Social Attitudes Survey shows Yes vote on rise as No slides

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  By a Newsnet reporter
 
The latest Scottish Social Attitudes Survey has revealed that the gap between Yes and No is narrowing, but that the No campaign still enjoys a lead over its rival.
 
The latest snapshot of Scottish opinion has revealed the Yes campaign has increased its support by six points based on the same period last year, with the No campaign falling by the same amount.

According to the survey, 55% of those taking part have said they will vote No (-6) in the referendum with 29% opting for Yes (+6).

However there are sure to be questions raised over the methodology, with instead of one question as it will appear on the ballot paper, the survey gave respondents multiple options, asking:

Which of these statements comes closest to your view?

  • Scotland should become independent, separate from the UK and the European Union
  • Scotland should become independent, separate from the UK but part of the European Union
  • Scotland should remain part of the UK, with its own elected parliament which has some taxation powers
  • Scotland should remain part of the UK, with its own elected parliament which has no taxation powers
  • Scotland should remain part of the UK without an elected parliament

The first two options were deemed Yes responses by the survey team, with options three and four representing a No vote, or “devolution” as the team termed it.

The survey found that the lead for No reverses when people are asked how they will vote if independence means they will be £500 better off.  In that case, Yes increases to 52% with No dropping to 30%.  However if people believed they would be £500 worse off, then support for No increased to 72% with Yes dropping to 15%.

On the issue of decision making, the survey asked:

Which of the statements on this card comes closest to your view about who should make government decisions for Scotland?

  • Scottish Parliament should make all the decisions for Scotland
  • The UK government should make decisions about defence and foreign affairs; the Scottish Parliament should decide everything else
  • The UK government should make decisions about taxes, benefits and defence and foreign affairs; the Scottish Parliament should decide the rest.
  • The UK government should make all decisions for Scotland

The survey found most people wanted either significant more powers the so-called DevoMax (32%) or full independence (31%).  The third option, which is closest to what currently exists, received 25% whilst option four received only 8%.

Asked if they did vote, how they would vote or whether they had yet to decide, 20% said they would be voting Yes, 42% said No and 34% said they were undecided.

In a separate question, apparently aimed at trying to determining the number of undecided, the survey asked “In the referendum, you will be asked, ‘Should Scotland be an independent country?’ If you do vote, will you vote ‘Yes’ or vote ‘No’- or haven’t you decided yet?

The response was 20% Yes, 42% No, 33% undecided and 4% would not vote.

Welcoming the publication today of the 2013 Scottish Social Attitudes survey, Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said:
 
“This survey – carried out before the White Paper was published – shows significant movement in favour of independence.
 
“It also confirms that when we win the economic argument, we will win the referendum. The facts say that Scotland will be better off with independence. The most recent official figures show that over the last five years Scotland’s finances have been healthier to the tune of £2,375 per person.   
 
“By contrast, George Osborne is planning another £25bn of cuts and there are Westminster politicians queuing up to take £4 billion a year from Scotland’s budget through the scrapping of the Barnett formula.”

Prof John Curtice, who was a consultant for the team which commissioned the survey said: “The referendum campaign is at risk of short-changing the people of Scotland.

“So far it appears to have done little to help them be clear and confident about the decision they have to make.

“Many of the issues that preoccupy those campaigning for and against independence are apparently of peripheral interest to voters.

“Voters want to hear about the economic and financial consequences of the choice that they make, and it is on the outcome of that debate that the result of the referendum is likely to turn.”

However Ms Sturgeon added: “This year’s referendum is a choice between two futures. We can vote Yes to independence and use Scotland’s stronger public finances to build a fairer and more prosperous country. We can use the powers of independence to boost the working population, bring more opportunities for women through a transformation in childcare, create more jobs and re-industrialise Scotland.
 
“The alternative is more bad government from a Westminster system that fails Scotland, with growing inequality, a dismantling of the welfare state, the danger of exiting the European Union against our will and an unbalanced economy focussed on London and the South East.
 
“As we move closer to the referendum, one by one the scare stories from the self-styled Project Fear are disintegrating – such as the No campaign’s new advisor agreeing with our arguments on Europe, and the Treasury adopting our common sense approach on national debt.
 
“Scotland’s Future, the most detailed blueprint for an independent country ever published, is now on its third reprint, demonstrating the strong and growing interest among the people of Scotland in learning about the opportunities of independence. The No campaign are unable or unwilling to offer any comparable prospectus.
 
“The movement towards a Yes vote for independence is gaining ground, and this survey is further evidence of that.”

The leader of the Yes Scotland campaign, Blair Jenkins, said the survey demonstrated that momentum was “very much with yes”.

He added: “This research was, of course, carried out last year before publication of Scotland’s Future, the Scottish government’s detailed guide to independence and we know that the more people learn about the benefits of independence the more likely they are to vote yes. The survey confirms that.

“We also know that the economic argument is key in this debate and if we win the economic argument we will achieve a yes majority in September.

Better Together’s Blair McDougall said he was encouraged by the results of the survey and said:

“People who have still to make up their mind are leaning towards remaining in the UK and are rejecting separation.

“The reason for this is clear. The economic uncertainty of leaving the UK has become the defining issue of the referendum with fewer than one in 10 Scots believing they would be better off outside the UK.”