1 February 2012

Ipsos-MORI poll on independence: beneath the topline...

The Burd and I share a sensibility. Most of the interest of polls lies beneath the toplines most generally reported in the press. Ah, but surely there is only one poll which really matters? Up to a point, Lord Copper. For those of unlucky enough not to be privy to the SNP internal polling, and big fat samples, the 1,000-odd souls cobbled together in public polling are some of the best indicators we have about how public opinion may be tending. They also imply interesting challenges for both campaigns. Who is minded to support Scottish independence, who to oppose it? Who is your determined political foe, and who amenable to convincing? The latest hails from Ipsos-MORI, who've now published the full figures of yesterday's poll on Scottish independence.

Although I've covered the detail of a number of polls in the past, this time around, I thought I'd spruce things up by using charts rather than the potentially less-accessible and eye-catching numerical breakdowns. Let me know your preferences. By contrast with the Ipsos-MORI polls of September and December, this time the pollsters posed Salmond's new question.  Instead of respondents being asked...

"... whether you agree or disagree with a proposal to extend the powers of the Scottish Parliament to enable Scotland to become an independent country, separate from the UK. If the referendum was held tomorrow, would you vote to agree or disagree with this proposal?"

This time researchers asked:

"Do you agree that Scotland should be an independent country?"

To get us going, the topline figures from all 1,005 respondents, regardless of their present determination to vote in the referendum...


Secondly, Ipsos-MORI winnowed out the figures for those "almost certain to vote", a weighted total of 780 punters. 

This blog has been consistently interested in the gender divisions in support for independence registering in these polls. The last two from Ipsos-MORI - in September and December - recorded a "gender gap" in support for independence of around ten percentage points. In today's poll, that increases to a gap of 15% amongst all respondents, and 16% amongst those identified as "absolutely certain to vote".


And amongst those identifying as "absolutely certain to vote"...

Given recent noisy claims from certain quarters that the question proposed by the Scottish Government is "rigged", if that was so, you might expect to see clear evidence of its discursive manipulation at this stage. While Scots heading to the ballot box in Autumn 2014 are likely to have picked up a good deal of the debate around independence, and a tolerably clear apprehension of the issues - the question they are being asked - at this early stage, you might expect linguistic rigging to operate more successfully. So how do today's figures compare with past answers? On every count, we see a decrease in the number of people answering "no". On December's MORI figures, for example, total opposition to independence has decreased by 8%, with decreases of 11% amongst men and 5% amongst women. 

However, it is nigh impossible to disentangle the force of the question from broader factors which might kick opinions up and down, hither and thon. Conspicuously, however, uncertainty rather than support for independence being the clear beneficiary of this drift in opinion, overall support for independence receives the fillip of only a 2% increase on December's poll, while the percentage of voters feeling "undecided" also increased from 8% to 11% today. Broken down by gender, in December, just 6% of men identified as undecided. In this poll, 9% do, with a 5% bump in support for independence. Amongst women, indecision increased from 10% in December to 14% today, with support for independence increasing by only 1%. If this is poll rigging at work, soliciting positive answers, the sailor who strung it up should be shot, pour encourager les autres.  Although the weekend's edition of the Kinlochbervie Chronicle was primarily being silly, as the Burd emphasises in her piece on this poll, the evidence continues to accumulate that convincing Scottish women about the virtues of independence will be one of this long campaign's substantial challenges for (N/n)ationalists.

Age and affluence are another couple of fascinating subsamples of the poll, posing their own conundrums for nationalist campaign and strategy. While the age samples are small - and rather volatile across polls - they do suggest an markable trend in cross-generational opinion on Scottish independence. Again, two charts: the first representing the opinion of all respondents, the second only those absolutely certain to vote.



The poll contains a good deal of other, interesting information - on opinion by public/private employment, home ownership, children, opinions on referendum timing - but for brevity, I'll close this very brief survey with the figures on voter affluence and constitutional opinion. As with gender, a clear trend is emerging about how attitudes towards independence are profiled by income and social class (though classification in this sphere is obviously problematic. It isn't at all obvious, for example that Scottish discourses of class are reducible to economic measures and financial criteria. In point, past research has suggested that subjective and objective measures of class in Scotland in fact do not align, with more folk identifying as working class if asked, than a banded account of their wealth would suggest.)

