LORD Ashcroft’s poll is a landmark moment for the Yes movement, showing as it does a clear majority in favour of independence for the first time in any poll since 2017.

However, it shouldn’t be any great surprise that we’ve reached this point. All of the four previous polls this year asking the standard independence question have shown Yes in the high 40s, despite being conducted by polling firms (YouGov and Panelbase) that in recent years have tended to report more favourable figures for No.

It always seemed entirely possible that other firms would have been showing Yes ahead over the last few months, if they had actually been conducting polls.

Because Lord Ashcroft hasn’t polled on independence for a very long time, it’s unclear whether his methodology slots in more at the Yes-friendly or No-friendly end of the spectrum. That’s a crucial point of uncertainty, because it means we don’t know whether this Yes lead is a recent breakthrough caused by Boris Johnson’s arrival in Downing Street, or whether Ashcroft would have found much the same thing if he had polled earlier in the year.

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We’ll only know for sure that we’re witnessing a “reverse Boris bounce” if the next YouGov or Panelbase poll shows Yes in the 50s.

Ashcroft’s finding that a slim majority of the public (excluding don’t knows) want an independence referendum within the next two years is bang in line with the last Panelbase poll.

However, it’s likely to have a greater psychological impact than the Panelbase figures, because a binary question was used, making it much more difficult for Conservative politicians to misrepresent the result. Many of the claims since 2014 that “Scots don’t want another referendum” have been distortions made possible by polls that asked much more complicated multi-option questions about the preferred timing of a future referendum.

Perhaps the most striking finding of the poll is that, by an overwhelming margin of 52% to 30%, the electorate thinks a new referendum would result in a win for Yes.

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There’s a theory in some circles that the “wisdom of crowds” means that if you ask a polling sample to predict the outcome of an election or referendum, you’ll get a more accurate result than if you ask for voting intentions in the standard way.

Of course, prediction polling might be skewed if respondents have been exposed to misinformation in the media about the state of public opinion, but if anything the Scottish media has tended to be unrealistically pessimistic about the prospects for a Yes victory. So Ashcroft’s finding may be an indication that people can sense the tide turning in conversations with family, friends and wider acquaintances.

Drilling deeper within the poll, there are a couple of details that offer clues about how the next General Election might play out, depending on choices made by political leaders.

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A remarkable 40% of people who voted Labour in 2017 would vote Yes in a new indyref, which suggests that a full-blooded pro-independence campaign could help the SNP win the seats currently held by Labour (with the obvious exception of Unionist-dominated Edinburgh South). And in complete contrast to the rest of the population, 53% of people who voted Tory two years ago want the UK to leave the EU in October, even if that means a No-Deal outcome.

That suggests, ironically, that the SNP may have a better chance in Tory-held seats in the north-east and the Borders if Boris Johnson ends up softening his position on Brexit or backtracking completely – because that could result in hardline anti-EU voters deserting the Tories for the Brexit Party, thus allowing the SNP to come out on top in a number of seats by default.