Last night there was a flurry of posts on social media from people saying they had just joined the SNP, very much reminiscent of what happened immediately after the independence referendum. I was puzzled by that, and wondered if everything wasn't entirely as it seemed, but I was assured that many of the sign-ups were genuine. It was then suggested to me that, as I'd previously organised crowdfunded opinion polls to see if public opinion on independence had changed after a major event, now would be a logical time to do it again.
Unlike the start of last year, or indeed last June when I commissioned the post-Cummings poll, it's obviously not the case that there won't be any polls at all if I don't step in. With an election in the offing, there are bound to be polls commissioned by a range of clients over the coming weeks. Nevertheless, I've been intending all along to commission one more poll at some point before the Holyrood election. I'm open-minded about timing - if no polls appear over the coming days, there might be some value in going straight ahead. If polls do appear at the weekend, it could be more logical to wait until the campaign proper in April. But either way, this might not be a bad moment to make sure sufficient funding is in place so I'm ready to strike at the optimum moment.
It's slightly tricky, though. There's some money left over from the last poll crowdfunder, but not enough. I'm currently running a general fundraiser to keep the blog going for another year, but I had intended that to be a slowburner over a few months. So to make up the shortfall, there are two options: either a) run two fundraisers simultaneously, or b) increase the target figure on the general fundraiser and set aside a portion for polling. I've decided to go for the latter option, because the idea of promoting two fundraisers at the same time made me feel slightly queasy.
The way it will work is this: any money donated to the general fundraiser over the next week or so, up to a total of £5000, will be set aside for future polling - one for the run-up to the Holyrood election, with hopefully some funds left over to put towards a subsequent poll later in the year.
Obviously there are divisions within the pro-indy camp at present, and I've made no secret of where I stand on the various points of controversy. However, I think anyone who has followed the four polls I've run since January 2020 will know that I always try to act in the best interests of the whole movement, and the poll questions I've asked have always reflected that. To give an obvious example, I was a vociferous opponent of the idea of a Wings party, but I deliberately never asked about that subject in any of the polls, because I knew that many Wings readers had contributed to the funding.
My intention this time would be to ask for independence voting intentions, Holyrood (and possibly Westminster) voting intentions, with a range of supplementary questions designed to put the anti-independence parties on the spot as election day approaches. As always, though, I'd be open to any suggestions.