By a Newsnet reporter
The gap between those in favour of Scottish independence and those against appears to be closing after publication of the latest poll in the Sunday Times.
Carried out by Panelbase, on behalf of the newspaper and Real Radio, the survey placed support for independence at 37%, and support for the status quo on 45% with 18% undecided.

The eight point gap is considerably less than the 24 point lead enjoyed by the anti-independence campaign just over two weeks ago and indicates a significant shift in public opinion.

More significantly, the survey of nearly 1,000 Scots showed that a majority would embrace independence if there was a possibility of a return to government of the current Tory/Lib Dem coalition or a Conservative outright majority at the 2015 general election, with 52% saying they would vote yes – a jump of 15% - with those against dropping five points to 40%.

Even the return of a Labour government at Westminster would lead to more opting to vote Yes in 2014, the gap reducing from eight points to just four.  If Ed Miliband looks set to become the next UK Prime Minister then support for Scottish independence increased from 37% to 44%, whilst support for the Union also increased but by a smaller margin – 45% to 48%.

The survey was carried out on the 19th October, the day of the SNP NATO debate and prior to Alex Salmond’s keynote address.  It indicates a continuing trend that has seen support for independence growing from 28% on 4th October to 37% two weeks later.

Welcoming this latest survey, SNP Business Convener Derek Mackay MSP said:

“This is an extremely positive poll, which indicates strong and rising support for Yes across the political spectrum.  We believe that Yes support will continue to grow now that the referendum terms are agreed, and as we spell out how Scotland will flourish with the powers of an independent Parliament. 

“The alternative to Yes would be to see the achievements of home rule - such as free personal care and free tuition – rolled back by a No vote and the continued imposition of Westminster austerity.

“As the polls show that the referendum is game on, what is consistent is that a clear majority of people believe that the Scottish Government is better at making decisions for Scotland than the UK Government - and most people will vote for independence if they believe that they and their families will be better off.

“There is an important job of work to do to persuade more people in Scotland to support the case for independence – we are confident we can and will do that, and if we win the argument we will win the referendum in autumn 2014.”


# mealer 2012-10-21 13:03
How will the anti-independence camp react? More fear-mongering.More belittleing of Scotlands abilities.Its all they can do.But the thing is,the vast majority of people WANT to believe in independence.They want to be persuaded.An awful lot of them will see through the negative fearmongering.
# chicmac 2012-10-21 17:24
I think we should respect the Us' wish to stop being considered negative. So instead of the term 'anti-independence' what about keeping them happy with 'pro-dependence' instead?
# Gordon Hay 2012-10-21 20:11
I noticed the Scotsman the other day trying to change the terminology to "pro-UK" and "anti-UK" parties.
# chicmac 2012-10-21 21:00
Got me thinking, you know countries like Macedonia call themselves 'Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia 'FYR Macedonia'?
So, how about instead of 'Rump UK', they might consider 'Former Country of The United Kingdom' or FCUK for short? Just a thought.

Not only is it succinct but they would already save money on T-Shirt design.

And with the kind of budget they are going to have such savings should not be sniffed at.
# Aplinal 2012-10-22 08:27
Hi chicmac

Just a small point. Macedonia don't WANT to call themselves FYROM, on the contrary they always refer to themselves as the Republic of Macedonia.

It was supposed to have been a 'temporary' measure to assuage the Greeks (who, let's not forget closed the border with Macedonia and imposed an economic sanction on the basis of the Name!) as they were afraid that Macedonia's "six tanks and 500 troops" (this is ironic,, by the way) would 'reclaim' the Northern Greek region.

As usual the EU came down on a member state's side. It has been, and remains a sticking point in international discussions.
# proudscot 2012-10-21 13:07
Speaking as soneone who has rarely been polled, and then only online by YouGov and, recently, by Panelbase, I wonder if Mori in particular send out their pollsters to Labour controlled areas of Glasgow and the West of Scotland?

