In our previous poll, we discovered that the public overwhelmingly thought its politicians were a bunch of liars. Not a single one of them scored a net positive trust rating for truthfulness, although Alex Salmond and Nicola Sturgeon had the small consolation of being well out in front of the competition as the least distrusted.
We felt a little bit sorry for the nation’s elected representatives, so we thought we’d give them a better chance this time around.
The question we asked was this:
“From what you’ve seen and heard of the independence debate so far, and regardless of whether you agree with their views or not, do you feel that the following people and organisations have been acting with the best interests of the people of Scotland at heart?”
Pretty fair, right? Even if you support independence, a reasonable person could accept that Willie Rennie, say, genuinely believed it was best for the people of Scotland to stay in the UK, albeit that you might not agree with his belief.
Now, as with our previous poll, a disturbingly high proportion of Scots had no opinion at all regarding many of the people we picked, very likely due to not knowing who they were. Anas Sarwar, Ruth Davidson, Willie Rennie and Patrick Harvie all scored more than 50% “Don’t know”.
So for the most equal comparison possible, we’ve stripped those out and simply calculated the net rating of Yes and No responses, which gives us this league table.
ACTING IN THE BEST INTERESTS OF SCOTLAND
Alex Salmond +15
Nicola Sturgeon +12
Alistair Darling -11
Willie Rennie -13
Patrick Harvie -14
Anas Sarwar -18
Ruth Davidson -18
Johann Lamont -19
Michael Moore -20
David Cameron -42
The fun, though, was in the detail. Alistair Darling’s relatively high rating was almost exclusively down to Conservative voters, who thought their recent conference guest had Scotland’s interests at heart by a whopping margin of +62. Labour supporters, on the other hand, rated the “Better Together” chairman at a genuinely startling -3.
(A generous 12% of SNP voters gave Darling a Yes for this question.)
Among Lib Dem voters Willie Rennie barely did any better, with a net rating of +9, while Ruth Davidson actually managed to command the confidence of Scottish Tories (at least the ones who knew who she was), scoring +21.
On the Yes side, 12% of SNP voters were unconvinced that the First Minister was looking out for Scotland, against 82% who felt that he was, a net +70. Nicola Sturgeon picked up 73 vs 15 for an overall +58.
(The FM’s much-alleged gender approval gap put in something of an appearance here, though not an enormously dramatic one – he rated +21 with men but just +10 with women, while Sturgeon got +10 from men and +13 from women.)
Michael Moore scored +18 from Conservative voters for his actions as Secretary of State for Scotland, but just +13 from his own fellow Lib Dems.
And this one’s going to sting – among Labour supporters who expressed an opinion, the net rating for Johann Lamont in terms of whether she was acting in what she felt were the best interests of the people of Scotland was -12. Tory and Lib Dem voters were both far kinder to her than her own people, at +13 and +10.
In the same question we also included a list of media outlets, mainly newspapers. Given falling circulations and the fact that most people only read one or two papers, we were expecting very high “Don’t know” stats in this category, and so it transpired, with every single publication getting DKs in the 60s or high 50s.
But what we really wanted to know was whether readers saw any particular paper as being better or worse in this regard, and we got an answer, if a quite unexpected one.
The Scotsman -6
The Sunday Herald -9
The Herald -9
Scotland on Sunday -9
Daily Record -11
Sunday Post -11
Sunday Mail -13
Scottish Sun -14
The Times -18
Scottish Daily Mail -18
Scottish Daily Express -21
We must admit we were expecting the Record, Sunday Mail and Sun to do rather better, but there you go. The only positive ratings went to broadcasters, with STV top on +12 and BBC Scotland getting +9.
It looks like the Scottish electorate is still enormously cynical about the people who claim to speak on their behalf and in their interests. We can’t say we blame them, but it’s a dismaying state of affairs all the same.
Lastly on personalities, we thought we it’d be nice to solve a problem for the No camp.
If there were to be a live televised debate about independence and Alex Salmond was the person making the case for an independent Scotland, who do you feel would be the most appropriate person to make the case for the UK?
David Cameron: 37
Alistair Darling (chairman of “Better Together”): 25
Alistair Carmichael (Secretary of State for Scotland): 9
Someone else: 10
Don’t know: 19
Pretty cut-and-dried, we’d say. The Prime Minister gets 50% as many votes again as the former Chancellor. But the most revealing and entertaining aspect of the responses comes when you see whose votes arise from where.
Darling 52 Cameron 27 Carmichael 11
Cameron 25 Darling 24 Carmichael 12
LIB DEM VOTERS
Darling 47 Cameron 23 Carmichael 6
That’s right – Tories want the Labour guy to do it, Labour voters want the Tory guy to do it, and the Lib Dems want anyone but the Lib Dem, in whom they have less confidence than anyone else’s voters do. Everyone, in short, is volunteering the other team’s man to take the public shoeing they expect them to get from Alex Salmond.
You’d need a heart of stone not to laugh.