By a Newsnet reporter
A new survey showing independence and the status quo now virtually neck and neck has been hailed by the SNP as evidence that their positive approach to campaigning is working.
The poll, carried out by Panelbase on behalf of the Sunday Times and Real Radio Scotland, asked respondents – Do you agree that Scotland should be an independent country?
It revealed support for independence now sitting at 47 per cent, only six points behind the status quo at 53 per cent.
The poll which surveyed 1,000 adults in Scotland between 27 January and 1 February also found that support for the SNP at a high of 50 per cent, one point better than an Ipsos MORI poll that put the nationalists on 49 per cent.
Compared to last year’s election, SNP support is up 5 points, and Labour are down 3 points. If a Scottish election was held today the SNP seats at Holyrood would increase from 69 to 71.
However the latest poll would see the Lib Dems almost wiped out in Scotland with the party slumping from their current 5 seats to only 3.
In terms of net satisfaction ratings, this is the first poll to ask about attitudes towards all Holyrood and Westminster leaders – and finds that Alex Salmond’s ratings are hugely positive, and he is the only leader north or south of the Border with a positive figure:
- Alex Salmond: +17%
- David Cameron: -43%
- Ed Miliband: -41%
- Nick Clegg: -54%
- Johann Lamont: -18%
- Ruth Davidson: -32%
- Willie Rennie: -27%
The poll also finds that people are enthusiastic about the positive impact independence would have on Scotland’s national life.
More than twice as many people (42%) think that an independent Scotland would be good for the nation’s health than think it would be bad (17%); and they are also very positive about education (47% compared with 19%).
Seven times as many (64%) say independence would have a positive effect on Scottish culture than a negative effect (9%), and three times as many (59%) say it would be good for Scottish confidence rather than bad (19%).
Exactly half of Scots believe that independence would be positive for the environment while 15% think the opposite, and more than a quarter (27%) say it would cut crime while 17% think it could rise.
On the question of whether people think they would be at least £500 better off with independence, 72 per cent think they would be better off or it would make little difference (18% and 54% respectively), while only 28 per cent think they would be worse off.
When the three constitutional options are asked alongside each other, independence is the most popular:
- Independence: 37%
- Status quo: 33%
- Devo-max: 30%
Scottish National Party Depute Leader and Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said:
“This is a fantastic poll for the SNP, for independence, and for Scotland. It confirms other recent surveys which also show that support for independence and the SNP is on a rising curve.
“After just the first few weeks of the referendum debate, it is abundantly clear that the positive approach towards Scotland’s future is winning over the negative approach from the anti-independence parties – with support for independence now neck-and-neck with opposition.
“Alex Salmond’s leadership ratings are superb – they are strongly positive, with double digit net approval, and all the other leaders both north and south of the Border have sharply negative ratings.
“The poll shows that the people of Scotland are extremely positive about our future as an independent nation – if there was never any doubt that the anti-independence parties are out of touch with the mood of Scotland, this poll proves it.
“With independence, Scotland would be the sixth-wealthiest country in the developed world in terms of GDP per head. We pay more into the UK exchequer than we get back in return. In the five years to 2009/10, Scotland was in a stronger financial position than the UK as a whole to the tune of £7.2 billion.”
The poll is the latest in a series of surveys to suggest support for independence now moving into a solid 40% plus base. It also confirms recent results showing a firm two thirds of Scots are unhappy with the status quo put forward by the three Unionist parties.
The results showing support for the SNP at Holyrood on the increase compared to last year’s historic Scottish election level will be worrying for the three Unionist opposition parties who have all elected new leaders since May’s historic result.