Just a thought, but there must be some reason why they consistently produce pro-union and anti-indy results. For instance, had Mori polled in my home city of Perth this weekend, they would probably have produced a result that indicated something like 70% in favour of independence. On the other hand, a Morningside poll would probably show that majority opinion favoured wee Ruthie for First Minister.
# davemsc 2012-10-21 15:11
Do you honestly think that an organisation with MORI's reputation would seek to conduct biased research? They are an independent research company, and they don't have a slant on independence one way or the other. If they went cherrypicking results, they'd be fined by the MRS and their reputation would be in tatters.

Honestly, I find the paranoia in some of the comments here to be just as suspect as the lengths Bitter Together are going to, to try to scare us into a no vote. If you want to find out about research firms' methods, the information is out there.
# RaboRuglen 2012-10-21 19:15
Hi davemsc,

Honestly dave, have you not heard the expression "Just because you're paranoid does not mean the bastards are not out to get you"?

I've often wondered, in the past, where some opinion poll results are obtained, because they sometimes run so counter to my personal experience as to be completely unbelievable.

It was the opinion polls in the run-up to the 2007 Scottish Parliament election showing that Labour were dead certs to walk into their third term as the Scottish Government that brought me back into political activism. I felt I could not just stand back and do nothing and watch that happen without trying to do something about it. In the event, as you know, the SNP formed its first minority government.

Ditto just last year. The polls showed a considerable Labour lead right up to almost polling day. Again the SNP defied these polls and this time formed an outright majority.

My question to you is, if these organisations are so competent and "neutral" how could they have been so wrong and why do they NEVER appear to be wrong in a direction that favours the SNP or Scottish Independence?

# Edna Caine 2012-10-21 19:33

"I've often wondered, in the past, where some opinion poll results are obtained, because they sometimes run so counter to my personal experience as to be completely unbelievable"

Wonder no more. Just Google the names of the polling organisations and their selection criteria, client lists and methodology are generally available on their sites.

Political polling is a minor part of their total turnover as most of their business comes from the commercial sector.

Panelbase is a relatively new kid on the block and pays those who participate in their surveys. Worth signing up if you want a pint or a curry evey couple of months.
# RaboRuglen 2012-10-21 20:30
Hi Edna,

Oh my goodness. Are you suggesting that polling organisations are not totally science-driven? That they might just (only exceptionally, surely) attempt to "tweak" the answers to match their Clients' desires / opinions?

Oh no, I cannot believe it. You are surely mistaken. Mind you, it would explain a lot.

# Edna Caine 2012-10-21 22:22

Of course they are "science-driven". How can anyone doubt it? Mind, there is Science and Science

Definition from -

junk science
faulty scientific information or research, especially when used to advance special interests
# davemsc 2012-10-21 20:09
Polls take opinions from a sample (generally a thousand people) which aims to be representative of the population as a whole (in terms of gender, socioeconomic status and age, generally). A poll is therefore a snapshot of a particular moment in time, in the same way that your passport photograph is representative of you, yet is not actually you. If two different polling companies ask the same questions on a given day, they may or may not get the same results, since they are highly unlikely to speak to the same people. While the methodology employed seeks to be as accurate as possible, polls are unlikely to be completely representative of what happens on polling day for two reasons: a poll asks about a hypothetical event ("How would you vote if there were an election tomorrow?") and people will therefore have to generalise and will not necessarily have the full gamut of information (party policies, etc.) at their disposal; secondly, an election day is a very unique event, and people will cast their votes for many different reasons. A vote is real, whereas the expression of a preference is anything but.

The results (whether you agree with them or not) reflect genuine people's opinions. If research companies were biased towards particular parties, don't you think their work would continualy reflect that? And don't you think that they would be routinely found out at polling day? Nobody would trust any of their work ('polling' companies tend to be research companies and the vast majority of their work is not politics based), and their membership of their professional body (the Market Research Society) would preclude such bias.

