The wind in our sails

It’s been a long time coming, but in the shape of Monday’s opinion poll showing a majority for yes, we finally have confirmation of the recent slew of anecdotal reports about previous no voters turning to independence. Once don’t knows are removed, 52% of those polled would vote yes to independence. A majority also support holding an independence referendum within the next two years. This phenomenal poll, showing that Scotland’s reponse to Boris Johnson and Brexit is to move towards independence, changes the political landscape. No longer can the Tories and the Lib Dems claim that Scotland doesn’t want another referendum. No longer can they pretend to speak for a silent majority that exists purely in their own imaginations.

Naturally this political earthquake was the lead item on the BBC Scotland news … Oh wait. Probably BBC Scotland is reluctant to report on the poll because fieldwork took place before the British Government opened its new hub in Edinburgh that was named after the Queen. Because a spanking new propaganda office in Edinburgh stuffed with Tory advisors and spin doctors sticking union flags on things will have a massive effect on Scottish public opinion and make us overlook Brexit and Boris Johnson. Yeah. That’ll be it. That’s the reason why this poll was reported on Danish TV before it was reported by Scotland’s national broadcaster.

This poll, carried out by the Conservative peer Michael Ashcroft, blows away the only policy that the Scottish Conservatives have had since 2014. It confirms that most people in Scotland do want another independence referendum within the next two years, and that most would vote yes to independence. This is a landmark moment for the independence movement. It means that we will enter an official independence campaign with the support of the majority. The tide has returned, and it’s running higher than ever before.

However what is possibly an even more significant finding from this poll is that 52% believe that when there is another independence referendum, that it will produce a majority for independence. Only 30% believe that Scotland will vote against independence, with 18% either not knowing or refusing to answer. Once the don’t knows and won’t says are removed, that means that 63.5% of people in Scotland, almost two thirds of the country, expect Scotland to become independent following the next independence referendum. It means that many of those who are going into this campaign with the intention of voting no are also entering it in the expectation that they’re going to lose. A significant tranch of those voters will be susceptible to persuasion to change their minds and vote yes.

In what may be even better news for independence supporters, there are reports that this poll doesn’t include 16 and 17 year old, or EU citizens, both groups which would be able to vote in an independence referendum but which are ineligible for voting in UK General Elections. It is known from previous polling that a large majority of young voters support independence. There is reason to believe that EU citizens living in Scotland have been rethinking their previous opposition to independence, since in 2014 they were told that an independence vote meant that Scotland would leave the EU. Now an independence vote represents a route back into the EU, so EU citizens will be far more likely to back independence than they previously were. We should not over-estimate the numbers of 16 and 17 year olds and EU citizens in the Scottish population, however if those groups had been included in this the poll, as they would be included in the franchise for an independence referendum, then support for yes would have been a couple of percentage points higher.

Another key finding is that 40% of Labour voters in Scotland now support independence. Even though the Labour vote has been in freefall for the past few years, that’s still a significant bloc of the population. Crucially it’s the support of those Labour voters which takes backing for independence over the line and turns it into a majority. The finding that so many Labour voters now want independence has important ramifications both for the Labour party in Scotland, and for the wider Scottish independence movement.

Labour in Scotland will now have to think carefully about its anti-independence messaging, as being seen to be aggressively pro-UK risks them alienating a large segment of their remaining support. The finding may encourage some prominent Labour supporters of independence to come out of the closet and make a public declaration of their support for independence. Were that to happen it would provide a huge boost for independence as it would make it far more difficult for opponents of independence to portray the Yes movement as a purely SNP cause. It would likely cause some of the undecideds or don’t knows to come off the fence and support independence.

For independence supporters the finding that so many Labour voters back independence means that we must always remember that support for independence does not necessarily equate to support for the SNP. Indeed, independence is likely to produce a renaissance for a truly Scottish Labour party. That means that in our own messaging we must ensure that we are making arguments that can appeal to Labour voters too. We must not make the mistake of writing off Labour supporters as unionists.

