IT may seem strange to say when the previous record-high Yes vote has just been smashed, but it’s important to stress that the result of the new Ipsos Mori poll doesn’t necessarily mean there has been an increase in independence support.

The difference between the 58% recorded in this poll and the 52-55% seen in other polls in the summer and autumn is much more likely to have been caused by methodology. Ipsos MORI polled by telephone and every other independence poll this year has been conducted via an online polling panel. We know from the experience of recent years that telephone polls have tended to be more favourable for Yes since 2014 (the opposite was true prior to the indyref). So a new online poll published in the near future probably wouldn’t replicate Ipsos MORI’s findings.

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But that shouldn’t in any sense be seen as a cause for disappointment. What it’s likely to mean is that telephone polls, if they had been conducted regularly throughout the year, would have been showing a Yes vote higher than 55% for several months now. It’s therefore entirely possible that the position for the Yes movement is even rosier than has been generally realised. Much depends on the answer to the age-old question of whether phone polls are more reliable than online polls. Until a few years ago, most experts would have had no hesitation in saying they were, but the outcome of the EU referendum in 2016, when online polls performed better, muddied the waters somewhat.

The ever-increasing difficulties of conducting phone polls in an age when people simply don’t answer landline calls might conceivably mean that online polling, in spite of being considerably cheaper, now has the edge. There’s still a respectable case to be made, though, that the genuinely random sampling of phone polling ought to produce more accurate results than volunteer online panels comprised, to a disproportionate extent, of the politically committed and engaged. When both data collection methods have such clear strengths and weaknesses, it’s important to see both types of poll to get a balanced picture – and that simply hasn’t been happening until now.

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The Ipsos MORI poll is also a landmark for its early indications that the Conservatives’ gamble in replacing Jackson Carlaw with Douglas Ross may have failed. Not only do they find themselves almost 40 points adrift of the SNP on the Holyrood constituency vote, but Ross himself has a dismal personal rating of -17. Tories may argue that he hasn’t yet had enough time to establish himself and that his numbers will turn around when the public get to know him better. But in fact the proportion of respondents who don’t yet have a view on Ross (40%) is strikingly similar to the proportion who don’t have a view on Richard Leonard (38%) or Willie Rennie (41%), both of whom have been in harness for a number of years. So this may be as good as it gets.

The UK Government has for quite some time been attempting to elevate opinion poll results to a quasi-constitutional status to give itself an excuse for ignoring actual election results, ie “we know from polls that the people of Scotland don’t really want independence or a referendum”.

That leaves Boris Johnson with something of a presentational problem, now that we have a poll showing that 58% of people intend to vote SNP next year, that 64% think a referendum should be held after an SNP victory and that 58% would vote in favour of independence in that referendum. Over to you, Prime Minister.