of them is part of the EU.

To get to the heart of the democratic issue that makes the case for Indyref2, the final question in this blog's crowdfunded Panelbase poll is a simple six-word query...

Should Scotland rejoin the European Union?

Yes 60% 
No 40%

(Panelbase poll for Scot Goes Pop, 1st-5th June 2020.   Headline figures exclude Don't Knows.  If Don't Knows are included, the result is Yes 52%, No 35%, DK 14%.)

That won't be a surprise to anyone, but nevertheless it does lay to rest some of the sophistry.  Even though "rejoin" may imply a degree of upheaval to a potentially weary electorate that "remain" doesn't, a 60-40 advantage is well outside the poll's margin of error, which makes it definitive: Scotland does want to be part of the EU in a post-Brexit world, and the casus belli for a second indyref is completely intact.

60-40 is of course just slightly below the 62-38 recorded on referendum day in 2016, and along with concerns about further upheaval, my guess is that the difference can be partly explained by a small percentage of hardline anti-indy voters worrying that by giving a pro-EU response they'd be indirectly giving the green light to independence.  Among people who actually voted against independence six years ago, there's a plurality against Scotland rejoining the EU, although it's fairly narrow (47% to 41%).

The pandemic has temporarily got Labour and the Liberal Democrats off the hook of explaining to Scottish voters how it is possible to be "pro-UK, pro-EU" now that Brexit has happened.  We know what they will say - it'll be that remaining part of Britain is by far the most important thing, and if that's incompatible with EU membership, well that's a shame, but so be it.  That could leave them facing a problem with their own voters, who emphatically want Scotland to rejoin the EU -

2019 Labour voters:

Yes 58%
No 30%

2019 Liberal Democrat voters:

Yes 62%
No 23%

A few people have asked me if I have any information on the 8% of pro-independence voters from the 2014 indyref who now want to stay in the UK.  There's no way from the Panelbase datasets of pinpointing exactly who they are or what motivates them, but one clue is that 87 respondents in the poll (roughly 8% or 9% of the total sample) are Yes voters from 2014 who do not want Scotland to rejoin the EU.  By contrast, only 53 respondents (around 5% of the sample) are currently minded to vote for independence while still wanting Scotland to stay outside the EU.  The difference between those two figures may well imply the existence of a segment of voters who are in principle sympathetic to independence, but who would vote against it because they regard Brexit as a bigger priority.

But remember that there's a pro-independence majority in this poll, and that's come about because a significant number of Remain voters have become converts to independence.  There's a danger of throwing the baby out with the bathwater if we dilute our pitch on the EU in pursuit of the smaller number of Brexiteers we've lost in the other direction.

* * *

You can read my piece in The National about last night's poll results HERE.


  1. Given the 62/38 result in 2016, I thought it might have been higher, but it's all good

    1. As explained in the blogpost, "Should Scotland rejoin the EU?" is a different question in two key respects from the one that produced a 62-38 margin in 2016. That was the point of asking it - there was no reason to assume it was going to produce the same results as "Should the UK remain or leave?" polls.

    2. Scotland will not rejoin unless the Scots are stupid enough to give some of their limited resources to a bunch of Mafia EU unproductive thieves. The international capitalist money launderers will want their loans paid back as a priority.

    3. Stench of this.

  2. Do you think anyone believes UK government would "allow" Scotland to rejoin the EU? If not, then 60-40 in favour of rejoining EU is pretty much pro independence- albeit with a chunky number of dont knows. Good question

  3. "A few people have asked me if I have any information on the 8% of pro-independence voters from the 2014 indyref who now want to stay in the UK. " [1]

    " There's no way from the Panelbase datasets of pinpointing exactly who they are or what motivates them, but one clue is that 87 respondents in the poll (roughly 8% or 9% of the total sample) are Yes voters from 2014 who do not want Scotland to rejoin the EU. " * [2]

    " By contrast, only 53 respondents (around 5% of the sample) are currently minded to vote for independence while still wanting Scotland to stay outside the EU. " [3]

    [1] While there is no evidence for the linkage you suggest between group [1] ( Yes->No ) and group [2] ( Yes 2014 Out 2020 ),

    One might immediately attributable at least 5 separate logical groups of thought :

    1) Scotland and its citizenry need all the protections it can get from Westminster and its 'unwritten constitution' and European Law provided some protection.
    Thus logically it was clearly preferable to be 'In' Europe.
    Once Scotland Scotland has voted Yes to Independance, and breaks free from the British neoImperial / neoColonial 'Constitution', this will no longer be a factor, so that need to be 'In' Europe no longer exists.

    2) An individual may simply have a stronger Desire to Leave the EU than they have to Leave the Uk. Most of us Reading this Blog may find that less that sensible, but, Brexit! :-(

    group [3] Indie Yes but do NOT want to Rejoin EU.

    3) There is a perfectly rational argument that the EU as it currently exists now is nothing like the EU we voted to join 40 years ago, and once we have Independence it is a valid political choice not to rejoin.

