Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Support for independence surges to 49% as the roof caves in on Theresa May's "Scotland will have to lump it" doctrine

After a six or seven month spell during which polls across all firms have stubbornly refused to put support for independence any higher than 47%, we may at last have our breakthrough moment in the latest BMG poll for the Herald.  I say "may", because there's always a chance that an individual poll showing a novel trend could turn out to be a freak result.

Should Scotland be an independent country?

Yes 49% (+3.5)
No 51% (-3.5)

Note : I doubt if the swing is exactly 3.5% - BMG seem to round their results to the nearest 0.5%.

This is comfortably the best showing for Yes since the flurry of three polls (two from Survation, one from Panelbase) in the immediate aftermath of the Brexit referendum which all reported an outright Yes lead.  Although tonight's poll still shows a narrow lead for No, it should be noted that a 49-51 split is a genuine 'statistical tie' - meaning that even if the methodology is completely sound (a very big if in this day and age), it's impossible to tell which side is really in the lead due to the standard margin of error.

I know some people will be thinking to themselves "this is very similar to the polls we saw on the eve of the referendum in 2014, and look what happened then".  The good news is that the similarity is likely to be highly misleading.  There was plainly a small pro-Yes bias in the pre-referendum polling in 2014 which has since been tackled by the introduction of weighting by recalled referendum vote.  Although the datasets are not yet out for tonight's poll, it's clear that in the last BMG poll there must have been a very sharp downweighting of the Yes vote due to that factor, because in the unweighted sample there were actually more people who recalled voting Yes in 2014 than who recalled voting No.  If anything even close to the same pattern has been seen in the new poll, the likelihood is that Yes would have been in the lead without weighting by recalled indyref vote, meaning that in 'real terms' the numbers we're seeing now are better than the 49% showings for Yes in September 2014.

The Herald's write-up of the poll ascribes the boost for Yes to Theresa May's speech confirming that Britain will leave the single market, and that by extension Scotland will be dragged out against its will.  The problem with that theory is that May's speech was delivered on 17th January, and the most recent Panelbase poll - which failed to detect any Yes surge - was entirely conducted after that, between the 20th and the 26th.  If the Yes surge is real and not an illusion caused by sampling variation, the explanation is probably a little more complicated.  It's possible that the Supreme Court ruling on the 24th played a part, because most of the Panelbase fieldwork would have been conducted before that, and all of BMG's fieldwork was conducted afterwards (between the 26th and 31st).  It may also be that as the dust has settled from May's speech, a sense of hopelessness has gradually set in about the chances of Scotland's interests being protected inside the UK.  Quite honestly, it would be preferable if the apparent change in public opinion isn't caused by a shocked reaction to a specific speech, because that would mean it's less likely to be quickly reversed as the shock subsides.

As you may remember, the BMG/Herald series of polls have developed something of a reputation for asking biased questions.  The first poll in the autumn used just about the most ludicrous "question on independence" that I can ever recall - so ludicrous, in fact, that the poll should not properly have been considered to be an independence poll at all, although that didn't stop the mainstream media reporting it as if it was.  The second poll a month ago reverted to the standard question on independence, but unfortunately that return to good sense was spoiled by a mind-bogglingly daft supplementary question that asked whether people wanted a referendum in 2017 - in spite of the fact that nobody in the SNP was talking about a referendum this year.  The sole purpose of that question seemed to be to produce responses that could be spun as "Scotland doesn't want a referendum".  Nicola Sturgeon has since explicitly ruled out a 2017 indyref, leaving BMG with no choice but to change their question wording.  We won't know what the exact question was until the datasets are published, but given BMG's dodgy past form on this, we should be extremely cautious about the Herald's claim that there is a 56% to 44% majority against holding a referendum "before Britain leaves the EU".  When we see the question wording, I wouldn't be totally surprised if it turns out to be narrower than we've been led to believe.  We already know from Panelbase's multi-option question that there are plenty of people who don't want an indyref while Brexit negotiations are ongoing, but who nevertheless do want an indyref as soon as those negotiations are over, "in about two years".  I suspect BMG's findings won't contradict that, but we'll see.

And a rather amusing point : when Panelbase changed their wording to ask people if they wanted a referendum within "one or two years" rather than "two or three", the media falsely reported the findings as if they were directly comparable to the previous poll, thus producing the illusion of a drop in support for an early indyref.  If our journalists were being consistent about things, they would similarly ignore BMG's change of wording, and report this poll as if it shows a huge 5.5% swing in favour of an early indyref - because the 38.5% who wanted a 2017 referendum in last month's poll has "increased" to 44% support for an early referendum in this poll.  I somehow suspect it won't be reported in that way, though!

