Readers will probably barely recall a story from back in January, because it only made the front page of almost every Scottish newspaper and the lead item on most Scottish political TV and radio programmes. It was a Scottish Social Attitudes Survey report which put support for independence – via an extremely old and outdated question formulation – at a dramatic low of 23%.
Almost as forgotten was the “Better Together” campaign’s half-hearted attempt at capitalising on the numbers, by misrepresenting them as meaning something else entirely in order to create a misleading graph. (Perhaps because by now we’re so used to them being somewhat creative with numbers that nobody noticed.)
So it’s only to be expected that the latest poll numbers from the same source, released yesterday, don’t seem to have made any of today’s papers or broadcasts.
If you can’t be bothered making sense of those two graphs, let us help.
UPPER GRAPH – JANUARY 2013
“Devolution” (including both the status quo and undefined extra powers): 61%
No Scottish Parliament: 11%
LOWER GRAPH – JUNE 2013
“Devo max” (everything devolved except defence and foreign affairs): 32%
Status quo: 24%
No Scottish Parliament: 6%
We’ve examined before the strange phenomenon by which Scottish people consistently say their most favoured constitutional arrangement is independence, as long as you don’t call it “independence”. ScotCen’s latest findings confirm the fact yet again, with a clear margin of 11 points for independence over that status quo (the only two options that will be on the referendum ballot paper).
Slightly mystifyingly, support for devo max has actually increased since it was definitively ruled out as an option by the Unionist parties. And combined support for the “devolution” options is 5% lower than the January figures from the same organisation, with independence 12% higher and the abolition of Holyrood also 5% lower.
(Neither set of figures adds up to exactly 100%.)
This extraordinary and sustained display of cognitive/semantic dissonance on the part of the Scottish electorate seems extremely intriguing to us, as we’ve noted previously. At the very least, you might think it’d make a more interesting show/article than having the two camps sniping at each other again over whatever the topic of the day is. Yet to the Scottish media it’s apparently the most boring subject imaginable.
We only wish we could think of a reason why the press would give acres (and hours) of wall-to-wall coverage to a poll showing independence at a record low, but then not mention even in passing figures from the same pollster less than five months later which made it the most popular constitutional choice, and miles ahead of the “No” option that’s the only actual alternative.
Oh wait, we think we just got it.