    Our friends and neighbours in Iceland and the Faroes suceeded, and successful Switzerland has never joined.

    4) If you have educated yourself sufficiently to grasp why it would be sheer folly to leave political Union (in the UK) but retain currency union under the Bank of england by keeping the using (our) pound Sterling, you should understand there is a very similar set of concerns with leaving the UK, setting up our own currency but _then_ agreeing to the European Union accession process.

    One might 'feel' emotionally european but understand that logically it could be a much better proposition for the future of Scotland to be affiliated to 'Europe' but not Fully Committed.
    These people might look favourably on the EFTA option.

    Norway and Iceland would welcome Scotland to join EFTA, for example.

    Perhaps we could learn more about this growing group if in future you would consider how this group could be included into your allowable options when formulating future questions?

    5) A proportion of People who are politically engaged enough to follow these issues will understand that we are more likely to WIN an independence vote/plebescite/referendum/whatever IF we do not burden the politics of multiple decisions onto a binary Yes/No question. (named elsewhere 'The Buckaroo Principle')

    Respect for your work and Insight.


    p.s. It does sadden me that I have to disable Anti-tracking protections to be able to post a reply on your blog. :-(

    1. Oh FFS and the forum software has mangled the URL I gave by html encoding # into %23 . Grrr.

    2. EFTA on it's own is as much use as a chocolate fireguard, the EEA is where we need to be and to join that we need the support of ALL the EU and EFTA members. There isn't anything in the EU accession process that would block Scotland and we could be feeling the benefits of being part of the EU much quicker, as in before we become full members..If there is the will in the EU member states, we could apply directly for a Stabilisation and Association Agreement, the preamble to full membership that sees advantages in trade, tariffs and funding for candidate members. They have done this for Balkan candidate countries..

    3. One can theorise all one wants, but the poll result is what it is, and trying to make something else of it (like the hoary old EFTA distraction or some fanciful Nordic Union) is a waste of time and effort best spent instead in getting established what is absolutely fundamental to get established: a democratically-accountable government of our own. Once we're in full charge of our own affairs, we can proceed into the future in any direction that we can settle among ourselves for ourselves.

      It's just a pity that Brexit peeled off some folk who reacted to the dog-whistle politics of the isolationist right, but (as has been observed) it has proved a useful wake-up call to many more who had fondly imagined the UK was their friend. And it ain't over yet by any means.

      PS: I fully agree with the observation about the need to disable protections to be able to post on here. Exceptional, and not in a good way.

    4. Well, I'm sorry, but I've absolutely no idea what the issue is, and it's unlikely to be something under my control. (Unless it's connected to the fact I have Analytics installed, but that's hardly unusual.)

  4. Lots of possible sub-groups and interpretations within that question. Some might think it beneficial to be a large state in the EU (as part of the UK), but not a small one. The number of 2016 Remain voters who voted no to rejoin would be interesting.

    1. The Ruth Davidson contingent.

    2. Did she actually bother to invent some cover for her barefaced political expediency?

  5. Yet the Pro Indy vote isn't that emphatic going by the most recent Opinion Polls. Dont the Rejoin voters realise that they arent getting back into EU unless they vote Yes - DOH!

  6. I agree to an extent with aLurker. I'm a strong independence supporter, who would vote for it regardless, but I'm not so keen on rejoining the EU for some of the reasons he outlined.

    In the EU referendum, I voted Remain for 2 reasons - the upheaval of leaving, and the concern that we'd be truly shafted by the Tories if we fail to achieve independence.

    There are pluses to EU membership, but the economics are dire. If/when we become independent, we must as he says have our own currency and that's inimical to the how the EU operates whether you are in or out of the Eurozone. Joining EFTA might be a solution to that, but I have my doubts, and prefer Leslie Riddoch's Nordic Union idea.

    1. At least people have FINALLY accepted that the EU option for Scotland is 'join'. It always was but never mind!

      There is a very useful paper edited by Kirsty Hughes on SCER from 17 March (An Independent Scotland and the EU: Issues for Accession). Highly recommended reading.

      Hughes, who is pretty much THE expert these matters suggests that "The fastest an independent Scotland might join the EU is about 4-5 years from independence"

      I voted Remain in 2016, Brexit being the dumbest idea in the last 40 years. But 4-5 years after Independence is a long long time to be without the 4 Freedoms. It *might* be possible to negotiate some sort of bespoke association agreement with the EEA to cover the accession period, but that seems back to British exceptionalism in a kilt.

      By FAR the fastest and simplest way to get back in the EEA is EFTA-EEA as Norway, Iceland and Lichtenstein are. We'd do that in under a year.

      Yes it's not as advantageous as EU-EEA, but it's the most practical option in the medium term. Does have some advantages in terms of the Scottish-English land border and Scottish/Irish sea border which would then be very like the Norwegian/Swedish border but with the Common Travel Area instead of Shengen

    2. "The people say rejoin, so let's do something else instead!"

