Scottish independence 'not likely' on current polls. Why?

Sep 18, 2013

One year ahead of the independence referendum, polls suggest Yes camp has a mountain to climb

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WITH a year to go before the Scottish referendum on independence, a batch of new opinion polls suggest that the 'No' vote is well out in front.

A YouGov poll in The Times has the 'No' camp - which wants Scotland to remain part of the UK - on 52 per cent, with those in favour of separation on 32 per cent. The rest are undecided.

A Scotsman/ICM poll at the weekend had a similar result: 49 per cent against, and only 32 per cent in favour of independence. Almost one in five were undecided.

Why are voters put off? Analysing the results for the BBC, politics professor John Curtice of Strathclyde University says the results do not currently reflect how people feel about their nationality, suggesting other factors – specifically the economy - are motivating voters.

"Far more people feel strongly Scottish rather than strongly British, so clearly people's views are not just a reflection of their identity," he says. "Who wins the referendum could well turn on who wins the economic argument."

The Daily Telegraph today carries the sort of economic "scare story" that could well put Scots off voting for independence. According to the National Institute of Economic and Social Research (NIESR ) think-tank, Scotland could face decades of austerity and borrowing costs "that would soar above Italy and Spain's" if it goes solo, because it would have to take on a disproportionate debt pile and pay billions more interest than the UK to borrow.

What might tempt more to vote Yes? As well as more clarity on the economic front, one thing that could persuade more people to support independence, according to the Scotsman poll, is if Holyrood is not promised more power in the event of a 'No' vote.

"The battle for Scotland's future could be thrown into the balance if the pro-UK side stops short of a cast-iron commitment to hand more powers to the Scottish Parliament," the paper says.

Writing in The Times, YouGov president Peter Kellner says SNP leader Alex Salmond's biggest problem "is that Scottish voters overwhelmingly align their attitudes to independence to their party allegiance, and there are simply too few Scottish National Party supporters to deliver a 'Yes' majority".

However, the pro-independence campaign could be boosted by events south of the border. Scottish Labour voters could be persuaded to vote 'Yes' if the Tories forge ahead in the run-up to the 2015 general election.

If Cameron looks likely to remain as Prime Minister, then "Salmond could offer a 'Yes' vote as a way to escape the prospect of a right-wing government lording it over Scotland from London".

Or is it a lost cause? Despite these caveats, the 'Yes' camp would still appear to have a mountain to climb. The US polling guru Nate Silver, who famously got Barack Obama's re-election spot on, told the Scotsman there was "virtually no chance" of independence for Scotland.

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There is a lot that could be said of course but for me the overriding reason for a YES vote is INDEPENDENCE from the English and the dominating English parliament. We want rid of them. Whatever the negative gloom ridden No voters say, should the economic question be an issue? OK so we may find things a bit "difficult" to begin with, but for me that is a minor cross to carry. The major thing for us is the ability to govern ourselves. As far as we are concerned, short term "hardship" would be welcome just to get rid of the English. Thereafter, matters WILL inevitably improve for the best. We say YES to Independence..

The yes campaign hasn't even started yet,people have such short attention spans these days that a three month campaign will bore them,and the lies and misinformation being touted by the no campaign is going to backfire on them eventually.Westminsters corrupt incompetence is obvious to anybody with half a brain,and as usual negative campaigning is a huge turn off.

There's no such thing as an English Parliament. You mean the 'Westminster Parliament'. You need to be careful about your wording otherwise it could be deemed racist. There will be English people in Scotland voting for Scottish Independence, as there will be Portuguese, Poles, or Pakistani.

