No breakthrough yet for either side over Scotttish independence

On opinion  in favour of a separate Scottish State, the British Social Attitudes survey reports little change.

The 32% who supported independence was nine points higher than in 2010 but two points lower than in 2005…. However, the research also suggested 43% of people in Scotland wanted Holyrood to make “all” decisions.

The higher figure emerged in a question in which the word “independence” was not used, and where a second option on so-called devo-max – more power short of independence – was given.

The leading opinion analyst John Curtice has pronounced:

This survey suggests that over the long run, there is no trend in one direction or the other.

But not all the news is good for the “Better Together” Union  cause. While they are insisting on trying to  restrict the referendum to the single question of independence, they have failed so far  to answer the question of how they would deal with the apparently growing demands for devo max. These demands are not unanswerable but for as long as they leave this vacuum,  those demands are likely to grow and might even diminish support for the Union. Even on pro-Union impact of the  economic arguments, the results are not entirely clear, as the Herald reports.

53% of Scots believe independence will result in higher taxes….just 34% of the population believe the nation’s economy would be stronger outside the UK, 29% say it would be weaker while 26% feel it would make no difference. Asked about the standard of living, 34% say it would be stronger with independence, 23% feel it would be weaker while 34% believe it would make no difference….But while the survey shows most Scots are unconvinced independence will bring economic benefits, it says the balance of expectations across other areas is positive towards it.

This shows there is a good deal of confusion over referendum issues which both sides of the argument can exploit.  So far, neither of them has come anywhere near producing a clincher.

In an interesting article on Quebec where the separatist Parti Quebecois have just formed a minority government, Peter Jones in the Scotsman poses a potential strategic dilemma for the SNP in the future. Identity politics will continue to exert a powerful pull that may get them re-elected, but the public can become fed up with the ultimate question being put to them again and again.

Meanwhile closer to earth but still speculative, Alan Trench in Comment Is Free says Jose Manuel Barroso’s latest speech casts further doubt on an independent Scotland’s  automatic membership of the EU. I still believe  that whatever the legal complications, this would be sorted politically by the member states in Scotland’s favour – perhaps with a delay while they decided that it would not turn out to be a basket case like Greece.  But in the current debate leading up to the 2014 referendum, this is a theme which turns the spotlight back on the economy and so favours a form of continuing Union.

Adds.  I’ve just noticed that Alex Salmond was booed by part of the crowd as he was interviewed at the Welcome Home for Scotland’s Olympic stars in Glasgow. Aggrieved Rangers supporters or new Unionists – which,  I wonder?  Not that the incident got much coverage, compared to George Osborne’s at the Paralympics.  This Spectator blog gives a flavour of reaction


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  • grandimarkey

    I’d expect opinion polls to continue with these results for now.

    There really hasn’t been any kind of media/publicist/advertising campaign for independence in Scotland yet, however my SNP sources tell me that one is coming, and it’s going to be big.

    I’d imagine things will slowly start ramping up in the middle-to end of 2013. That’s when the opinion polls need to be listened to. I suspect we are currently in the calm before the storm, and what a storm it’s going to be. For politicos this is going to be amazing…

  • lamhdearg2

    simple ?, but one to which I have seen no reports, will indoscotland have an army.

  • lamhdearg2

    opps, found a report, sorry.

  • Alanbrooke

    The issue on EU membership isn’t if they would grant it – they would – but what concessions an independent Scotland would have to deliver up in the process.

  • Alan,

    How many “no” votes would it take to keep them out? What if they had a dispute with a current member state over resource ownership?

  • There may be a war brewing in the Far East over off-shore resources.

  • JR

    I am just back from spending two weeks in the highlands and outer Hebrides. Naturally I took every opportunity to ask people what they thought on Scottish Independence.

    I met a few very strongly pro independence and but a lot more undecided. A phrase I heard more than once was “heart says yes but head says no” but the overall impression I got was it is very much up in the air at this point. One major issue or event will eventually swing the voters who will make the majority one way or another.

    One thing I will say is that despite some similarities it is clearly a very different debate to the constitutional question over here and any nationalists or Unionist from here would be well advised to stay out of if for fear they will do their side more harm than good.

  • Framer

    London appears already to have conceded 2014 as the date for the referendum so I presume there are shedloads more concessions being manufactured by the coalition.
    Ever more devolution seems the most likely and more civil servants to fill all the vacated bank HQ buildings in Edinburgh.

