THIS week’s new full-scale Scottish opinion poll from Survation confirms, if any further confirmation were needed, that Nicola Sturgeon’s decision last spring to seek a second indyref has not had a negative impact on support for independence. The Yes vote now stands at 46 per cent – a statistically insignificant one point lower than the 47 per cent recorded in a poll by the same firm just before Sturgeon made her announcement in March.

That may come as a surprise to anyone who bought into the narrative the SNP’s referendum strategy “backfired” after only a few short weeks, with a snap election that showed – in spite of a clear SNP victory – voters were “rejecting” independence. In reality, Survation’s series of online polls paints a picture of relative stability over the last year. Yes support has not been higher than 47 per cent during that period, and has not been lower than 43 per cent. The fluctuations within that narrow band can easily be explained by the standard margin of error, although the fact the low point was reached in June may imply that hysteria of the election campaign had a small and temporary effect that was quickly reversed.

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So is it encouraging or troubling that nothing much has changed? There’s always a great temptation to extrapolate current trends into the future, and to assume that because Yes has not made gains over a prolonged spell, it could take years or decades to pick up the few extra percentage points of support that are required to nudge above 50 per cent. Thankfully, though, it doesn’t work like that. The electorate has become extremely volatile in recent years, but that volatility often makes itself felt during the heat of an election or referendum campaign, rather than during the long, quiet spells between elections. Witness, for example, how Labour’s UK support languished at a pitiful level for months prior to the calling of the 2017 election, before suddenly shooting up during the frenetic period of the official campaign, and then stabilising again afterwards. If rapid progress for Yes occurs, it’s likely to happen after the second indyref campaign gets underway, and not before.

Of course, the SNP themselves may not be immune to electoral volatility if another snap General Election is called before the referendum takes place. Survation’s new figures suggest that the SNP’s lead over the Tories in Westminster voting intentions has sharply increased from eight points to 15 since the 2017 election, and that their lead over Labour has increased from 10 points to 12 over the same spell. That would see them make substantial seat gains from both major unionist parties. But, crucially, their position in relation to Labour is rather precarious. Of the seven post-election Scottish polls that have been conducted by all polling firms, three have suggested that the SNP’s advantage over Labour has increased since June, three have suggested that it has decreased, and one showed no change. Given that both Labour and the SNP hold a number of ultra-marginal seats, it’s not at all clear which party would be most likely to make gains from the other, even if an election were to be held tomorrow. What would happen after several weeks of intensive campaigning is harder still to predict.

Nevertheless, the SNP will take enormous heart from the Survation poll, primarily because it contradicts a recent YouGov poll which reported an apparent dip in the party’s fortunes. If Survation had replicated YouGov’s findings, it would have looked very much like a worrying new trend. As it is, the SNP appear to be more than holding their own, and can afford to look ahead to any fresh election with at least as much optimism as trepidation.