Trust me on this. A research company which had an agenda would be very quickly exposed as such, would lose all credibility in the eyes of the public, and, more importantly, would be out of business very quickly because their clients (the organisations who commission research on a whole ranger of subject areas over and above opinion polls) would go elsewhere. Plus the staff would not be likely to work for a biased organisation. I work in the industry, and if my employer was behaving unethically, I would leave. Other industries might not give a toss about the quality of their work, but the research industry does.
# RaboRuglen 2012-10-22 08:04
Hi dave,

Of course you are right, in general terms. However I liken your contribution above to an argument you used to hear a lot regarding mass media support for the SNP, or rather the lack of. It ran "Newspapers are in the business of selling newspapers so if the SNP and the concept of Scottish Independence were popular, the newspaper industry would reflect this."

This argument, while seemingly compelling, was based on the false premise that newspapers exist to sell newspapers. We now know that they are not and that the primary purpose of newspapers is to further the interests and opinions of their publishers, up to the point where the financial losses that ensue do not exceed what the publishers are prepared to stand. How otherwise do you explain the pattern of political opinion expressed in the Scottish media versus the Scottish election results and the fact that in the face of plummeting newspaper sales only one newspaper has relaxed their virulent anti-SNP / Independence editorial policies. It can only be the result of owners' pressure on the editors of these newspapers as they are committing financial suicide.

Perhaps, in the field of political opinion polls, it is not the polling companies to blame for the inaccuracies arising, but the commissioning media's interpretation of them. I am not wholly convinced.

# Ped 2012-10-21 22:18
Quoting davemsc:
Honestly, I find the paranoia in some of the comments here to be just as suspect as the lengths Bitter Together are going to, to try to scare us into a no vote.

Well said. I also find it a bit worrying.
# UpSpake 2012-10-21 13:11
The continued great mystery of Polls. Where on earth are these mythical 1000 Scots ?. Do they inhabit a village of the same population cut off from the outside world ?. Do they interbreed and have no relatives outside the village wall ?. Do they speak to no-one other than the polsters who seem content with the answers they get to their loaded questions ?.
Can't for the life of me understand why in over 50 years, I've never bumped into one of these villagers. They must therefore be corralled into the brick walls of the village as no-one I know has ever seen or heard of them either.
This is the great mystery of polls. Whether it is 850/1000 or even more, the population of the village might be growing, the answers vary little and by all accounts are as inaccurate as ever.
So provide me with the names and addresses of every one of these 1000 so that I can have a chance to see if they are indeed 'real people' or just figments of the imagination of polsters who, if in reality these people do not exist, then they don't have to pay people to ask them facile questions.
Is the whole Polling thing just one massive con. Bit like Credit Rating Agencies, working for the 'man'.
# spcarraig 2012-10-21 13:34
Considering there are only ever two candidates to be UK PM at a general election, it is very notable that mention of either Lab/Con candidate increases support for independence(to an outright majority in one case. It's very clear that constantly hitting the unionists on their mutual westminster centralism is an ace card for the Yes campaign.
# Big Eye 2012-10-21 13:46
I am in the USA at the moment in the middle of their Presidential election.

Ryan, Romney's running mate made a statement the other night speaking about Obama but which could be used effectively to explain the tactics of the Unionists.

He said " when you cannot stand on your record, when you have no positive strategy or plan for the future, the only strategy you have is to demonise your opponent to create fear and uncertainty"

Thinking of Scotland how true this is.
# clootie 2012-10-21 13:55
:D Like it
# Breeks 2012-10-21 14:03
Watch this Big Eye - it's not a new idea.