  • Who has the power to call a referendum, the Scottish SOS?

  • JR @ 4:58 pm resonates with me.

    My — equally subjective — impression is the further one travels from the A6/A90 axes, the less the enthusiasm for SNP militancy, and for “independence”. Simply put, that’s the old distaste for rule from Taigh Bhòid. Similarly, the definition of that “independence” subtly varies to meet the local audience.

    Which prompts further issues, at least in my mind.

    First there seem to be opposing power-centres in competition — not least within the SNP itself: the peripheries versus the “Beltway”, perhaps. Edinburgh, Glasgow and Tayside, not just in the SNP, seem separated by endless versts across aching voids of steppes.

    Second, a year on, Scottish Labour are showing the faintest signs of revival. There’s a BBC radio exchange which came up on line yesterday. The all-purpose Gerry Hassan and Campbell Gunn (of the Sunday Post) are hard-headed. Even they recognise Johann Lamont is getting a grip (other press sources seem to follow a similar line). That the SNP are becoming more acid and acerbic about Lamont suggests she must be doing something aright.

  • grandimarkey. The Scots question is already making an unsettling impact over here with unionists claiming out loud their confidence the union is secure from Scots voting intentions, but in private, freeting away and thinking of having a campaign themselves to scots , appealing to them not to leave us on the ledge, which would happen in the event of a splt with the rest of Britain. They would be better advised to keep out of the Scottish debate and apply themselves to offer an apology to nationalists here for their 45 years of corruption and sectarian rule, while calling for same from Dublin, [which they know well they won’t get]on totally spurious grounds.

  • Greenflag

    Like Malcolm I have to agree with JR above. No harm in discussing the merits /demerits and chances for each side on a blog like slugger or elsewhere – but our political representatives in NI and in the Republic should keep out of Scotland’s internal decision. The Scots have eyes to see and ears to hear with and they are more than capable of looking across the narrow water at NI and the Republic and learning ‘lessons’ from both .Some may have longer memories and hark back to Darien fiasco times but we live in a different world and a whatever winds of change are blowing right now it’s hard to fathom which way they are directing .

    When the winds of change blow some people build walls -while others build windmills….we cannot change the direction of the wind, but we can always adjust our sail .

    apologies for the corny quote !

  • HeinzGuderian

    nat/reps support an ‘all island’ economy here,yet support the opposite on the Mainland…….curiouser and curiouser 😉

  • The Scottish men and women are far from stupid. They will consider the pros and cons, calmly, and decide individually what is best for them, perhaps in the longer term, what’s best for their children. Good luck to them whatever they decide.

  • John Anderson

    I would not start playing that game. “Unionists support an ‘all island’ economy there,yet support the opposite in Ireland…….curiouser and curiouser.” See what I mean?

  • Greenflag

    @ john anderson ,

    Lol -good one 🙂 Poor Heinz in retreat Guderian’s panzer backfired there

  • Reader

    John Anderson: I would not start playing that game. “Unionists support an ‘all island’ economy there,yet support the opposite in Ireland…….curiouser and curiouser.” See what I mean?
    Come on in and join the Union – or stay outside if you wish. Unionists are part of a two island economy, and we have not yet had cause to regret it.

  • John Anderson

    Reader – There is no use trying to convince me as I do not reside in that jurisdiction, but I encourage you to take your message down the road to test the water.

  • “No harm in discussing the merits /demerits and chances for each side on a blog like slugger or elsewhere – but our political representatives in NI and in the Republic should keep out of Scotland’s internal decision”

    When they do intervene their opinion has little to no effect on the ground- why on earth would someone in Scotland take a NI politicians’ opinion into account? More often the intervention is to do with internal NI and even “internaler” than that, to do with internal pro/Union politics. There really doesn’t seem to be same interest on the irish nationalist side which is strange in that Salmond has progressed further down the road to separation than the IRA, SF or SDLP have ever managed. You’d think they would be at least looking for tips…

  • Red Lion

    O’Neill – Irish nationalism should look to Scottish Nationalism for tips…
    basically, make it clear that you want to retain the Queen as head of state and want to retain GBpounds as your currency, oh and we’d like to keep the NHS too if we can fit that in also…
    and package it as ‘independence’. Beats me how you can think of that as independence, hell, even unionists might vote for that!