Friday, 3 August 2012

Scottish support for the Union is strong

The latest YouGov poll in Scotland shows support for the Union is way ahead of support for independence.

The poll, commissioned by the Fabian Society, shows support for the Union at 54%, up one point from the previous poll in January.

On the other hand, support for independence is just 30%,  a drop of three points.  That puts the pro-Union vote well ahead of the pro-independence vote, indeed it is almost two to one.

The pro-independence campaign was launched two months ago but it seems to be stalling.  Alex Salmond is a capable and charismatic politician but he is failing to win over the majority of the people of Scotland.

At the last election to the Scottish parliament the SNP secured a majority and support for the SNP at that level remains strong but that does not mean that all their voters want independence.  It is similar to the situation in Northern Ireland where many of the folk who vote for Irish nationalist parties still prefer to remain within the Union.

The voting intentions in Scotland as regards Westminster are more interesting with Labour on 43%,, an increase of 3% from May, the Conservatives on 15%, an increase of 1% and the Liberal Democrats on 7%, an increase of 2%.  The SNP vote has actually fallen from 35% to just 29%, a drop of 6%.  Those changes are significant in that they cover the period since the start of the pro-independence campaign.

Professor John Curtice of Strathclyde University has pointed out in The Scotsman (1 August) that:
There seems little doubt that so far the No side has had somewhat the better of the independence debate in the court of public opinion.  The SNP's success last year was founded on an ability to win the support of voters who do not want independence and who would be inclined to back Labour for westminster.  Why? Because, as the Fabian poll confirms, the SNP was thought to have done a good job in its first four years, and appeared to have more to offer for the next five.  In striving to win independence, the SNP must not forget it is primarily in power to govern.

Over the past months, a number of commentators in Northern Ireland have talked up the possibility of Scottish independence and the subsequent 'break-up' of the Union.  Some have even argued that this would undermine the position of Northern Ireland within the Union.

However we should not be concerned by such alarmist talk.  Support for the Union in Scotland is strong.  Commentators can write all they want about it but the thing that matters most is public opinion and this poll shows that support for the Union remains solid.


  1. I was proud to witness Sir Chris Hoy MBE and his colleagues standing on the podium with their gold medals. Very proud of our country and Sir Chris sets an excellent example to his fellow Scots.

    Expect promotion from Member to Commander or Knight Commander of the British Empire.


    1. So has the Empire struck back?Not long till the commonwealth games and plenty will be Scottish and stand on the podium as true Scots that they already are.

  2. British nationalists are sounding increasingly desperate every day.

  3. I don't understand your point Peter. I think that more and more people in Scotland are beginning to think about the benefits of the Union and the implications of independence.

    I have just returned from a holiday in Scotland and my support for the Union is based not just on financial or practical issues but also the fact that there are strong social, cultural and historical bonds between the nations within the United Kingdom, and especially between Ulster and Scotland.

  4. I actually believe much of the so-called support for the union in recent polls comes from the "independence is a good idea but I'm not so sure" people. Die hard unionism is probably around 30%. It's a lot closer than you think and I believe that we will win a YES vote in 2014. If not, then it will be a relatively narrow loss, which will only delay the inevitable. I'm willing to bet we will be independent by 2016 or a little after. The UK in its present form is a dead duck.

    1. When you talk about the 'inevitable' you remind me very much of an Irish nationalist. There are very few things in life that are inevitable, other than death and taxes!

      Down through the years Irish nationalists have told us that a United Ireland is inevitable but in fact support for it is now at an all-time low.

      Simply saying that independence for Scotland is inevitable won't carry the day.

  5. Nevertheless I believe it to be so. The only other alternative would be a fully federal Britain in which Scotland had full control over its economic resources. But I believe the British centralised state to be incapable of this. I can't argue about Irish nationalism because I know very little about it. Time will tell...

  6. An analysis of polls (excluding YouGov) over the last 3 years shows 2009-12 averages all other polls (MORI, TNS, Panelbase, VC/Angus Reid, ICM, ICD, SSAS, Comres)

    Yes = 40%
    No = 42%


    Yes = 32%
    No = 55%

    You can easily verify these by googling them i.e 'ICM Scottish poll' or 'SSAS Scottish independence poll' etc

    YouGov obtain responses using an invited group of internet users, that are paid in points that can then be exchanged for cash.

    This is in direct contrast to most other opinion polling companies who use a random sample of data obtained either face to face or by phone. Since most other polls generally have similar results, it is obvious YouGov that is anomalous.

    There is a belief amongst some opinion pollsters that their methods give inaccurate results in Scotland

    Looking at results for Yougov polls before the Scottish elections last year back this theory up.

    It seems clear that if you want to make support for independence look weak (like the Fabian society or Alistair Darling) you commission YouGov. Then the press and unionist politicians can reassure themselves that support for independence isn't there.

    Keep on reassuring yourselves though. I want to see more complacency from unionists.

  7. The Guardian (28 June) reported that 'several opinion polls have put support for independence at 33% to 35%.'

  8. I think when it comes down to it, the very fact that there is a referendum at all is a sign that the union is on its way out; this is not some kind of aberration but part of a process. A country does not overwhelmingly elect a nationalist government for nothing, even given the caveat that not everyone voted directly for independence. If the union is to be saved there HAS to be full fiscal autonomy at the very least. But I don't see that happening....we live in interesting times at least. :)

    1. 'The fact that there is a referendum at all is a sign that the union is on its way out.' That is just nonsense. Many years ago there was a border poll in Northern Ireland and yet support for the Union is now stronger than ever.

      With the decline of the Conservatives in Scotland the SNP was seen as the alternative to Labour - it cannot be assumed that all those those who voted SNP were pro-independence.

  9. All these poll look great until you stop and think for a moment: the Fabian society is a Labour think tank and only asked Labour members their views on independence,it doesn't look such a good poll now!

    1. The poll was commissioned by the Fabian Society but it was conducted by YouGov and the people who were polled were not just Labour members. You may not like the results but there you are.

  10. "With the decline of the Conservatives in Scotland the SNP was seen as the alternative to Labour - it cannot be assumed that all those those who voted SNP were pro-independence"
    True. But the majority of SNP supporters are in favour. There may be a small proportion who would vote No, and a larger group who like the idea but are unsure. Remember also that there are labour voters who would vote Yes, and a good many more than the party hierarchy would like to admit. And the whole thing is being muddied by the possibility of a "Devo Max" option. I suppose we can argue over polls forever; there is another two years before the referendum. But one thing I am absolutely certain of: there is no way the union will survive in its present form; there has to be massive change, and that goes for all the parts of the union, not just Scotland.
    Like I say, we shall see. Interesting discussion.
    Bye for now. :)


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