Even the unionist media acknowledged that the UK government walked straight into a trap at the start of this election campaign by needlessly launching a Supreme Court challenge to a Holyrood law that is aimed at protecting children, and that was passed with Scottish Tory support. The blunder has a dual effect - it makes the UK government look as if they don't care about children, and it also deepens the suspicions that they are at war with devolution and may eventually abolish or neuter the Scottish Parliament (if we don't vote for independence first). I added a question to the Scot Goes Pop / Panelbase poll to discover whether this episode is playing as badly with the public as has been suspected.
The Scottish Parliament recently passed legislation that incorporates the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child into Scots Law. The law seeks to protect children's rights by forbidding public authorities from acting in a way that is incompatible with the UN Convention. However, the UK Government are challenging the law in the Supreme Court on the basis that it would interfere with the UK Parliament's right to make laws for Scotland. Although the UK Government are allowed to challenge laws that they think may exceed the Scottish Parliament's powers, they are under no obligation to do so. Do you think the UK Government are right or wrong to challenge the new Scottish law on children's rights?
With Don't Knows excluded -
Although that's the expected result, the detailed breakdown is fascinating. Women are entirely responsible for the majority against the legal action - female respondents break almost 2-1 against, while men are evenly divided. And it's not as if there's a persistently large gender gap throughout the poll - it's specific to this particular question. At the risk of gender stereotyping, I would guess that probably means women are concerned about the impact on children, perhaps more than they are about the impact on devolution. And although respondents divide to some extent on Yes/No lines, it's not totally uniform - 17% of current Yes supporters think the UK government are right to challenge the law, and 18% of current No voters think they are wrong. (Which maybe raises a question mark over whether all Yes supporters fully understood the question, but obviously that's just speculation.) Respondents who were born in England are split down the middle, while a decent plurality of Scottish-born respondents are opposed to Westminster's actions.
Every time Douglas Ross says with an apparently straight face that the Scottish Government are "irresponsible" to be planning for a referendum during a pandemic, I always imagine a nation in unison saying "Hello? Hello? Brexit, Douglas?". So I asked the obvious question...
The Conservatives claim that the ongoing pandemic means that it is irresponsible for the Scottish Government to be making plans for an independence referendum. In response, the Scottish Government say that they do not intend to hold the referendum until the pandemic is over, and point out that the Conservative Government at Westminster has already taken Britain out of the EU single market and customs union during the pandemic. In your view, which is more irresponsible?
Taking Britain out of the EU single market and customs union during the pandemic: 39%
Planning for an independence referendum to take place after the pandemic is over: 38%
Neither of these are irresponsible: 24%
So the right result, but it's bizarrely tight given that the Tories self-evidently don't have a leg to stand on with this. I would guess the explanation for the closeness of the outcome is that a substantial minority of independence supporters are also in favour of Brexit, and therefore the presence of a 'neither' option gave them an easy out. A total of 62% of respondents either don't think indyref preparations are irresponsible, or think going ahead with Brexit during the pandemic was more irresponsible.
Again, there's a reasonable amount of 'cross-voting' - 18% of current Yes supporters think that indyref planning is more irresponsible, while 17% of current No supporters take the same view about Brexit.
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There's lots more to come from the poll - several supplementary questions of interest to the independence movement, and also Westminster voting intentions. If you'd like to be the first to know the results, feel free to follow me on Twitter HERE.