By a Newsnet reporter
An end of year poll published today in the Times and Sun shows that support for independence is continuing to gain ground amongst Scottish voters.
According to the poll, 38% of Scots now favour independence for Scotland – an increase of 3 points since August.
The poll of 1001 Scottish adults, carried out by Ipsos Mori between the 1st and 4th December, also shows that support for the SNP’s core aim is up a massive 16% over the course of the past year.
The survey also shows support for maintaining Westminster rule falling, down 3 points to 57% since August.
The poll was tinged with controversy over its use of the pejorative phrase “separate from the UK”. The word “separate” has been used by Unionists in their anti-independence campaign literature and polling experts know that its use, in place of the more appropriate “independence”, typically results in a lower degree of support.
While support for independence continues to grow, the poll showed a large majority of Scots remain in favour of increased powers for the Scottish parliament. 68% of those polled want Holyrood to have control of all tax-raising powers and to have greater law making powers. The findings show that the proposals in the Scotland Bill, currently making its way through the Westminster parliament, do not go far enough for a large majority of Scots.
Senior figures within Scottish Labour have called on the party to distance itself from the Scotland Bill. MSP and former Labour Minister Malcolm Chisholm recently described the Bill as “flawed” and “a watered-down version of the already timid Calman Commission proposals.” Mr Chisholm’s view that the Bill “simply can’t and won’t enthuse the people of Scotland” is amply borne out by the findings of this new poll.
However the main finding of the poll is that support for independence or greater powers for Scotland continues to grow steadily. All polls carried out over the past year have shown an increase in support for Scottish independence, and a large increase in support for more powers for the Scottish parliament.
The poll also reveals that younger Scots are more likely to favour independence than older generations. 58% of Scots aged between 25 and 34 and 47% of 18 to 24 year olds would back an independent Scotland. These figures suggest strongly that the demographic tide is shifting in favour of Scotland once more taking its place amongst the independent nations of the world. Over three fifths of Scots who vote SNP would also vote for independence.
Welcoming the poll, First Minister Alex Salmond said: “This is an extremely positive poll, showing that support for independence has increased by 16 points in the past year.
“The people of Scotland are light years ahead of the Westminster parties and the inadequate provisions of the Scotland Bill – they want real economic and financial powers for the Scottish Parliament, so that we can strengthen recovery and boost employment.
“The SNP Government have always said that we are willing to have a ‘devo-max’ option in the referendum, and the question for Labour and the Lib Dems is whether they wish it to be included.”
“The only alternative for Labour and the Lib Dems is joining with the Tories in rejecting any additional powers for Scotland in the referendum – a disastrous position in Scottish politics.
“The SNP received an overwhelming mandate from the people of Scotland in May to hold a referendum in the second half of this parliament, and that is exactly what we will do.”
Scottish Lib Dem leader Willie Rennie welcomed the poll results and tweeted that the two thirds in favour of significantly more powers “sounds like Lib Dem’s home rule policy” before adding in a formal statement that “This poll shows that two-thirds of Scots support the Liberal Democrat home rule policy.”
The survey also showed that 33% of people would like to see a referendum held as soon as possible, while a further 31% say they are prepared to wait for two years.
The questions asked in the Ipsos Mori poll were as follows:
As you may know, the Scottish Government plans to hold a referendum on Scotland’s constitutional future during the next Scottish Parliament. The referendum is likely to contain two separate questions. The first question will ask whether you agree or disagree with a proposal to extend the powers of the Scottish Parliament to include more laws and duties and all tax-raising powers, while Scotland remains part of the UK. If the referendum was held tomorrow, would you vote to agree or disagree with this proposal?
Don’t Know 4%
The second question will ask whether you agree or disagree with a proposal to extend the powers of the Scottish Parliament to enable Scotland to become an independent country, separate from the UK. If the referendum was held tomorrow, would you vote to agree or disagree with this proposal?
Don’t Know 5%