Scottish independence: Why latest poll doesn't actually tell us very much – Brian Wilson

The preoccupation with polls in mid-pandemic sits uneasily with lofty talk about uniting to meet the Covid challenge.

The SNP are currently hoovering up the 'can’t stand Boris Johnson' vote, says Brian Wilson (Picture: Jessica Taylor/UK Parliament via AP)
The SNP are currently hoovering up the 'can’t stand Boris Johnson' vote, says Brian Wilson (Picture: Jessica Taylor/UK Parliament via AP)

Not least due to the First Minister capturing the airwaves so comprehensively, circumstances could scarcely be more propitious for her cause. We will not know if the polls signal some seismic shift until difficult questions start to be dusted down.

Last year, Ipsos Mori asked voters in the Republic of Ireland if they supported Irish unity and 74 per cent said they did. The words “if it meant higher taxation” were added and support fell to 37 per cent. My Scottish Nationalist friends should not start booking their ambassadorships just yet.

The case against independence has rested on most people in Scotland not wanting it. The Nationalist mantra has been to pretend Scotland was being denied something it was calling out for. That has never been true.

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If the narrative changes and it becomes clear, all implications considered, that a majority want independence, we are into different territory. It will take more than a few opinion polls in mid-pandemic to confirm that.

Another recent poll put core support for independence at 23 per cent. Many Scots who do not spend their lives thinking about the constitution currently adopt the default position of answering SNP/independence to the pollsters’ questions.

The clearest polling message is that this default reflects the chronic weakness of Scottish Labour. Until that reality is acted upon, the substantial “can’t stand Johnson” market will be cleaned up on by the Nationalists.

It’s not rocket science and neither is it the “settled will” of anything.

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