CLAIMING there is a mandate from the Scottish people for a second independence referendum is a “highly dubious exercise”, according to top pollster Professor Sir John Curtice.

Curtice, who teaches at the University of Strathclyde, said the election result was an inadequate way of judging support for a second poll.

Instead, the professor said, two polls carried out during the election campaign were a better way of quantifying public feeling towards the policy.

In a blog on his website What Scotland Thinks, Curtice said using the number of seats to claim a mandate does not take into account the effect of the first-past-the-post system, and how it calculates seats from votes.

READ MORE: SNP's Ian Blackford calls Boris Johnson a 'democracy denier' for rejecting independence vote

Neither should the SNP claim a mandate based on share of the vote at the December election because voters may not have agreed with the SNP stance on the referendum, but still voted for them regardless, he said. 

The SNP won 47 seats in the December vote, an increase of 12 from their previous tally, leading to senior figures in the party claiming it is time for a second independence referendum.

A week later, the First Minister formally asked for the powers to hold a referendum from the Prime Minister, something he rejected this week.

However, Curtice claims that two polls conducted during the election campaign present a better picture of attitudes towards another referendum than the General Election.

He said: “One of these polls came from Ipsos Mori, the other from Panelbase. The former asked people whether they supported or opposed holding another independence referendum within the next year. While 42% said that they supported the idea, as many as 50% indicated that they were opposed.

“Panelbase reported that only 38% backed the idea of holding a referendum before the next Scottish Parliament election, while as many as 51% were opposed.

READ MORE: Iain Macwhirter: In post-Brexit Britain, Nicola Sturgeon can't keep telling her troops that Indyref2 is round the corner. It isn't 

“On the basis of this evidence it is difficult to argue that there is a clear majority support for holding a referendum on the timescale proposed by the Scottish Government.”

Curtice concluded that the fate of another vote hinges on the public reaction to Brexit, which could push more people into support for another vote – as was evident in the wake of the 2016 vote.

He added: “Does it result in a further swing in favour of independence beyond that already in evidence last year such that the polls start to register majority support for the idea on a regular basis? If so, it can be anticipated that a majority for holding another ballot is likely to emerge too.”

Meanwhile, the SNP claim the “majority of Labour members back Scotland’s right to choose”, according to a poll by YouGov for The Times.  

The survey, conducted between January 13 and 15, found that 27% of Labour members in Scotland said they believed Labour should support another independence referendum, while 37% said the party should oppose one. 

Overall, 33% of members in Britain said the party should support a referendum, while 16% disagreed.