A FOCUS group of eight former No voters found all but one would now support Scottish independence.

The Times’s Red Box Politics Podcast, hosted by Matt Chorley and former Number 10 pollster James Johnson, put together a Zoom focus group of people who described themselves as undecided on Scotland’s constitutional future.

The results made for fascinating listening – which group members giving glowing reviews of First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, berating Boris Johnson and explaining why their fears about independence had dissipated. 

Here’s what they had to say on each topic. Listen in full here.

Nicola Sturgeon

  • “I didn’t like her before this, but she has totally changed me – I would say that she’s very honest and straight-forward. I feel that when she’s talking she’s just like one us, or maybe just one of me. I think she’s definitely got Scotland to heart, I think she wants the best."
  • “She’s someone I would trust if she dropped the whole independence thing and actually focus on everything else. I want to like her but I’ve got a deep-set feeling that I cant. And it all kind of stems from independence."
  • “I feel like I can trust her more, just the way that she’s handled things, the way that she speaks at the briefings. I feel like it’s not off a script, she’s saying it how it is."
  • “I would say she’s compassionate, you get that from her – she’s not just reading from a script, she’s talking about the impact it has on everybody. I think she’s also come across almost not as an MP, I don’t really look at her in that sort of respect anymore."
  • “I think she’s consistent, she’s clear and I trust her, you know you can relate to her more."
  • “Probably honest and transparent. I don’t feel she’s hiding anything from us, I think she’s telling us the truth and I probably feel I more trust a woman to run the country now more than I ever did."
  • “Trustworthy … decisive I think too. She hasn’t really swung back and forth – a decision’s made, and she’s sticking to it."
  • “I think before when she was first in place as First Minister you used to think she was really grumpy – she opened a nursery and I didn’t really think of her like me my and my friends. But I do find that she’s very respectful I think of people, respectful of opinions, I think she makes a decision going with her advice and makes it very clear and I just think I have a lot of respect for her now."

The National:

Boris Johnson

  • "Lunatic"
  • "A buffoon"
  • "Mad"
  • "Unconvincing"
  • "Untrustworthy"
  • "Bumbling"
  • "A buffoon"
  • "I don’t think he’s in touch with the people he’s just an absolute snob"
  • "I would hate to be living down in England with him leading"
  • "I don’t trust anything that comes out of his mouth"
  • "He wont even tell the truth about how many children he’s fathered"

How would they vote now? 

  • "I would vote yes. Just because I believe them more now, whereas before I didn’t. I believe what they’re saying and I just think that as a nation we could do it on our own. I believe more – and I’m not really a politician fan but I believe more because of what’s happening at the moment that we could do it."
  • "I’d take a gamble and I’d put my trust in her. She’s been honest to this point. I’m still on the fence but if you’re forcing me to make a decision …  I’d vote Yes."
  • "100% Yes due to all the lies and I was worried before that we’d be able to sustain stuff in Scotland but I’m not worried anymore … like how much tax Scotland brings in to the UK Government and stuff, I’m more worried about England if Scotland leaves."
  • "I would vote Yes. Just got a lot more confidence in the SNP and I trust Nicola to kind of lead the party that way based on the way everything that’s happened with Covid."
  • "Like I said earlier on 100% Yes. Because I want my children to grow up in a country where the Government that they vote for, the people of Scotland vote for, is the Government the people of Scotland get."
  • "I would probably still say No for the main reason being as I said before about the economic factor. If they did come into independence by the time a vote happened I’d be probably well into my 50s maybe but at this moment in time I couldn’t hand on heart say that I totally agree with every point. So I’d probably still say No at this point."
  • "I would say Yes with Nicola Sturgeon fronting it."
  • "I would say Yes just so we have a say in what happens in our country. I think by being an independent country is the way to do that."

The presenter concluded: “So out of the eight, six or seven definite Yesses – one wavering No but probably persuadable in the long-term though.”

They also noted that they tried out a range of arguments a future No campaign would use to persuade Scots not to vote for independence – but found these were “much weaker than they were in 2014”.

The focus group comes after several consecutive polls this year put support for Scottish independence between 53% and 55%, and show the SNP on track to win a majority at next year’s Holyrood election.