Archive for the 'Scotland' Category

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PB/Polling Matters podcast on Brexit, Article 50 polling, Scotland and the return of GfK

Thursday, March 30th, 2017

After a momentous day in British politics, Keiran and Rob discuss public opinion on Brexit and  Keiran looks at Scotland’s future with Ipsos Mori Scotland Research Director Mark Diffley. Finally, Keiran talks more about the new GfK political polling that has Corbyn’s approval rating among Brits being as weak as Donald Trump’s. More on that polling (including methodology and data tables here).

The segment on Scotland dominates this week’s episode and is a particularly wide ranging discussion including new information on why the polls are not moving towards Independence at this stage. Keiran and Rob also unveil new Polling Matters / Opinium numbers showing party cross-breaks that might surprise you.

Follow this week’s guests:

@keiranpedley

@robvance

@markdiffley1

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Don’t get complacent – Scotland’s future in the Union is hanging by a thread.

Sunday, March 19th, 2017

The case for Scottish Independence is full of holes writes Keiran Pedley but that doesn’t mean it won’t happen.

Since Nicola Sturgeon’s bombshell speech last week, where she indicated her intention to ask for a second referendum on Scottish Independence, the conventional wisdom appears to have been on something of a journey. The original reaction was one of panic. This was it. Just as we all feared, Scotland was heading for Independence as a consequence of the Brexit vote. Then Theresa May just said ‘no’. Now was not the time. There was a collective sigh of relief. ‘It’s not as bad as we feared’, the argument went, the SNP have overplayed their hand and this will all backfire on them.

The case against

I acknowledge that those arguing that Scottish Independence won’t happen have a reasonably strong case. First and foremost, Theresa May controls the timing of any vote. She will argue that a second vote will have to wait until after Brexit negotiations are finalised and there isn’t a great deal Nicola Sturgeon can do about it. In theory at least, that means that May can ensure that a future referendum takes place at the most helpful time for a ‘No’ campaign possible. Meanwhile, there is no obvious sign of a surge in support for Scottish Independence right now, nor an immediate desire for another vote on the subject.

Furthermore, it does seem that the ‘No’ side, led by Ruth Davidson, is getting its arguments in early against a ‘Yes’ vote next time.

“We have asked basic questions on things like currency, on things like a central bank, on things like whether we would even rejoin Europe as a full member, and Nicola Sturgeon seems unable to commit to that.” Ruth Davidson

The SNP case for Independence seems to rely on a newly Independent Scotland joining the EU, yet there is some doubt as to whether it would be able to. Meanwhile, Gordon Brown has warned that Scotland’s economy would be destroyed if it was a member of the EU and therefore outside the ‘UK Single Market’ when the rest of the UK is no longer a member.  These issues will be the subject of furious claim and counter-claim but it is reasonable to suggest that the case for Independence is built on shaky ground.

But don’t get complacent – so is the case for ‘No’

Yet all of that is of little comfort to me. Those getting complacent about Scotland’s future in the Union would be wise to think again. Whilst it is true that Theresa May can control the timing of any vote she cannot refuse one forever. A second referendum is coming and the context of that vote is that the UK voted to leave the EU but Scotland voted Remain. That has changed the game. So if the Brexit negotiations go anything other than swimmingly, the SNP will have a stick with which to beat the Independence drum alongside the grievance of a referendum withheld by Westminster. This is before we even touch the problematic dynamics of a future campaign itself. What will the ‘No’ campaign’s message be? Who will be in charge? What will Scottish Labour’s role be? And so on.

In truth, there are arguments for and against why Scottish Independence will ultimately happen or not. It was ever thus. That is not the same as complacently shrugging one’s shoulders and assuming it will all be fine. Just because Scottish opinion leans ‘No’ now does not mean that is fixed. We are about to enter an extremely turbulent time politically. If Theresa May does not emerge with a good Brexit deal – or indeed if she does not emerge with a deal at all – then the case for Scottish Independence will look very different in two years time than it does right now. If you are optimistic about the Union’s future, it is wise to be only cautiously so. The conventional wisdom on this issue seems to have lurched into alarmingly complacent territory and that worries me greatly.

Keiran Pedley

Keiran is the presenter of the PB/Polling Matters podcast and tweets about politics and polling at @keiranpedley

Listen to the latest podcast – on Scottish Independence and Northern Ireland’s future – below




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As we edge towards the enactment of the A50 Bill Nicola has just made Theresa’s task harder

Monday, March 13th, 2017

The political price of hard brexit could be a smaller UK

TMay’s reaction to Sturgeon’s InyRef2 announcement was that the Scottish FM and SNP leader was “playing politics” – a term I generally conclude to mean that what’s been said has been highly effective.

