The Sunday Times has today released some more of the data from the joint poll it conducted with this site a couple of weeks ago. As well as giving the SNP a 31% lead over Labour for Holyrood 2016, there’s a very interesting stat on Europe.
That lead in England for the UK leaving the EU is surprising – most recent polling has shown something like a 60-40 margin in favour of staying in. We’ll need to wait and see if the poll is an outlier or if there’s been another shift in English opinion.
It’s also interesting in that it blows a hole in the regular assertions of Unionist pundits that there are no real differences in social attitudes on either side of the border. At a time when England is split down the middle, Scotland’s resounding 2:1 majority for staying in Europe has never, to our recollection, been higher.
There’s one more thing of note about the poll, though.
Because while the Sunday Times was asking people the straight in-out question, we asked the exact same group of Scottish respondents a slightly more nuanced one.
WHICH OF THESE IS CLOSEST TO YOUR IDEAL SCENARIO?
An independent Scotland within the EU: 32%
An independent Scotland outside the EU: 11%
Scotland inside both the UK and the EU: 31%
Scotland inside the UK but outside the EU: 15%
That’s a remarkable and perhaps rather counter-intuitive finding. Among supporters and opponents of Scottish independence, there was almost no difference in views on Europe. You could present it as one if you wanted to – technically Yes supporters were slightly less than 3:1 in favour while No supporters were just over 2:1 – but the actual difference is only five percentage points.
That’s a very significant change from the last time we polled Scots on the subject, in November last year, when Yes voters wanted to stay in Europe and No voters wanted out. Perhaps the “2017 Scenario” is a likelier prospect than it seemed.