SUPPORT for Scottish independence is in the lead in polling commissioned exclusively by James Kelly of the Scot Goes Pop blog during the SNP leadership contest, The National can reveal.

In a Find Out Now survey of 1266 people carried out from March 1-9, Yes was on 52% with “don’t knows” removed.

Meanwhile, No was on 48%. With don’t knows included, the split was 50/46.

It marks a decline of two points for Yes since the previous Find Out Now poll on the topic, which was carried out in January 2023.

The poll comes after research from Redfield and Wilton Strategies suggested Yes support had fallen over the last three months, with No nine points ahead.

READ MORE: The latest polls could be missing a steady pro-independence majority

Kelly compared the results of the latest survey to those which put Yes in the lead following the Supreme Court’s judgment in November.

In his analysis of the poll for The National, Kelly suggested that the reason Find Out Now and Ipsos are finding pro-Yes majorities while other firms are not could be down to how the results are calculated.

He argued that the difference could be down to neither Ipsos or Find Out Now adjusting the findings by how respondents voted in the 2014 referendum.

The National:

“That kind of adjustment may have made sense in 2016 or even 2018, but nine years after the referendum it's getting a bit silly,” he wrote.

“Could it be that Ipsos and Find Out Now are getting it right by leaving out a 2014 adjustment, and other firms are getting it wrong? If so, there could be a No-friendly distortion in the vast majority of polls that we see, and it may be leading us to miss a fairly steady underlying Yes majority in the real world that has been around for years."

Gordon MacIntyre-Kemp, the leader of the grassroots independence campaign Believe in Scotland, said the poll "blows away" Unionist claims that independence support was reliant on Nicola Sturgeon staying in post.

"Even with the SNP washing its dirty laundry in public, the Scottish people are clearly reacting to wider issues such as Northern Ireland's privileged access to the EU, fruit and veg shortages, the abhorrent treatment of refugees (and Gary Lineker) and Westminster's continued political corruption.

"They are waking up to the fact that any one of the three SNP leadership candidates is capable of managing Scotland's affairs better than London."

He went on: "Presented with an open goal, the childish popcorn-munching Labour politicians appear unprofessional whilst the Scottish Government gets on with avoiding strikes and paying essential workers better wages. Starmer shifting Labour to the right will work in England but his wave of success in the next General Election will stop abruptly at the border because the Scottish people don't see a saviour but rather just a man lacking any discernable panache.

"Against that background, underlying support for independence will grow in popularity as the new FM adds more of a sense of urgency to the campaign in the coming months."

Elsewhere in the survey, respondents were asked if they supported the principle of a de facto referendum via a Westminster General Election.

READ MORE: Nicola Sturgeon slams BBC's 'indefensible' Gary Lineker move

A third (33%) said they supported the idea, while 30% said they were against it. With don’t knows removed, 52% supported the idea of a de facto referendum.

After the Supreme Court said Scotland required Westminster’s consent to hold a referendum, Nicola Sturgeon had planned to hold a special conference on the issue.

The National: Nicola Sturgeon calls on future first ministers to continue with 50/50 cabinet

However the proposals have been controversial within the independence movement and the candidates to replace Sturgeon appear to be moving away from that strategy.

Humza Yousaf has said he is not wedded to the prospect, while Ash Regan has suggested all elections should be fought on an independence basis – with Yes parties getting 50%+1 being the trigger to launch negotiations with Westminster.

Kate Forbes is keen to hold a referendum within three months of a pro-Yes majority of votes, should she be elected leader.