Analysis: What the new Scottish independence poll tells us

Constitutional politics in Scotland may seem an afterthought as a second wave of Coronavirus grips the country.
Polls show a majority of Scots now back independencePolls show a majority of Scots now back independence
Polls show a majority of Scots now back independence

But as fresh polling points to a hardening of support among Scots for independence, it does look increasingly likely that next May's Holyrood election will be a showdown on demands for another referendum on leaving the UK.

The findings of a weekend Survation survey for the pro-independence Progress Scotland think tank indicates that almost two-thirds (64%) of Scots believe that the country would vote independence if there was a referendum tomorrow.

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Of course, this is not the same as saying they would vote for this way themselves, but gives an insight to the way opinion is shifting.

The fact that two-thirds of Scots who voted No in 2014 have similarly shifted from this position to either being unsure or supporting independence, also ties in with consistent polling since the start of the year which suggests a clear majority for Yes.

With the Scottish and UK Government's grappling to deal with rising public and industry anger over the prospect of fresh lockdowns being imposed to prevent Covid-19 from running out of control and overwhelming the NHS, it seem that a return to the constitution battleground may be some way off.

But with optimistic mood music about the prospect of vaccine emerging towards the end of this year or early next Spring, the Scottish Parliament elections may be fought against a completely different backdrop.

And the battle lines have already been drawn. Nicola Sturgeon has pledged to publish legislation setting the "terms and timing" of a fresh vote on Scotland leaving the UK. She believes that if Nationalist parties take a majority of seats at Holyrood, as the SNP and pro-independence Greens currently have, then a referendum must be held.

But the UK Government has control over the constitution and Boris Johnson has emphatically ruled this out. There have been suggestions from the pro-union camp that only an SNP majority would justify a second referendum or even that pro-independence parties should have to gain 50% of the popular vote - something they've never achieved. So when Scotland is finally delivered from this war on Coronavirus, it seems clear that the constitutional battleground again awaits.

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