As you may have seen, YouGov’s first full-scale Scottish poll for six months was published yesterday, and it showed no change on the independence question.
Should Scotland be an independent country? (YouGov, 18th-22nd November 2021)
Yes 47% (-)
No 53% (-)
There’s no cause for concern that Yes are holding steady at 47% rather than the 48% or 49% that has been typical of other firms, because YouGov have consistently been on the No-friendly end of the spectrum in recent times. In fact, the last three YouGov polls, in April, May and November respectively, have all shown an identical 53-47 lead for No, and you have to go back to March for the last narrower No lead of 51-49. That gives the impression that Yes slipped back a bit in the run-up to the Holyrood election but have since held totally steady. The pattern shown by other pollsters is for the most part consistent with that, even if they show Yes holding steady at a slightly higher level.
Although it’s frustrating to be talking about a no-change scenario which maintains a slim No lead, especially after the giddy heights that Yes hit last year, the current position of a persistently even divide in public opinion is actually an excellent starting position for any referendum campaign, and a good platform on which to build a Yes victory if that campaign is well-judged. The real problem is that we appear to have an SNP leadership that is privately opposed to holding an indyref in anything like the foreseeable future, so an ongoing modest No lead may be eagerly seized upon as a bogus excuse for further inaction. That said, they weren’t exactly short of excuses even when there was a huge Yes lead, so perhaps it doesn’t make all that much difference.
Scottish voting intentions for the next UK general election:
SNP 48% (-)
Conservatives 20% (-2)
Labour 18% (-1)
Liberal Democrats 6% (+1)
Greens 3% (-1)
Reform UK 2% (+1)
Scottish Parliament constituency voting intentions:
Liberal Democrats 7%
Scottish Parliament regional list voting intentions:
Liberal Democrats 7%
Reform UK 2%
All for Unity 1%
David Clark said the other day that the only way for unionist politicians to get their way by having us “move on from the independence debate” would be for Scotland to actually become independent. And on these numbers you can see what he means – after a decade and a half the SNP’s ‘honeymoon’ is still ongoing, and they’re on course to actually gain yet more seats at Westminster. For as long as that’s the case, simply remaining in the UK will not make the issue of independence disappear in a puff of smoke.