NEW polling analysis reveals the polling shift in favour of Scottish independence is now the most prolonged in history.

Analysis from data journalist and Britain Elects founder Ben Walker, written for the New Statesman, finds support for leaving the Union is currently sitting at around 53%, an increase of eight points on 2014’s referendum result.

He reports that there has not been a single poll on the issue since March showing support for the Union ahead.

Support has increased in the polls previously, for example immediately after the 2016 Brexit referendum – however this was not nearly as sustained as the current trend.

The National: Credit: New StatesmanCredit: New Statesman

There are several factors contributing to the upswing in support, Walker writes, but one of the key ones is the “demographic timebomb that is young voters”.

His analysis shows that among those aged 16-34 independence support is widespread, with some polls even suggesting it’s sitting at about 75%.

Meanwhile, those aged over 55 are split nearly three to four against Scottish independence.

Another key element in increasing independence support is the coronavirus crisis, the journalist writes. With 78% of Scots approving of the Scottish Government’s handling of the pandemic, and a majority of them disapproving of the UK Government’s approach, there’s evidence voters see Holyrood as more equipped to deal with a crisis than Westminster.

The final driving factor is Holyrood’s opposition leaders, Walker says. Further poll analysis dating back to 2008 shows that Ruth Davidson was the only Unionist leader of the last 10 years to score a majority approval rating among Scots, with 55% satisfied with her performance.

Jackson Carlaw, her successor, scored 18%. Douglas Ross, the current Scottish Tory leader who gained the role in the wake of bleak approval ratings for Carlaw, scores even less on 17%.

The picture is equally grim for LabourRichard Leonard’s approval rating stood at 17% too.

“Those opposed to the break-up of the Union might need new figureheads, as well as more convincing arguments, if they want to turn back the independence tide,” Walker concludes.

Commenting on the analysis, the SNP’s longest-serving MP Pete Wishart said: “This is great and has been shared widely but it also comes as a salutary lesson to all those who proclaim ‘just use the mandate’.

“If we had just ‘used the mandate’ between 2017 to 2019 we probably would have lost. Now we will probably win. And it’s all about winning.”