In The Scotsman today, John Curtice notes that relying on anti English sentiment is providing Alex Salmond and the SNP with very limited agency in getting the ball the across the win line. In fact in some polls, Independence is scoring less than it did five years ago…
Above all, the First Minister and his colleagues reckon Westminster’s intervention has neatly served to remind Scots that, even under devolution, it remains the case that a UK government for which few of them voted can meddle in matters that are by rights ones that Scotland should be allowed to settle for itself.
“The more a Tory government tries to interfere in Scottish democracy, then I suspect the greater the support for independence will become,” Nicola Sturgeon told the Today programme when the row first broke out. A couple of days later, Mr Salmond himself said of David Cameron’s intervention: “I think it’s going to increase support for independence and the SNP”.
In practice, it has now become clear there has been no such public reaction at all. The outbreak of the referendum row was soon followed by four key polls of public opinion north of the Border, two by YouGov, one by ICM, and one by a relatively new polling company, Survation. They clearly show that the row has failed to deliver any immediate significant boost in support for leaving the UK at all.
Indeed, he argues that the Scottish people are split pretty evenly three ways, and that in that case it is the middle option which most likely to win the day:
In any event, the only reason why a Yes/No vote on devo-max appears potentially capable of securing majority support is that most of those who would really like independence are willing to back it in preference to a continuation of the status quo. According to YouGov, no less than three-quarters of those who would vote Yes to independence would also vote Yes to devo-max.
Devo-max looks like a potential winner not because it is clearly the most popular option, but rather because it is one around which those with very different views about the future of the Union might be willing to coalesce.