It's extremely heartening to see how resilient support for independence has proved as the SNP has indulged in a prolonged period of self-harm (which will never really be over until they eventually rectify the mistake of electing Humza Yousaf as leader). Here we have an example of independence support actually increasing as the SNP's own support continues to slip backwards - although in this case the independence results may simply represent a reversion to the mean, because the previous Redfíeld & Wilton poll looked a bit like an outlier with the No vote unusually high.
Redfield & Wilton poll (31st March-1st April 2023)
Should Scotland be an independent country?
Yes 46% (+1)
No 54% (-1)
Just like in the Panelbase poll at the weekend, the Yes side was extremely unlucky to be rounded down rather than up - it was very nearly a two-point increase to 47%. Rounded to one decimal place, the result is Yes 46.4%, No 53.6%. The real improvement for Yes can be seen more clearly in the results with Don't Knows left in: Yes 44% (+2), No 50% (-1).
There's also a corresponding improvement - and a much more dramatic one - in public attitudes towards holding an independence referendum in the relatively near future. 43% of respondents would support a referendum being held within one to five years - an increase of six points from the previous poll. 41% take the opposite view, a decline of three points, meaning there is a slim majority in favour of a referendum once Don't Knows are stripped out. Even when asked whether a referendum should be held within the very tight timescale of one year, respondents are almost evenly divided with 41% in favour, an increase of seven points, and 44% opposed, a decrease of five points. The appetite for both independence and voting on independence seems pretty considerable these days, and it's great to see.
For some bizarre reason Redfield & Wilton keep asking people whether they "agree with Alister Jack" that a referendum should only be held if polls show 60% of people want one. A mere 50% of respondents agree with him, which I'm sure Mr Jack will confirm means that his proposal has been soundly rejected. I mean, obviously to be consistent about it, he'd need 60% support in opinion polls to have a "real" majority, and he's way, way, WAY short of that. 50%, Alister? Pathetic. Another decisive win for the pro-indy camp.
Now for the less good news - the first Redfield & Wilton poll since Humza Yousaf became First Minister shows the SNP lead for Westminster dropping to just five percentage points, which is lower even than in the recent Savanta and Panelbase polls. This is bound to increase fears that the SNP simply cannot afford to go into next year's Westminster election with Yousaf as leader if they want to avoid a landmark national defeat.
Scottish voting intentions for the next UK general election:
SNP 36% (-3)
Labour 31% (+2)
Conservatives 19% (-3)
Liberal Democrats 10% (+4)
Greens 2% (-)
Reform UK 2% (-)
Seats projection (current boundaries, with changes from 2019 election): SNP 28 (-20), Labour 19 (+18), Conservatives 7 (+1), Liberal Democrats 5 (+1)
That will send a chill down the backs of SNP MPs, because the projection points to an end of the pro-independence majority at Westminster that has been sustained since May 2015.
As I said about the Panelbase poll, what makes these poor results particularly worrying is that they seem to have happened in the middle of a honeymoon period (of sorts) for Yousaf. In the personal ratings there are clear signs of a honeymoon, with Yousaf's net approval rating standing at -7. That's obviously extremely poor for any incoming First Minister, and places him way behind both Keir Starmer (+8) and Anas Sarwar (+10), but nevertheless it's better than most polls showed during the leadership campaign and also before that. The suspicion must be that it's just a temporary bounce caused by the positive publicity any new leader can expect in their first few days, and that he'll soon slip back down to where he previously was. If that happens, will the SNP's popularity slip with him, pushing them down into second place for the first time in many, many years? It's certainly a real danger.
On the plus side, though, the Holyrood numbers are not too dreadful for the SNP, or at least not in the context of the times.
Scottish Parliament constituency ballot:
SNP 38% (-2)
Labour 28% (-1)
Conservatives 18% (-2)
Liberal Democrats 10% (+3)
Greens 3% (+1)
Reform UK 2% (-)
Scottish Parliament regional list ballot:
SNP 30% (+1)
Labour 24% (-2)
Conservatives 19% (-1)
Liberal Democrats 13% (+2)
Greens 11% (+1)
Reform UK 2% (-)
Seats projection (with changes from 2021 election): SNP 52 (-12), Labour 28 (+6), Conservatives 23 (-8), Greens 13 (+5), Liberal Democrats 13 (+8)
Incredibly, the pro-independence majority would just about be salvaged on those numbers - the SNP and Greens in combination would have 65 seats, and unionist parties combined would only have 64.