An interesting gobbet, dramatically to capture the point and get us started.  According to this poll, a mighty 30% gap separates the most and least deprived when it comes to opposing Scottish independence. The full breakdown is as follows:



  1. The spin on the stats has been interesting. One you didn't pick up on was the solidity of opinion, with 31% of those favouring independence said to be open to persuasion the other way, but only 18% of Unionists.

    The logical explanation for this, of course, is that with support for the Union falling significantly, more of those in the Yes camp will be recent converts and therefore much less likely to be ossified in their views.

    But nevertheless it's seized on by the FUDs as proof of the independence vote being "soft", when in fact what it shows is the trend of movement away from the Unionist cause.

  2. It's kind of obvious that those with the most to lose will be least receptive to the idea of change while those with least to lose (and potentially most to gain) will be keenest.

    It all reinforces the need to get round the doors and on the phones so we can identify concerns at an individual level and provide indivdual reassurance. So people like me really need to get off the internet and get on with it!

  3. Indy

    You and I along with what is now the vast army of SNP supporters (I remember when it was just me and my dog) will get round the doors with our positive message.

    Where are the no votes going to get their footsoldiers? Will the Torys send their people into Springburn? Will Labour send all their English footsoldiers into Edinburgh to tell Scots that they are wrong to want independence from Westminster. Are there any Lib Dems left?

    On the latest poll we now need a swing of 6% to get yes higher than no, and that is before Cameron and Gideon come up here and give us the benefit of their wisdom, and their positive case for the Union.

    Happy days, once the local elections are out of the way we have plenty time to get round them doors.

  4. Groundskeeper Willie1 February 2012 at 18:54

    As a matter of interest, are there any opinion polls showing how people respond differently depending on how the question is worded?

  5. Yes, Willie. There's also an opinion poll that can look deep within your soul, tell what you had for breakfast and compliment you on your new blue cords, just by listening to your name down a dodgy landline.

  6. "As a matter of interest, are there any opinion polls showing how people respond differently depending on how the question is worded?"

    Yes. The answer is "barely at all".


  7. Groundskeeper Willie1 February 2012 at 21:56

    Oh dear, Blair, Rev Stu has made you look a bit silly. Never mind.

    Rev Stu

    So the nats won't object to a different wording then? Good. I'm glad we got that sorted out.

    BTW online poll? Cyber nats? Are you thinking what I'm thinking?

  8. RevStu,

    I don't know about a "spin", but I'm happy to concede that I selectively re-represented the figures, according to my own interests and preoccupations. In particular, hitherto we've never really seriously discussed gendered/class aspects of the independence argument in our public sphere. This seems unfortunate, given the apparent underlying trends. Moreover, as a nationalist myself, my prunings from the polls are partly driven by a concern to identify weaknesses and improveables in our position: where does the work need to be done? Whether or not the press discusses it, what should nationalists be thinking about, in shaping our arguments?

  9. "So the nats won't object to a different wording then?"

    In the same way that you presumably won't object to the one chosen by the democratically-elected government of Scotland.

    When you lose, you don't get to make the rules any more.

  10. "I don't know about a "spin", but I'm happy to concede that I selectively re-represented the figures, according to my own interests and preoccupations."

    Sorry - I meant the spin by the Unionists, not in this piece. Apologies if that wasn't clear.

  11. I was polled by mori on Sunday.

    For the devilment I answered David cameron to the question who would be best placed to lead the 'no' campaign.

    No sign of that as far as I'm aware, but I was asked.


    Whit way are ye gonny vote yirsel?

  12. Groundskeeper Willie2 February 2012 at 09:41

    RevStu said...

    'In the same way that you presumably won't object to the one chosen by the democratically-elected government of Scotland.'

    The difference between us is that I believe that the wording of the question DOES make a difference to how people vote. You don't, or rather you say you don't, though we both know you're being untruthful.

    So why would you have any objection to the wording being changed?

    As for the SNP mandate, 45% of the vote on a 50% turnout. Doesn't augur well for life in an independent Scotland if you think that's the basis for a dictatorship that won't permit any form of dissent. Authoritarian nationalism doesn't have a good track record.