Put this in the context of the Better Together campaign.
# Pictavia 2012-10-21 14:34
As a regular visitor to the USA albeit a strongly Republican State - Texas. I understand where Ryan is coming from. ABC,CBS,NBC and CNN are all Obama devotees and make no attempt to hide their bias. It is a largely similar situation with their national newspapers. The Republicans are not so handicapped as the SNP, there is no state sponsored bias,they have Fox and lots of money
# Glasgow 2012-10-21 17:23
Quoting Big Eye:
" when you cannot stand on your record, when you have no positive strategy or plan for the future, the only strategy you have is to demonise your opponent to create fear and uncertainty"
Vote Yes. #hopenotfear
# Jim Johnston 2012-10-21 13:53
SHOCK HORROR ?, opinion poll is showing a swing to Independence when the ink is hardly dry on a single question. Answer NAW

ROCKET SCIENCE ? If the Tories look even likely to retain power in 2015, YES to Independence is ahead in a poll. Answer NAW.

Why anyone needs to spend money getting these answers is beyond me.
It must scare the life out of Westminster, realising Scotland is neither too wee, too poor or too stupid to vote their country down the pan.
# rodmac 2012-10-21 13:56
Negativity, Negativity and Negativity..The Unionist way..

# James01 2012-10-21 14:09
I find it incredible that only half of Scots would prefer independence to another 5 years of a shambolic Tory government that we did not vote for. It just shows that most Unionists will defend the Union no matter even if its at the expense of our democracy.
# balbeggie 2012-10-21 14:15
I was thinking today that the BBC are now rueing their decision to broadcast live the SNP NATO debate online and on their Parliamentary Channel (which the whole Conference should have been broadcast). It was a terrific debate regardless as to which side you were on. I think it impressed a few press hacks and didn't harm our poll ratings.
# JRTomlin 2012-10-21 14:28
It was truly impressive. Free and open debate within a party conference on a major matter, letting both sides be heard is -- just never done, except apparently by the SNP.
# Marga B 2012-10-21 15:29
Severin Carroll on the Guardian called it "at times bad-tempered". Did people find Andrew Sparrow a fairer reporter?

Also I have a thought - if people are so exercised by the thought of a Conservative government, there are 2 whole years for it to sink in what Johann Lamont's new Tory-light philosophy will mean for the UK and also for Scotland.

Congratulations anyway for what seems to have been a great conference!

Added - OT, but Iceland votes yes:

It seems the opposition are complaining about unclear questions.
# Teri 2012-10-21 14:37
This Panelbase poll is important as Panelbase had chosen the people participating in the poll several months ago and these same people's opinions are being tracked right through to the 2014 referendum. This is the third poll in the set and the fact that it shows changing views within the same group of people is significant. Where will all of us in the group be in terms of our thinking in 2 years time?
# topherdawson 2012-10-21 15:11
If you want another straw in the wind, look at the betting odds on a Yes vote:

William Hill are currently offering decimal odds of 3.25 (9/4 traditional odds) on a Yes vote. On 1st January this year I got 9/1 traditional odds so the odds are moving our way.

Coral are offering 7/4 or in decimal, 2.75. The vital moment will come when the odds on a Yes vote are shorter than a No vote.

The thing about political betting is not that it is a representative sample, because it is not, but it is a sample of people who are prepared to risk their money. It is also real time and continuous.

All the by-elections I have watched and betted on have followed this pattern, of the odds gradually homing in on the winner, except the Glenrothes one which many of us suspect was fraudulently rigged by postal voting.
# gfaetheblock 2012-10-22 06:29
I agree this is an interesting barometer, paddypower have had independence at 3.00 and scotland being fully idenpendance by 2010 at 9.00. It's been fairly static and agree it represents where the money is going rather than actual likelihood, but for those confidence that independence is a shoo-in, a good opertuntiy to get 150% APR, tax free, paying out in late 2014.
# K Mackay 2012-10-21 15:26
A positive SNP story leading on BBC Scotland news page, surely not! [url:error] That should be worth some new YES voters!