Whether he's doing it wittingly or unwittingly, the BMG spokesman quoted in the Herald piece is parrotting inaccurate Tory propaganda when he says that this poll still falls short of Nicola Sturgeon's "red lines" of "clear and consistent support".  (Notice how Tory MSP Adam Tomkins uses similar language later in the article.)  In fact, Ms Sturgeon set no such "red lines" for calling a referendum.  In her statements between September 2014 and June 2016, she made clear that a second indyref could be triggered by a sustained increase in support for independence OR by a material change in circumstances such as Scotland being dragged out of the EU against its will.  The necessary conditions have therefore already been met.

The reality is, though, that the vast majority of polls conducted since 23rd June last year have continued to show support for independence that is higher than in the 2014 referendum - so arguably there has been a sustained increase in support anyway.

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  1. Internals show most do not want vote before Brexit ... 56 to 44.

    1. Yeah, well I want to see what question was asked before I take that finding too seriously. BMG have form on this.

    2. They may well change their mind. Not sure they appreciate the difference in staying in and getting back in.

    3. That very difference should be used as a major campaigning thread....

    4. Hard to understand that, why wait til after Brexit, unless there is a feeling by some of, the lift is in free fall but we haven't hit the ground yet and maybe Superman will turn up.

    5. Poodle Theresa the TrumpetteFebruary 8, 2017 at 1:46 PM

      Press Gazette ‏@pressgazette 1 hour ago

      Britain's press is the most right-wing out of seven European nations, according to a YouGov survey

    6. I left a comment on the Herald site and questioned what made it a surge as to me 15-20% would male it a surge but 3.5% is not a surge,so is it really a surge and closer to 60% wanting an indeyref2 as soon as possible.

  2. Thanks for the good news James, all we need know is the date.

  3. How many Scots understand that the Tories under Cameron and May,have effectively ended the UK union?
    The penny clearly hasn't dropped yet for many but once it does,the numbers supporting the present constitutional arrangements will fall away.
    The only thing propping up the present arrangements is propaganda from HM press but many are now seeing past that and it is only a matter of time.
    We need good timing.

  4. Just want to post a comment before you-know-who staggers into the thread like a smelly drunk at a wedding reception. Oh, and thanks James for the continued analysis. I'm not celebrating yet but things are looking good all the same. Quick! Hit "Send!"

    1. Glasgow Working Class 2February 8, 2017 at 7:38 PM

      The smelly drunk does not intend to inhibit posters even those who impersonate the drunk. The smelly drunk welcomes your Nat si despair.

    2. Cheltenham's finest, on top of its game.

  5. Unionist lead maintained.

    I recall a few similarly tight polls prior to the 2014 referendum - and a couple of yes leads - you still took a gubbing.

    Will Strugglin put her money where her mouth is and announce a referendum at conference - or will she bottle it again?

    1. "I recall a few similarly tight polls prior to the 2014 referendum"

      I don't know if you actually read the blogpost you're commenting on, but I addressed that point directly. There was a small pro-Yes skew in the pre-indyref polls which has since being corrected for by recalled referendum vote weighting.

      Oh, and 55-45 was scarcely "a gubbing".

      To answer your final question, I suspect Nicola Sturgeon is indeed going to pull the trigger, and probably quite soon. All the indications are pointing in that direction.

      Remain Means Remain, Aldo.

    2. Your language choice is an embarrassment Aldo

      "Put her money where her mouth is" ?

      Really though ?

      A more responsible leader, you have never known, of any party. Your party leaders put other people's money in their pockets.

    3. Glasgow Working Class 2February 8, 2017 at 12:50 PM

      Blah blah polls who cares. Real elections coming soon. It'd be for the best if Knickerless and her fash resign first. It would be too sad to watch all the Nat sis commiting suicide when Kezia sweeps all their seats.

      Nevermind Nat sis, maybe Labour will let you be junior partners on Auchentilloch community cooncil. Aye.

    4. "It would be too sad to watch all the Nat sis commiting suicide when Kezia sweeps all their seats"

      Ah! now I get it!
      You really fooled a lot of us into believing that you were a true unionist, but the line above was a dead giveaway.

      Great job of making unionists look so thick and infantile that any neutral would be put right of them when reading your posts haha. brilliant mate!

