Support for independence falls but SNP on course for Holyrood win
Most voters in Scotland would now say no to independence, according to two new polls.
One survey, conducted for The Scotsman by Savanta ComRes, found that 45 per cent of respondents said they would vote Yes if the vote was held tomorrow, while 47 per cent said they would vote No and eight per cent said they did not know.
When unsure voters were excluded, 51 per cent said they would vote in favour of the union while 49 per cent would vote for independence.
Those figures were echoed in a poll carried out for The Times by YouGov, who also found that 51 per cent were in favour of the union while 49 per cent supported independence.
The paper's pollster also asked voters about the timing of a new vote.
Last week, Ian Blackford, the SNP’s leader at Westminster, repeated his claim that a referendum on the constitution could happen "as early as late 2021."
The survey found that the number of voters in favour of a snap ballot has fallen to 36 per cent, with those against at 50 per cent.
Another 48 per cent opposed a plebiscite being held before 2023, compared with 33 per cent in favour.
However, 42 per cent believe there should be a referendum in the next five years.
The polls also predicted slightly different outcomes for May’s election.
The Scotsman survey suggested the SNP may miss out on a majority by just one seat.
Nicola Sturgeon’s party would win 64 MSPs, while the Conservative would win 30, and Labour 20. The Liberal Democrats would keep five, and the Greens would win four.
The Times predicted the SNP would return 71 MSPs, giving them a majority of 13.
Their poll would see the Tories take 29, Labour 20, the LibDems five, and the Greens four.
Writing in The Times, Professor Sir John Curtice said voters were reacting to the “intense row between Nicola Sturgeon and Alex Salmond.”
However, there was, he said, some good news for the First Minister: “As many as 71 per cent of those who voted for the SNP in December 2019 believe that Sturgeon has generally told the truth about the Salmond inquiry.”
He added: “In January, 38 per cent of SNP supporters were unsure about whether Sturgeon was telling the truth. However, many have now made up their mind in her favour. Those saying they are unsure have fallen by 22 points, while there has been a commensurate 22 point increase in those who say they believe her.
“SNP supporters are now more likely to disbelieve Salmond. In today’s poll, 61 per cent say he has generally not told the truth, up from 42 per cent in January.”
Curtice said that about one in eight SNP voters were no longer inclined to back the party in May because of the row.
The academic said: “Sturgeon now needs voters to focus on her plans for the future and not on the bitter row between herself and her predecessor.”