In each case this article refers to media outlets with a known unionist bias (The Times, The Scotsman, Daily Telegraph, BBC). If you insist on quoting polls, then The Week needs to dig a little deeper. Start with polling in Scotland. Its a peculiar thing. You see, voters in Scotland are more open to tactical voting because of the differing political situations. Kellner is ignorant of this as he would soon realise that it is entirely possible for a voter to vote for SNP in a Holyrood election, but vote say Labour in a Westminster election, knowing that in each case (esp. in the Westminster case) that it is more likely to count towards the result, and forgets that SNP won an overall majority in 2011 in a Proportional Representation system. There will be 2011 Labour voters voting Yes, and there will be 2011 SNP voters who intend voting No. I know a few. This kind of political behaviour is alien to Kellner. The polls are based on weightings and exclusions. Some times they weight against Westminster results, sometimes they weight against Holyrood results. Sometimes they count the 'don't knows' sometimes they don't. Then there are the questions. They often ask leading questions before the 'main' question. And sometimes that 'main' question isn't worded as it will appear on the ballot paper. Sometimes they says 'if it was held tomorrow..' sometimes they say 'when it's held next year'. In each of these cases, different results will return. The pre-2011 polls were wide of the mark saying Labour was going to win. Result? SNP landslide. If you want some balance to these polls, let's hear the results of the Panelbase polls (one of them with a Yes lead). There are established Yes/No camps. It's the 'don't knows' that will swing it. Asides, the question is nothing to do with party politics and everything to do with constitution and the sovereign rights of the people of Scotland. As for the Scottish economy Curtice will be proven wrong (to quote Tony Banks recently) "Scotland is stinking rich. It's what we do with that money that matters". It's also got nothing to do with identity as voters, and many of them Yes voters, will not be Scots. As for NIESR, when you read 'think-tank', think 'biased'. By next year, I also don't believe that voters will only be thinking about 2015, they'll be thinking about 2035 - their children's future.

...Marvin - don't worry about "Lena H" - she probably doesn't live in Scotland anyway - she is an obsessive ant-everything and anything to do with our Royalty and our hard-won democratic freedoms.

...if Cameron gives another "cast iron guarantee" of more devolved powers for Scotland in the event of a No vote, I would advise any Scotsman to vote "Yes" - he simply cannot be trusted to deliver the morning papers, let alone his promises. Go for it! We will miss you all up North of the Border - I served alongside some excellent Scottish soldiers and I love your country - but it is, after all, YOUR decision to make, not our's, in England.

"We say YES to Independence.." (Who's the we.?) Are you writing on behalf of yourself or are you part of an organisation?

The very, very worst thing that Cameron can do is (although he'll probably do it 'cos, don't forget, he's got less political nous than my retriever) is to promise the Scots more devolved power if they please vote no.

If the Scots want to be part of the Union then they should accept exactly the same terms as the rest of us, the same as the Welsh, the Northern Irish and the English. To have one country on better terms than the others is patently unfair to those others and unworkable in the long run.

Remember, it didn't placate the Scottish Nationalists when they were given back the Stone of Scone, nor did it by giving them their own Parliament. (give an inch and they will want to take a mile)

It's time to call their bluff. They are either in or out.

Hello Marvin, I've read your post twice and I still haven't got a clue about what you are trying to say.

...For what its worth - I spoke recently with a young woman of SNP persuasion, in Oban - very intelligent and articulate. When I asked her what she would do if an independent Scotland found itself unable to provide free prescriptions, medical care etc, she blithely replied - "I'll go down south for it"!

It seems that SNP and those of Independent persuasion have it covered.

Well you know how polls are usually poor? Well in Scotland, they are
particularly dire. But the 100% unionist mainstream media love them. So they skew the reporting
of the results to suit whatever outcome they want. Also, the media and
their commentators don't understand the Scottish electorate because they
don't vote in the same way as the rest of the UK. Then they extrapolate
the poorly compiled polls to predict next year's result. Finally, to
expect voters to cast their vote on party political lines is futile in any case, as
the people of Scotland will not be voting for a political party in the referendum. I did rant a bit. Sorry.

How is your baby collie?

...does that go for the West Lothian question too? Is it not a political and constitutional travesty that Scottish MPs, with constituencies North of the Border, can vote on matters in Westminster that are quite divorced from the affairs of Scotland and their own constituencies or is that OK, simply because you dislike the English?

...John - tragically, she had to be rehomed through no fault of her own! My b****y Siamese cat legged it big time and he could NOT be persuaded to return - I have had him for 8 years. Fortunately a wonderful home was found for Meg - on a non-working farm in the Mendips, with a single man, whose own dog had died recently.