    I suggest the parties each come up with their own preferred wording which can be tested in a rigorous, independent poll to see how much of a difference the wording make.

    That way the electorate can have a better, fuller understanding of the process.

    That's what you want, isn't it?

  13. "The difference between us is that I believe that the wording of the question DOES make a difference to how people vote. You don't, or rather you say you don't, though we both know you're being untruthful."

    I didn't say any such thing. I said it made BARELY any difference, but after Labour's decades of chicanery I'll take even a 2% advantage if it's on offer. If the shoe was on the other foot Labour would be counting the dead as No votes again, so you're really in no position to whine about the moral high ground.

    As I've said before, if you wanted influence over the referendum you should have taken the chance between 2007 and 2011 when your opinion counted for anything. Now it doesn't, because the Scottish people got sick of you telling them they weren't allowed a referendum at all. Reap what you sowed. We're not falling for your cheap, juvenile sophistry, so save your breath.

  14. Groundskeeper Willie2 February 2012 at 10:56


    So the only opinions that count for something are those of the SNP. Because they got 45% of the vote on a 50% turnout.

    Scary stuff.

    Nationalists full of passionate intensity. Not a pleasant prospect.

  15. "So the only opinions that count for something are those of the SNP. Because they got 45% of the vote on a 50% turnout."

    ...in exactly the same way that Tony Blair steamrollered the opinion of all opposition in Westminster and passed whatever laws they liked on the basis of 35% of the vote, yes.

    Welcome to democracy.

  16. Groundskeeper Willie2 February 2012 at 12:31


    I recall dissent among Labour MPs.

    That's obviously not allowed within the SNP.

    Not until the referendum results in a no vote anyway.

  17. "I recall dissent among Labour MPs. That's obviously not allowed within the SNP."

    Oh dear, Wullie. You're clutching at some pretty desperate straws now. The rare outbreaks of isolated "dissent" in Labour ranks had zero practical effect on anything, thanks to Blair's massive three-figure majorities on less of the vote than the SNP got last year.

    And, of course, you continue to embarrass yourself with the pretence that there's no dissent within the SNP. Tell it to John Mason on gay marriage, Roseanna Cunningham on the monarchy, etc etc.

    Ipsos-MORI January 2012
    Holyrood voting intentions

    SNP: 49%
    Labour: 23%
    Conservative: 13%
    Lib Dem: 10%

    SNP bigger than all three dependence parties put together, and more than twice the Labour support for the first time in history. Labour actually declining when even the Tories and Lib Dems manage a small increase. Cheerio now.

  18. Groundskeeper Willie2 February 2012 at 13:23

    Rev Stu

    I'd wait until the vote on homosexual marriage before claiming any dissent by SNP MSPs.

    Is there a poll showing voting intentions for Westminster?

    The reason I ask is that Scots regard that as more important. That's why the turnout figures are always substantially higher.

  19. Keep on clutching, Wull.

    Ipsos-Mori September 2011
    Westminster voting intentions

    SNP 42%
    Labour 33%
    Conservative 15%
    Lib Dem 6%

    Of course, that was four months ago - it seems a safe bet the margin will be bigger by now, since Not-Red Ed can't even beat the Tories as they savage the welfare state and the NHS.

  20. Would you like to shift the goalposts some more? Alex Salmond is definitely fatter than Miliband, there must be something you could do with that to distract attention from your shame and embarrassment as your craven neo-Tory party slides down the sewage pipe of history.

  21. Lol. I think they should do a remake of the Odd Couple with Stu and Willie.

  22. Groundskeeper Willie2 February 2012 at 18:09

    The 49% support for the SNP in January is down 2% on the December figure, which is interesting.

    What is also interesting is the 94%approval rating of wee Eck among SNP supporters, which does suggest that it is very much a one man band. That's fine in itself, but when the sum of the one man's age and BMI is pushing three figures you have to wonder if there's life beyond wee Eck for the SNP.

    Oh, and by the way Rev Stu, I'm not a member of the Labour Party, just a Scot living in Scotland who is happy to remain as part of the SNP.

    Your 'we are the master now' rant rather confirms my view of the nats.

  23. Nice blue cords, Willie

  24. "Oh, and by the way Rev Stu, I'm not a member of the Labour Party, just a Scot living in Scotland who is happy to remain as part of the SNP."

