Thursday, March 30, 2023

EXCLUSIVE SCOT GOES POP / PANELBASE POLL: The final Panelbase numbers of the Sturgeon era show the Yes vote unchanged at a very solid 48%, with pro-independence parties still on course for a majority at the next Scottish Parliament election

As promised, here are the final few results from the two polls I commissioned earlier this month, and these are all from the Panelbase poll conducted between the 7th and 10th March.  That's around three weeks ago, which normally would mean the numbers are relatively up to date, although of course in this case the pace of history has been rather accelerated recently.  Since 10th March, it's been discovered that the SNP had been fibbing about its membership numbers, leading to the resignations of Murray Foote, Peter Murrell and Liz Lloyd, and of course Humza Yousaf has been narrowly elected leader of the SNP and has to all intents and purposes sacked his nearest rival Kate Forbes.

So there can be no guarantee - far from it - that the state of play in public opinion three weeks ago still represents the state of play now.  However, the value of these results is twofold.  Firstly, they come from - as far as I'm aware - the final Panelbase poll to be conducted during the Nicola Sturgeon era, and therefore offer us a useful baseline from which to measure progress or decline under Humza Yousaf.  And secondly, they very helpfully give the lie to some disgracefully misleading reporting that appeared in the mainstream media at around the time the poll was conducted about the trend on independence support.

Scot Goes Pop / Panelbase poll, 7th-10th March 2023, sample size: 1013

Should Scotland be an independent country?

Yes 48% (-)
No 52% (-)

Note: Before Don't Knows were excluded, the figures were: Yes 45% (+1), No 49% (+1), Don't Know 5% (-3)

In the context of the time, those are strikingly good numbers.  They represent a 'statistical tie', meaning that the standard margin of error makes it impossible to be completely sure whether Yes or No are in the lead.  With Don't Knows excluded, they represent no change at all from the previous Panelbase poll conducted in the first half of February on behalf of Believe in Scotland, a fact that is impossible to reconcile with the hysterical claims from many commentators (yes, Malcolm Clark, I'm looking at you), that independence support was in "freefall" a few weeks ago.  With Don't Knows left in, there's even a one-point increase in Yes support.  And the 48% headline number for Yes is only four points lower than Panelbase reported during the peak of the mini-surge in independence support late last year after the Supreme Court ruling.

Incidentally, the "freefall" claims were self-evidently baseless even before this poll is added into the mix.  The YouGov poll that was so misleadingly reported as showing a drop in Yes support to "39%" actually showed an unchanged position since the previous YouGov poll in February of Yes 46%, No 54% with Don't Knows excluded - so exactly the same static trend reported by Panelbase.  The Survation poll showing a drop in Yes support to 45% was a bit disappointing, but it's strongly rumoured that the result was offset only a few days later by another Survation poll for the Scotch Whisky Association showing Yes back up to a very healthy 49%.  (I'm not sure if anyone ever got to the bottom of those rumours.)  And it was within this calendar month that the Find Out Now poll I commissioned for Scot Goes Pop showed an outright Yes lead: Yes 52%, No 48%.  So I'm struggling to detect even the remotest trace of "freefall" in any of that.

The party political voting intentions in this new Scot Goes Pop / Panelbase poll are somewhat less encouraging, but in a strange way there may be good news baked into that bad news, because it may indicate that SNP support and Yes support are not as tightly linked as we think.  That raises the possibility that independence support may prove fairly resilient even if Humza Yousaf leads the SNP to election defeat next year.

These figures also won't come as a massive surprise to anyone, because they're broadly in line with what other firms were showing at the time the poll was conducted.

Scottish voting intentions for the next UK general election:

SNP 40% (-5)
Labour 33% (+5)
Conservatives 16% (-1)
Liberal Democrats 6% (-)

Note: Other parties are on 5% of the vote.  The percentage changes above are not measured from the February poll for Believe in Scotland, which doesn't seem to have had Westminster numbers, but instead from a Panelbase poll just before Christmas for the Sunday Times.

