Stephen Flynn and Mhairi Black could not have chosen a better day to kick of their new leadership of the SNP’s Westminster group. We are going to be seeing a lot more of both of them in their new high profile roles, and that can only be a good thing. The new leader Stephen Flynn had a baptism of fire, being thrown into the bear pit of Prime Minister’ Questions within hours of being elected as the SNP’s Westminster leader. It’s safe to say that he easily rose to the challenge, giving a confident and assured performance, completely unrattled by the baying mob of Conservative MPs facing him across the chamber and clearly enjoying the discomfort of both Labour and the Tories when he asked Sunak if the greatest achievement of the Conservatives was Brexit, leaving the Single Market, denying Scottish democracy, or seeing the Labour party adopt all those policies.
But the knife was really turned when he revealed that not fifteen minutes previously a new opinion poll commissioned from Ipsos-Mori by STV had found a sharp rise in support for independence. 56% of those polled would vote Yes if given the opportunity, an opportunity which Labour and the Conservatives are united in wanting to deny to Scotland. This is now the third poll since the Supreme Court ruling which has given a lead to Yes, it seems that Scottish people do not after all take kindly to judges sitting in a court in London telling them that they don’t get to decide what happens to their own country, and are giving that typically Scottish response to being told that they are not allowed to do something. Aye, pal, that WILL be right.
It’s not just the 6% rise in support for independence which is significant about this poll, it is also the fact that it gives good grounds for believing that a UK General Election used as a de facto referendum could actually be winnable. The poll gives SNP support at a Westminster General Election as 51%, with Labour trailing in a distant second on 25% and the Tories far behind on a paltry 13%, a drop of 6%. This would not only give the SNP the majority of votes cast that it sought in a de facto referendum, it would also deliver an almost complete wipe out of all the other parties with the SNP taking all but one of Scotland’s 59 Westminster seats. Both the Conservatives and the Lib Dems would face electoral obliteration, losing all of their MPs. Labour would be the sole anti-independence party to retain any representation, being reduced to a single MP, presumably Ian Murray, who would then insist that Scotland had rejected nationalism.
Scotland would have rejected nationalism, it would have rejected the English nationalism which has been espoused by both Labour and the Conservative party, but we all know that Ian has a blind spot as far as the English nationalism of his own party is concerned. You don’t need to be confirmed supporter of Scottish independence to see it. On Wednesday polling expert John Curtice was reported as observing that the Labour party has effectively given up on Scotland, doubling down on its support for a hard Brexit in its pursuit of leave supporting constituencies in the Midlands and north of England. Despite Starmer’s protestations to the contrary, the party has calculated that it is not worth the loss of support in England to court popularity in remain supporting Scotland by adopting policies favouring closer ties with the European Union.
What Scotland wants, and what even Anas Sarwar was until recently insisting was in Scotland’s best interests, is to be sacrificed on the altar of English nationalist exceptionalism and its Brexit delusions. But that’s not nationalist at all. Oh no.
The polling news for the SNP is even better if the party contests the next UK General Election as a de facto referendum in which it seeks a mandate for independence itself. Then 53% of respondents say that they would vote SNP, and a further 2% would put their cross next to candidates from the equally pro-independence Scottish Greens, support for other pro-independence parties is not explicitly given in the poll, but Alba achieved 0.7% of first preference votes in Scotland’s most recent elections, the local elections in May 2022, and 1.66% in the regional list vote in the previous year’s Scottish Parliament so it is entirely possible that the total combined pro-independence vote across all parties in a de facto referendum could reach 57%, or possibly even more given an effective and co ordinated campaign from independence supporters. Even the Holy Grail of 60% support for independence no longer seems totally out of reach.
60% support for independence has already been reached in Glasgow,South Scotland and Fife are not far behind. There is now a majority for independence in every region of Scotland. 33% of Labour voters now back independence. Field work for this poll was carried out before the non-event that was the unveiling of Gordie Broon’s profoundly uninspiring constitutional review. The paltry nature of Labour’s promises to Scotland may very well drive even more Labour voters to back independence.
The data set for the poll confirms that support for independence enjoys an apparently unassailable lead amongst people under the age of 55. These are the voters that the Yes campaign needs to ensure are both registered to vote, and that they turn out and vote on the day. Another fascinating finding from this poll is that a majority of those with higher educational qualifications or a university degree support independence. Opposition to independence has majority support amongst those with no educational qualifications, putting a lie to the frequent British nationalist slur that support for independence is the preserve of uneducated neds. In fact the uneducated neds are disproportionately to be found amongst opponents of independence, many of them infest social media professing their love for the royals and a particular fitba team.
Meanwhile the BBC on its Scottish politics page was studiously avoiding any mention of the opinion poll that gave support for independence a resounding lead but was instead asking whether not Nicola Sturgeon is “losing her grip on the SNP”. The answer is no, but the British state is most certainly losing its grip on Scotland, and the BBC has lost its grip on credibility.
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