I'll be absolutely blunt about this - I'm hopping mad that this post has proved necessary at this particular moment. Although I was under no illusions when I took on the Wings-Watch fact-checking service that I was likely to be called into action fairly frequently, I would have hoped that on the day of the Supreme Court ruling, of all days, those who self-identify as independence supporters might have been united in simply condemning the London authorities for their crackdown on Scottish democracy, and in preparing for the crucial plebiscite election campaign ahead. But, alas, Stuart Campbell instead chose yet again to attempt to drain the morale of Yes campaigners with an obscenely misleading graph which dishonestly purported to show that public backing for independence has continuously remained static at 47% since 2016. His agenda in doing this can be described as anti-Sturgeon, or anti-SNP, or 'revenge for no support in the Dugdale case' or 'revenge for gender self-ID'. But whatever his precise motives, they've got absolutely zilch to do with the furtherance of the cause of independence.
In order to create the false impression of constant 47% support for Yes over the last six years, Mr Campbell appears to have cherry-picked just five polls from the well over 100 that have been conducted during that period. His criteria for the cherry-picking was simply: a) any polls conducted in the same month of any given year, and b) any polls that happened to show Yes on 47%. He wasn't remotely bothered about finding five polls that were comparable with each other, because he admits in the small print that they were conducted by no fewer than three different polling companies - Panelbase, Survation and BMG. Absurdly, he leaves out 2018 and 2020 altogether, simply because he couldn't find any polls in April of those years with Yes on 47%! If it wasn't so cynical, it would actually be downright comical.
The intention, of course, is to give the impression that the five polls are typical and representative of independence polling in each year, and that Yes support has indeed been genuinely static. But nothing could be further from the truth. For any Wings Over Scotland followers who are actually interested in being acquainted with real facts (as opposed to only hearing distortions and lies intended to buttress a propaganda narrative that they may well be only too happy to believe), feel free to read on for a veritable feast of real numbers, presented honestly.
Let's start with the yearly figures for independence support from the Scottish Social Attitudes Survey. Although these tend to differ significantly from Yes support in conventional binary-choice independence polling, they're extremely relevant in this particular context, because in another misleading and inaccurate post about polling a few days ago, Mr Campbell used the result from the 2007 Social Attitudes Survey as his baseline figure for indy support in the year that Alex Salmond became First Minister. He then proceeded to make an utterly bogus comparison between that number and later Yes support in conventional polling.
Yearly support for Scottish independence in the Scottish Social Attitudes Survey:
2016 (a): 39%
2016 (b): 46%
(Note: There's been an increasing tendency for Wings-supporting trolls to drop silly hints that they think I am making numbers up, so feel free to check the above figures for yourself on John Curtice's What Scotland Thinks website.)
So that tells a rather different story from a graph suggesting Yes support has been stuck on 47% for the last six years, does it not? With one minor exception, there has been a consistent year-on-year increase in support for independence since 2014, which was the last survey conducted when Alex Salmond was still SNP leader. And what's more, the cumulative increase over those years has been nothing short of dramatic - a huge jump from just 33% in 2014 to 52% in the most recent survey from last year.
Now let's turn to conventional polling on independence. The figures below are the yearly average percentage shares for Yes, after Don't Knows are excluded, from every single poll conducted in each calendar year since 2016. (I chose 2016 as the start date because that's when Mr Campbell's dodgy graph begins.) This has been a mammoth task that has taken me aaaaaaaages, so I hope you appreciate my dedication to my Wings-Watch fact-checking vocation.
Average yearly support for independence in conventional opinion polling:
This is obviously a much more complex pattern than the one suggested by the Social Attitudes Survey, but it's nevertheless completely inconsistent with Mr Campbell's false claims of a static picture. Of particular note is the speedy and steep climb from approximately 45% (essentially identical to the 2014 referendum result) in both 2017 and 2018 to the outright majority territory of 53% in 2020. Although support has since slipped back, it still remains significantly higher than it was in 2017 and 2018, and even a little higher than it was in 2016. In case you're wondering, the reason why independence support was a touch higher than might be expected in 2016 is that the EU referendum occurred that year, leading to a short-lived purple patch for Yes in the summer.
I should stress, incidentally, that I haven't included last night's extraordinary Find Out Now poll in the 2022 average, simply because the question asked was so radically different from the norm, and therefore it's debatable whether it really counts as an 'independence poll'. Including it would make a significant difference, because the implied Yes lead is around 20% or 22% with Don't Knows excluded.
My plea to Wings readers is simply to be aware that when Mr Campbell cites independence-related polling, he's almost always either fibbing to you or deliberately misleading you with selective or non-comparable data. It's only by bearing that in mind that it's possible to really make sense of what his posts are actually about.
* * *
If you'd like to help Scot Goes Pop continue, donations are welcome HERE.