Seats projection (current boundaries, changes measured from 2019 result): SNP 35 (-13), Labour 17 (+16), Liberal Democrats 4 (-), Conservatives 3 (-3)

So the SNP are projected to just about retain their majority position among Scottish MPs at Westminster.  But when the national vote shares are close, first-past-the-post starts to work firmly in Labour's favour, meaning that even the smallest further slippage for the SNP would put them at severe risk of losing their majority or even being overtaken by Labour in terms of seats - hence my major concerns about the potential impact of Humza Yousaf's personal unpopularity.

Scottish Parliament constituency ballot:

SNP 39% (-8)
Labour 31% (+7)
Conservatives 14% (-1)
Liberal Democrats 8% (+1)
Greens 6% (+2)

Scottish Parliament regional list ballot:

SNP 32% (-7)
Labour 27% (+3)
Conservatives 17% (-)
Greens 12% (+3)
Liberal Democrats 8% (+1)

Note: Other parties are on 2% of the vote on the constituency ballot, and 3% of the vote on the regional list ballot.  The percentage changes are measured from the poll for the Sunday Times before Christmas.

Seats projection (changes measured from 2021 result): SNP 53 (-11), Labour 35 (+13), Conservatives 21 (-10), Greens 12 (+4), Liberal Democrats 8 (+4) 

Amidst a fair bit of carnage for the SNP, the remarkable fact is that this poll is still pointing to a pro-independence majority in the Scottish Parliament, albeit only just.  The SNP and Greens combined reach the magic figure of 65 seats, while the unionist parties in combination have only 64.  In practice, I suspect it might be a touch better than that for the pro-indy side, because the 6% for the Greens on the constituency ballot looks oddly high, and in the real world a chunk of those voters would probably go to the SNP.

*  *  *

Recently I've published results from TWO new Scot Goes Pop opinion polls - an opportunity to commission a second poll suddenly arose, so I made a snap decision to go ahead.  However, as you'll appreciate, polls are very expensive, so if anyone feels able to make a contribution, here are the options...

The simplest donation method is a direct Paypal payment. My Paypal email address is:

If you wish, you can add a note saying "for the fundraiser", although even if you don't do that, it'll be fairly obvious what the payment is for.

If you don't have a Paypal account, last year's fundraiser is still very much open for donations HERE.


  1. Thanks for the data. It's intriguing that there's a definite shift from SNP to Labour in the WM, Holyrood and Holyrood List intentions. I don't know why people would do that, so if anyone who visits your blog is intending to vote Labour please chip in with your reasons for switching.

    The switch could be that rather than independence for independence's sake (flag nationalism?) what these voters really want is a well-run and reasonably fair society (social democracy?) and believe that with the Tories on the wane that Labour offers a better chance of that in the short term than the SNP do.

    The figures roughly average out that about one in eight SNP voters switch to Labour. It would be interesting to run the 2021 and 2019 election results on that basis.

    The big challengeto all the Humza Yousaf supporters out there is how does your man and his cabinet of talents halt and reverse this slippage?

    1. I can only think of two possible ways, neither of which he will do voluntarily:

      1) Resign and let a more popular leader save the SNP's skin next year.

      2) Get serious about delivering independence and thus galvanise the Yes support behind the SNP.

    2. I see from the BBC that Margaret Ferrier MP is likely to be suspended and a recall petition seems a formality after that. So Humza Yousaf will have his first test by the Autumn I guess.

    3. Approx 5000 majority is just about right as a test to see where we’re at.

    4. I certainly don't intend to vote for any Brit party myself, but let's face it: the near term chances of a Labour government are astronomically higher than independence. If there's one thing Scots love, it's kicking Tories on their way out through the door. These polls seem very credible.

      I've been expecting this since Truss destroyed the Tory lock on England, last year. We have a challenging environment ahead of us. And Humza of all people in the driving seat? Good grief…

    5. Sunshine on CrieffMarch 30, 2023 at 4:56 PM

      I am seriously considering switching my vote from SNP to Labour at the next WM election.

