It may seem odd to be talking about a poll of Labour members on the day that Boris Johnson became leader of the Conservative party, but it's a bit difficult to get too excited about an event that has been predetermined for weeks. (Even the BBC seemed more animated about the end of "the Anne Milton era" than about the new Prime Minister.) And this is a pretty sensational poll by any standards. Who would have believed that the UK-wide membership of one of the main anti-independence parties would be split down the middle on independence? Not on the question of whether Scotland should be allowed to choose its own future, not on the question of whether they should reluctantly "allow" Scotland to "go" if it insists, but on the very principle of whether independence would be a good thing?
Would you support or oppose Scotland becoming an independent country? (YouGov poll of UK Labour members)
With Don't Knows excluded, that works out as roughly 49% in favour, and 51% against - in other words a statistical tie. Ironically, there's a greater level of opposition to independence in the subsample of Scottish members, but there are two points to bear in mind about that: a) the subsample is so tiny that it can't be considered statistically robust, and b) the result is exactly what you'd expect anyway, because in Scotland all the sensible progressives have long since decamped to the SNP, leaving behind unionist diehards for the most part. According to YouGov's weighting scheme, just 2% of the current Labour membership live in Scotland. (It ought to be a little over 8% if it was in line with population share.)
All of this begs the obvious question: if the Labour leadership aren't acting on behalf of their own members when they seek to to turn the UK into a prison from which Scotland is permitted no escape, who are they acting for? The London establishment? Who is pulling the strings, and why is it being allowed to happen?
Elsewhere in the poll, an astonishing 83% of Labour members would be in favour of a deal with the SNP if their own party falls short of a majority - another point on which the Labour leadership is hopelessly out of line with its members' wishes. Even the Scottish subsample is in favour of working with the SNP, albeit by a predictably narrower margin.
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I've made this point before, but something highly unusual will happen tomorrow. I can't think of another example since the war when a mid-term change of Prime Minister effectively amounted to a change of government, because the programme for government of the new Prime Minister is so different from that of the outgoing Prime Minister. The only partial exception is John Major, who ditched Margaret Thatcher's flagship policy of the poll tax, but even Major basically persevered with Thatcherism in all other respects.
The crucial point is that a new government will take office tomorrow with hardly any moral or democratic authority at all. The people didn't elect it, and it barely enjoys a majority in parliament - even if you include the DUP in the government ranks and exclude Sinn Féin from the opposition tally, the majority is just two, and will fall to one if the Liberal Democrats get their expected win in the Brecon and Radnorshire by-election next week. I'd suggest that, irrespective of tactical considerations, such a government shouldn't be allowed to take office without facing a motion of no confidence within the first 24 hours. Basic principles of democracy demand that a mandate should be established, or that there should be an election if the mandate turns out not to be there.