Scottish voters are evenly split on independence, but IndyRef2 will be a very different campaign

Will Theresa May learn David Cameron's lessons?

Scottish voters are now evenly split in their views on independence according to a new poll.

The Ipsos MORI/STV poll finds that of all those who expressed a view and would be certain or likely to vote, 50 per cent said that they would support independence if a further referendum was held tomorrow, and 50 per cent were opposed.

Voters were also asked, in the event of independence, what Scotland’s relationship with the EU should be. 48 per cent said they supported full membership of the EU, with 27 per cent believing Scotland should have full access to the single market but without being a full member of the EU. 17 per cent did not believe an independent Scotland should be a member of either the EU or the single market.

The polling found also that 52 per cent of those questioned believe a second referendum should be held to either accept or reject whatever Brexit deal the UK Government is able to agree with the EU, the same proportion who feel Nicola Sturgeon is doing a good job as first minister in standing up for Scotland’s interest as part of the process of Brexit.

Just 34 per cent feel that Theresa May is doing a good job in representing the UK’s interests in the process of leaving the EU. This fell to 24 per cent when respondents were asked to rate how well she was doing in representing Scotland’s interests in the process of the UK leaving the EU.

With important local elections taking place in May, of all those who said how they would vote and who also said they were likely to do so, 46 per cent said they would cast their vote for the SNP, with 19 per cent saying they will back the Conservatives. Scottish Labour came third with just 17 per cent of those questioned saying they would back them in the council elections.

Commenting on the findings, Mark Diffley, Director at Ipsos MORI Scotland said:

“There has been much recent speculation about if and when there will be a second referendum on Scottish independence. In the immediate aftermath of the EU Referendum vote last June there was an increase in support for independence, which ebbed away later in the year. This poll suggests some modest movement back towards independence since we last measured opinion 6 months ago. It will certainly provide the SNP with a lift ahead of their spring conference in Aberdeen next week.”

The findings come as the man who was Scottish secretary during the last independence referendum has warned that Theresa May risks fighting the wrong campaign in the event of a second independence referendum.

Speaking ahead of the Scottish Lib Dem conference today in Perth, Alistair Carmichael argued that although his former Cabinet colleague, Theresa May, has a ‘better sense of self-awareness’ than David Cameron, she never the less risks making the same mistake has her predecessor in ‘promoting her party’s interest rather than the national self-interest’.

Arguing that the ‘biggest danger’ for Scotland is that Number 10 seeks to ‘fight the last war’, he said:

“I don’t want to see another independence referendum. But if by whatever means it happens you have to understand that it will be a very different campaign from the last one.

“For most of the last campaign the fairly complacent expectation was that there would be a No vote — right up until the last couple of weeks. That is not going to the case this time.

“Too much of the way in which the campaign was fought allowed to be characterised as a contest between governments in Holyrood and Westminster.

“That cannot be allowed to happen again. It will have to be a much more Scottish-centric campaign.”

Ed Jacobs is a contributing editor at Left Foot Forward

See: Is Nicola Sturgeon turning into Gordon Brown?

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