Talking of shifts of opinion, what’s happening in Scotland?

Even after several visits to Scotland to talk to political elites I confess I never quite twigged what the core appeal of Scottish independence actually was.  Now from reports like this  by Severin Carrell, I’m beginning  to get it. The Yes campaign would say all that wouldn’t they,  but all the same..

Margie Maxwell is no Scottish nationalist. But she is Glaswegian, and intensely loyal with it. It never occurred to her she would vote for independence. But then the threats were made, to shipyard jobs on the Clyde, to Scotland‘s right to keep the pound and to her country’s economy.

“I fully want independence now. They’ve had their chance,” she said

Finally, a new Yes Scotland campaign will be launched in late March: Generation Yes, known as Gen Yes, which will aim to capture that other independence-leaning demographic, the young voter. Its small group of founders are targeting some 800,000 voters under 30. Every Gen Yes member will be set five tasks, including a target to convert nine of their friends to the cause. Photogenic youth “ambassadors” will be sent out to win converts, spread the word.

Generation Yes has been modelled on an Irish campaign of the same name set up to campaign, successfully, for a yes vote in Ireland’s 2009 Lisbon treaty referendum.

As the voting guru John Curtice says, it’s the No campaign’s to lose. He explains just how intense the battle for the undecided is going to be

Most polls of referendum voting intention ask people how they would vote if the referendum were held tomorrow. On average they find that when asked that question no more than 15% of Scots are unclear what they would  do…

However, TNS BMRB ask their respondents how they intend to vote in the referendum in September. Around twice as many people say they don’t know in response to that question.

Meanwhile, the most recent Scottish Social Attitudes survey found that as many as 33% were undecided when they were asked what they would do in September.

At the same time, polls conducted by Ipsos MORI and ICM suggest that up to 20% of those who say they know how they would vote if the referendum were held tomorrow admit that they might change their mind between now and September.

Just when we thought it was really warming up the Herald runs a poll claiming the young aren’t turned on by it after all…

Those rating themselves very ­interested (7-10) stood at 37%, against 36% indicating a lack of interest (1-4) and 27% scoring in the middle.

For men, the interested/uninterested split was 40% to 27%, whereas for women it was reversed, at 30% to 43%.

Now both Labour and  the Conservatives have produced  plans for” devo more” which are practically identical but still vague . Iain McWhirter isn’t impressed.

It may seem surprising that so many Scots still support independence after being told, day after day, in the Scottish press that mortgages will rise, pensions fall apart, food prices rise, the banks will leave, the oil will run out and debt levels will soar as Scotland becomes a basket case thrown out of the European Union. Short of threatening to kill the first born, there’s not much more stick that the UK can apply. So, the ­thinking is now moving to carrot.

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  • IanR

    The three pro-union parties (Lab-Con-LibDems) made a strategic mistake in announcing their consensus that there won’t be a currency union between rUK (rest of UK) and Scotland in the event of a Yes vote.

    Instead, they should simply have declared that any currency union post-Yes-vote would have to be endorsed by a rUK-wide referendum. Three advantages to that:

    (1) It gives the rest of the UK a voice and a vote in the debate, which many have complained has been denied up to now;
    (2) It’s consistent with the policy that all three parties hold in relation to any future potential UK entry to the Eurozone (as unlikely as that seems in the current climate);
    (3) The rhetoric from the SNP would have had to change from “Those Westminster bullies are ganging up on us poor Scots”, to “S**t, we’re going to have to persuade the rest of the British population to vote to share the pound with us”. The latter would somewhat dilute the arguments of the Yes to Independence campaign.

  • IanR

    I meant to prefix that with “Margie Maxwell’s attitude demonstrates that…”

  • Old Mortality

    If it’s true that polls are showing support for independence to be strongest among the lower social groups, the SNP should be very worried. That support is largely based on the expectation that the public spending tap will at least remain at its current pressure. When they discover that it can’t, they may well express their disappointment in a fairly vigorous manner.
    Meanwhile, that part of the middle class which does not rely on the public sector for its income is likely to at least contemplate going south in the event of a Yes majority.

  • Brian Walker

    Part of the fun of a blog is playing God. Perfectly good point to call for an rUK referendum on the currency or even better, a second Scottish referendum on the terms negotiated after a Yes vote in the first – like being required to join the euro under EU rules for new entrants.

    But they won’t happen. It was all decided in the Edinburgh agreement. It’s one game of poker and sudden death

  • IanR

    I thought the Edinburgh Agreement didn’t settle the issue of currency union, or at least was creatively ambiguous about it? Why else is there a stand-off/shouting match between Salmond and Osborne/Balls/Alexander?

    The latter three are saying currency union won’t happen; Salmond is countering that that is just a pre-referendum position (“they would say that wouldn’t they”), but that in the event of a Yes vote, the other three would change their minds and allow the Scots to share the pound.

    Salmond won’t even discuss a Plan B for alternative currency arrangements, as he insists that a currency union (‘Independence Minus’ if you will; I’m not sure why the Scottish Nationalist Party aren’t pushing for full independence?) would be the eventual outcome of post-Yes negotiations.

    But the other three are equally adamant that they will NOT allow an independent Scotland to enter a currency union with rUK. They argue that the problems bedevilling the Eurozone demonstrate what a bad idea it is to combine monetary union with fiscal independence, and such an arrangement would be damaging to both rUK and Scotland.

    The upshot of all this is that the Scottish electorate don’t even know what they’ll be voting on in September!

    Therefore, instead of piddling about with a bill to ensure a in-out EU referendum next Parliament on a deal with the other EU member states that hasn’t even been negotiated yet (and is unlikely to be achieveable before Cameron’s artificial 2017 deadline), the three parties should come together and pass a bill that binds future governments to hold a referendum on any future currency union, whether that be with the EU or with an independent Scotland.

    That would then settle the matter and give the Scottish electorate a clear choice this September: In or Out. No Hokey-Cokey fudge. The default position would be that a vote for independence means a vote to leave the sterling zone.

    If they subsequently wanted to try and keep the pound, they could then set about the task of persuading the population of rUK of the merits of such, but they couldn’t assume that that would be forthcoming, as Salmond seems to be arguing.

  • JPJ2

    Latest opinion poll (ICM in Scotsman,Sunday 23 March) shows increasing support for “Yes”. Removing the Don’t Knows the figures are:

    Yes 45%+2, No 55%-2 This supports the idea that the momentum is now with “Yes”. 15% of the electorate are currently undecided.

    Additionally, most of this polling is before the “Scottish” Labour Party conference in Perth this weekend in which Labour watered down the interim proposals last year of their 2 year long devolution commission.

    I believe the weakness of these proposals, which fall far short of the polled aspirations of the majority of people in Scotland, may well be the game changer which will propel “Yes” to victory.

  • JPJ2 If Scots voters have been following the ‘On the Runs’ row about a ‘dirty deal’ between London and Republicans and the reaction of unionist politicians to it, going on over here in NI, they may find it instructive. Unionist politicians queueing up to express their shock that Britain could do this to loyal ulster, except one Jim Allister who cut to the chase decrying ‘Perfidious Albion’ for betrayal. The DUP and UUP clearly havew zero self respect in clinging onto England’s apron strings despite their predecessors a century ago having been told by London via the Home Rule Bill to ‘GO AWAY’ insisted on staying. This is not a Union of equals obviously and if a majority of Scots opt to stay in it, they’ll be telling the world they have no more self respect than the forelock tugging unionists here.