What does polling tell us about independence support this year?
A major survey used to gauge the attitudes of people across the UK has found a majority of people Scots support leaving the UK – and that the Union “has become decidedly less popular” in Scotland.
The British Social Attitudes poll attempts to discover the prevailing feelings in the UK on a number of topics, Scottish independence among them.
In its most recent incarnation, published on Thursday, 52% of the 1,365 respondents supported independence becoming Scotland’s governing structure, up one percentage point since the last survey in 2019.
However, fieldwork for the survey was undertaken in September and October last year.
But the survey shows the shifting attitudes in Scotland through the years, with support for independence rising from 27% in 1999 to 33% in 2014 – in the weeks ahead of the referendum on Scottish independence – and eventually rising to 52% last year.
However, since then there have been shockwaves and earthquakes through British and global society, while in the political arena its been all change at the top.
In the years after the poll which informed the survey was carried out, Ukraine has been invaded by Russia, the Queen has died and King Charles anointed, Liz Truss has replaced Boris Johnson – who endured scandal after scandal until finally calling it a day – and the pandemic which took over so much of people’s lives has eased.
Meanwhile, Nicola Sturgeon has thrown down the independence gauntlet, naming October 19 2023 as the date for the next referendum.
At the mid-point between these two dates, how have the polls on Scottish independence responded. Has Yes or No gained a lead? And what can they tell us about whether Scots will vote to leave the UK next year?
Where did the polls come from?
*Experts have criticised the Deltapoll survey for having a low sample size.
What does it all mean?
The polls this year have mostly found that people would vote for the status quo of remaining in the UK, if the result on the day mirrored their surveys.
Only at the start of the year did Yes hold a lead, and polls since then have consistently found in favour of no.
But, in the middle there is a large group of undecided voters – ranging from 13 per cent to five – who would tip the vote either way once they make up their minds. This group holds the balance of power and will be crucial to either side if a second independence referendum is held.
What do the experts say?
Professor Sir John Curtice, one of the authors of the social attitudes survey, has consistently said that a second indyref is too close to call, and that neither side would be confident of winning, based on poll data.
Taking a longer view, since the last referendum, support for the union has declined.
Douglas Ross opposes Scottish Independence
The report’s authors said: “Since 2014 there has been a marked increase in the level of support for independence, and especially so since the EU referendum of 2016, after which leaving the UK became more popular than devolution for the first time.
“Against this backdrop, it is perhaps not surprising that Scotland’s constitutional status should have become an issue of lively debate once more.
“The Union has certainly become decidedly less popular north of the border.”
Where do you stand?
Let us know how you would vote in a referendum on Scottish independence.