Certainly the suggestions that TMay might defer invoking A50 until the end of the month suggests there’s a need to look again at her strategy and the rhetoric she will deploy when the formal process of extraction is triggered.

On the politics of the Sturgeon move there’s an excellent analysis by the FT’s Janan Ganesh who notes that the short timetable put formard by Sturgeon is one that is “designed to be rejected, giving her, at the very least, a grievance with which to stoke nationalism.” Ganesh goes on

“..She has also earned herself some leverage over the negotiations themselves. Mrs May cannot sign off on hard exit terms without risking the loss of Scotland, three-fifths of whose electorate voted for the EU. Such terms would not just threaten material harm to a small, trading economy, they would communicate England’s hauteur to the smaller nation. But if Mrs May softens her line, she must forgo the right to make external trade deals (to stay in the customs union) or accept free movement (to stay in the single market). The first would be death to her governing vision, the second would be unsurvivable…”

The threat of losing Scotland and thus creating a much smaller UK is a powerful one.

This is going to run.

Mike Smithson




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The opening IndyRef2 odds make it odds-on that it’ll take place and odds-on that Scotland will vote YES

Monday, March 13th, 2017

Lots of activity from the bookies following Nicola Stugeon’s announcement that the SNP is going for a second IndyRef because of the vastly changed circumstances as a result of BREXIT.

The Ladbrokes betting:

Ladbrokes latest betting
Next Independence Referendum
4/6 Before end 2020
11/10 Not before end of 2020
Year of next Independence Referendum
25 2017
7/4 2018
5/2 2019
10 2020
11/10 2021 or later
Result of next Referendum
8/11 YES
11/10 NO
(If held before end 2020)

WILLIAM HILL….

SECOND SCOTTISH INDIE REF BY END 2020..….4/6 Yes; 11/10 No

SECOND SCOTTISH INDIE REF BY END 2024……2/9 Yes; 3/1 No

OUTCOME OF NEXT SCOT INDIE REF BY END 2024.……………..4/6 Yes to Independence; 11/10 No

 

To my mind none of the above odds either way are attractive.

The First Minister hads timed her statement for this critical day as the Article 50 bill gets close to becoming an act thus allowing Theresa May to formally tell Brussels that the UK is leaving .

Mike Smithson




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Opinium: Most of those polled say 2nd Scottish IndyRef ‘not justified’ but only one in three sure of a no vote if one happens

Sunday, March 12th, 2017

With Scottish Independence back on the agenda and Northern Ireland heading for crisis, Keiran Pedley argues that London is far too complacent about the future of the Union.

Following last week’s poll by Ipsos Mori showing an apparent spike in support for Scottish Independence and Jeremy Corbyn’s comments this weekend suggesting that he is ‘fine’ with a second referendum, it feels like a good time to unveil the latest Polling Matters / Opinium survey. Our latest survey focused on UK public opinion on Scottish Independence. It was conducted last weekend (3-7 March) but I held it back to now so as not to clash with the budget last week.

Our first question deals with whether or not another referendum would be justified in the context of the Brexit vote. As you can see, a majority say it would not.

  1. Do you think it is justified or not justified for Scotland to have another Independence referendum following Brexit?
Not justified – the 2014 referendum was “once in a generation” and has settled the issue for the foreseeable future and there should not be another referendum so soon after the last one.

 

51%
Justified -in 2014 many Scots voted to stay in the UK so that they could also stay in the European Union. Brexit is a significant change in circumstances and Scots should be allowed to revisit the question in another referendum.

 

34%
Don’t know 14%

 

Opposition to another referendum is strongest among Conservative voters (77%), Over 65s (74%) and Leave voters (70%). Basically Theresa May’s base. Interestingly, although among a small sample of n=170, Scottish respondents were split on the issue (46% justified, 48% not justified). This reflects a wider trend in other polls where Scots themselves do not seem to be clamouring for another vote. John Curtice explains here that typically just over a third of Scots currently tell pollsters they want another referendum.

Some will look at these numbers and think Unionists have nothing to worry about. I think this is mistaken. Nicola Sturgeon will face a lot of pressure to hold another vote and knows that she may never get more favourable conditions in which to hold one. Meanwhile, Scottish Labour is in disarray and the dynamics of what a ‘No’ campaign would look like in practice are very different to 2014. Granted Ruth Davidson is very popular north of the border but a second Independence referendum would likely be an SNP versus Tory affair. Davidson’s popularity aside I am uneasy about that. Especially considering the ‘don’t go it alone’ argument feels quite hollow in Brexit Britain.

