Survey suggests constitutional gulf widening between Unionist parties and voters


By G.A.Ponsonby
Results of the Scottish Social Attitudes Survey published today show a widening of the gap between Scottish voters and the three Unionist parties.
The survey revealed that two thirds of Scots would opt for independence if it meant they benefitted financially.

However the survey also suggested that a gulf was opening between the extra powers offered by all three Unionist parties and the aspirations of Scottish voters.

According to the poll, the Scottish Parliament taking all the key decisions that affect Scotland is now the most popular option for Scotland’s constitutional future.
The survey shows that 43% of people in Scotland now back the Scottish Parliament taking all decisions – an increase of 15% on last year.

With only 29% supporting devolution max, where the UK only retains control of foreign affairs and defence, and 21% favouring the status quo – independence is now the most popular option for Scotland’s future.

The survey also reveals significant opposition amongst Labour and Lib Dem supporters for the measures contained in the Scotland Bill with over two thirds of voters from each party in favour of either full independence or devo-max.

The income tax measures as proposed by the Scotland Bill are now favoured by just over one third of voters.

Commenting on the results, director of the SNP’s referendum campaign Angus Robertson MP said that the Unionist parties were now ‘light years’ behind the public on the constitutional debate.

Mr Robertson said:
“The Scottish people having all responsibility for decisions that affect Scotland is by far and away the preferred choice for Scotland’s future.
“The public have moved light years beyond the current powers of the Scottish Parliament and the limited additional powers proposed by the Scotland Bill.
“It is time for opposition parties and the UK Government to catch up and move to give the Scottish Parliament the powers the people of Scotland want it to have.”

However Labour questioned the SNP’s interpretation of the figures and claimed that it showed the Scottish public wanted “stronger” devolution.

Margaret Curran MP, Scottish Labour’s Shadow Scottish Secretary said:

“Far from being the breakthrough the SNP wanted, this shows the vast majority of Scots support devolution and want to see it stronger and better.

“The SNP have in power for almost  five years now, and each year support for separation is actually lower than when Labour formed the Scottish Government.  There will be a lot of head-scratching at SNP HQ because poll after poll, support for separation remains a minority occupation.”

The SNP challenged Labour to listen to its own voters and to take a more positive stance over extras powers for Scotland.

Mr Robertson added:

“A majority of Labour and Lib Dem supporters favour the Scottish Parliament having far more autonomy than their own parties are putting on the table.  It is time for the UK parties to look at the Scotland Bill, look at the extension of powers the SNP has proposed and to take positive action.
“With independence now winning the support of 43% of the population and 65% ready to support independence on the basis they would be better off, there is a real appetite and consensus for a Scottish Parliament that has responsibility for all the decisions that matter to the people of Scotland.“

The survey asked:
Which of these statements comes closest to your view about who should make government decisions for Scotland (2010 survey figures in brackets)

  • The Scottish Parliament should make all the decisions for Scotland: 43% (28%)
  • The UK Gov should make decisions about defence and foreign affairs and the Scottish Government should decide everything else: 29% (32%)
  • The UK Gov should make decisions about taxes, benefits, defence, foreign affairs and the Scottish Government should decide the rest: 21% (27%)
  • UK Government should make all the decisions for Scotland: 5% (10%)

Supporters of all powers or all except foreign affairs by party identification

  • Con 29%
  • Lab 67%
  • Lib 67%
  • SNP 90%

Which of the following comes closest to your view about who should decide the level of taxation and government spending in Scotland

  • The Scottish Parliament alone 51% (+15)
  • The Scottish and UK Government 35% (-4)
  • The UK Government alone 11% (-12)


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