      Ok bud let's not give the game away though, as you are one of the best 5th Columnists I've ever witnessed, so keep the UKIP type 'Rule Britannia' stuff going, you little (pretendy) sock puppet you!

      Right lads Glasgow WC2 is one of ours, a bit dissapointied he tried to pretend he was a Labour voter who believed Kez would win seats I the next Election, but we all make a *&^&*% of ourselves sometimes.

      So anyone who has thought GWC2 was a thick moron, etc need apologise to him and thank him for his unselfish work for th cause of INDEPENDENCE!

    5. Fash who are you Hector Brocklebank you absolute colossal muppet pmsl

  6. "there were actually more people who recalled voting Yes in 2014 than who recalled voting No."

    Not for the first time I think.

    Maybe there were actually more people who voted Yes in 2014 than voted No.

    1. No, there really weren't. The voting system is a great deal more robust and secure than you seem to be giving it credit for.

      There is a huge danger to this sort of talk, or perhaps two. People can become convinced we really won last time, that is, that there really is a majority in favour of independence and has been all along. So, no real need to get out and campaign, just sort out the voting system. (And lase again.)

      The other is that it can engender apathy and despair. Why go out and campaign if the Powers that Be can simply rig the result. We're doomed.

      In reality, although there is some minor cheating possible round the margins, the electoral system is sound. Yes it would be good to prevent people who are not resident in Scotland registering temporarily at a friend's address in order to vote, but beyond that - and the perennial problem of people casting postal votes in the name of mentally incapable adults - there's not much wrong.

      The reality is that we're close, but we're not there yet. The reality is that we need to increase the number of Yes voters because they are still not in a majority. That's really all there is to it.

    2. There is an encouraging message to take home from persistent findings of more people recalling a Yes vote than a No vote though. This is strongly indicative of soft-No-regret. Someone who was a bit undecided but on the day went in and voted No. Now they wish they'd voted Yes, so that's what they tell the pollster. These people are likely to vote Yes in indyref2.

  7. Yoons are bricking it..oh ...please don't call a referendum there is no need. Lets have a 60% majority rule...blah blah blah. Guess what if WM try and block it Holyrood blocks the great repeal bill of EU. The Yoons are up shit creek!

  8. Poodle Theresa the TrumpetteFebruary 8, 2017 at 1:46 PM

    Ian Dunt ‏@IanDunt 1 hour ago

    Open & shut case from Angus Roberston: May said she wouldn't trigger A50 without UK-wide agreement. Yday Scotland voted against her plan.

    1. Thats not what May said, also there is no plan yet to agree with or not. The Scottish MP's voted against triggering article 50.
      As to the plan, that will be put together over the coming months and once put together will then form the negotiating stance between the UK and the EU. Its a long process that only starts when article 50 is triggered.

      It amazes me that nay sayers argue first that there is no plan and then in the next breath state they don;t like the plan??

      Breathtaking. But its just like the pronouncements "Scotland has been a member of the EU for 40 years and there is no provision in the EU for kicking out a nation of 5.25 million people" And in the next breath "Talks with EU leaders confirm there will be no objection to Scotland joining the EU" ?? If Scotland is already a member why would it need to join?

      EU site listing member countries:-

      Scotland is not listed.

    2. Show us where anyone said "joining"

      Fed up with this lie.We would be staying in...

    3. REPLY TO 'mogabee' (February 9, 2017 at 10:56 AM)

      "Show us where anyone said "joining"
      Fed up with this lie.We would be staying in..."

      EU site listing member countries:-

      Scotland is not listed. The United Kingdom is Listed but Scotland is not.

      Also if Scotland is a member in its own right, why are SNP politicians moaning about being dragged out, one member cannot drag out another member. Thats like saying if France leaves it can take Spain with it.

      "Scotland can become legally independent from the UK and join the European Union by March 2016 – within 18 months of voting for independence" the deputy first minister, Nicola Sturgeon.

      This statement by Nicola Sturgeon was widely reported at the time she said it.

      Just google it.

  9. Fairy tales can come true..... it can happen to you.... when you are young at heart.

  10. Time for ditching all the liberal 'all you need is love' dreamers. The world is entering a new age of dichotomy not between two opposing factions but multiple factions; faith, race, nations, philosophy, class and so much more. The world is moving towards fragmentation not unity, divisions will multiply and the strong will, as they always have, will prevail. As is the case in the jungle there will be two groups, the predators and the prey, the strong and the dead. People need to decide which group they seek to be in. Rhetoric and prose, political sophistry and emotional fervour will not suffice. Cool calm calculation, working to a balanced and reasoned plan aimed at aligning with those who have a track record of prevailing during the arduous and testing times throughout modern history and currently well placed strategically to exercise multiple options for survival is the only course of action. We know really who the strong are don't we?