    Wow, you're really off-message.

  25. Groundskeeper Willie2 February 2012 at 20:56

    Sorry for the typo, multi tasking, part of the UK, obviously.

    So, to sum up, the SNP announce the timescale and wording for the referendum and their support drops by 2% in the space of one month.

  26. ...and Labour's drops by 6%, telling us what?

  27. Incidentally, the net change since the last poll for the Unionist parties combined is -3%, compared to -2% for the SNP.

  28. So Wullie.

    Even though you ignored my question earlier regarding how you would vote in the referendum. It seems that you are happy to stay a loyal Britisher. Brittania'a huns wi their long range guns and aw that eh ;)

    I want better for my weans.

    Your obvious hatred of the SNP should not cloud the issue at hand.

    Social justice ma man, nuclear weapons frei, not being forced to leave Scotland for work, a better standard of living.

  29. What is also interesting is the 94%approval rating of wee Eck among SNP supporters, which does suggest that it is very much a one man band. That's fine in itself, but when the sum of the one man's age and BMI is pushing three figures you have to wonder if there's life beyond wee Eck for the SNP.

    I'm sure many opponents of the SNP share your hope that death will provide an electoral recovery which seems otherwise elusive. Still, at least Eck's in place for now, while Labour have already lost their only leader in forty years who could win elections.

  30. I'm an analyst by profession, but not a pure statistician. I deal with both facts and figures, rather than just figures. I also look at processes as there are other factors that can affect results. I've been involved in major changes to organisations and processes - very big changes in some cases. So I have a good understanding of why people can be reluctant or even downright hostile to change.

    The trend may be away from the union, but the simple fact is that despite a thumping result last May, there is still no overwhelming desire for independence. Taking into account the difference in the political leaders, one would expect the SNP to be romping ahead.

    Going round doors is no guarantee of success. To the average voter, it may be that they get some comfort from being in the Union. Independence, even though it will still not change many peoples lives, is still a major step to take. Politicians as well. even strong ones like Salmond, are still viewed with suspicion and always will be. How many times have people seen political promises broken or forgotten?

    The real debate into the policies of independence are just beginning, and the SNP are already showing signs they will have problems. An example today was at FMQs, when Alex was asked about Faslane. His response that Faslane will remain open as a naval base. That is going to cause some concern over at Roysth, bearing in mind only two weeks or so ago, the FM assured us there would be a single naval base.

    The SNP is now coming under pressure and having to explain and justify their policies for independence. That will be the real test now.

  31. Groundskeeper Willie5 February 2012 at 12:04


    Could I suggest that you take the time to read Scotland in Eclipse by Andrew Dewar Gibb.

    He was one of the founder members of the SNP, its first chairman (I think) and its leading intellectual.

    What drove him, and those like him, was a concern that the Scottish race was under threat from the influx of Irish Catholics whom they regarded as being inferior in every respect to the Scottish race.

    Once you've read that you could maybe inform me when the SNP every apologised for those views or acknowledged that they were evil.

    Maybe then we could have a sensible conversation about the nature of Scottish nationalism.

  32. Groundskeeper Willie5 February 2012 at 12:08


    'despite a thumping result last May, there is still no overwhelming desire for independence'

    The 'thumping majority' was 45% of the vote on a 50% turnout, with the Labour vote more or less holding steady and the Lib Dems, who don't support independence, switching their vote en masse to the SNP.

  33. Wullie.

    Gie yirsel peace wi that nonsense. You could no more link that shite to the modern SNP than you could the modern labour party to Wheatley and Maxton.

    The referendum is about the future of our weans and grandweans. Your failure to respond to my points re-social justice, work opportunities and nuclear weapons tells me that your hatred towards the SNP clouds any possibility of sensible discourse.

  34. No matter how anyone twists it, the SNP scored 45%.
    All of whom know what they stand for.
    People are free to vote however they like.
    And they switch parties. Hence elections.
    Labourites have trouble accepting this applies to the working class equally.
    Their constant opposition to people being given a choice smacks of authoritarianism and the committeeman. It annoys people.

    Only Labour, with their heritage of infighting, denigrate another party's unity.

    Groundskeeper Willie given the chance would you have no referendum at all?
    You cannot dictate the terms because you did not win the election.

