By a Newsnet reporter
First Minister Alex Salmond has called on the UK Government to publish a survey it commissioned into Scottish independence which has cost nearly fifty thousand pounds of public cash.
The poll, which apparently shows a surge in support for independence, came to light after a letter was published in the Sunday Herald newspaper.
According to the letter writer, polling organisation Ipsos Mori had been paid to carry out the survey which was subsequently “buried” because it showed a surge in support for independence.
The letter, written by someone calling herself Kelly Brown, congratulated the newspaper on its backing for a Yes in the referendum.
It said: “Congratulations to the Sunday Herald for coming out and announcing your support for a Yes vote. Extremely timely too, given that a recent poll commissioned by the Cabinet Office was ‘buried’ as it returned a result which showed the Yes vote was soaring. The poll was held by my employer, Ipsos Mori, and I can say with some confidence that all the scare stories and smears have virtually no influence – indeed, it appears it sways the undecided towards the Yes side.”
Images of the newspaper showing the letter have been circulating on social media for days.
The matter was raised during Deputy First Minister’s Questions at Westminster today when SNP MP Angus McNeil pressed Nick Clegg, calling on the UK Government to release the poll.
“Your Government has actually hushed up an opinion poll from the taxpayers who paid for it at a cost of £50,000.
“The poll reportedly shows a surge in support for Scottish independence.
“Tory and Labour scare stories are not working. There should be no government secrecy. So will you be straight with the public on independence and publish this poll? There’s not reason that this should be kept secret.” he said.
The Lib Dem MP sidestepped the issue and instead said that the only poll that counted was the one held on September 18th.
He replied: “I’ve learnt to try and be a bit wary about opinion polls. The only poll that counts is the poll that’s going to happen on September 18,”
Ipsos MORI were paid £46,550 for ‘market research on attitudes in Scotland towards Scottish independence’. The cash was part a total £75,000 spent by Downing Street on independence polling and PR tie-ups in January of this year.
The matter has now escalated with First Minister Alex Salmond calling for the poll to be published.
Mr Salmond said: “David Cameron’s government have spent almost £50,000 of taxpayers’ cash on an opinion poll which they now appear to be trying to keep secret.
“That is totally unacceptable and totally unsustainable.
“No matter how uncomfortable the results may be for Westminster and the No campaign, they now have to publish this poll’s findings.
“The polls overall show that all the momentum is with the campaign for an independent Scotland, as more and more people plan to vote Yes in September.”