HeraldScotland: Neil Mackay unspun banner NEW

How do we interpret the bounce in the polls for independence? Support for Yes has just hit 55%.

Sure, it’s an outlier poll - putting support for independence at its highest for a year after a period of fluctuating decline for Yes - however, for those who back independence it offers hope, and a few salient lessons for the SNP.

There’s clearly a case here of Scottish voters looking south to the disastrous scandal-hit administration of Boris Johnson and deciding that anything is better than Westminster - as the case for independence certainly hasn’t been remade by the SNP or the Yes movement as a whole.

But that reliance on Johnson comes with huge risk. What if Johnson goes - or rather is pushed? There’s clear dissatisfaction on Conservative backbenches with his premiership and the party is never behind the door in dispatching leaders who’ve served their purpose and are now more trouble than they’re worth. Even their Blessed Margaret came a cropper in the end as she was deemed more an electoral hazard than asset.

There’s also some trouble brewing in the polls for the SNP, however. While Scottish voters are more than happy with Nicola Sturgeon’s handling of Covid - 84% think the SNP government has done a good job with the vaccine programme - there’s upset mounting over domestic policy.

Some 48% of those polled think the First Minster has performed badly over health, and 46% think education is not being handled well.

Now imagine a Prime Minister in London who came without the chaotic baggage and corruption of Johnson. In truth, that could be just about anyone - even some random stranger picked off the street outside parliament.

Jibes aside, a new PM might prove very inconvenient for Yes. An efficient non-corrupt administration in London might take the glister off independence for those floating voters and undecideds in Scotland who moved over to Yes in this recent poll.

Equally, a decent London government might throw the SNP’s clear failings over health and education into much more stark relief.


To read the rest of this analysis, sign up to The Herald's political newsletter, Unspun, for FREE and get unrivalled political analysis in your inbox every day at 6pm.

Sign up here.