This finding also has ramifications for the SNP. The party leadership has signalled that its main focus in an early General Election will be avoiding Brexit – assuming that is that there is a GE before Brexit happens and that the Commons can forestall a no deal crashing out. This finding provides evidence that the SNP should make independence front and foremost in its campaign, as independence is now the only realistic way out of Brexit. A strong emphasis on independence is a message which is clearly going to be attractive to Labour voters, especially if the Labour party itself is continuing to sit on the fence on Brexit. The party leadership needs to be bolder about making the case for independence, and for pressing the British Government for a referendum.

We cannot take anything for granted. This growth in support for independence has not come about primarily because people are being persuaded by a positive case for independence. It’s happening because they are frustrated, disenchanted, and in despair at the British state, at Brexit, and at Boris Johnson. They look upon Westminster, they imagine a future in a Brexit Britain, and they see little that’s attractive. For those of us who are already independence supporters and campaigners, that means that we must redouble our efforts to make a positive and compelling case for independence, in order to ensure that those people who are now considering supporting independence become as convinced by its merits as we already are. This poll doesn’t mean that we have less work to do, it means that we have more work to do. We have better work to do. Let’s get working. The wind is in our sails, that means we must make our ship watertight.

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28 comments on “The wind in our sails

  1. astytaylor says:

    Aye, absolutely.
    There is always work to be done. “Better work”, as you very well put it, Paul.
    Nicola Sturgeon’s recent TED talk was a good example of the sort of thinking we need to live in a better country, which strives for a better quality of life and well being for it’s citizens.
    We need hard working people of vision.
    And Scotland has those sort of people, in spades.
    We just need to tap into our inner genius.

  2. Douglas says:

    Regarding the new propaganda base in Edinburgh.
    They are a bit coy about ‘Queen Elizabeth House’.
    Clearly it refers to the current queen but they’re not opening up the can of worms by putting it as ‘Queen Elizabeth II House’.
    I’d like to think that was sensitivity, however, I suspect it’s cowardice.

  3. john mclaughlin says:

    Great news right enough Paul, I am just waiting on the raft of negative Unionist bile that will be front and centre on Unionist Media. ” One singular Poll ” “that doesn’t fit the trend of National Polls”etc etc etc makes one Boak . PS another fine piece of writing thank you.

    • Robert Harrison says:

      Its been practically every poll this year though john independence has been in the lead at least since march theyve been crying the fake news line for months now.

  4. Bob Lamont says:

    Informative, encouraging, but let’s not forget the potential string pulling going on from London and Edinburgh please.. Whitehall is worried with good reason, let’s keep clear heads, keep the debunking going, and de-programme the cultists we can..

  5. Macart says:

    Something else for the political establishment to consider.

    For the past five years they’ve waged a ridiculously one sided and relentless propaganda campaign through both the mainstream media and their political narratives. A seemingly never-ending torrent of anti independence, anti YES movement, anti Scottish government narratives.

    Yet for all their advantages… they’re losing the trust and the vote of a population.

    Worth a thought for them like, but perhaps they should have considered that how you win a thing is waaaaay more important than winning at any cost. 😉

    • Bob Lamont says:

      Indeed good points, despite all the managed media bombardment and hostile/ignorant commentary, SG is still perceived as the sensible side of British politics even in England.
      Like the “subsidy junkie” myth, the negativity has backfired, one side want Scotland dumped to mismanage it’s own destitution, the others deplore the propaganda and wish Scots well in escaping the cancer which afflicts English politics.
      If we can manoeuvre through the imminent all-out propaganda war Independence is now inevitable, Johnson and the Tories will fall over Brexit, Mirage’s ToryMk2 snake-oil will delay dealing with the cancer, and an increasingly disenchanted England will be dragged toward “sunny-uplands” while being recast as “the sick man of europe” on the international stage.

