By Bob Duncan
“The ‘Yes’ vote is there to be won”. That was the message given to delegates by Scotland’s Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon today, as they arrived at the annual conference of the Scottish National Party in Perth.
At the end of an historic week in which the Edinburgh Agreement between the Scottish and UK Governments guaranteed a referendum designed and delivered by the Scottish Parliament, delegates will hear that a potential majority vote for an independent Scotland exists among the people.
As evidence that people are open to persuasion, the SNP cited polling evidence which shows that a strong majority of people believe that the Scottish Government – rather than Westminster – is better at making decisions for Scotland, and that most people are likely to vote for independence if they believe they and their family will be better off.
A YouGov poll of over 1000 Scottish adults, commissioned by the SNP last week, asked if people would be more or less likely to vote Yes if they could be persuaded that they would be better off.
45% of those questioned said they were more likely to vote yes, and just 36% were less likely, under these circumstances. If translated to referendum votes, this would lead to a Yes result with a margin of over 11%.
In addition, the last Scottish Social Attitudes survey showed that, if they were sure to be better off by just £500 per year, then over 65% of Scots would vote to become independent.
Since the GERS figures for 2010/2011 (the most recent available) demonstrated that the Scottish economy was outperforming that of the UK by over £1000 per head, this is likely to be a key area of debate over the coming two years.
As the conference began, the SNP’s Depute Leader and Scotland’s Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said:
“As SNP delegates gather today in Perth, we can take stock of just how far Scotland has come on the country’s home rule journey – which I believe we will complete in the autumn 2014 referendum by voting Yes to independence.
“A Yes vote is there to be won, and I believe will be won in two years’ time. We know that a clear majority of people in Scotland believe that the Scottish Government is better at making decisions for Scotland than Westminster – by 64% to 24% – which is an essential foundation of the case for independence, and is also testament to the success of the degree of independence offered to us by devolution.
“And most people are likely to vote Yes for an independent Scotland if they believe that they and their family will be better off.
“The economic case is on our side – Scotland pays 9.6% of UK taxes for 9.3% of UK spending in return, and in 2010/11 Scotland’s finances were stronger than the UK’s to the tune of £2.7 billion, or over £1000 for every household in Scotland.
“This week’s agreement between the Scottish and UK governments ensures that we will have a referendum made in Scotland, with the outcome respected by all sides – the task now is to go out and win the argument among the people. And if we win the argument, we will win the referendum.”