More than two-thirds of young Scots now back independence

Protesters take part in a pro-Independence march on January 11, 2020 in Glasgow, Scotland.

The shift in favour of the Scottish Yes side is now the most prolonged in polling history.

Is the UK set to break up in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic? In the second edition of the New Statesman’s bi-weekly series of poll summaries, we explore the extent of – and reasons for – growing support for independence.

While the Conservatives reign supreme in England, in Scotland antipathy towards Westminster and a dearth of effective opposition at home has resulted not only in a consistent poll lead for the SNP, but also in rising support for secession. And Wales, too, is now entertaining the prospect of leaving the UK, new polling shows.

A survey by YouGov, carried out last month, found 52 per cent of Welsh voters would choose No (to independence) in a hypothetical referendum, while 25 per cent would opt for Yes – up from 21 per cent in January. This four-point increase since the start of the year puts the Yes vote at an all-time high. Delving into the sub-samples, it’s interesting to note that more than double the proportion of women (23 per cent) as men (10 per cent) class themselves as “undecided”.

But the prospect of a break-up of the Union is not something English adults seem to consider as likely as polls suggest. English voters are slightly more reticent about the prospect of Welsh independence than they are about Scottish independence, with 6 per cent saying Wales should leave, and 51 per cent saying it should stay. On Scottish independence, English voters are marginally more supportive, with 13 per cent voicing enthusiasm.

Though the YouGov poll puts support for Welsh independence at an all-time high, readers should not get too excited (or disheartened). Prospective Yes voters are still in a significant minority and in a referendum would face a resounding defeat. Nonetheless, what we are seeing, as psephologist Roger Scully writes on his blog, is that independence for Wales is “no longer the preserve of a tiny group on the fringes of Welsh politics”. 

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It is a different story in Scotland, where support for independence has been the majority view for much of 2020. The Britain Elects poll tracker puts support among Scots for ending the Union at 53 per cent, an increase of eight points on the 2014 referendum result. Not one poll since March has found a majority among Scots for remaining in the UK. 

Tracking support for Scottish independence

Poll tracker of the latest polls on Scottish independence, weighted average

Poll tracker methodology was revised Aug 25

This shift in favour of Scottish independence is now the most prolonged in polling history. In the immediate aftermath of the 2016 EU referendum, support for independence eclipsed opposition but only for a few weeks.

The drivers of this sustained shift to Yes can be divided into three groups. The first is the pro-independence side’s apparent success in neutralising one of the key arguments of 2014: whether an independent Holyrood administration can perform competently when faced with a crisis. 

The approval of 78 per cent of Scots for the Scottish government’s handling of the pandemic contrasts with the disapproval of a majority of Brits of the UK government’s …read more

Source:: New Statesman


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