As my esteemed blogging colleague, Jeff highlighted, today’s Com Res poll for the Independent on Sunday produces the astonishing finding that a majority of folk south of the border support independence.

The whole poll sampled over 2000 voters across the UK, but only 176 were in Scotland, so caveats apply about the representativeness of the sample size.  But the really interesting findings are on voting intentions and opinions about the performance of various leaders and parties.

First, the headline indie finding in Scotland – support is up to 49%, an increase of 11% since the last Com Res poll, and firmly within the direction of travel reported by other polls over the summer.

Apparently, at the last General Election, 28% of Scots voted “other”, one presumes mainly for the SNP.  If there was a UK election tomorrow, 33% would vote SNP, 30% would vote Labour, 11% would vote Conservative and 6% vote Liberal Democrat.  Again, in tune with other polls, the SNP is increasingly becoming the party of choice for voters at all elections.  Would a 33% result be enough to see constituencies topple like dominoes, as happened in May?  Doubtful.  They need more swing towards them and away from Labour, particularly in the central belt.

The poll suggests the Lib Dems are finished in Scotland, at least for the foreseeable future.  On a series of attitudinal statements, the Scots are much more down on the Liberal Democrats than other parts of the UK or indeed the UK as a whole.

*Nick Clegg is turning out to be a good leader for the Liberal Democrats* – 83% of Scots disagreed compared to 53% at UK level

*The Liberal Democrats have done a good job of moderating Conservative policies in the Coalition* – an oft repeated assertion by Scottish Lib Dems in particular – 61% of Scots disagree compared to 47% for the UK

*Being in coalition with the Conservatives has shown the Liberal Democrats to be a credible party of government* – 17% of Scots agree compared to 24% of total participants across the UK.  Only Wales has a lower percentage agreeing (15%).

There is divergence in opinion amongst Scots voters compared to the UK as a whole and whatever the Scottish Liberal Democrats do, they are facing an uphill battle the whole time their party is in coalition with the Conservatives at UK level, because Scots do not believe it is making any difference to UK government policies or behaviour.  That belief is no doubt affirmed every time a Scottish Liberal Democrat MP pops up in the news bearing bad news – as the water carriers for the government in Scotland they are intrinsically linked to it all and it is doing nothing for their reputation with Scottish voters.

The poll also suggests a link between the Conservatives being in power, the austerity of the times we live in and growing support for independence.

*The Coalition Government’s policies share the burden of hard times fairly so that we are “all in it together”* – over one in four UK participants agree with this statement (27%) but in Scotland it’s less than one in five (18%).

And while one third of respondents think David Cameron is turning out to be a good Prime Minister across the UK, in Scotland only 18% think so.  If the Liberal Democrats have a hill to climb to turn around their electoral fortunes in Scotland, then the Conservatives clearly have a mountain to scale.

It is supposition – and it would be great if someone, other than the parties themselves, was prepared to engage in qualitative research that explores why Scottish voters are headed towards independence – but with a UK Government not to their liking, and not behaving in a way which finds favour with Scottish voters, you can see why people might be turning towards independence as a credible alternative.

And there are other polls indicating the key role that the economic situation might just be playing in that shift.  To be blogged on later….