Having being asked to vote seven times in just over three years, (the EU Parliamentary election and an Independence Referendum in 2014, the UK Parliamentary election in 2015, Scottish Parliamentary Election and the EU Referendum in 2016 and Scottish Local elections this May and the UK General election today), the last thing many Scots want is another Referendum. This is especially true today given the uncertainties of Brexit and the divisions that still exist across the Scottish population following the divisive 2014 Independence Referendum when many families were split apart by passionately held opposing views.
So despite the commanding presence of the SNP in the last UK Parliament and their continuing control of the Scottish Parliament, Scottish opinion polls now show a decline in support for the SNP.
With the extra powers being devolved to Scotland as a result of the strong nationalist support in the 2014 Independence Referendum, there are growing number of Scottish voters who want the SNP led Scottish Government to concentrate on governing rather than continually focus on Independence. One poll of 2000 Scottish voters (21 Mar 17 for SKY TV prior to the announcement of the Snap UK General Election) actually showed Scots thinking that the UK Prime Minister Mrs May was doing a better job than the Scottish First Minister Mrs Sturgeon.
At the Scottish local Elections, on 4 May, the SNP were again the largest party with 32% of first preference votes and the Conservatives remainded the second most popular party with 25% of first preference votes. Labour and the Liberal Democrats obtained 20% and 7% of first preference votes respectively, with most of the remaining 15% going to Independent candidates, often popular local personalities who do well in local elections. So although the SNP percentage is down on other recent elections in Scotland, this figure cannot be easily compared to the other parliamentary election results.
The UK “Brexit” election has been about Independence north of the Border by the two largest parties. The Conservatives have campaigned to avoid IndyRef2 and preserve the Union, whereas the SNP are keen to push ahead with IndyRef2 as a means to separate Scotland from the UK but remain within the EU so as to avoid Brexit. However, the SNP accept that Scotland is likely to have to leave the EU post Brexit and reapply as an independent Nation thereafter.
The SNP achieved 45% of the vote for Independence in 2014, 50% of the popular vote for their candidates at the UK General Election in 2015 and 47% of the constituency vote at the Scottish Parliament Elections in 2016. However, it remains to be seen whether they can maintain such a high percentage of the popular vote in today’s UK General Election of 2017.
So although the UK polls would point towards Teresa May remaining as UK Prime Minister, the voting percentages will be very closely watched north of the Border, where polls suggest that the Conservatives will make gains. Should the SNP retain 56 MPs and obtain 50% of the vote, there will be huge political pressure for a second Scottish Independence Referendum. However, should the SNP lose around 10 MPs and the vast majority of votes across Scotland be for pro-Unionist parties (Conservative, Labour and Liberal Democrat), it is likely that the second referendum will continue to be declined by a Conservative and Unionist UK Prime Minister.
Hence, tonight there will be much interest from outside Scotland on the declaration of results for Scottish constituencies. One of the Conservatives key target seats is that of the SNP Leader at Westminster Angus Robertson, whose normally safe majority may be affected by strong support for “Leave” in his Moray constituency in last year’s EU Referendum.
More from me tomorrow…