In 2014 when the result of the independence referendum was announced, the BBC called the 55% achieved by the No campaign ‘decisive’. Today a new poll has been published, carried out by Panelbase on behalf of Business for Scotland, and it shows that support for independence has now reached 55% when don’t knows are excluded. Douglas Ross has got off to a great start. If you still have one of those 45 badges from just after the last referendum, you can now give them to any remaining no voters you know.
Additionally, there’s also been a new poll from Comres out today, which puts support for independence on 54%. There can be absolutely no doubt now that Scotland is a country where a clear majority support independence. The last three polls from Panelbase have shown Yes on 54% or 55%. The last poll from YouGov put yes on 53%. This is, moreover, before the reality of Brexit has struck, without an official campaign, without the yes grassroots movement being able to campaign normally due to the epidemic, and with cries and wails amongst sections of the Yes movement that the SNP isn’t doing anything to bring independence about. Despite all that, support for independence is still growing. Just imagine what we can do once we are able to campaign normally again. No wonder the Tories are crapping themselves. 55% is the highest that support for independence has ever been in a credible opinion poll since the 2014 referendum. Indeed I believe that it’s the highest that support for independence has ever been in a credible poll.
There’s one exception to that however, which needs to be briefly discussed. In the immediate aftermath of the EU referendum the Sunday Post published a poll conducted by a company called ScotPulse which gave a result of 59% in favour of independence. There were serious issues with that poll unfortunately. ScotPulse was not a member of the British Polling Council, the industry body which demands that member polling companies adhere to certain standards to ensure accuracy in polling. More seriously, it appears that the 2016 was not correctly weighted, which means that it wasn’t conducted amongst a properly representative sample of the population. In any event, that poll proved to be a one-off. Its result was never replicated in any other poll. It was what’s called a rogue poll, an outlier whose result was not an accurate reflection of what was really going on on the ground.
What we’ve got now is very different. We have had a series of opinion polls from companies which are members of the British Polling Council, all of which have shown that a majority are in favour of independence. And what seems to be a gradually increasing majority at that. In this latest poll, even if don’t knows are included, there’s still a majority for Yes. This poll puts Yes at 51%, No at 42%, and Don’t Know at 7%.
We’ve already had credible reports in the Conservative press that senior cabinet members are panicking about the rise in support for Scottish independence. This poll is only going to make them run about like Corporal Jones from Dad’s Army. Well, British nationalists do love an excuse to go on about WW2. We’re really just doing them a favour. Social media is now full of rabid British nationalist Brextremist Tories warning of the dangers of nationalism and trying to persuade us of the benefits of pooled sovereignty. If you were waiting for the penny to drop with the Tories that they themselves are the reason the UK is finished, you’ll be in for a long wait. Self-awareness is not their strong suit.
How could the Tories possibly have foreseen that their dystopian English nationalism, their hardest possible Brexit, the lazy lassitude of posh boy Johnson and his interminable holidays, the sheer and utter incompetence of an administration which has given the UK the highest covid-19 death toll in Europe combined with the greatest economic damage would have driven ever increasing numbers of people in Scotland to the realisation that we can do things differently. Not just to the realisation that we can do things differently, the realisation that if we want to preserve any modicum of governmental accountability, our public services, and even a basic sense of common decency and humanity in public office, we have to do things differently. No amount of union flag waving can hide that stark truth.
What’s equally evident is that the Conservatives’ attempts to undermine the devolution settlement are proving counterproductive. Far from ensuring that Scots see the supposed benefits of the UK, all that they are doing is to increase the perception amongst the Scottish electorate that Scotland’s choices will not be respected by a British Government. For a party which is always going on about the need to respect a referendum, the Conservatives consistently fail to grasp that the devolution settlement is also the product of a referendum. They meddle with it at their peril.
The debate about independence is no longer about proving that the average Scottish family would be better off or worse off by the price of a Chinese takeaway once a week. It’s about democracy. It’s about accountability. It’s about ensuring that there’s humanity and decency. It’s a rejection of the cruelty of a UK where the state broadcaster thinks its appropriate to send a boat full of reporters and camera operators to chase leaky dinghies full of refugees limping their way across the English Channel and shouting questions at them instead of offering help. It’s a rejection of a UK where disabled people have to undergo humiliating and degrading assessments carried out by box tickers who have no real understanding of what disability means. It’s a rejection of a succession of British governments who pontificate about how precioussss the union is but who don’t understand the difference between a partnership of nations and the incorporation of Scotland into a unitary state where Scotland is routinely ignored, sidelined, and marginalised.
However the surge in support for independence in Scotland is not just a rejection of the negativities of a sclerotic British state that is incapable of understanding or responding to the wishes of the people of Scotland. Far more importantly, it’s about hope. It’s about the hope of a better life, a better way of doing things. It’s about the hope of engaging with the world as an equal of other nations. It’s about the hope of addressing the issues that affect the lives of ordinary Scottish people. The Conservatives and the British state can’t offer us that hope, only independence can. It’s the hope that is born out of the realisation amongst Scotland’s people that if we want change, if we want to make this a better country, we have to do it ourselves. And as we gaze upon the inept, chaotic, corrupt, and cruel Conservative government in Westminster, the people of Scotland have realised that we have it within our means to do so much better.
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