  6. benmadigan says:

    a comment on events in Scotland and Northern ireland – Enjoy

  7. Robert Harrison says:

    We certainly got to work harder especially to wacth out for the English love bombing the empty promises and the please dont leave begging now we are ahead again the southern politicians will pull those tactics again now they are slowly accepting the fact they are losing.

  8. Patience is a Virtue says:

    28 March 2017: Source BBC News: MSPs voted by 69 to 59 in favour of seeking permission for a referendum before the UK leaves the EU.

    Ms Sturgeon says the move is needed to allow Scotland to decide what path to follow in the wake of the Brexit vote.

    But the UK government has already said it will block a referendum until after the Brexit process has been completed.

    Prime Minister Theresa May, who met Ms Sturgeon for talks in Glasgow on Monday, has repeatedly insisted that “now is not the time” for a referendum.

    Her Scottish Secretary, David Mundell, has said that the timescale could include “the Brexit process, the journey of leaving and people being able to understand what the UK’s new relationship with the EU is, so they can make an informed choice if there was ever to be another referendum”.

    I think we all understand now what the UK’s new relationship with the EU is. There is a mandate for another Referndum as the Scottish Parliament / our elected representatives voted in favour –

    Our erstwhile Secretary of State, being another victim of ‘Scotalnd being listened to’ (in this case the Conservative Prime Minister not listening to Ruth’s Scottish Conservative advice on who should be her / the chosen Conservative appointee in Scotland)

    Roll on 1st Nov as let’s see if they are as good as their word – as,we make that iinformed choice of what kind of country we want to live in..

  9. ScotsCanuck says:

    Oh! ya beauty !!! …. it’s game on !! …. but you’re right, Paul … the “heavy lifting” starts now … lets get at it …. cann’ae wait for ma Scottish Passport …. superb …. onwards & upwards people !!

  10. Ian says:

    I suspect that when a referendum date has been set and the pro’s and con’s get promoted ahead of the vote, that the boot will be on the other foot this time. The top three reasons for voting No according to Ashcroft were – the Pound, Pensions & NHS.

    All are now clearly well and truly busted.

    The Pound has fallen (so far) by 24% since 2014 and may well have quite a bit further to fall.

    As for pensions, how many of those aged 50+ are aware of how the UK pension stacks up against other countries. Yet even the most unionist media admit the UK pensions are pathetically low, yet at the 2014 referendum the fear spread about how bad pensions would be after independence was used successfully to hoodwink people into thinking that staying in the UK would be better for them. Doh.

    Also pretty much all of the No arguments were about how bad things would be in an independent Scotland, with next to nothing about the effect on a remaining UK.

    So lots of hard reasons for becoming independent. As for staying in the UK?

  11. Luigi says:

    A wonderful timely article Paul. Less of the usual humour and a needed reminder for us to focus and prepare for the hard work ahead. We can do this folks. Perfect timing. It’s also important not to get carried away with that plll. One swallow…… Hard work ahead. Stay focused. 🙂

  12. Can I enter a plea here for the SNP to stop talking about ‘the UK’ and start talking ONLY about Scotland? We need to spell out how things would be better after independence and the SNP could start by officially debunking the lies from Westminster. At the moment they are leaving this vital job to sites such as this one. We are fortunate in Scotland to have excellent people writing excellent articles but the SNP need to step up and challenge Westminster as well.

  13. Anne Martin says:

    My 16 year old grand-daughter is desperate for Indyref2 now that she has the chance to vote. It’s more important than ever for her now because she got good exam results today and has had her place confirmed at Aberdeen University to do Celtic Studies and Gaelic.

  14. jfngw says:

    This time we must drive the narrative, don’t let the No side control the agenda. We need to focus on opportunities, jobs (think of all the government work required for an independent country actually here in Scotland, having our own ports, etc), international connections (this is were Nicola Sturgeon has been already working hard), probably more but that’s enough for an example.

    Ignore the ‘what currency’, all currencies work, too poor, borders, these are busted flush arguments that don’t even deserve the time of day.

  15. Neil McBride says:

    If Scotland leave the EU on 31 October, would EU citizens here be eligible to vote in indyref2? I suspect not.

