INDEPENDENCE would not be won in a referendum held tomorrow, but Scots think it would if the vote were held in five years’ time, in-depth polling into Scots’ views on independence has shown.

A poll published on Monday suggests that Scots would vote by 56% to 44% to remain a part of the Union if indyref2 were held tomorrow, with don’t knows removed.

Scots also judge this to be the national mood, with 42% against 33% saying they think No would win if indyref2 were held tomorrow.

However, if the vote were held in five years’ time the plurality of Scots (36% vs 33%) think that Yes would triumph.

The polling also suggests that the majority of Scots (67%) are firmly set in their ways when it comes to their vote on independence, never having changed their mind on the issue. Meanwhile, 16% of Scots said they had changed their mind once – either from No to Yes or vice versa – and 13% said they had changed their mind more than once.

Conservative voters were the most intransigent, with 87% of them never having changed their mind on independence. Labour (64%) and LibDem (75%) voters were also more likely to have never changed their minds than SNP voters (60%).

The new survey was conducted by Lord Ashcroft Polls and first released to Holyrood magazine, which Michael Ashcroft owns.

Ashcroft is a billionaire Tory donor and former peer, having retired from the House of Lords in 2015. His poll surveyed 2105 people in Scotland from January 26 to February 3.

EU and de facto referendums

The poll also revealed how Scots think about stated SNP strategy on the European Union and a de facto referendum.

Asked if an independent Scotland should join the EU without a referendum, voters were split. The plurality (36%) agreed with Constitution Secretary Angus Robertson’s statement that Scotland should join the bloc without a vote, but 32% said there should be a referendum on the topic.

The poll further suggests that Scots reject the idea of a “de facto referendum” run through a Westminster General Election. Some 67% of people said we “cannot assume that every vote for the SNP or the Greens is a vote for Scottish independence”, compared to 21% who backed the idea.

Among SNP voters, some 44% backed the idea of a de facto referendum, while 48% rejected it.

Politicians’ ratings

Better news for the SNP comes from extensive polling on perceptions of politicians and political parties.

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The Ashcroft poll shows that Nicola Sturgeon is still the most popular politician in Scotland, with a rating of 41 (out of a possible 100). The SNP as a party scored 39 – the highest of any political grouping.

Perhaps unexpectedly, Gordon Brown is a close second to the First Minister, on 40/100. Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar also fared well (36) while Keir Starmer just pipped him (37).

Continuing the pattern, Ruth Davidson also did better than any of the current Tory leaders. The now Baroness scored 35, while Rishi Sunak’s 24 was worse even than Douglas Ross’s 26.

Scottish LibDem leader Alex Cole-Hamilton was tied with Greens co-leader Lorna Slater on 26, while her fellow Green chief Patrick Harvie scored 28.

In bad news for Alba, they as a party scored 12, tied with Reform UK as the least popular in Scotland. Alex Salmond returned a score of 15, below Boris Johnson’s score of 18.

Gender reform

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The survey suggests that the Scottish Parliament’s vote to pass the Gender Recognition Reform Bill was out of step with public thinking. In all, 29% of people said they back the bill while 54% said they do not.

Scots were also split on whether or not the UK Government was right to step in and use Section 35 of the Scotland Act to block the bill. A total of 33% said it was wrong, while 50% said the move had been the right one.

In total, 22% said they supported the bill and the UK Government was wrong to block it, while 11% said they oppose the bill but the UK Government was wrong to block it.

On the other side, 43% said they opposed the bill and the UK Government was right to block it, while 7% said they supported the bill but the UK Government was within its rights to block it. The wording on this final grouping was slightly different to the others, saying not that the Tory government was “right” to block the bill but only “within its rights”.

The full data tables can be found on Ashcroft’s website here.