  35. For those of a psephological bent or a lawyerly persuasion (hello Worrier!)it must be hugely fascinating to sift through opinion poll results and go 'Wow!29% of blind vegetarians in the 25-34 blahblablah...' In the real world, no one cares. As a predictive tool, it's roughly at the midpoint between an astrological chart and a weather forecast Here's what various pollsters (the so-called respected ones) have foreseen:- Wilson to win, 1970, Callaghan to win, 1979, Kinnock for the win, 1992. At the last Scottish elections they had Labour 10 points ahead, whatever that means.
    The only poll that matters is the big one in Autumn 2014.
    But be in no doubt, even if we win the yes vote; the naysayers, the psephologists, the Blind Goalkeeper Willies will be out going 'Aye but there was only X turnout and only 26% of blahblahblah...'
    PS Any truth Willie, that Derren Brown helped the SNP script the referendum question???

  36. Groundskeeper Willie5 February 2012 at 17:52


    The uplift in the SNP vote was due to the Lib Dems voting SNP in protest at the Con Dem coalition.

    The Labour vote held steady.

    I think we should maybe just bear that in mind.

    The fact that the SNP won a watch with the number of seats they got says more about the Holyrood electoral system than anything else.

    The unity over the anti sectarianism bill struck me as odd,not one word of dissent from any SNP MSP, given the misgivings among the Scottish people about the bill. I think LPW may share my concern about that.

    I would have a referendum. One question, fairly worded, on the existing electoral rules ie over 18s only.

    'Dictate' the wording? Are you sure that's the word you meant to use?

  37. Groundskeeper Willie5 February 2012 at 17:55


    You seem to be very sure about what policies are going to be implemented in an independent Scotland.

    Are the SNP going to be running a one party state?

    Nuclear weapons: is the stock of nuclear weapons in the world going to increase or decrease if Scotland leaves the UK?

    Or does that not matter?

  38. "The uplift in the SNP vote was due to the Lib Dems voting SNP in protest at the Con Dem coalition."

    Dear me. Someone hasn't been keeping up with the news from, like, five months ago. It's only yourself you're embarrassing with such ignorance of the well-publicised facts, Wullie.

  39. And since I doubt you've got the wit to find them on Google, here's what you're after:


    31% of those who voted Labour in 2010 went to the SNP in 2011.

    27% of those who voted Tory in 2010 went to the SNP.

    47% of those who voted Lib Dem in 2010 went to the SNP.

    In other words, factoring in the number of voters for each party in 2010, the SNP picked up MORE voters from Labour than they did from the Lib Dems, and by far the fewest from the Tories. (So much for the yawnsome old "Tartan Tory" smears.)

    If you apply the percentages to the 2010 vote, and then multiply by 0.742 to adjust for the lower total of votes cast in 2011 you get:

    Labour voters switching to SNP in 2011: 176,723

    Lib Dem voters to SNP: 162,328

    Tory voters to SNP: 82,711

    Short version: you're talking through your hole as usual.

  40. Groundskeeper Willie5 February 2012 at 18:44


    I seem to recall you posted that link before.

    Can you tell me which of the 22 pages relates to the rest of your post?

  41. Good grief. You're too lazy to look through 22 pages, most of them containing fewer than 50 words?

    You want page 6 of "Johns_slides", along with page 13 of "Mitchell_slides" from the same site. I do beg your pardon for assuming you had the intellect to go and find both from the one link. Entirely my bad.

  42. Groundskeeper Willie5 February 2012 at 19:30


    Those figures relate to regional votes, not constituency votes.

    I seem to recall mentioning the point to you last time you posted a link to this stuff.

    I don't think you responded.

  43. "Those figures relate to regional votes, not constituency votes."

    So? I presume you have equally good sources to back up your claim that the Lib Dem vote went en masse to the SNP in constituencies? Or are you just desperately clutching at straws again?