    1. I think the economic arguments are clear. I think being part of a 500-million trading bloc is significant for us. I think, as I was saying to you a little earlier, that one of the issues is that a lot of people will invest here in the UK because it is the UK in Europe. If we were not in Europe, I think there would be firms and companies who would be looking to say, do they need to develop a mainland Europe presence rather than a UK presence? So I think there are definite benefits for us in economic terms.

      - Theresa May

    2. A Europe that cannot defend its self without none European Mainland help. A Europe with little if any foresight outside of diluted communist ideology. A ruling inner circle of self empowering and delusional individuals suffering from 'group think'. I am reminded by this social construct called the EU of that other failed construct with a central committee - the Soviet Union. Its only a matter of time.

    3. Trump's Golden Shower of KippersFebruary 8, 2017 at 5:26 PM

      Brian Daniel ‏@BrianWithCheese 20h

      DeVos straight up admits that she bought her position.

      This is where we are, now.

  11. Anonymous at 2.10 PM. Your post reminds me of Saruman's attempt to gain Gandalf's backing for an alliance with Sauron in LOTR. ;)

  12. Hi Gang, good poll, could it be the result of us letting slip that we would be happy with EFTA?

    Thus bringing the yes voting leave voters back into our camp?

    The ability to just listen to viewpoints from your own supporters can be underestimated....

    1. Did we let slip something about EFTA, or did Farquharson and co essentially make it up? I'm inclined towards the latter theory, but either way it probably doesn't make much difference - I doubt if more than 0.1% of people heard about it.

    2. I dont think they made it up, I think Nicola was just a bit more open to it, it is a great fall back should the EU not play ball in the run up to the referendum and you know there is a loud minority in the SNP that are for leaving and dont seem to mind embarrassing the leadership over it

  13. Should Scotland be an independent country?

    Financially - It would be ruinous.
    Socially - Divisive
    Politically - Difficult and potentially fraught with many problems

    Just three points that are already here and in sight through just 'talking' about it. No crystal ball needed to see what awaits for an independent Scotland.

    1. Better Together? LOLFebruary 8, 2017 at 5:25 PM

      Citizen Moodie ‏@gregmoodie 9h

      Starting a campaign on 49% with several key No arguments in tatters would be a significant step up from #indyref1, to say the least.

    2. Financially ruinous? Don't think so...

      Socially divisive? Think Brexit was totally divisive... what happens when politics has multi parties with different ideas and differences of opinion. That ISN'T the bad thing the unionists are trying make out it is.

      Politically it is no more dangerous that May's politics & plans. Just depends on who you trust to make things right. And I don't trust May any further than I can spit!

  14. Dugdale's Suicide SquadFebruary 8, 2017 at 5:30 PM

    Mark McDonald ‏@markmcdsnp 6h

    Wait till they find out giving Tories exclusive competence over workers rights doesn't lead to a socialist nirvana...

    1. I don't think there's much desire among Scots to follow Theresa Trumpette.

    2. Socialist Nirvana - oxymoron?

    3. REF - Anonymous February 8, 2017 at 6:30 PM

      "I don't think there's much desire among Scots to follow Theresa Trumpette."

      You May find your thought on that Trumped.

  15. Glasgow Working Class 2February 8, 2017 at 6:47 PM

    How come the fash are not streaking ahead when they say they speak for Scotland and moreso after brexit. Wee shithead Knickerless has been strutting around bumpin her gums fur dunkies and you fash are still behind. Whits wrang fash?
    The next feferendum question should read, dae you jocks want Germany tae run Scotland.

  16. PRO EU then please consider these:-

    Open borders with the EU that mean the UK Parliament cannot control immigration.
    We joined a common market but the EU has become a political project with too much power in the hands of bureaucrats.
    Britain pays a lot more into the EU than it gets out.
    Britain plays by the rules and implements EU laws but other EU countries do not.
    EU waste and corruption - No signed off accounts? Would you buy shares in a company that cannot produce audited and signed off accounts?
    The economic problems created by the Eurozone for member states.
    The EU budget keeps going up while UK budgets are being cut.
    The high wages and expenses of Members of the European Parliament.
    The lack of democratic control of decisions taken by the European Union.
    EU red tape that hurts business.
    Higher food prices caused by the Common Agricultural Policy.
    The way the Common Fisheries Policy has hurt the British fishing industry in both Scotland & England.
    Britain not being able to have trading relations with the Commonwealth and other non-EU nations.
    EU environmental and renewable energy policies that are leading to higher energy prices.
    An EU aid budget that often doesn't reach the poor and hungry.
    Britain's large trade deficit with the EU We buy more from the EU than it buys from the UK.
    Regulations that harm the City of London.