My uneasiness seems to be shared by many Brits. When our survey asked respondents what they thought would happen if another referendum took place only 35% seemed confident Scotland would vote ‘no’. More thought they would vote ‘yes’ (40%) whilst one in four didn’t know (25%). Tory voters think Scotland would vote ‘no’ (55%) but Labour voters think they would vote ‘yes’ (57%).

 

  1. If there was another Scottish Independence referendum, do you think Scotland would vote…
Yes to independence 40%
No to independence 35%
Don’t know 25%

 

At this stage it is worth stressing that UK public opinion remains very committed to the Union. Respondents to our poll were more than twice as likely to say that they would prefer Scotland to vote ‘no’ (48%) than vote ‘yes’ (22%) in another referendum. There was no obvious demographic in support of a ‘yes’ vote either beyond (unsurprisingly) SNP voters.

  1. And what would be your preferred outcome?
I would prefer Scotland to vote ‘Yes’ to Independence 22%
I would prefer Scotland to vote ‘No’ to Independence 48%
No preference 23%
Don’t know 7%

 

UK public – Scottish Independence is unworkable and unnecessary

Our poll also asked whether respondents agreed or disagreed with a series of statements on the subject of Scottish Independence. Looking at the results, we see a clear consensus (67%) that it is ‘better for the UK as a whole if Scotland remained part of the United Kingdom’ whilst 49% disagree that Scotland would be better off financially outside the UK (just 15% agree). A majority (58%) think Scotland ‘gets more out of being in the UK than it puts in’ – a view strongly held by Conservative voters (84%) – whilst the public also think that ‘there is no need for Scottish Independence because Scotland already has its own parliament’ (50% agree, 18% disagree). British public opinion on the subject overall seems part commitment to the Union / part scepticism that Scottish Independence is necessary or viable.

  1. Do you agree or disagree with the following statements related to Scottish Independence?
Statement Agree Disagree Neither
It would be better for the UK as a whole if Scotland remained part of the United Kingdom 67% 8% 25%
Scotland gets more out of being in the UK than it puts in 58% 11% 31%
There is no need for Scottish Independence because Scotland already has its own parliament 50% 18% 32%
Scotland would be financially better off outside the UK 15% 49% 36%

 

Of course, such scepticism is not particularly relevant to the question itself. It will be Scottish public opinion that decides. That’s why I am uneasy that Unionist confidence seems to rest on Theresa May’s refusal to allow another vote. The idea of London ‘forbidding’ Scotland another vote when the Scottish Parliament has a majority for one is dangerous.  If Nicola Sturgeon asks for one, May says no and then delivers a sub-par Brexit deal in the eyes of Scots then I expect the polls to turn in favour of Independence. Scottish Independence may not feel very likely right now but it is a lot more likely than London realises. The key question is whether Nicola Sturgeon will have the guts to call another referendum – and when.

Meanwhile in Northern Ireland  

Finally a brief word on Northern Ireland. On this week’s podcast (see below) I spoke to Mick Fealty of Slugger O’Toole. The situation there feels very precarious with no obvious sign that a power-sharing deal will prove successful. We seem to be heading for a ‘double whammy’ of direct rule from Westminster and a Brexit that raises the prospect of a ‘hard border’ with the Republic. Fortunately, a return to the dark days of the 70s and 80s is unlikely but we must not be complacent about how quickly events can move in the wrong direction there. In any case, with Theresa May dominant in Westminster, it feels that London is far too relaxed about the situation in Scotland and Northern Ireland. Yet a year from now things could be difficult indeed.

_____________________________________________________________________________

Keiran Pedley is the presented of the Polling Matters podcast and tweets about politics and public opinion at @keiranpedley.

Listen to the latest episode on Northern Ireland, Labour leadership polling and the budget below.

Note on the above poll: Opinium interviewed a nationally representative sample of 2,006 UK adults online between the 3rd and 7th of March, 2017. Tables will be found at http://opinium.co.uk/ early next week.



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When Corbyn first became leader he said winning back Scotland would be a priority, SLAB are now in third place, 12% behind the Tories

Sunday, February 5th, 2017

From the graphic above, you can see how Scottish Labour have been eclipsed, a little over three years ago, Labour were polling 45%, now they have a third of that support, most of the collapse happened long before Corbyn became leader. I wonder if the Scottish precedent is playing on the minds of Labour MPs in England and Wales who find themselves on the wrong side of events after another referendum.

Ruth Davidson must be chuffed to see her party now essentially have swapped places with Labour after the 2015 general election. It is astonishing to think when David Cameron became Tory leader, the Tories had forty fewer Scottish MPs than Labour, now it appears very likely that at the next general election the Tories will have more Scottish MPs than Labour.

