Most believe Scotland will keep pound as new poll confirms closeness of independence contest


  By Martin Kelly
A new poll carried out on behalf of the Scottish Sunday Times and Real Radio has revealed that most Scots believe an independent Scotland will continue to use the pound.
The Panelbase survey also showed the gap between Yes and No is sitting at twelve points, with support for Yes at 37% and support for No at 49%, with Don’t Knows on 14%.  When don’t knows are stripped out of the results, the poll shows Yes at 43% with 57% opting for No.

The new figures indicate a small drop in support for Yes of one per cent since the last Panelbase poll, with No gaining two – those undecided down by one.

The survey also showed that most (56%) believed Scotland would still be using the pound following independence.  Of that, the largest group was 41% who thought there would be a currency union, but 15% thought there would be no formal currency agreement. 

A total of 8% thought that a separate Scottish currency would follow independence and 7% said they thought Scotland would be forced to use the euro.  Almost a third, 29%, said they did not have enough information to form a judgement.

The survey also indicated that more so-called working class Scots would be backing Yes than supporting No – 53% to 47%.

Head of Yes Scotland, Blair Jenkins said: “The Sunday Times Panelbase poll demonstrates that momentum is firmly behind the Yes campaign. With little over seven months to go, a swing of only just over seven points to Yes puts us ahead.

“We know from our own detailed research that many people throughout Scotland are on a journey from No to don’t know and from don’t know to Yes.

“The more people hear the positive case for independence, the more likely they are to complete that journey and we will continue to take our message to every doorstep, organisation and community in the coming months.”

Leader of the No campaign, Labour MP Alistair Darling said: “This poll will only add to the pressure on Alex Salmond on the currency issue.  It is increasingly obvious that Scotland cannot leave the UK and keep the security of the UK pound.  How much longer can he ignore the opposition of decision-makers in the rest of the UK and economic experts here in Scotland?

“Alex Salmond might be ignoring what the experts are saying but the voters aren’t.  They know that the SNP cannot promise that we would keep the pound while the rest of the UK says no.

“Alex Salmond’s reckless threats to default on Scotland’s debts if the rest of the UK say no to a currency union reveal the First Minister’s weakness on this issue.  The entire White Paper is predicated on keeping the pound. Losing the pound leaves the SNP without a plan for independence.”

The survey also showed support for the SNP remaining solid with the party enjoying a significant lead over its main rival, Labour.  The nationalists now command 39%(-1) in the constituency and 42%(+2) in the list vote, with Labour on 28%(+1) and 25%(-2) respectively.

When ‘don’t knows’ are excluded, the SNP is polling at 44 per cent on the constituency vote and on the list – about as high as the landslide victory of the 2011 Holyrood election. 

Welcoming the poll, the SNP highlighted the figures which showed a swing of only just over seven per cent would secure a Yes vote in September’s referendum.

SNP Business Convener Derek MacKay MSP said:

“For the SNP to enjoy the same landslide levels of support – almost seven years into office – is a fantastic achievement by any standard.

“Support for independence is strong, with a swing of only just over 7 per cent needed to put Yes ahead, and this is very encouraging on top of the seven polls since the White Paper which have shown a swing towards Yes.”

The poll also showed 63 per cent support for a formal currency union with the rest if the UK, once the ‘don’t knows’ are excluded – a position now firmly backed on both sides of the border.

Mr MacKay added:

“The firm support for the Sterling area – at 63 per cent – reflects the common sense position already backed by seven out of 10 people in the rest of the UK, who believe that an independent Scotland should keep using the pound within an agreed currency union.

“We know that the facts and figures show that Scotland will be better off as an independent country – which is why more and more people, including leading business figures, are backing a Yes vote in September.”

The survey by Panelbase follows several similar surveys showing support for a Yes vote on the increase.  However, despite the small drop in support for Yes, pro-independence supporters will be heartened that the recent media onslaught has harvested little by way of benefit for the No campaign.

The survey of 1012 people in Scotland took place between January 29th and February 7th and followed a visit to Scotland by Bank of England Governor Mark Carney and a significant ramping up of anti-independence rhetoric by Unionists, headlined by most media outlets.

Some responses however confirm the success of the campaign of misinformation being promoted by those who oppose independence.

According to the survey, more people believe that independence will mean paying more tax.  However a recent Financial Times study found that an independent Scotland would be in better fiscal shape than the rest of the UK.

Commenting on the tax question, Derek MacKay said:

“Given that Scotland is financially stronger than rest of UK – as confirmed by Financial Times analysis – to the tune of £12.6 billion over the past five years, there is no need for tax to be higher in an independent Scotland.”

This weekend revelations contained in the Sunday Herald newspaper showed the Westminster Government had been secretly trying to urge the Spanish press to run stories attacking Scottish independence.

Mr MacKay added: “The political landscape is changing in a way which will boost the case for a Yes vote further; the revelation of Westminster’s failed anti-independence whispering campaign in Spain and Russia, Labour’s bitter splits and inability to offer more powers for Scotland, combined with David Cameron’s refusal to engage in a debate with the First Minister of Scotland, will see more and more undecided voters attracted to the gains of independence.”