Analysis: Support for SNP doesn’t translate into Yes to independence
Any visitor to Holyrood nowadays is faced with the sight of row upon row of SNP MSPs, who between them outnumber their opponents.
If that visitor opts to stay awhile, they will hear too of those MSPs’ aspirations for independence. Many who grace the chamber must be asking themselves whether the Union can possibly have any future.
However, today’s YouGov poll for the Fabian Society shows how misleading first impressions can be. The serried ranks of SNP MSPs are testimony not to a desire amongst most Scots to leave the Union, but rather to be governed effectively within it.
Every poll of Scottish Parliament voting intentions since last year’s spectacular SNP victory has found that the party remains the single most popular choice for Holyrood. Indeed, just over a week ago one such poll suggested the SNP remains at least as popular as a year ago.
But during the same period, only one poll of Westminster voting intentions has put the SNP ahead. The Fabian Society’s latest offering confirms this pattern. At 29 per cent, it suggests Nationalist support in such a contest actually dropped by six points during the last two months and is now lower than at any time since May 2011.
Equally, during the course of the past 14 months, only one poll has suggested that more people are inclined to vote Yes than No to independence. A number of recent polls have even suggested Yes support has fallen back somewhat since the launch of the two referendum consultations in January.
Again, the Fabian poll indicates that the No side enjoys a 24 point lead, up four points on in January when YouGov last asked more or less the same question. There seems little doubt that so far the No side has had somewhat the better of the independence debate in the court of public opinion.
The SNP’s success last year was founded on an ability to win the support of voters who do not want independence and who would be inclined to back Labour for Westminster. Why? Because, as the Fabian poll confirms, the SNP were thought to have done a good job in their first four years and appeared to have more to offer for the next five. In striving to win independence, the SNP must not forget it is primarily in power to govern.
• John Curtice is professor of politics at Strathclyde University
Search for a job
Search for a car
Search for a house
Weather for Edinburgh
Friday 24 May 2013
Temperature: 3 C to 12 C
Wind Speed: 18 mph
Wind direction: North east
Temperature: 7 C to 17 C
Wind Speed: 13 mph
Wind direction: West