By a Newsnet reporter
As SNP delegates arrive for the start of SNP conference, a new YouGov poll has found that a clear majority of Scots want all tax, spend and welfare decisions to be made by the Scottish Government.
The poll found that 52% of respondents thought that the Scottish Government should be responsible for all tax and spending decisions in Scotland – including oil and gas tax revenue, with 35% supporting Westminster control.
A separate question found 53% thought that the Scottish Government would be best at deciding welfare and pensions policy for Scotland, with 34% backing UK Government control. The poll of 1015 Scottish adults was carried out between 20th and 22nd March.
The results come as a boost to the independence campaign – and a blow to the anti-independence campaign, who have repeatedly scaremongered on pensions and on oil revenues.
The challenge for the Yes campaign is to persuade voters that Scottish control of welfare, pensions and tax and spending can only come about through independence. The anti-independence parties have repeatedly refused to spell out what further powers would be devolved to the Scottish parliament in the event of a No vote, and refused to consider asking voters an additional question about ‘devo-max’ in the independence referendum.
Many Yes campaigners fear that if Scotland votes No on 18 September 2014, Westminster politicians will kick the issue of further devolution into the long grass, and no progress will be made. The Conservatives have already ruled out any devolution of welfare issues. The failure of the 1979 home rule referendum to surpass the artificial hurdle imposed at the behest of certain Labour MPs resulted in devolution being ignored by Westminster for the best part of 2 decades.
Fieldwork on the YouGov poll was carried out more recently than a second poll by the No campaign, due to be released late on Friday night. The SNP have already dismissed this other poll as being based upon leading questions, which the party claims makes the Better Together findings unreliable and untrustworthy.
Welcoming the YouGov poll, Finance Secretary John Swinney SNP said:
“These are hugely encouraging results and show that the positive arguments put forward by the independence campaign are winning the support of the people of Scotland. There is a clear majority support for the key decisions about Scotland to be taken right here in Scotland.
“This is a big blow to the No campaign.
“Scotland is in a stronger financial position than the UK as a whole – to the tune of £4.4 billion, or £824 per person
“And we know that Scotland spends proportionately less of its budget on welfare and pensions than the rest of the UK.
“Only a Yes vote on 18th September 2014 will enable us to invest our abundant resources in building the fairer and more prosperous Scotland that we all want to see.”