Polling expert: Support for independence ‘not just a blip’

Polling expert Mark Diffley says a pattern is emerging as support for independence grows.

A political polling expert has said support for an independent Scotland is “not just a blip”.

Mark Diffley, a political polling expert, has said there is a pattern emerging supporting Scottish independence.

During a webinar for the John Smith Centre, hosted by former Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale, Mr Diffley said there was a pattern emerging, showing growing support for Scottish independence was not just a blip.

Mr Diffley said that while support for Scottish independence rose after the Brexit vote, it did not last.

However, he said that the results now were “much more significant” and had been steadily growing for six to eight months.

Mr Diffley said: “It seems that if there was a choice to be in an independent Scotland that was within the EU, that would be preferable to being part of the UK but out of the EU.

“Previous no voters, who voted to stay in the UK but also wanted to stay within the EU, are moving more to yes.

“Of course it does go the other way – people who voted for an independent Scotland who also voted for Brexit, some would rather now be in the UK outside of Europe. But that first group is much larger.”

He added: “What is quite interesting is that if we bookend this, immediately after the EU referendum, the weekend after, there were two or three polls that suggested support for independence had gone up. But that didn’t last, it was almost a knee-jerk reaction to what had happened in the Brexit vote.

“But we are now starting to see a pattern emerging from enough polls to suggest this is not just a blip. That something a little more significant – both in the number of polls and the level of support and in terms of the length of time – this has been noticeable for a good six to eight months now.

“It is a really fascinating time in Scottish politics at the moment. You can see, we are starting to see the mood of the nation change.”

However, Mr Diffley said that being four years out from another general election, the polls are “not worth sweating over at the minute”, saying that around four months out from an election is when they really start to become useful.

He added that the new UK Labour leader Keir Starmer had made a very positive first impression, and was polling higher in “competence” surveys than Boris Johnson.

Dugdale said that her own experience of private polling as the former Scottish Labour leader had revealed people thought of her as “nice, authentic, but much more like a nursery teacher than a first minister”.

She added: “I wasn’t massively surprised. In fact, in a way, I was pleased, as we had had a massive focus on education. So for the public to have picked up an affinity with children and young people showed there was something there cutting through.

“I’d much rather have had that set of outcomes, than some of the other possibilities that could have come from that.”

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