The SNP will also be quite delighted with this polling, we are now nearly a decade into the SNP being in power in Holyrood, and they are only 3% down on their 2015 general election score, this is usually the time when parties in government become unpopular, so to be only 3% down is impressive.

Hat-tip to Alastair Meeks for alerting me to this polling

TSE

 

 



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TMay moves to negative ratings in Scotland while fewer Scots now back independence than at the 2014 referendum

Wednesday, November 30th, 2016

first-minister-hosts-prime-minister-theresa-may-youtube

Given the huge importance of Scotland as the UK moves towards BREXIT there’s a new Scotland only YouGov poll – the first since August.

These are some of the key points:-

The rise and rise of Scots CON leader Ruth Davidson continues

Scottish Greens now into double figures on Regional List voting



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Nicola Sturgeon should go for a second Independence referendum says Alastair Meeks

Wednesday, October 19th, 2016

A year ago I wrote about why Nicola Sturgeon was so chary of committing to a second referendum on independence.  With the SNP hegemonic in Scotland but with Yes continuing to lag in the polls, I formed the view that Nicola Sturgeon would probably not seek an unequivocal mandate for a second referendum in the SNP’s manifesto for the 2016 Holyrood elections for fear of losing one.  So it proved.

What has happened since then?  Lots.  First, the SNP surprisingly* failed to secure another overall majority at Holyrood.  Secondly, Britain voted to leave the EU, against the wishes of the majority of Scots.  Having campaigned for an independent Scotland in Europe for more than a quarter of a century, the SNP are facing both halves of that proposition being dismantled in the next couple of years if nothing is done.

Awkwardly, despite an initial spasm of polling support for Scotland going it alone in the wake of the Brexit referendum, that has now subsided and on current polling a second independence vote would also be lost.  This has led many to suggest that the SNP should continue to stall on the idea.  Indeed, Nicola Sturgeon’s own behaviour has pointed in that direction, announcing the release of a draft bill to hold a second referendum but hinting that she would only hold one if Britain goes for hard Brexit.

Why is the independence cause not doing better, given that the SNP remain dominant in Scottish politics and the rest of the UK is going in a different direction?  The standard answer is that it’s the economy.  With the price of oil in the doldrums, the 2014 economic case has been much impaired.  Meanwhile, Brexit makes it harder for an independent Scotland to maintain unimpaired its trading links with the rest of the UK: if it sticks with the EU, it could easily find itself on the other side of an economic Hadrian’s Wall in the event of hard Brexit.  Received wisdom reckons that the Scots would not take such a risk and that a second defeat for a referendum would make the subject truly untouchable for many years to come.  On that basis, it is reasoned, Nicola Sturgeon should continue to stall about calling a referendum.

Received wisdom on this occasion has the strategy 100% wrong.  Nicola Sturgeon should now be pursuing a referendum as aggressively as she can.  She has nothing to lose.

It is absolutely true that the economic case for independence has not developed to the SNP’s advantage.  The important point which is routinely missed is that there is no reason now to believe that there will be a more opportune time in the future.  And right now there are compensating advantages to holding a referendum that will never be repeated.

If a referendum on Scottish independence is held at a time when Brexit remains unsettled, Yes campaigners would have the unrepeatable advantage that there really would be no status quo -either future, whether Scotland in Europe or Scotland in post-Brexit Britain, would involve substantial disruption for the Scots.  Why not, Yes could reasonably argue, get everything out of the way in one go?

Moreover, Yes could seek to piggyback off Brexit.  If the English could pluck up the nerve to Leave, why shouldn’t the Scots now say Yes?  After all, Remain warned of economic disruption, which Leave voters nonchalantly – perhaps too nonchalantly – shrugged off.  Shouldn’t the Scots show similar backbone?

The power to call such a referendum is, strictly speaking, one for Westminster.  It would be presentationally highly unattractive for Theresa May to be seen as blocking the opportunity for the Scots to have their say in very changed circumstances.  The SNP would gleefully present this as a Scotland vs Westminster battle and in all probability a lot of Scots would agree.

A Scottish independence referendum could find Theresa May doing the splits in her negotiations with the rest of the EU and the campaigning for the union.  She might simultaneously be seeking to negotiate soft Brexit with Brussels while warning of the effects of hard Brexit in Scotland.  She would struggle to keep her credibility.

None of this means that Yes would win.  Yes might well lose again.  But if it was going to lose in 2019, it was going to lose in 2023 as well.  Meanwhile, a Scottish referendum campaign would give all of Nicola Sturgeon’s Westminster opponents the most almighty headache.  You should always do what your opponents least want you to do.   On that basis, Nicola Sturgeon should go for it.

Alastair Meeks

*Actually, I tipped this outcome at 8/1 on the morning of the election.