      Firstly, I don't think the SNP are capable of furthering the cause of independence. We have made no progress with Sturgeon, we are certainly not going to with Yousaf. And, in electing Yousaf, the membership have signalled they are happy to let things drift.

      I will wait until nearer the election before definitely deciding to vote Labour, their attitude towards self-id will be key (there are all sorts of rumours that Starmer could be on the verge of ruling it out).

      Whatever happens I shall not be voting for the sitting MP, John Nicholson as I think he is totally unsuitable to be an elected representative.

    6. Sunshine on CrieffMarch 30, 2023 at 5:01 PM

      As for the Holyrood election, unless something drastic happens I won't be voting SNP on the regional list. The performance in government in recent years has been abysmal, and it is about to get a whole lot worse. The party is in desperate need of a spell on the backbenches, especially as they have totally wasted the chance to renew itself in this leadership election. Being theoretically in favour of independence, to be implemented on some glorious day in the far future, is no longer enough.

    7. Sunshine on CrieffMarch 30, 2023 at 5:07 PM

      As for the constituency vote, my current MSP, Jim Fairlie, is excellent and I had intended voting for him again. However, I wouldn't want my vote to be in any way seen to be an endorsement of Yousaf or his government. It's a dilemma.

    8. Stop're a SLAB activist and we see right through you.

    9. In fairness, I expect Yousaf, Forbes, Regan or Sturgeon would all struggle to hold Rutherglen after the MP is booted out in disgrace.

    10. That may well be true, but even if it is, the gap between Labour and the SNP will still tell us something. I heard the argument during the leadership campaign that Yousaf would do better than Forbes in Glasgow and west-central Scotland - well, this may be his chance to prove it.

    11. Certainly not a Labour activist, but Jacob72 asked for reasons and I've provided them. Take them on board, learn from them or mock them, makes no difference to me, but it does illustrate the problems the independence movement does have with dissent.

      If Alba Party put up a candidate in Ochil and South Perthshire then I'll be there when the polling station doors open to vote for them. Is that likely? If not then I'll either abstain or vote Labour. I cannot in any way endorse the SNP under its current leadership.

  2. I completed a Panelbase poll yesterday, so we might get an up to date idea of the state of play.

  3. Did the poll ask what Alba's percentage is? Also does it say how many people are are not voting at all?

    1. There was a likelihood to vote question on a scale up to 10. 74% said they were certain to vote in a UK general election, but online polls generally overestimate turnout. Alba weren't specifically named, so they're included in 'others', as are Reform UK and so on.

  4. Thanks for the analysis James. I will try and answer Jacob.

    I have voted SNP for the past 20 years or so - since I was able to vote.

    However, under Humza, I am done. Continuity is the same as either doing nothing or making the same old mistakes. All three candidates mark a shift to the right, which is some ways is divergence from continuity. Humza himself has already agreed to look at changing the GRR Bill. Any watering down is a lurch to the right. For years the SNP were accused of being Tartan Tories, now with the capable (and yet ultimate failure) Sturgeon gone, we see the slender fingers of conservatism gripping the SNP once again. We should be grateful that it’s not Regan or Forbes who ideologically are conservative, but what this leadership contest has shown is that there are still many in the SNP on the far right. And now, with his suggestion of changes to Sturgeons approach, we see Humza now gripped by this rightwards lurch.

    The only way to counter this is to vote Labour, or potentially Liberal Democrat, but until a new leader is elected with true liberal values and fresh ideas I will not vote SNP. Even if a new leader is elected, they may still not be as liberal or tolerant as Sturgeon, and with the party now split between progressives and the hard right, it’s hard to tell how even a progressive leader would be able to perform.

    For now Labour will have to do.

    Michael Cameron.

    1. With all due respect to Michael, those are a set of extremely atypical reasons for switching to Labour, which don't tell us anything at all about the motivations of the vast majority of SNP-to-Labour switchers. Michael is also being extremely irrational given that Starmer has abandoned self-ID and Yousaf has not, so if the trans issue is how Michael defines the left-right scale, he's decided to ditch a left-wing party and vote for a "far right" party.

