By Dave Taylor
YouGov has conducted a poll on behalf of an organisation called “Vote UK out of EU”. At this point, I need to apologise to readers for not having ascertained their exact relationship to UKIP. I did start, but got increasingly angered by the levels of racism and narrow nationalism that I uncovered.
“Vote UK out of EU” is run by right wing radio presenter Jon Gaunt and his brother Jason. A few years ago Jon Gaunt was sacked from his job at Talksport radio after he called a councillor from the London Borough of Redbridge a “Nazi”.
The remark was made in connection with the council’s policy of not placing foster children in households where there’s a smoker. Nigel Farrage, UKIP’s leader, made a public statement in support of Gaunt. Gaunt is a regular speaker at UKIP events, so it may fairly be said that his views are in tune with those of your typical UKIP member.
The poll covered attitudes to the EU, immigration, human rights, and Scotland. Judging by the questions, they don’t like any of these.
On the EU, we only have the usual small regional/national samples, which are not statistically significant to work with. However, it was interesting to note that all but one of the English regions had a majority for leaving the EU, ranging from 7% to 13%. On the other hand London (which arguably isn’t an English region at all, but a major international city like New York) favoured membership by 41% to 34%. Scotland favoured staying in the EU by 39% to 38%.
On timing of a possible EU referendum, this UKIP surrogate asked a question that comes straight out of La-La land. “Suppose a referendum is held on the UK’s membership of the EU. Do you think it would be a good idea or a bad idea to hold it on the same day as a referendum in Scotland on its membership of the UK?”
58% of GB thought that a bad idea, while 77% of Scots thought it was bad. There was no option for respondents to say “What idiot fruitcake came up with that stupid idea?” Shame that.
As far as Scotland was concerned, they didn’t ask about views on independence as such, but rather “If Scotland became independent” questions. Unusually, the tables allow us to see the responses of those wanting to remain in the EU, as opposed to those wanting to withdraw.
The question of Scotland’s currency post independence was raised in two questions.
“Suppose Scotland becomes independent. Should the rest of the UK allow an independent Scotland to continue to use the pound as its currency?”
56% of those wanting to stay in the EU thought that was reasonable, with only 34% against. Only 42% of those wanting to leave the EU thought that was acceptable, with 47% opposed to accommodating Scotland.
They were also asked what would be best “for an independent Scotland”?
Both groups were the same on keeping the pound – 42% of pro-EU respondents, as against 41% of anti-EU people.
Not surprisingly, 21% of the pro-EU group thought Scotland should “work towards joining the Euro” (which means keeping sterling in the meantime), while only 7% of the anti EU group agreed.
17% of the pro EU group thought that Scotland should have its own currency while 37% of the antis thought that would be best – doubtless projecting their own ideas of what “independence” means onto the Scots.
Meantime, of the wee Scots sample, 67% wanted to keep the pound, 8% to work towards joining the euro and 16% creating our own currency.
The mindset of those commissioning this poll is shown by this question:
“The Royal Bank of Scotland was effectively bought by the British government during the banking crisis of 2008/9. Scotland comprises around 8% of the UK’s population. If it becomes independent, should it …
“Be fully responsible for the RBS, including its debts” or “Take over the shares as debts of 8% of the shareholding owned by the UK government” (Huh?) or “Not take over any of the shares or debts of RBS.”
With such incomprehensible questions, the answers are somewhat meaningless. The 21% of Scots who thought we shouldn’t take over any of the RBS debts have probably got it right.
After independence, all the debts and assets of the UK will need to be fairly divided. The origin of those debts and assets isn’t important. We are where we are. Scotland will take its fair share of both assets and debts of the UK that Scots voters have committed us to by choosing to remain in the UK. We have to pay for our mistakes.