Meg will have acres of fields and hills to wander with her new owner - the owner's daughter works for an animal charity in Somerset and the family is very experienced with collies (it transpires that Meg is a Kelpie - a WONDERFUL little dog who was retrieving for me at 9 weeks old). I am devastated, but there was only a very short window of opportunity to re-home Meg and her interests were paramount.

Back to the b****y mogs for now.

...thanks Marvin - this will run and run and, frankly, it is anyone's guess as to what the outcome might be. I am sure of one thing, though - Salmond WILL try to hold another referendum if he loses next year's vote.

Marvin, I'm sorry if I seemed a little harsh.

"Salmond WILL try to hold another referendum if he loses next year's vote."

Exactly right, Chris. that's why his bluff has to be called and he's put back in his box for another generation.

Do you remember the 2011 Scot election polls....Lab were away in lead, destined for majority..lo and behold SNP won with a majority.Thats how little we can trust polls in Scotland.One year and more nasty lies,scaremongering from No Camp will see a cross over to Yes.English/Scottish Border poll last night of unsure voters.after debate 30 voted Yes and 18 voted No and that was seen so we know it was pretty factual. Polls will not gage what Scots will vote.I never see these polls,doubt if majority Yes voters do. The proof will be in the pudding on 18th Sept.

I did not comment in that way at all, don't recall meeting you and your distortions. Get your facts correct. By the way and what is wrong in disliking the profligate royals who in one of many undemocratic instances have excluded themselves from the Freedom of Information Act. Legislation that Chris Sellers has no choice but to comply with.

The WE is a major organisation and a popular website that I manage. As for the reference to the English parliament - the majority of whom believe in the appalling Union - stop nit picking. OK if it pleases you the Westminster Parliament!

Oh deary me another entrenched Unionist = so boring and dated,

Hello Lena, is this "popular" website just for nationalists or can anyone read it?

I'm sorry, I just love rattling peoples cages and isn't it great when they respond?

The problem here in Scotland is that too few people scratch beneath the surface of the daily barrage of media articles giving warnings on why "separation" is so dangerous for us. Sad to say that we are only human and it is of the human condition that we have a tendency to believe those things we are told, if told them repeatedly over a lifetime - especially in more recent times. The economic warning is the single biggest factor in preserving the No vote. Never mind Norway, Denmark, Ireland, Finland. Our resources approach those of Norway and it is shameful that too few of us threw support behind independence on the discovery of oil. We have 6 MEPs compared to Rep. of Ireland's 12. We have a slightly larger population. Being part of the UK means we are buried within a much larger authority whose priorities are not always in line with ours. It is heart-breaking, but not surprising, to see most Scots fail to trust OURSELVES with our own affairs.

John Clegg - My cage isn't being rattled sorry! Private popular site. My point is that Scotland must not be side-tracked by the silly economic "argument". The time is now - do not expect another opportunity for at least a decade. Just ditch the dominant authoritarian self serving English, whoops Westminster parliament and live with the positive consequences. WHY I ask is their a debate at all???

Every single one of the United Kingdom's neighbours is richer than it. So, how can Scotland possibly fail by leaving the United Kingdom?
Whatever you may think about Scotland and the Scots, do you really believe they are less talented than EVERY single one of the nations that borders the United Kingdom?
Norway: $99,462
Denmark: $56,202
Sweden: $55,158
Holland: $46,142
Ireland: $45,888
Belgium: $43,686
Iceland: $41,740
Germany: $41,513
France: $41,141
And The United Kingdom: $38,589
(source - The International Monetary Fund-List of countries by GDP (nominal) per capita, as of 2012)
Scotland would be insane not to go for independence, they just can't lose.
If they don't vote for independence, Scotland will be saying that they are less talented than every single other nation that borders the United Kingdom. The rest of Britain should then vote to kick Scotland, the self-confessed losers, out!

I would like an opinion poll on...

Would you buy a used car from Alex Salmon?