I know we shouldn't read too much into polls but this one makes me smile alot. Feeling very positive for the future of our land right now. But no complacency.

edit: sorry somehow made a mess of that link, i'll try again also it's about the conference and anouncement of £33 Million welfare fund for the vulnerable, great stuff
# bringiton 2012-10-21 16:30
The last time we made the mistake of allowing Labour to run Scotland's affairs,they handed back very large sums of money to their masters in London as they couldn't think of anything to spend it on.
What a world of difference when we have a government whose main concern is the welfare of people in Scotland and not trying to please their political masters.
# Tam Glen 2012-10-21 17:20
£33 million on the bbc website, but shrunk to £9 million on the bbc news.
# Wee-Scamp 2012-10-21 18:13
OT but Gordon Shedden from Fife has won the British Touring Car Championship. This is the first time a Scot has won the Championship since 1995 when John Cleland won it.

A fantastic achievement by Gordon who is also business development director at Knockhill.
# Marga B 2012-10-21 18:42
OT but stirring news - Basque Country provisional election results give conservative (PNV) and Bildu, new left-wing nationalists a shocking almost 2 thirds of parliament between them, with the 2 national parties shrunk to just over a third between them. I think that this will take the focus off Catalonia for now - the Basques don't mess about asking permission from anyone.

The other elections, in Galicia, predictably will go by absolute majority to the ruling PP party - predictably largely because there has never been an election so stuffed with vote-buying, lies, bribery, suspicious judicial involvement against non-PP parties, cooking of the books, and also the total collapse of the socialst vote. Nationalist vote has risen but is still the third force.

And if you thought Rajoy was a tricky name maybe you should get used to the name of the guy who may be the next President if the PP hangs on - Alberto Feijóo.
# Kinghob 2012-10-21 19:16
"Do you honestly think that an organisation with MORI's reputation would seek to conduct biased research?"

I was amazed at the biased nature of the spokesman for MORI and could find the quotes by this person gleefully reported in the scotsman last week.
# exel 2012-10-21 19:20
JRTomlin 2012-10-21 15:28
"It was truly impressive. Free and open debate within a party conference on a major matter, letting both sides be heard is -- just never done, except apparently by the SNP."

I must have missed the other debate on major matters. You know the one on "Same sex marriage" or the one on "why are we changing the age old definition of marriage"
# JRTomlin 2012-10-21 22:12
Age old as in has changed many times over the history of the world from dozens of women being married to one man, to forced used to compel marriage, to several women to one man, to several men to one woman, to one man to one woman. That definition? It's changing again.

And if you support discrimination toward the LGBT, you may have to find yourself another party, but don't expect sympathy from me.

There is a very, very simple solution if you don't believe in "gay marriage". Don't have one. How YOU are harmed by someone else having a marriage you don't approve of is beyond me.
# Dowanhill 2012-10-21 19:44
It would be an interesting comparison to compare the polling of the last Holyrood elections to the actual result by the same pollsters and calculate how close or how far they were out. During the last Holyrood Elections I remember seeing poll after poll by the very same pollsters showing neck and neck with Labour. One poll even showed Labour with a 15% lead.
# scottish_skier 2012-10-21 19:49
I could go for a long explanatory post here, but I've done so many times.

Polls favour a yes vote in 2014. Simple as that. To appreciate this, you have to look at them all though, including SSAS's, elections results going back 60 years+.... The bigger picture. MORI and other London based pollsters see the latest results, but not what they mean. They don't understand what they are looking at. It would also help if they asked the right questions. Panelbase just did that helpfully.

Scotland will not remain in the union under a tory-led government. I suspect, in good time, a one-nation tory government under Ed won't cut it too.

Scottish independence is inevitable.
# govanite 2012-10-21 22:06
I'd rather you don't say things like this too loudly :)
# km 2012-10-21 22:11
Can anyone explain to me why the figure is 37% for independence, while if faced with a UK Tory government it is 52%, and with a UK Labour government it is 44%?

Does this mean that 7% of Scots think there could be anything other than a Tory or Labour government in Westminster? Surely not... so I can only assume it means that when pressed to think what the alternative to a Yes vote is, some of the waverers switched pretty quickly.

This, combined with the poll results showing greater support if it could be proven that they would be £500 better off, really does show that there is everything to play for.
# call me dave 2012-10-21 23:49
If we leave the union and go it alone we would not get the 'AAA' credit rating from the bankers says the NO campaign.

