Deprived areas in Scotland show large majority in favour of independence

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By a Newsnet reporter

A new poll by IPSOS Mori for the Times and Sun shows that support for the Union of Parliaments is decreasing, with only 50% of Scots giving their backing to the Union.  A previous poll by the company recorded 57% support for retaining the Union.

Support for independence has increased slightly by 1% and now stands at 39%, narrowing the gap between the two options to 11%.  The poll confirms that people who had previously supported the Union are switching to the ‘don’t know’ camp.  With the independence campaign only just beginning, the contest has a long way to run.

Polling was carried out between January 27 and 29.  1000 Scots were questioned in the survey.

Mark Diffley, research director at Ipsos MORI, said: “The constitutional future of Scotland has been at the top of the political agenda across the UK in recent weeks, with politicians from both sides of the debate putting forward their arguments to voters.

“Our poll shows that outright support for independence has not shifted significantly as a result of these early skirmishes although it does reveal that opposition to change has reduced, with more voters now weighing up the issues before deciding which side to back.  The poll also suggests that the Scottish Government’s proposed referendum question has not yet had a significant effect on public attitudes.”

The poll shows that support for independence is strongest amongst poor and working class Scots.  A large majority, 58%, of those in “deprived areas” back an independent Scotland.  These figures will give Labour strategists pause for thought as the party appears to be basing its opposition to independence on the claim that the Union offers the best opportunity for tackling poverty and inequality.  However Scots who bear the brunt of poverty and inequality are least receptive to this message.  

Scots who are financially worst off see independence as the best chance of remedying the poverty and deprivation which blights many areas of the country.  The finding is a further indication that Labour is losing its appeal amongst its traditional support base in Scotland and perhaps gives an indication that Labour leader Ed Miliband’s appeal to Scots to retain the Union will have the least traction amongst those whom the Labour leader claims to be defending.

The poll also revealed the support for independence is strongest among men, at 47%, and amongst younger people aged 18 to 24, at 45%.

Support for independence is lowest amongst the best off sections of Scottish society and in the most affluent districts, where only 29% are in favour of Scotland becoming an independent nation.  This finding will prove welcome ammunition to campaigners seeking to counter the anti-independence message that Scots are being “selfish” by seeking independence.

Scottish opinion is split on when the ballot should be held, with 47% wanting it within the next 18 months.  Support for an early vote is strongest among opponents of independence, at 63%.

Angus Robertson MP, SNP referendum campaign director, said: “This is an excellent poll, confirming that the momentum is with the independence case. The common feature of every survey in recent weeks is rising support for independence and falling opposition.”