    There are many many more but these are reason enough to conclude its an expensive membership.

    1. Evidence? Links?

    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

    3. (Sorry - comp failure!)

      I'd love to see links to support all our points. As pro-EU, I considered your points & thought...

      * Open borders is fine as Scotland needs more immigrants.

      * The political power is in the hands of the people we vote to be our MEPs. Policies have to be agreed by ALL the EU members. If my MEP agrees to a new policy but I don't like how my MEP votes, I vote HIM out and someone in that better reflects what I want from the EU.

      *EU waste & corruption - see Toryelection fraud, paedos being hidden in Westminster, expenses fraud, tax haven cheating, etc... I doubt the EU can better Westminster for cheating and corruption. Signed off accounts? Westminster refuses to let Scotland 'see the books' and Scotland has no idea what half the figures in GERS are for. Westminster is the mother of cheating and false auditing.

      * The economic problems created by the Eurozone. Are the economic problems of a Brexit Britain going to be any better? NO.

      * The EU budget going up - have you seen Westminster's Debt lately? Nearly TWO TRILLION? And their deficit? And all the cuts and THOSE TO COME, all while 'helping' the rich to keep THEIR money??

      * High wages and expenses of members of the EU? Considering WM gave themselves a rise and bankers (remember those people who brought the UK to its knees, forcing us to accept all these 'austerity' cuts?) got record bonuses this year?

      * Lack of democratic control of decisions taken by EU - what about the lack of democratic control of decisions taken by Scotland & ignored by WM? 62% of Scotland voted to Remain, remember? What is WM doing about that?? Oh yes - NOTHING. Just forcing us out of EU in spite of what we voted for. Oh and - just exactly when did Scotland vote Tory? Oh that's right - NOT FOR YEARS AND YEARS!

      * EU red tape that hurts business - have you ANY idea what the red tape is going to be like with no open borders with the UK???? And with which UK companies are already having nightmares about?

      * Higher food prices caused by CAP - what about the MUCH HIGHER food prices caused by leaving the EU?!!

      * ...Common Fisheries Policy has hurt the British fishing industry in Scotland - uh, NO! It was the English Peer who knew ABSOLUTELY DIDDLY SQUAT about negotiating that was put in charge of the Fisheries Negotiating in the EU - and the mess the fising is in, is down to HIM, not the EU. As for what's coming with Brexit, May has made it clear that that Scottish fishing waters are going to be a 'bargaining chip' in the EU negotiations. Well thanks very much, WM!! THAT will harm the fishing industry, not the EU!

      * Britain not being able to have trading relations with Commonwealth & other non-EU nations. Thats nonsense. We do trade with non-EU countries.

      * An EU budget that often doesn't reach the poor and hungry. Ahhh... so May & the tory policies haven't been responsible for the bedroom tax which has caused families to be homeless due to the fact they couldn't pay that tax? Or the disabled that have committed suicide because they don't know how to survive when on their meagre money that they often don't get because of sanctions? Or the unemployed who have gone hungry and need to use food banks because they have been sanctioned for being at hospital appointments? Or the ex-forces people who can't afford electricity & can't keep their insulin refrigerated and die??? THOSE people who are poor and hungry? Oh sorry no - those are the hungry and poor due to the TORIES.

      * Britain's large trade deficit with the EU. We buy more from the EU than it buys from us. - yes! Because Britain doesn't MAKE anything anymore! The only thing England has is Financial services! WM has made so much of those and closed down all the manufacturing and destroyed the farming, so that we no longer produce anything!! The only manufacturing items we sell are made in Scotland which is EXACTLY why they are desperate to keep us!

      Still voting Indy & EU.

    4. Glasgow Working Class 2February 10, 2017 at 2:03 PM

      How on Earth did the human race manage to survive for so long without the 751 MEP'S milking the taxpayer. Why do we need so many MSP'S when only half the ammount could do the job. We are being taken to the cleaners. I would vote for the EU provided the parliament is abolished and we get back to the original idea, trade.

  17. James,

    On the Independence question, were 16 & 17 yr olds included in poll?