In today’s Sunday Times we see another poll that’s great for the SNP and supporters of Scottish independence, I was struck by Professor Sir John Curtice’s analysis in the Sunday Times
Although Scotland has had among the world’s highest proportion of Covid-related fatalities, based on excess deaths, Sturgeon has an approval rating of plus 60 for her handling of the crisis — measuring the difference between those who think she has done a good or a bad job. By contrast, Johnson’s rating in Scotland is minus 39.
Curtice believes that perceptions of Sturgeon’s handling of the crisis, added to Scottish opposition to Brexit, has tipped the balance in favour of independence, but he points out that the stance on the Scottish question by Keir Starmer, the new Labour leader, could be hurting his party.
Starmer is against independence and a second referendum, and the poll shows that nearly half of those who voted Labour last year now back independence.
Curtice said: “Never before have the foundations of public support for the Union looked so weak. Unsurprisingly, for many nationalists, the past three months have exemplified how Scotland could govern itself better as an independent, small country. More importantly, it may have persuaded some former unionists of the merits of that claim, too.”
I suspect if we’re headed with no agreement with the EU by the end of the year, then that will only accelerate support for Scottish independence, the question is does Boris Johnson and the Conservative & Unionist Party care? Given the way they threw the DUP under the bus and put a border down the Irish Sea, I’d hate to be a Unionist, particularly in Scotland. Brexiteers were warned that voting for Leave would risk the Union but it was clear they didn’t care.
I fear Boris Johnson’s strategy will be to ignore Scotland’s desire for a new referendum which only end up increasing support for Scottish independence, ignoring Scotland’s desire for a fresh referendum would be akin to Brexit being blocked by the EU because on the 23rd of June 2016 there was an EU wide referendum stopping Brexit, both would be an affront to democracy.
Just a few of things to note before people write off the Union, we’ve not had a non Panelbase Scottish independence polling since February, and no phone poll since 2019, this could be a house effect or it might not, until we’ve polling from other pollsters then we cannot definitively say.
Secondly back in 2013 a year before the referendum Panelbase had Yes ahead then Alex Salmond and the Yes campaign squandered that lead, it may happen again.
Finally we’re at minimum at least two years away from any future referendum, things can change in either direction, perceptions on handling of Covid-19 may change and the reality could be substantially different.
As for betting on the next referendum I’m urging caution, with SNP MPs openly talking about a section 30 less referendum, the wording of the terms of bets may not pay out, we’d need further clarification from the bookmakers on this, something that I will ask them about this week.