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Wings Over Scotland

Storm weathered, minor damage

Posted on June 19, 2012 by

An Ipsos-MORI poll in this morning’s Times has shown a small decrease in support for independence, with figures among those certain to vote running at 35% Yes (down 4%) to 55% No (up 5%). The poll was the first full-sample one conducted in several months, and asked respondents the Scottish Government’s favoured question, so it’s a sound enough survey, and the headline figures clearly aren’t great for nationalists.

What’s odd, though, is that most commentators seem to be treating it as evidence of a fundamental shift in the direction of opinion. The reality is that at this moment in time, these numbers are something close to miraculously good for the Yes camp.

In the gap between the previous poll and this one, the UK re-entered recession, and times of economic crisis are always reflected in shrinking support for what’s perceived as a risky step in going it alone (regardless of how counter-intuitive it is to cling to a government and state that’s mismanaging the economy so disastrously).

We’re also slap bang in the middle of the last great ejaculation of British nationalism before the referendum. We’ve just endured blanket wall-to-wall coverage of the Diamond Jubilee, the Union Jack is being endlessly thrust in everyone’s face by daily news reports as the Olympic torch trundles its way around the country in the back of a van, and the European Championship is demonstrating that at least in some respects Scotland IS too small and stupid and feeble to take its place on the world stage, certainly for as long as Craig Levein is manager.

On top of this there’s been a huge, concerted and sustained cross-media smear campaign against the SNP and the First Minister over links to Rupert Murdoch, which was only relieved with what was generally regarded as a stellar performance by Salmond at the Leveson inquiry. (The poll, which shows a small dip in the FM’s personal ratings but still leaves him far ahead of the opposition was conducted in the week before his appearance at the inquiry.)

Yet despite all the advantages of this convergence of events, the No camp has only managed a tiny swing of 4.5% in its favour. It’s a bit like playing a football match kicking down a 30-degree slope and only being 1-0 up at half-time: you’re happy to be in the lead, but you’re not looking forward to the next 45 minutes.

If the Scottish nationalist movement can make it through the summer of 2012 still within sight of its opponent – and these numbers are certainly touching distance, requiring just 10% of No voters to be persuaded in over two years – the game is very much on. 2014 will be culturally a year of Scottishness perhaps unparallelled in living memory (though we’re sure Wills and Kate are being made acutely aware of their duty to throw a timely spanner in the works), and will very likely provide a significant boost to the Yes campaign.

Politically, meanwhile, we’ll either be out of recession and on the road to recovery (which ironically makes people less scared of independence, and will also mean the Tories are far more likely to win the next general election, throwing Scotland’s choice into sharp focus), or the UK economy will be SO ruined that even the most diehard Scottish defenders of the Union will have no choice but to acknowledge that we couldn’t possibly do any worse by ourselves.

Had this poll put support for independence below 30%, we’d be worried. As it is, we’ve soaked up all their best punches and they’re about to run out of puff. The No camp gambled everything on a furious early blitzkrieg attack, but failed to land the knockout blow. It’s up for grabs now.

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16 to “Storm weathered, minor damage”

  1. Like the analogy. I don’t think Eck et al have been playing rope-a-dope on purpose, but certainly the unionists, the media and “UK cultural events” have all conspired to see several rounds where the nats have had to take many of their best punches.

    Can the unionists sustain that effort ? Can the nats take a bit more punishment (Olympics to come…)

    Time will tell but agree that 35% shows that the core-vote is a rock-solid basis to come out swinging later in the fight !

  2. YesYesYes says:

    There is yet another source of comfort in this poll. After the last month of relentless British propaganda, I’d say that the fact that there is still 11% of the electorate which is ‘undecided’ is also good news for the independence movement. 

  3. Tris says:

    I suspect that Kate and Wills have already been instructed by the prime minister as to when their first-born will be conceived.

    I had thought that perhaps they would be arranging for Harry to get married, be given a dukedom and a pay rise and for us all to be overjoyed at HIS happiness, regardless of our own misery, but I’m not seeing any evidence that Harry isn’t enjoying his bachelor status too much.

    Maybe, being even posher than Cameron, and not nearly so obliging as his brother, he has told Camergoon to shove it.

  4. Doug Daniel says:

    As some people have mentioned on Twitter, this is actually UP from the recent YouGov poll that Alistair Darling paid for. So before the launch of the Yes campaign, support was 33% for and 57% against. Now it’s 35% for and 55% against.

