Scottish Independence Polls

The result of an IndyRef today – 24th April

The latest polling on Scottish independence shows ‘No’ campaigners to have a 6% lead over ‘Yes’ campaigners.  The latest polling places the ‘No’ side at 53% and the ‘Yes’ side at 47%.

The current polling position is therefore not wildly different from that seen in the 2016 Independence referendum, when 55.3% of Scottish voters opposed plans for an Independent Scotland, with 44.7% voting in favour.

The latest polls do though reflect a notable change from the polling position at the turn of the year, when the ‘Yes’ and ‘No’ sides were then evenly matched.

Notable recent polls

Further details of the latest voting intentions in relation to a Scottish independence referendum can be seen in the most recent individual polls:

YouGov (March 31) which (excluding don’t knows) placed the No side on 53%, and the Yes Side on 47%.

Survation (March 28) in conjunction with Ballotbox Scotland which (excluding don’t knows) placed the No side on 53%, and the Yes Side on 47%.

Scottish independence polling over the last 45 years

Support for Scottish independence has grown steadily over the last forty five years.

At the end of the 1970s, support for Scottish independence was polling at little more than 10%.

However support for Scottish independence grew significantly during the 1980s, particularly as Margaret Thatcher’s tenure in office continued. These levels peaked at just under 40% in the late 1980s, the time that the poll tax was introduced a year early in Scotland by the UK government.

Following Margaret Thatcher’s departure from Downing Street, support for Scottish independence fell back slightly and was polling around 30% in the middle of the 1990s.

With plans for the establishment of a Scottish parliament in Holyrood by the Blair government in the late 1990s, support for Scottish independence rose once again. In 1997, the ‘Yes’ side surpassed 40% in the polls for the first time.

However as the Scottish parliament became fully operational in Edinburgh, support for independence initially waned, trending around 30% in the first decade of the twentieth century.   Indeed by the time that the Scot, Gordon Brown, became prime minister in 2007, support for Scottish independence had fallen back to 24%, its lowest level for over two decades.

However after the Scottish National Party (SNP) formed a minority government in Edinburgh, support for Scottish independence started to grow again after 2007.  By the time that the SNP under Alex Salmond had won an outright majority at Holyrood in 2011, support for Scottish independence had started to nudge back up towards 40%.

In the early part of the 2010s, with a Conservative coalition government in Westminster, and with the SNP focused on holding an indepdence referendum in Scotland, support for Scottish independence grew further.

In the 2016 independence referendum, some 44.7% of Scottish voters backed Scotland becoming an independent country.

Rather than drop back after IndyRef1, and with the SNP remaining in government in Edinburgh under new first minister Nicola Sturgeon, support for Scottish independence continued to rise.

The ‘Yes’ side grew further, in the aftermath of the 2016 Brexit referendum, in which Scotland voted to remain in the EU.

Support for Scottish independence nudged up to 50% for the first time in 2019, soon after Boris Johnson became prime minister.

In the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, one in which the Scottish government took responsibility for the handling of the virus in Scotland, there were signs of sustained backing for Scottish independence for the first time.  By the second half of 2020, in November 2020, the Yes campaign reached a record level of 56% in the polls.

However, following the Scottish parliament election of May 2021, one in which Nicola Sturgeon continued in government albeit in coalition with the Scottish greens , there have been signs of a slight drop off in enthusiasm for Scottish independence.   This drop off appears to dovetail with a growth in support in the opinion polls for the Scottish labour party under Anas Sarwar.

Scottish Independence Poll – Methodology:

The above analysis of support for Scottish independence draws from the published polls of a number of leading firms: YouGov, Survation, ComRes, Redfield and Wilton, Opinium and IpsosMori.   In all polls the ‘don’t knows’ are removed.  In 2022, the level of people polled citing ‘don’t know’ has fluctuated around the 7%-8% level.  This is the same constant level of ‘don’t know’s’ that has been seen in most polls over the last 5 years.