Here is a clue to what might really happen after the dust settles.


Scottish firms are less likely to go bust than those in the rest of Britain thanks to their better credit ratings, according to a new survey that further stokes the debate over whether independence would be better for the economy north of the Border.

Data released yesterday by credit ratings agency Creditsafe claimed that companies in Scotland have an average rating seven points higher than those in England and Wales.
# sneckedagain 2012-10-22 08:39

Don't be so confident about polling outfits.
I worked for one for a few days once and it is relatively easy to "arrange" a poll.
Telephone polls, for instance, no longer represent an accurate cross section as only a fairly restricted subset of the population can now be reached on telephone.
# Scotlandfirst 2012-10-22 17:38
OK, Polls show that about 30% want independence, 30% want more devolved powers in the union and 30% want the status quo. In reality the 30% for independence can express their voice through the SNP (an independence left of centre party), and the 30% status quo can express their voice through the three unionist parties who have their manifesto dictated by their masters in Westminster. The other 30% are the Scottish people who would prefer a gradualist approach to independence through the process of more devolved powers, but unfortunately have no party through whom they can express their voice. This is why Westminster have argued and insisted that this referendum should have only one question, for otherwise they know full well what the outcome would be.
Scotland in many ways is the mirror image of the electorate in the Basque country, with about 60% having a preference for independence either immediately or through a gradual approach The big difference, and this is where Scotland can learn, is that the Basque electorate have a PNV centre right moderate gradualist party (33%) and the EH Bildu a centre left party (27%) wanting immediate independence. Unfortunately the moderate Scottish electorate (i.e. those who believe in ultimate independence through a gradual process of more devolved powers) have no similar moderate Scottish independence party that can effectively represent their views. I believe that the Scottish Democratic Alliance should move from being a group into this moderate independence party. As this is unlikely to happen over the next two years the SNP will now have to embrace and persuade these moderates that in the absence of the second way their lot is better served through the move to full independence now. Personally I would opt for the moderate road but in its absence I will vote YES now. I have not heard, or read any convincing arguments from the unionist parties, other than populace slogans and fear mongering (e.g. that waiting for two years for the referendum causes businesses to be uncertain about the future) that would have me believe any different. I wonder just how certain Scottish businesses are about their future with the current UK government and how it’s running the economy of the union. Indeed the improvements to the well being of the Scots over the past five years or so (e.g. free prescriptions, frozen council, free tuition fees etc.) has been as a result of the SNP government. Though I do not agree with all the politics of the SNP, and wish we had a true Scottish centre right party they are presenting to me the more logical arguments for independence.
# Glasgow 2012-10-22 19:02
I reckon we don't vote Yes in 2014 then we can forget about it for a long, long, time.
# sneckedagain 2012-10-22 18:53
We do not need another independence party. Our opponents would love to see one so they could stir up the flames of division that more than one independence party could bring.
# sneckedagain 2012-10-22 18:53
We do not need another independence party. Our opponents would love to see one so they could stir up the flames of division that more than one independence party could bring.
# exel 2012-10-22 23:00
JRTomlin 2012-10-21 23:12
“And if you support discrimination toward the LGBT, you may have to find yourself another party, but don't expect sympathy from me.”

I do not support discrimination of any kind.

The definition of Marriage I was referring to is “the formal union of a man and a woman, typically as recognised by law, by which they become husband and wife”.

This is the definition used by most religions and I see no reason for it to be changed. There is ample provision in law for couples of any other combinations to have a formal union.

What I was commenting on was the reluctance of the SNP to allow a debate at the conference.
# BillCo 2012-10-23 08:47
No doubt the BBC's resident polling expert, Professor John Curtis, will be able to find a positive for the NO campaign in this poll.
# gardenann 2012-10-23 16:03
Well, after watching the repellent Trump and his sooky wee pal, I should say the No vote has increased dramatically! What a squalid story--the SNP should be ashamed of itself.

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