Whoever you’re voting for today, here’s a thought about party support and Scottish independence. The Scottish media are a bit shy about it all.

The SNP has lost folk on the right to the Tories; that’s mainly why its vote share is down from 50% to around 43%. This has moved that party’s centre of gravity more firmly to the centre-left. But of course it has also removed unionists who voted SNP tactically against Labour in 2015. People who vote SNP today are very, very likely to be independence supporters.

Labour has lost people who fancy the Tories more, too, but it’s also lost folk who put the union before everything else. At the last election, it’s estimated by serious people that around a third of Labour’s voters supported independence. And now that Labour’s lost many of its unionists, it’s virtually certain that the proportion of Labour voters who support independence has gone up. So if Labour gets 20% today, close to half of its voters will be supporters of independence. And with the majority of Scottish Greens supporting independence, it’s perfectly reasonable to add another 1% to that total tally of independence supporters.

Of course you can never be precise about these things, but that applies to the unionist side too. There will be a small number of outliers who vote SNP who don’t support independence, but there’ll also be Tories and Lib Dems who do support independence. There’s really no doubt that support for independence is already teetering over the half-way mark.

The best outcome which seems at all realistic tomorrow is that Labour forms a minority administration with a ‘supply and confidence’ agreement with the SNP. If though, as the polls suggest, the Tories win, then expect post-election polls to show majority support for independence. And even if that takes a short while to firm up, what will be beyond doubt right away is majority support for a new and honest independence referendum.
If the Tories are in charge then, let’s get shot of them.

9 Responses to Today’s vote and Scottish independence
  1. Your analysis has fair cheered me up Eric, especially after seeing the exit poll. I think you’re right as well about senior Labour figures in Scotland declaring for independence being a real catalyst for Indy- it will help those with worthy intentions of cross border solidarity see that we cannot continue hoping against hope that our anti-tory instincts are shared by our cousins down south, which, of course, they’re not 2/3 of the time.

    • I think there was quite a lot of movement over from SNP to Labour by indy-minded Corbyn fanciers. The thing will be to keep their commitment to indy undimmed.

  2. I think the main danger will as usual come from the MSM who will attempt to portray every Tory gain as a wholesale rejection of independence.
    However as a certain Dundonian once said that’s a chiel that wilnae ding!
    By the rules of the Westminster game the winner takes all and whether the Unionists increase their vote or the SNP reduces somewhat: it is unlikely that we will see the SNPs domination of Scottish politics in any meaningful way.
    The only worry I can see for the SNP is what would happen if they fail to meet the challenge of a Corbyn led Labour Party. Even so Scot Lab are so awful and so right-wing that they are unlikely to be able to articulate a meaningful challenge from the left. At any rate, for as long as the current leadership cabal remains in power.
    However, for it’s own good the SNP needs to clearly articulate radical social democratic policies that challenge the current power structure of Scottish society.

    • It’s not credible to claim a mandate from the British people based upon a lower share than you’re denying a Scottish government a mandate with. That has knock-on effects to other areas of government business, and it affects trust with partners in EU negotiations and suchlike. The Tories will accede on the referendum, I think. But there’ll still be some haggling over timing. The notion of allowing polls to determine is risible – it’s really just a way of pushing the next stage beyond the election for now.

      • It may not be credible to anyone with any sense, but the media will hold double standards on this without batting an eyelid. Any loss of seats for the SNP (and that will inevitably happen) will be portrayed as the SNP losing, while a bare scrape of a majority will be portrayed as Theresa May scoring a famous victory.

        A result with the SNP on 50 seats and the Tories gaining five will be trumpeted as a huge win for Ruth Davidson and humiliation for Nicola Sturgeon.

        Remember the TV commentator who genuinely believed that the SNP had not won the council election in Glasgow but the Tories had, on the basis of the media reports she had seen? That’s how it’s going to be.

        You’re taing a grown-up view of this, but we’re not dealing with grown-ups.

  3. I can’t help remembering that last year, almost as soon as the EU referendum result came in, you were convinced that support for independence would immediately rocket to 60%. It should have done, but it didn’t. I think partly this was because some people just haven’t worked it out yet, but also partly because people see the awful chaos that Brexit is becoming and think, what if we voted for independence and then the same thing happened again? Treaties to negotiate, trade deals to finalise, all on our own?

    Now we know that’s not how it would be, but the average voter may not and the unionist parties are going to capitalise on the fear of destabilisation.

    The media are against us and independence is constantly portrayed as a Bad Thing by the BBC. If the independence polls keep on not turning round, what’s our best strategy? If we’re hauled out of the EU on England’s coat-tails, we’re screwed.

    • Yes, that’s true. There was one rogue poll and that was it. The media’s very keen to say that support has dropped, of course, when it’s remained stable. People are reserving judgement re: EU, I think, so I agree with you that there are worries and no foregone conclusions. For me, though, and like it or not, the Scottish Labour Party will have nowhere to go unless it at least takes an ambivalent position over independence. If it does, that’ll allow some leading folk to come out in support and that may well be the thing which gives the whole thing a kick-start. In the end, I have some faith that people will simply reject the Tory way and also the havoc and harm of leaving the EU. I doubt a referendum can be held before leaving, though. The most pragmatic thing would be to hold a referendum and then, if it’s a Yes, hold another on whether EU membership like any other state.

      I don’t doubt the EU will hold a shadow place and make Scotland’s entry/return into the EU easier that it otherwise might be. And I imagine they’d allow Scots to retain their EU citizenships in the meantime in some form.

  4. My main worry today is a low turnout,due to the weather,which will favour the Tories in particular.
    Their voters always turn out.
    Hopefully I am wrong.
    Thanks Eric.


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