By Mark Booth
Over the last few days Wings Over Scotland has been publishing the results of the latest polling that he commissioned.
The poll, conducted by Panelbase, took place between June 21st and 26th and featured a sample size of 1,018 Scottish voters.
First up the poll asked respondents to say how they would vote in the event of a Holyrood or Westminster election.
The results were as follows:
Holyrood Voting Intention
• SNP 41% (+2)
• Con 27% (-1)
• Lab 22% (-3)
• LD 6% (=)
• Grn 2% (=)
Westminster Voting Intention
• SNP 38% (+1)
• Con 27 (-2)
• Lab 25 (-2)
• LD 7% (=)
• Grn 2% (+2)
The numbers show a very healthy lead for the SNP in both scenarios, 14 points at Holyrood and 11 points at Westminster, proving that they are still by far the dominant force in Scottish politics. With the Conservatives in a distant second place Ruth Davidson’s dreams of becoming First Minister remain pipe dreams, while Labour’s dismal third place is a sad indictment of what the party has become under the leaderships of Jeremy Corbyn and Richard Leonard.
Moving on to the timing of a second independence referendum, respondents were asked “When, if at all, should there be a second independence referendum?”
• 34% said During the current Scottish Parliament, i.e. before Brexit is fully implemented in 2021.
• 17% said during the next Scottish Parliament, i.e. between 2021 and 2026.
• 16% said later than 2026.
• 34% said never.
Despite unionist protestations that the Scottish people do not want another independence referendum the evidence here shows that 67% of them do in fact want one sometime in the future. If we split the responses to this question down by party it makes for interesting reading:
• Before 2021: Con 3%, Lab 24%, LD 12%, SNP 66%
• Between 2021 & 2026: Con 5%, Lab 23%, LD 12%, SNP 23%
• After 2026: Con 23%, Lab 20%, LD 32%, SNP 6%
• Never: Con 69%, Lab 32%, LD 45%, SNP 5%
The biggest surprise here is that almost a third (31%) of Conservative voters actually want a second referendum sometime in the future, albeit that most of them want it to be after 2026. A staggering 69% of Labour voters also want a second chance to vote on independence suggesting that the party needs to rethink its stance on opposing the issue. Less surprising is the fact that 89% of SNP voters want another referendum before 2026.
The next question asked “If there were to be an independence referendum before 2021, do you think you would vote in it (regardless of which WAY you might vote)?”
• 84% said they would definitely vote.
• 11% said they would probably vote.
• 2% said they would probably NOT vote.
• 2% said they would definitely NOT vote.
The fact that we have 95% of respondents more likely to vote than not certainly puts paid to unionist claims of no appetite for a second referendum or voter apathy. The 2014 referendum’s voter turnout of 84.6% was the largest ever for a UK election or referendum and this polling data suggests people will be, at least, equally engaged a second time round.
Moving on to the independence question itself, respondents were asked “The UK is currently scheduled to leave the EU in March of 2019. If a referendum on Scottish independence was held around this time, and if a Yes vote meant that Scotland would stay in the EU, which way do you think you would vote?”
• 49% said they would vote for an independent Scotland in the EU.
• 51% said they would vote for Scotland to stay in the UK and leave the EU.
The same question was asked in a similar poll commissioned by Wings back in December 2017 and the response was pretty much the same (there was a 0.6% rise in support for independence in the latest poll). Personally, I find this somewhat surprising given the large increase in SNP membership following the party walking out of Westminster during Prime Ministers Questions the other week.
Of course, given the way the question was framed (specifically linking it to EU membership) and the fact that 38% of voters in Scotland voted to leave the EU then the No answer could be said to have had somewhat of a head start. Nonetheless the closeness in the results should be seen as an encouraging sign given that we are not in an official campaign yet.
As a follow up to the independence question respondents were asked to say if they thought that a series of countries presented would be ran better by their much larger neighbouring country. These included Ireland & the UK, Pakistan & India, Canada & the USA as well as 10 others.
In none of these hypothetical scenarios did more than 10% of respondents think that the smaller country would be ran better by its larger neighbour (in most cases it was less than 5%). This poses the question as to why slightly over half of the respondents think that Scotland is unique in being the only country in the world to be better ran by a larger neighbour.
Overall these polling results give us a lot to think over, but one thing for sure is pretty clear and that is the fact that there is definitely an appetite for a second independence referendum despite Unionist’s best efforts to tell us otherwise.
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