      Answers on a postcard, folks...

  7. "A few people have asked me if I have any information on the 8% of pro-independence voters from the 2014 indyref who now want to stay in the UK."

    I have not come across anybody who voted Yes in 2014 who has changed their minds. Not even those of us that voted to leave the EU and I am from Moray. Getting free of the murderous regime in London is the priority. We need free of them whether they are Blue or Red Tories before they murder us all.

    1. We also need to get rid of Mings over Scotland, as our second priority.

      It states on it's site that, ''it is a Scottish political website, which focuses particularly on the media – whether mainstream print and broadcast organisations or the online and social-network community – as well as offering its own commentary and analysis.''

      That's not true. In fact that is clearly a blatant lie now. The site owner focuses on the Scottish Government and its leader Nicola Sturgeon, from Bath in England, and has become the number one anti-independence site in the world.

  8. The legacy of Johnson and Cummings.

    UK lockdown a week earlier could have halved COVID-19 death toll, scientist says

  9. Scotland does not have limited resources. England has.

  10. Today in the Guardian online there is an article on the recent push from westminster making a lot of play on how much it is helping Scotland during the pandemic and how badly the FM is handling it !!!! .The recent poll is also mentioned and of course are not unrelated. The Tories will be in free fall when they start seeing the polls post no/minimal trade deal with the EU.
    Keep up the good work James

    1. Yeah, it rather looks like we're being herded off the cliff at year's end into a no-deal Brexit, under the cover of Covid. Which is why DomCom is currently so indispensible.

      Think we're already having a bumpy ride? Just wait...

    2. The Graun, pretendy lefty Britnat rag really hates Scotland. I am surprised that my friends in Northumberland are so positive about Scotland and the FM's handling of the pandemic, because they read the Graun and watch the BBC. Slightly heartening to know the Britnats' propaganda isn't working 100%.

  11. Cummings is a master strategist.

    Britain Elects
    Latest approval ratings for...

    Boris Johnson
    Positive: 42% (-2)
    Negative: 44% (+5)

    Keir Starmer
    Positive: 44% (+3)
    Negative: 24% (+1)

  12. I think it's futile discussing the EU arrangements prior to the independence. After the independence there should be a referendum on the EU (two-round-referendum with the options of full membership, Iceland/Norway style of relationship or England type of relationship) and monarchy. Division on these questions before independence just harms us all.

    1. Inclined to agree. The central proposition of the next independence referendum should be simple democratic principle:

      Decisions about how we govern Scotland are made by the people who live and work in Scotland.

      If people say no, that's the status-quo. If people say yes, then we have the task of making decisions on how we are governed together as a whole.

    2. We cannot be a monarchy.
      We don't have a monarch.

    3. That's exactly the point.

      When we vote for independence we'll be starting from scratch on so many things. For some it'll be appropriate for Scottish Government ministers to make decisions, others put back to the electorate (for example relationship with Europe, monarchy, or constitution are most common suggestions).

      But we can't make those decisions until we've made the first.

  13. The people of Scotland know that being dragged out of the EU will be a disaster for their country. Every no voter in 2014, that I know are pro EU and voted to stay in the EU. I suspect many would prefer an independent Scotland, if that means staying in or rejoining the EU, hell some of them have second homes in EU countries, they want easy travel, easy access and freedom of movement for themselves and their kids and grandkids!

    Can the EngGov legally force Scotland OUT of the EU given the vote to remain across all constituences in 2016 and the 62% majority to remain in the EU. Aren't the people of Scotland sovereign?

    1. Hetty says Scotland cannot run itself without being in the EU.

  14. I tend to agree with post by Martin 1.40 and any others which i may have missed.Let's decide on our relationship with the EU after independence otherwise unionists will pounce on any division/discusion. As we have found out from James's poll there is a good chance that the 60% (like me )who want full EU membership will win the day but WITHOUT interference from westminster.

    1. Can you explain why you want to give political powers and money to the EU.

    2. Because it's fun to watch you cry.

    3. Strange how tossers like you aways evade the question. Once we leave you will have to answer.

    4. We want to stay in so that we don't have a repeat of the horrors of war and the murder of millions of Jews and others that your friends did during WW2.

    5. The simple version of the answer is because the economic and access arrangements of the EU bring back more into the country in the long run.
      No doubt the Express, Mail, Farage and Cummings have told you differently. But,to anyone with any knowledge of how economies work the 'case' made by the leave campaign was economically illiterate drivel.
      The real driver was the sort of xenophobia, racism and exceptionalist jingoism that pathetic Orange dimwits like you use as a substitute for thought.
      If you like we can go through it point by point but you would soon get bored and start dribbling.

    6. Go on go on Paddy and tell the audience it was not Adolf, the Vatican, Mussolini and that the Grand Muff diver fae Palestine that did not meet to discuss the genocide of the Jews.