A LOT of water has passed under the bridge since I last commissioned a Scot Goes Pop/Panelbase poll back in June. That was the landmark poll which revealed that the events of the pandemic had pushed the pro-independence side back into the lead after a slight dip earlier in the year.

It turned out to be the first in an unprecedented string of consecutive polls from multiple firms showing a Yes majority. The new poll is the 14th in a row with a Yes lead (if a Survation poll for Progress Scotland with a non-standard question is taken into account). But it gets better – the 56% Yes vote is the highest ever in any poll conducted by Panelbase, exceeding even the extraordinary 55% recorded in the poll commissioned by Business for Scotland in August.

It’s also the highest ever Yes vote in any online poll conducted by a firm affiliated with the British Polling Council (BPC). The only BPC poll that has ever exceeded 56% was last month’s legendary Ipsos Mori poll, which was conducted by phone.

And the timing is particularly fortuitous because the fieldwork of the Scot Goes Pop/Panelbase poll just happened to coincide with a new independence poll from YouGov, which reports a modest decrease in the Yes vote from 53% to 51%. Unionists are crowing about that one (possibly the first time in history that they’ve ever celebrated a Yes majority!) but the reality is that we have two simultaneous polls, one of which shows Yes a bit higher than expected – with the other showing Yes a bit lower than expected.

READ MORE: Second Scottish independence poll in one day gives Yes 12-point lead

That suggests we could be looking at random margin of error “noise” in both polls and that the true position on the ground has remained pretty much unchanged since Yes reached its peak in the summer. As for the fact that YouGov is only barely showing a Yes majority while Panelbase is reporting a commanding Yes lead, it may simply be that YouGov’s methodology is now slotting in at the No-friendly end of the polling spectrum, which was very much the case throughout most of the 2014 indyref campaign.

The two polls are in total agreement on one point, though: the SNP remain on course for a thumping win at next year’s Scottish Parliament election. The Panelbase numbers would leave the SNP with 55% of seats in Holyrood, while the pro-independence parties in combination would have an astonishing 62% of the seats. We know from the events of 2016 that an inflated lead can contract very quickly over the course of an intense campaign, so there should be no complacency about the prospects of a pro-independence majority, let alone the single-party SNP overall majority that might be needed to press home the mandate for an independence referendum in the face of Westminster intransigence.

That said, it’s murderously hard to see how things could turn around sufficiently to make a Unionist-led government viable – the Tories are a massive 32 points off the pace on the constituency vote and will probably be more preoccupied with a very tight tussle with Labour for the runner-up spot. So, at the very least, another five years of SNP-led rule looks virtually assured.

The SNP are also on course to take all but three of the 59 Scottish seats at the next Westminster election, with exactly 50% of the vote. The Tories and the LibDems would be the big losers, with the latter being wiped out completely. That’s probably an unlikely outcome in the real world, though, because the LibDems traditionally perform a lot better in their pockets of strength than national trends would predict.