By Angela Haggerty
Some No or Undecided voters would consider switching to a Yes vote for Scottish independence if the Scottish national football team was at risk, according to a new poll.
The figures showed that a change of mind may be in order for twelve per cent of undecided voters and six per cent of No voters if it meant preserving the Scotland football squad.
The poll, commissioned by Pagoda PR, asked around 1,000 people how they would vote if they were told that Scottish independence was the only way to keep the national team.
While the influence of the Scottish football team on the independence vote may have come as a surprise to some, Pagoda PR’s managing director, Ian Coldwell, said it’s all about identity.
“Analysis by polling expert John Curtice indicates that the way people feel inclined to vote on independence depends more on how British they feel rather than how Scottish,” he explained.
“Nearly everyone in Scotland feels Scottish, but Scots differ in how British they feel. If levels of support for yes and no move closer together this kind of issue could have an impact.”
Mr Curtice authored a report in May exploring some of the statistics behind independence polls and looked at some of the fundamental reasons for supporting or opposing independence.
He concluded: “For many nationalists, the independence referendum is an opportunity to ensure that their country’s distinctive sense of nationhood is translated into statehood. Yet, paradoxically it appears that the independence debate is not about how Scottish Scotland feels – of that there is little doubt – but rather about how British is still regards itself.
“So far as identity is concerned, it is the degree to which people in Scotland still share some sense of fellow feeling with those living elsewhere in the UK that seems to be central to the choice they are inclined to make.”
However, Curtice noted that alongside identity, figures suggested economic prospects were the deciding factor ahead of identity for many.
“Even for those whose sense of British identity is not strong, leaving the Union is only to be contemplated if they are inclined to believe that Scotland gets a raw deal out of the Union and/or that independence would deliver a stronger economy than the country enjoys now,” he added.
The latest poll comes just days after Scottish Sports Minister Shona Robison announced that Scots could expect to have Olympic and Paralympic teams ready and eligible to take part in Rio 2016 if the country gets a yes vote for independence next year.
The Olympics and football have been a sensitive topic in the UK since the creation of a GB football team for the London 2012 Olympics. The plan caused ructions when Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish Football Associations raised concerns about the impact it would have on the independence of the home nations in the eyes of football governing body FIFA.
The team went ahead – with the backing of high profile names including Labour MP Jim Murphy and former PM Gordon Brown – but without any players from Scotland or Northern Ireland.