Scottish Independence

UK Polling Report

Friday’s two Westminster voting intention polls from YouGov and Populus were YouGov/Sun – CON 33%, LAB 36%, LDEM 10%, UKIP 14% (tabs) and Populus – CON 34%, LAB 35%, LDEM 9%, UKIP 14% (tabs).

There was also a YouGov/Channel 4 Scottish poll in the week, showing very little change from the previous YouGov referendum poll in March. YES is on 37%(nc), NO is on 51%(-1) (tabs. Excluding don’t knows this works out at YES 42%, NO 58% – exactly the same as a month ago. This, incidentally, produced some superbly inept reporting from the Daily Mail, well deserving of my much sought after “Crap Media Reporting of Polls” award: Campaign against independence soars to 16 point lead. Apparently there has been a “surge” in support for the Union following “growing anger over Putin praise”. That’ll be a surge from 58% to 58% then.

There is also a new YouGov poll of European voting intentions, conducted for the Green party. Topline figures there are CON 22%, LAB 30%, LDEM 9%, UKIP 27%, GRN 8% (tabs)

Finally there was a Survation poll of London (tabs) which had toplines for the European election in London of CON 21%, LAB 39%, LDEM 13%, UKIP 20%, GRN 7% and for the London local elections of CON 26%, LAB 42%, LDEM 14%, UKIP 11%.

SOURCE = UK Polling Report


Scots Independence: Rest Of UK Firms Want Union

May 7, 2014

An overwhelming majority of businesses in England, Wales and Northern Ireland say that Scotland should remain part of the UK, according to a survey for the British Chambers of Commerce. The BCC, which itself remains impartial in the debate, surveyed close to 2,500 of its members, and whilst 11% said Scotland should vote yes, some 85% preferred the union to remain. Two thirds said no new opportunities would arise in the event of a ‘Yes’ vote, and just over a third, 35%, said a formal currency union, a key ambition of the SNP-led campaign, would be in the best interests of the UK as a whole. The BCC’s director general John Longworth said: “Business opinion across the United Kingdom on the Scottish independence debate is far from unanimous. That’s only logical, as businesses have different interests, and different views on our complex history of economic and political union. “In the event of a ‘Yes’ vote, cross-border trading and currency arrangements loom large in businesses’ thinking. If Scotland votes ‘no’, constitutional questions remain around the devolution of power and the distribution of public funding between nations.”

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International Business Times

Scottish Independence Poll Suggests Teenagers Will Not Ensure Union Break

May 6, 2014

The bulk of Scottish teenagers will not automatically bolster the campaign for independence, despite analysts viewing the lowered voting age for the referendum as a cunning move to prop up the “Yes” vote. According to a special Reuters’ report, which cites two opinion polls and interviews with various Scottish teenagers, the youth vote is not as radical as most analysts predicted. Many are hesitant about breaking away from the rest of the UK. “You will have to look hard to find someone more patriotic than me, and when it all came about a few years ago I was all for independence,” said Kieran Green, 16, an Edinburgh student to the news agency.

“But growing up and maturing has made me rethink. My heart says ‘Yes’, but my head says ‘No’.” Other interviews with teenagers voice the same reluctance. “I will vote ‘No’ as I think that our country is fine the way it is and we don’t need such dramatic change,” said Hannah Campbell, 16, to Reuters. Student Charlotte Smith, 16, added: “Whilst I’m proud to be Scottish, I believe we’re financially and economically stronger in the larger union. But I am pleased that the reduced age limit allows me to participate.”

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SOURCE = International Business Times

The Scotsman

Independence: Risk-takers more likely to vote Yes

May 7, 2014

People who are more willing to take risks are more likely to vote Yes in Scotland’s referendum, researchers at Stirling University have found. A paper, published today by Professors David Bell and Liam Delaney, and researcher Michael McGoldrick, looked at how a representative sample of Scottish voters was likely to vote and how this related to other attitudes, beliefs and personal characteristics. Catholics and those with no religious affiliation had the highest support for independence. While people in higher income households were more likely to vote No. The paper claims that people’s acceptance of risk is “highly predictive” of voting intention. It said those who displayed “lower levels of risk aversion” were more likely to state that they would vote Yes in the ­referendum.