    2. I'm sorry Michael, but how does voting for Labour assist gaining independence? I have considered voting Labour myself as I only vote SNP for independence I never approved of half of their policies, but I stuck with them, even though I thought Sturgeon was 'at it' and I was right about that. Labour had a couple of policies I was interested in, but not now.

      If you think that Labour is left wing then you are seriously mistaken, have a look at Starmer's policy outlines. Remember, this is the party that has the strapline of 'the party of business'. If it's only GRR that defines your voting intention then you are up a gumtree. A section 35 appeal will fail and the UK has no intention of introducing some of the aspects of GRR, not labour, Tory, Lib Dem - it's a vote loser. Remember this, Trans rights are already protected under law, the GRR only amends to make things easier. If it's a protest then spoil your ballot paper, why vote unionist - unless you're not really an independence supporter?

    3. Hi Michael, thanks for the response.

      I'm interpreting that your reason for voting SNP was that you saw a vote for them as a left wing (social democratic) choice, but now you see the SNP as right wing. More right wing than the Labour or Liberal Democrats.

      So from this I'm supposing that your support for independence was about escaping a badly-run UK that you saw as dominated by the Tories, rather than a fundamental belief that Scotland should be independent from England.

      If my analysis of your reply is correct then I understand your justification and the decision you have made.

      However I think that Labour under Kier Starmer are not a left wing party, nor are they going to make the structural changes that the UK badly needs to repair its democracy and economy. Under Jeremy Corbyn 's leadership I would agree (though he was undoubtedly a weak and unsuitable leader his analysis and solutions were correct), but Sir KS has shown himself to change his words in order to gain votes and is I belong to be trusted. His willingness to wrap himself in the Union Jack in many public situations and press conferences is disturbing and is the same as the Tories, BNP or Ulster Unionists. The UK has not always been the good guys and to move forward it has to account for its behaviour during the era of the Empire.

  5. I will hold to my instinct that Humza will be a successful indy leader.

    1. You can't be a successful indy leader without at some point holding a vote on indy, and he's given every indication that he never will.

    2. Well, he's what we've got - maybe he'll grow a pair ; Forbes should have stuck around but she's got her baby I suppose. Salmond should have never resigned - this is ultimately his fault.

  6. Why have Irish people liberated themselves from colony status a century ago but Scottish people still accepting this? It seems so strange

    1. Famine, the deaths of millions and Roman Catholicism.

      Sorry, 1920s Ireland is nothing like Scotland in the 2020s. We could walk out of the UK if we chose to. They, meanwhile, faced the Black & Tans. Albion was more perfidious then.

    2. Don't you believe it. The UK has not changed. I was duped by stories about internment in NU but this was nothing more than arrest without trial and concentration camps. I met an Irishman who dared me to differentiate between one and the other and I couldn't. If you want to know how nanacing the UK is read the Sydney Morning Herald, the New York Times and RTE you will quickly find out just how really awful tge UK is. The Beeb? STV? Sky? All part of the propaganda. Read the outside looking in not the inside lieing.

    3. WTf are you on about

    4. I havent a clue what he's on about either. Think I'll phone up Bletchley Park and see if the Enigma guys can decode it for us.

  7. Shona Robison to Colin McKay of STV - we have more women than men in the cabinet and more women is always better.
    Colin McKay says well you had a choice of two women to be FM - what went wrong.

  8. As some WGD numpties wake up to the shitshow that the SNP has become under Sturgeon up pops some new numpties to take their place in the stupid and gullible ranks. Has the big dug got a numpty production line going full pelt down in Maybole.

    Example, WGD numpty Clachangowk says:- " Outstanding performance by Humza at FMQ. Getting Independence was his main theme through almost every answer he gave. No doubt now that he will do everything possible to get the Independence we all want."

    Aye no doubt at all. Just like there was no doubt that Sturgeon would use one of her many mandates to have Indyref2. A Groundhog Day of stupidity - will this go on for another 8 years on Kavanagh's blog.

    Talk is cheap ya numpty - I give you 8 years of Sturgeon who just happens to be Yousaf's mentor.