Looking forward to this year’s independence referendum, it seems that the priorities of the chattering classes are very different to those of many ordinary voters. A report from ScotCen Social Research has found that issues which seem to excite debate on radio television and in the newspapers (things such as what currency Scotland should have and whether this country will automatically be a member of the European Union or not) come well down the list of priorities. Instead, people want to make their minds up based on whether or not they would be better off in an independent country.
Until now, most polls have fairly consistently shown that around 30% of Scots voters actively support independence. However, the survey found that just over half – 52% – would support a breakup of the union if that meant they were £500 better off. But on the other hand, if people thought they were going to be £500 worse off, then support for independence dropped to just 15% – indeed 72% would actively oppose such a move.
However, this latest survey of 1,497 people was taken between July and October last year – that’s before the Scottish Government published its blueprint for independence. At that time, some 64% of those surveyed where “unsure” of what would happen if Scotland became independent. Only 30% were confident that they knew.
In a statement, Prof John Curtice, who acted as a consultant on this research project, said that “many of the issues that preoccupied 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 they make, and it is on the outcome of that debate that the result of the referendum is likely to turn.”