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SOURCE = The Scotsman


Why the prospect of Scottish independence horrifies me

May 3, 2014

An opinion poll released by Channel 4 News this weekend suggested 51pc of Scots will say “no” in the independence referendum on Sept 18. The vote looks extremely close. The “Better Together” camp, which is supposed to be campaigning to keep the UK intact, claims this display of “majority support” is good news. If only that were so. Just a year ago the numbers wanting to stay in the UK were far higher – about 65pc of the Scottish electorate. And a few recent polls have even shown the share of Scots backing continued UK membership dipping below 50pc. I’m against Scottish independence. In fact, I’m horrified at the prospect of our country breaking up. While the Westminster village remains complacent, the ghastly reality is that more than 300 years of history could be reversed during the late summer of 2014.

While the UK is four distinct countries, each with its own proud identity, we’re one coherent nation. Cobbled together, in a form that somehow works, our joint history of achievement and success is as rich as any on earth. And the spine of our unique arrangement is the England-Scotland axis, enshrined in the 1707 Act of Union. The “yes” campaign is still slightly behind in the opinion polls. But the momentum is now most definitely with the pro-independence movement. Alex Salmond, the Scottish National Party’s canny leader, has a formidable track record of surging late to victory – as he did in the Scottish parliamentary elections of 2007 and 2011. He could pull it off again.

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SOURCE = The Telegraph

The Mail UK

Salmond’s worst week: After backing Putin and calling Scots ‘drunks’, campaign against independence soars to 16-point lead

May 2, 2014

Alex Salmond was left reeling last night as a new poll revealed a surge in support for the Union amid growing anger over his support for Vladimir Putin. The bruised First Minister gave a woeful display in Holyrood as he was blasted by all three opposition leaders for his glowing comments about the Russian president. At the end of one of the toughest weeks for the SNP leader in recent months – including branding Scotland a ‘nation of drunks – a new poll was also published which found that Better Together has recorded a dramatic 16-point lead over the Yes campaign.

With undecided voters stripped out from the figures, the YouGov study put support for the Union at 58 per cent, with backing for separation languishing on just 42 per cent. That is a far cry from a recent ICM poll which put Yes on 48 per cent and No on 52 per cent, and suggests any momentum for Mr Salmond’s campaign has come to a shuddering halt.

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SOURCE = The Daily Mail


Scottish independence: Scotland ‘committed’ to EU, says Salmond

April 29, 2014

An independent Scotland would be an “enthusiastic, engaged and committed contributor to European progress”, First Minister Alex Salmond has said. At the College of Europe in Bruges, Mr Salmond said a possible in/out UK referendum on the EU presented a “real risk” to Scotland’s place in Europe. The speech came ahead of Scotland’s referendum on independence. Foreign Secretary William Hague said separate negotiations with the EU would mean a worse deal for Scotland.

The Westminster politician was also critical of a reported magazine interview with Mr Salmond in which he commended Russian president, Vladimir Putin, on restoring “Russian pride”. In the interview, given six weeks ago, Mr Salmond also said there were a range of Russian actions he did not approve of. Scotland’s first minister was in Belgium on Monday to outline the reasons why he believed an independent Scotland would be welcome in the European Union. He said: “Scotland’s vast natural resources and human talent make it one of the lynchpins of the European Union. We have a key role to play in providing energy security for Europe.

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Salmond uses speech to announce high speed rail plans

April 23, 2014

Alex Salmond has criticised the current plans for a new high speed rail link in England, saying they “lack high ambition” for Scotland and the north. The First Minister for Scotland made his remarks during a speech in Carlisle, in which he attempted to persuade English business owners near the border that independence would bring benefits for them. Mr Salmond said options for building high speed rail links from Scotland to England are to be explored by the Scottish Government. He also said an independent Scotland would be an “economic counterweight” to London and the south-east, with people in the north of England still able to work and trade in an independent Scotland without changing currency. George Osborne ruled out the possibility of a formal currency union earlier this year.

“Scottish independence would not change many aspects of the day to day life of other countries within the UK.

