Tartan deckchairOkay, my title is crude – but I’m genuinely surprised that some of the tabloids haven’t made that connection!

Anyway, surely today’s biggest story (well, the story that will interest Better Nation readers the most!) is the news that independence has overtaken continued membership of the UK in an opinion poll for the Herald for the first time in three years.

Pollster TNS-BMRB has asked the Scottish Government’s preferred question in each of its 10 polls over the last four years, asking voters whether they agree or disagree “that the Scottish Government should negotiate a settlement with the Government of the United Kingdom so that Scotland becomes an independent state”.

In this poll, those selecting “I agree” totalled 39% to 38% for those who disagreed.

Support for independence trailed support for the Union by 8 points when the SNP won May’s Holyrood election, and in a little over 100 days of majority SNP Government (albeit with the majority of that time spent on recess!) that has changed into a one point lead.

I guess the question is: why?

As I said in the previous paragraph, the Scottish Parliament has been in recess for most of that period.  So while the SNP’s performance in government might have been a factor in some people’s responses, it can’t be the whole story – since they haven’t really done anything.

But then, that might be part of the explanation.  With Holyrood in recess, political attention has been focused on Westminster.  And that means focusing on the actions of what is – in Scotland at least – a generally unpopular Conservative-Lib Dem coalition government.  Plus, we’ve seen riots in English cities, apparently based upon reaction to coalition policies, with spending cuts being cited in many cases as one of the reasons for spreading of the riots.

Yes, this is a simplistic explanation – based on little evidence and lots of conjecture – but it does beg another question:

If support for independence has increased because the SNP has not been in the news, what will happen when the Holyrood recess is over and the party are subject to the usual media critiques?

I guess time will tell.  But in the meantime, presumably, SNP strategists will be digesting these latest polls and working out what the party need to do to keep the numbers for independence moving in an upward trajectory.  And if that means the party stay out of the news, then that might be what happens…