Professor Sir John Curtice said independence is “certainly not in the bag” adding Brexit and coronavirus meant the key issues of independence had yet to be fully debated. Professor Curtice, a professor of politics at the University of Strathclyde, added: “The portion of support for independence that has got the Yes side past 50 percent is all relatively recent.
“To that extent at least certainly will not be based on long-term emotional commitment to the idea, in the way that many of the 45 percent would have had during 2014.”
He said because the “material circumstances” had changed since 2014, “a lot of the arguments on both sides of the debate that were deployed in 2014 no longer work.”
Sir John continued at an SNP conference fringe event: “And because we’ve essentially spent the last nine months thinking about coronavirus, and before that, we spent two years worrying about Brexit, we’ve not really, at least until very recently, had much of a debate about what independence would or would not mean.
“I think, therefore, there needs to be an awareness that if and when the issue does become much more prominent, which in part it’s bound to between now and next May, we can’t assume when people begin to be exposed to considerations and arguments that so far they’ve not been exposed to, that public opinion won’t shift.”
Sir John hinted there was a more equal chance voters could switch to No as well as Yes and added: “Anybody who is on the Yes side needs to realise OK, what is now true is that you’ve got a better chance of winning any referendum in the immediate future than you’ve ever previously had.
“But it’s certainly not in the bag, people will certainly need to be persuaded.”
More than a dozen consecutive opinion polls have indicated Scotland’s voters are now in favour of independence despite voting down the idea in 2014, with support also high for the SNP ahead of the next Holyrood election in May 2021.
Survey results rose as high as 58 percent when undecided voters are removed, according to an Ipsos Mori poll for STV in October.
“I believe people will vote for that in May and we will have another referendum and that people will vote for Scotland to be an independent country.
“The priority is to get through the COVID pandemic and that is taking up the full attention of Nicola Sturgeon and the Scottish Government.
“I would like a referendum as soon as possible but that will be brought forward as soon as it’s practical to do so.”