Carlisle would still have strong economic links with Scotland, and as a senior UK Government minister revealed to the Guardian just a few weeks ago, ‘of course there would be a currency union’.” – Alex Salmond, First Minister for Scotland

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Scottish independence: Three Scottish universities leave CBI

April 22, 2014

Glasgow, Aberdeen and Edinburgh universities have become the latest organisations to quit the CBI. It comes after the business lobby group registered with the Electoral Commission as a backer of the pro-Union campaign in the Scottish independence referendum debate. Glasgow University said it had to resign its membership in order to “maintain impartiality”. Aberdeen University said it would be inappropriate to continue as a member. Edinburgh University has also left the CBI said it had a “strictly neutral position” on the issue. Robert Gordon University in Aberdeen said it was not resigning from the CBI (Confederation of British Industry) but that it remained “strictly neutral” on the referendum. CBI director general John Cridland has been defending the decision to register with the Electoral Commission.

He told the BBC he did not think the economic case for Scottish independence had been made, but said the body was not seeking to influence how people voted in the referendum. Over the weekend, Scottish Enterprise, Visit Scotland and STV left the CBI. The Scottish government said it was “clearly inappropriate for government agencies to remain in membership of CBI.” CBI Scotland’s registration with the Electoral Commission as a non-party participant allows it to spend up to £150,000 on referendum campaigning during the regulated period from 30 May until the referendum on 18 September. Following its decision, Scottish firms Aquamarine Power and the Balhousie Care Group announced they were quitting the business industry organisation, which is the leading body in the UK representing large employers.

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The Mail UK

Scotland on the brink of voting for independence as latest poll shows gap between ‘yes’ and ‘no’ campaigns has almost closed

April 21, 2014

Scotland could be on the verge of voting for independence in the upcoming referendum on its future in the Union after a recent poll showed the gap between rival campaigns had almost closed.

The dismal polling for unionists has led to senior Tories to push for Alistair Darling to be sidelined as head of the campaign to keep Scotland in the UK, amid growing concerns about his performance.

Members of David Cameron’s inner circle are increasingly alarmed that the lacklustre Better Together movement run by the former Labour chancellor could hand victory to the Scottish nationalists.

One poll yesterday found the pro-independence Yes campaign, which once trailed by a wide margin, is now only three points behind – raising the prospect of a majority vote to break up the union in September.

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SOURCE = The Daily Mail

New York Times

Nationalist Leader in Scotland Wagers Career on Independence Vote

April 18, 2014

EDINBURGH — ALEX SALMOND means to lead Scotland into independence and, after 307 years of union with England, Scots have little more than five months to decide whether to follow him. The leader of the Scottish National Party, Mr. Salmond began imbibing his country’s glorious history at the knee of his grandfather, a plumber and amateur historian. “My grandfather had a fierce love of equality and was a fierce admirer of Robert Burns,” he said in an hourlong interview in his office at the Scottish Parliament, an outsize Saltire, the Scottish flag, on a painting behind him and a smaller one on his tie. “My granddad told me how things should be, more than how things were.”

His party, which surprisingly won an overall majority in the Scottish Parliament in 2011, made him the government’s first minister and compelled him to press for a referendum on independence perhaps earlier than he might have wanted. Known for this love of horse racing, Mr. Salmond, 59, is gambling his career on the outcome of that mid-September vote. Scots regard themselves as a nation, with their own church, legal and educational system, rugby and soccer teams, political culture and habits of mind, out of step with a center-right government in London led by Prime Minister David Cameron, a Conservative. Now there are more pandas (two) in Scotland than Conservative members of Parliament, and Mr. Salmond is skillfully playing on Scottish pride, nostalgia and distaste for Westminster to make the idea of independence seem within grasp.

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SOURCE = The New York Times


Military chiefs warn Scotland over evicting nuclear weapons

April 14, 2014

(Reuters) – The Scottish government’s plan to evict Britain’s nuclear submarine base if it wins a vote for independence would cost billions of pounds, cut thousands of jobs and create resentment internationally, former defence chiefs said on Monday. The Scottish National Party, which runs Scotland’s devolved parliament, has vowed to remove and ban all nuclear weapons in the first parliament of independence, that would start in 2016 if Scotland votes Yes at a September 18 referendum. But the former top brass said the proposed timescale would create “huge practical problems” over the cost and jobs lost and such a stance would be “unacceptable” to NATO allies.

