ONE of my main aims in the new Scot Goes Pop / Panelbase poll was to probe the contradictions that can be found at the heart of the campaign pitches of every one of the three main Unionist parties.

In Labour’s case, the contradiction is that they remain a hardline anti-independence, anti-indyref party even though their new leader Anas Sarwar repeatedly claims to be able to speak for both anti-independence and pro-independence voters in a way that his Conservative counterpart Douglas Ross cannot.

It’s unsurprising that Labour want to pose as an ecumenical party, given that the bulk of support they’ve lost in recent years has been from Yes voters.

But can they actually gain any traction that way without backing up the pose with some policy substance? In other words, will they have to meet Yes voters halfway by offering some sort of compromise on a referendum, however painful they might find that?

Or can they really have their cake and eat it, and claim to represent Yes voters while only ever giving No voters what they want?

Judging from the poll results, the answer to the latter question is an emphatic “no”. Once undecideds are removed, 62% of respondents say that Labour cannot speak for Yes voters unless they offer an indyref compromise.

But of course what really matters on this question is the opinion of Yes voters themselves, and there the results are even more stark.

READ MORE: Anas Sarwar can’t speak for Yes voters with current Labour policy, poll says

Excluding don’t-knows, a resounding 81% of respondents who voted for independence in 2014 reject any notion that an out-and-out Unionist party can speak for them.

The big danger for Anas Sarwar is that he may actually make his problem with Yes voters worse by annoying them with his sheer presumptuousness. If he can’t bring himself to soften his stance on a referendum, he might be better off simply owning his “no surrender” brand of Unionism and at least gaining some credit for honesty and consistency.

Meanwhile, the contradiction in the LibDem position is they still claim to be a pro-European party while openly stating they are not a “rejoin” party, ie they are not currently campaigning to rejoin the EU.

At UK level they can just about get away with that, because they’re only really in competition with two parties who are more pro-Brexit than they are. But in Scotland, they’re competing with three parties – the SNP, Greens and Alba – who want to get back into Europe quickly and offer independence as a credible means of achieving that.

For the first time in their history, the Scottish LibDems are potentially left looking like a relatively Eurosceptic outfit, which is deeply uncomfortable for them given their own instincts, and may also be electorally damaging given the nature of their traditional support base.

To confirm the problem, I asked respondents whether the LibDems could still be considered a “pro-European party” in view of their rejection of the rejoin option for the whole UK, and of the possibility of Scotland becoming an EU member as an independent state.

With undecideds stripped out, an overwhelming 68% of the sample feel that the pro-European claim is now bogus. Even No voters from 2014 take that view, albeit by a much narrower margin, as do a substantial minority of the LibDems’ own voters from the 2019 General Election (39% excluding don’t-knows).

The days of LibDem canvassers breezing around affluent neighbourhoods and getting a positive response by claiming to be “pro-UK, pro-EU” may now be over.