    I would be more than happy if support for independence went up by 2% every month…

    It would obviously be better if the poll had shown those in favour to be at 40% or whatever, but I don’t think it’s a bad thing for the Yes campaign to be reminded of the task ahead of us. We can’t afford complacency. 35% is what I would expect for the baseline figure that we need to build from. Let’s also bear in mind that we’re constantly told that two-thirds of the public don’t want independence. The poll suggests otherwise. 55% currently don’t want it, and I can only see that figure decreasing.

    Above all, there is of course only one opinion poll which matters. I don’t know who IPSOS MORI poll for their data, but nobody in my household has ever been phoned by them. 55% of the people they polled would vote no – and this is a group that thinks Johann Lamont is doing a good job.

    Someone pass the salt, I need to take a pinch. 

  5. andrew_haddow says:

    Good tae stay positive – onwards and upwards!

  6. MartinB says:

    And as all stories on polling, this is entirely bloody useless as real information without the Margin of Error & confidence level (or at least the sample size from which we can calculate the MoE & confidence level).
    It is entirely possible that the reported swing is a statistical non-event with no significance whatsoever.
    For more info, see my How to Read Polls post in the run-up to the 2011 Scottish Parliament election.

  7. TYRAN says:

    The early Quebec polls had 67% no. Yes must of been small. It was practically 50/50 in the end.

  8. MajorBloodnok says:

    I cannot rest until scottish_skier has read the runes and/or entrails and spoken sagely-wise.

  9. Macart says:

    I agree with Rev Stu, considering the shit storm of negativity in the past six or seven months in particular, this ain’t too bad.

  10. Embradon says:

    I am sure both sides anticipated a temporary upsurge of British/Monarchy/Sporting jingoism this summer among the hard of thinking.
    That’s exactly why the dependence parties wanted an early date.

  11. Appleby says:

    Yes, the run up to this surprising result was the wet dream event of unionists and Britnats. Non-stop blanket coverage and constant positive media spin, bunting and bric-a-brac for the union that wouldn’t look out of place in a North Korean or Soviet style nation. Despite that overwhelming propaganda and media participation in brainwashing it still failed to shift the percentages significantly. If that storm can be weathered then there is great hope for the future. I doubt the Olympics will manage any better (and potentially might have a damaging effect for the unionists, as Rev Stu mentioned previously, I believe). Once that is put to bed it’s clear sailing, barring the expected dirty tricks and black propaganda from the unionists. I wonder if this time the secret services and co. will intervene as they have in the past for extra dirty tricks?

  12. Macart says:


    The skier has spoken and all is right with the world. Check out comments BTL. 🙂 

  13. MajorBloodnok says:


  14. peter says:

    “…………. (though we’re sure Wills and Kate are being made acutely aware of their duty to throw a timely spanner in the works)….”
    well said. or the timely talk of a coronation. i wouldn’t put it pass them.
    hence, why i’m a republican.

  15. Dal Riata says:

    Don’t put too much credibility on Ipsos-MORI polling. Ipsos-MORI has offices in 80 countries, employs 9000 people and is based in Harrow, London. It is very much an ‘established’ company. It is ‘supposed to be’ unbiased in its results … That is as may be. However, in these uncertain political times, who is to say that those with an interest in maintaining the status quo in, and of, the UK will not do anything that they feel is justified, legal or not, in promoting Scottish independence in the negative?

    Ben Page – Ipsos MORI Chief Executive:

    “From 1987-1992 Ben worked in our private sector business on corporate reputation and consumer research, working for companies like Shell, BAE Systems, Sky TV and IBM. Since 1992 he has worked closely with both Conservative and Labour ministers and senior policy makers across government, leading on work for Downing Street, the Cabinet Office, the Home Office and the Department of Health, as well as a wide range of local authorities and NHS Trusts.”

    (Disclaimer: I am not alleging that Mr. Page, nor Ipsos MORI does, or has done anything illegal.)
    Whatever. Read into it what you will. Just …be wary!

  16. Adam Davidson says:

    One line sums it up. ‘requiring just 10% of No voters to be persuaded in over two years’. Given the power of the media working against us it can seem a very daunting task but converting 10% to Yes is achievable. If we keep hammering home the pro’s it can be done.

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