The concerns raised by four former chiefs of defence staff, six former first sea lords, a former chief of the general staff, and a former chief of the air staff, come after a narrowing in opinion polls this year, which have made independence seem a possibility even though nationalists still lag in support. “Were the Scottish people to vote for independence, then Scotland, as a new small nation in an uncertain world, would need international partners to help secure its economic and social objectives and allies to provide national security,” their letter to Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond said. “NATO, as an alliance with nuclear deterrence as a central part of its strategic concept, could hardly be expected to welcome a new member state whose government put in jeopardy the continued operation of the UK independent nuclear deterrent – a deterrent which protects not only the UK but all of NATO as well.”

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SOURCE = Reuters


Scottish independence: ‘Yes’ vote carries substantial risk, says Weir Group

April 3, 2014

Scottish independence would carry “substantial risks” to the economy, the boss of one of Scotland’s biggest companies has claimed. Weir Group chief executive Keith Cochrane said the “quality of life of millions of people” was at stake. His comments came as a report for the engineering giant said a referendum “Yes” vote would create costs and uncertainties for business. Scottish ministers said Weir was showing “no uncertainty” as a company.The Weir Group, one of Scotland’s oldest firms, was founded in 1871 and is based in Glasgow, with 15,000 staff working in the minerals, oil and gas, and power sectors in more than 70 countries.

It employs 600 people in Scotland. An 80-page document, compiled by Oxford Economics for Weir Group said higher taxes for Scottish firms would be likely if there were a “Yes” vote in the 18 September independence referendum. Speaking as he launched the report, Mr Cochrane said the debate on Scotland’s future had so far been characterised by “claim and counter claim, not a clear examination of the facts”. Referring to the Scottish government’s blueprint for independence, he said: “Unsurprisingly, as a political document, the Scottish government’s White Paper paints a picture of independence as being a risk-free option with only potential benefits.

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Billy Connolly says he will not vote in Scottish independence referendum

February 17, 2014

Billy Connolly has revealed he will not be voting in the Scottish independence referendum, describing the debate around it as a “morass that I care not to dip my toe into”. The 71-year-old star said he did not want to get involved in the debate as he did not want to influence anybody. He was speaking to the BBC News Channel from New York about reading some of Seamus Heaney’s final works for a new animated series, when he was asked about Scottish independence. He said: “I try to keep away out of it, I don’t want to be an influence in it, I don’t want to influence anybody. “A lot of people take your word like it’s spun gold as if there’s some sense to it. I don’t want to influence anybody so I shut up. “I think the Scots will come to a good conclusion in the referendum, they’ll get what they deserve.” The actor and comedian was asked about comments he had made previously about feeling a sense of community among people from a similar background to himself.

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SOURCE = The Guardian


Scottish independence: Gordon Brown outlines ‘power-sharing’ UK

March 10, 2014

Former prime minister Gordon Brown said Holyrood should be given more control over tax as part of a power sharing plan between London and Edinburgh. He called for a move away from the current system in favour of a constitutional partnership of nations. Senior Lib Dem Sir Menzies Campbell said there was a consensus to devolving more financial powers to Holyrood. The Scottish government said only independence would give Scotland the powers it needed to flourish. Speaking in Glasgow ahead of the 18 September independence referendum, Mr Brown argued for a move away from a centralised British system to one where nations shared power, risk and resources.

He told the audience: “We need to build the future of the relationship between Scotland, England and the rest of the United Kingdom. “I believe there are six constitutional changes we have got to make for a better relationship between Scotland and the rest of the United Kingdom, to turn what I would call a unitary and centralised state of the past into a partnership of equals and one where there is power-sharing across the United Kingdom.” Scotland is already due to receive new powers over income tax from April 2016, when the UK Treasury will deduct 10p from standard and upper rates of income tax in Scotland, giving MSPs the power to decide how to raise cash.

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