It was reported last week that the Cabinet Office had directed polling firm Ipsos MORI to carry out work “about the general public’s perception of the state of the Union” last month. Since then, the Conservative government has refused to reveal any details of the poll findings.
Yesterday SNP MP Tommy Sheppard criticised the Cabinet Office for funding the secret poll through the public purse – rather than Tory party funds – and warned that it would unacceptable if the Tories continued to hide the results from the public.
In response to a written question from Mr Sheppard, the Cabinet Office refused to answer whether the UK government had specifically commissioned any research into public perception of the state of the union.
Mr Sheppard said: “The Tories are running scared of the rising tide of support for independence, so it is unsurprising that they are conducting secret polling into public attitudes towards independence given the Brexit chaos it has created and the instability it has resulted in.
“However the Tories cannot simply wish this away. The Cabinet Office must come clean on why the secret polling was funded through the public purse and not through the Tory party? And it must also publish the findings of the polling without any further delay. It would be unacceptable if the Tories now worked to hide the results of a taxpayer-funded poll from the taxpayers themselves.”
Mr Sheppard, MP for Edinburgh East, added: “The Tories are rattled and the fact that they are so desperate to hide the results of this poll speaks volumes. Support for independence is growing in the face of the threat of a Tory Brexit and a no-deal Brexit.”
A Cabinet Office spokesman defended the polling at the time it was revealed saying: “The UK Government regularly contracts research, carried out in different parts of the UK, to understand public perceptions towards government policy.”