    In fact, the SNP took a total of 22 constituency seats from Labour and 8 from the Lib Dems (plus one from the Tories). In most of those seats (eg the 10 the SNP won from Labour in Glasgow and West Central Scotland) the Lib Dem vote was miniscule in the first place, and not enough to make a difference even if every single LD vote lost had gone straight to the SNP, eg:


    Airdrie & Shotts 900 votes (margin of SNP victory 2000)
    Cumbernauld & Kilsyth 1100 votes (margin 3500)
    Falkirk East 1400 votes (margin 3500)
    Hamilton c.1200 votes (margin 2200)
    Glasgow Cathcart 1200 votes (margin 1600)

    I'm not going to do every single one. There were, of course, *some* where IF every single LD vote had gone SNP it could just have been enough to win the seat, but there isn't a shred of evidence to suggest such a thing happened. You just *wish* it was the case, so you can pretend Labour wasn't haemorrhaging votes to the SNP. The facts tell a different story.

  44. Groundskeeper Willie5 February 2012 at 20:19

    RevStu said...
    "Those figures relate to regional votes, not constituency votes."



    So the information you've cited isn't evidence that supports your argument.

    I explained that to you last time.

    It's pretty basic stuff. Logic 101.

    It's a good job for you that I'm a patient man.

    Please don't post the link again though, unless it's relevant. It's getting tedious.

  45. Yes GW. Dictate.
    Not only do you want to dictate the number and wording of options, you also want to reword my posts.

  46. "So the information you've cited isn't evidence that supports your argument."

    Sigh. It's a hell of a lot better than the evidence you've provided to support yours, ie fuck-all.

    Incidentally, I *did* do all 22 SNP gains from Labour in the end, because it's Sunday night and there's nothing on telly. Had *every single* Lib Dem 2007 voter lost in 2011 gone to the SNP, it would have changed the outcome in just 8.

    Incidentally, the first document I linked you to (Dr John's) does NOT focus on the regional vote. In it, just 13% of 2007 Lib Dem voters said they switched to the SNP, with 40% not voting at all and 32% staying with the Lib Dems.

    That means the Lib Dems lost about 2/3 of their voters in total (which tallies very roughly with the actual numbers for both constituencies and seats). Of those lost voters, just 19% actually switched to the SNP.

    Transferring 19% of LD lost votes to the SNP across the board would have made a difference in just THREE of the SNP's gains (Anniesland, Edinburgh Central and Kirkcaldy) - not even enough to deny the SNP their majority.

    Once again, the short version: however much you try to wriggle, you're still talking out of your hole.

  47. Wullie

    Stoap fannying about wi me, get your boredome fix elsewhere. Just ignore me if ye don't want to respond sensibly.

    I know that the cute hoors in labour have done 360's on nuclear weapons and former Irish republicans are now uber Britishers. Pure snake oil merchants btw!

    Your simplistic argument that Scotland being nuclear free matters not a jot in world terms spectacularly misses the point - on purpose of course. Would we let the murderer of the EK schoolboy roam free because he is but wan of millions in the world?

    Pffft who cares about social justice either, because there is so much inequality in the world. Tell me just how much are you guys willing to sacrifice to ensure that the butchers fly's over us still?

  48. Groundskeeper Willie6 February 2012 at 00:01


    Are Stu and Tony representative of the standard of intellect in the SNP?

  49. "Are Stu and Tony representative of the standard of intellect in the SNP?"

    What, you mean capable of making an argument and supporting it with facts? Yeah, probably.

    Where are yours, troll?

  50. Thought so Wullie, best of british to ye.

    Enjoy the Jubilee.

    *hums to the foggy dew*

  51. Groundskeeper Willie6 February 2012 at 16:11

    Tony said...

    *hums to the foggy dew*

    I'd be careful about doing that.

    It might be deemed to be offensive behaviour and you could end up in prison for five years.

    You must be very proud to be a member of the SNP with achievements like that under your belt.

  52. Wullie? Are you there, Wullie? You seem to have forgotten to post your evidence.

  53. Does the legality within the UK matter at all in the end? What would seem more important is the attitude and opinion in the international community. It didn't stop Yugoslavia from being legally seperate nations in the end, despite protestations from the dictator in chief there. Tin pot dictators are typically the ones who insist no one is allowed to legally seperate or have their opinion in a referendum.

    Emulating an abusive and dictatorial leader or husband is hardly the model or view you'd want to give the world.

    I don't know why there is such hysterics about it, especially from ordinary nobodies like Willie who I'd presume aren't in government or one of the Lords right now and in danger of losing a cushy number.