    • Anne Martin says:

      That’s my fear, amongst others, Neil

    • Brian Fleming says:

      I’d understood the referendums legislation currently going through Holyrood says all those ‘legally resident’ in Scotland will have a vote. As Boris Johnson has apparently confirmed all EU citizens currently living in the UK will be able to stay on, that suggests to me they’ll have a vote. i could be wrong, of course.

    • Bob Lamont says:

      Officially and legally all resident EU citizens in the UK can vote, but given the numbers denied same in the EU elections long before the Johnson Lemming/Cliff scenario arrives, absolutely nothing is certain except petulance…
      A legal challenge in the Supreme Court over Scottish legal competence on the referendums legislation should be fully expected to drag out at public cost and fail, they are going to throw the book at anything which may stall or disrupt Indy2 as they know their pillaging ways are under threat, even in England…
      Cornered rats would be a good analogy…

  16. Thomas Valentine says:

    Voting data as well as polls show that the moved towards independence is a generational change. Slow moving. Frustrating for both those who support and reject Independence, As far back as data goes in the 1960s you can track the straight line fit. A slow steady climbing line in support for independence. There has always been a core of people who kept alive the desire to restore Scottish independence. From that low level it has steadily increased till it is now the tentative majority.

    For those who support Independence that might be frustrating but it is a good thing. Because for the British Nationalist there is no magic bullet that ” will kill Independence stone dead “. That is why union flegs and propaganda units and the 77 Brigade types will make no difference. It is rising like flood water and there is nothing that has worked, No pounding away by the BBC, or drip feeding poison by the unionist media, nothing.

    It also makes the fact that the massively out gunned pro independence media has little effect on unionists, meaningless.

  17. Brian Powell says:

    “a resurgent Labour Party”? The SNP want to be rid of Tory influences, control and policies, take Scotland in a new direction, the Labour Party have never been much more than an opposition to Tory policies, though often continuing them.

  18. Cubby says:

    Labour supporters in Scotland who want Scottish independence but vote for a British Nationalist Labour Party. Go figure – doh.

  19. I’m keeping my powder dry; well as dry as poss during the current downpours.
    But I mean what I say.
    We attack the lies from the get go.
    Boris Johnson’s ‘extra’ £1.8 billion for the English HS is headlined everywhere, and the Edinburgh Britsman even extends this nonsense to declaring and ‘extra £180 million for Scotland’s drains and bird droppings infested Scottish NHS.
    Well, let’s not allow facts get in the way of churning out lies to advance the Brit Nat cause, especially in the Scottish Dead Tree Scrolls.
    The ‘facts:

    In 2015 David Cameron and Osborne ordered the English HS to ‘achieve productivity savings of £22 billion by 2020, through efficiencies and savings.’
    That means ‘cuts’ to the rest of us in the real world.
    England’s NHS is on its knees, being deliberately run down in preparation for the US Privateers to flood the ‘market’ come No Deal in October.
    The English NHS is 100,000 staff short, and ‘efficiencies’ and savings’ meant not replacing staff who left or retired, shutting down wards, and closing hospitals.
    Scotland’s 8.5% of Nothing, is therefore ‘nothing’.
    There is no ‘extra’ money, just less cuts.

    But you’ll never get the BBC Health Correspondent or the Tom Gordons or David Cleggs of the Brit Nat Hackerie to point this glaring con out to their readership.
    They are too busy quoting a Red Tory Shop Steward with no expertise declaring that Scotland’s HS is shite and that the Bad SNP Health boss must resign.

    We’re on to you, Paul Hutcheon, Sarah Smith, and Glenn Campbell.

    I shall name names from now on in.

    Every step you take, every move you make, we’ll be watching you.

    England’s NHS has had its funding cut by £22 billion, and when Ruth becomes FM (no, stop snickering at the back there, Wee MacGregor) she will demand a similar 8% ‘saving’ in Scotland’s HS.
    We’ll be watching you.

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