THINGS are getting desperate for Boris Johnson and his 10 Downing Street “Union Unit”. For the 15th time in a row, a poll has shown a clear majority of voters in Scotland favour Scottish independence.

Ipsos MORI opinion poll for STV News was matched in its significance by the SNP polling 55%, with its closest rival Tories at 22% and Labour 14% only months before the Holyrood election. Not only is the popularity of the SNP striking for observers in Scotland and across the UK, it is unmatched by any other party in any major European country. Germany’s ruling CDU/CSU currently stands at 34%, Sweden’s leading Social Democrats are on 25%, Spain’s PSOE on 24% and Italy’s Lega on 24%.

Not only is the headline support for the SNP and independence hugely impressive, but trust in the SNP to deal with issues effectively is overwhelming – 75% of respondents to the Ipsos MORI poll believed the SNP stands up for Scotland’s interests, 74% felt it deals effectively with the coronavirus crisis, 66% on managing the NHS in Scotland, 65% on tackling inequality in Scotland, 59% on managing Scotland’s economy and 59% on managing education and schools.

Meanwhile, the comparative findings for the other parties was overwhelmingly negative. This is hugely frustrating for the opposition at Holyrood and utterly mystifying for anti-independence commentators and publications.

Scotland’s First Minister dominates the front page of this week’s Spectator, with the headline “The Sturgeon Paradox: the worse she does, the more popular she becomes”.

As Alex Massie explains: “Voters are contrary creatures and nowhere more so than in Scotland. While giving the SNP a failing grade on education, health, justice and the economy, they still overwhelmingly endorsed SNP candidates at the UK General Election.”

Except, as the poll findings above show, the public does actually trust the SNP Scottish Government to operate effectively across policy areas. Additionally, the handling of the pandemic response has had major impact, especially the performance of the First Minister.

Massie wrote: “Sturgeon’s rave reviews come not just from fawning nationalists but also from dismayed Unionists. ‘Nicola has been calm, authoritative and cautious throughout,’ says one senior Tory MSP. And his own party leader? ‘Boris has over-promised and under-delivered. He lacks the appearance of seriousness, to the point where he lacks the appearance of competence’.”

In truth, voters in Scotland can themselves can point to the successes of devolution. A top 10 includes: record high health funding, where health portfolio spending will exceed £15 billion during 2020-21 an increase of almost 63% in resource funding under the SNP; the baby box given to every baby born and resident in Scotland so he or she gets the best start in life by providing families with essential items needed in the first six months of a child’s life; and free tuition, which means Scottish domiciled students receive university tuition free while in England students face tuition fees up to £27,750.

In recent weeks, Scotland became the first country in the world to agree to make period products available and free to all pupils and students, and to those in need in community settings.

This follows the decision in 2011 to abolish prescription charges, while in England they now cost £9.15 per item. In Scotland, every Scottish household benefits from cheaper tax bills – on average £450 less than England.

Headline policy changes in Scotland since devolution have also included free personal and nursing care extended to everyone who needs it, regardless of age; and free bus travel, with over one million Scots now enjoying free travel, including over-60s and people with disabilities.

Scotland now has its own social security system, paying additional benefits to those in the UK system. The Scottish Government has successfully introduced eight benefits, four of which are brand new and all of which are more generous than the UK benefits they have replaced. Meanwhile 600 hours of funded early learning and childcare has been introduced, which is worth around £2500 per child per year.

Boris Johnson may think devolution has been a “disaster”, but the people of Scotland disagree. Opposition parties and Unionist commentators hope to persuade the electorate that the SNP has been bad, but the public doesn’t buy it.

In only five months’ time this will be put to the test at the Scottish Parliament election. Supporters of Scottish independence and the SNP must take nothing for granted. We must never fall into the trap of expecting to always automatically succeed, or becoming sidetracked by being inwardly focused.

To continue the journey towards independence, deliver an independence referendum and continue governing in the interests of everyone in Scotland we will need to campaign hard to maximise everyone’s two votes for the SNP and welcoming everyone considering doing that for the first time.