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.