Both of our polls so far have been far less concerned with HOW people intend to vote in the independence referendum, and much more concerned with the WHY. So in the second one, we decided to have a bit of a dig around in their reasons, see what it was they really wanted, and what might change their minds.
We had no idea what to expect, but our respondents still managed to surprise us.
Which of these will be the MAIN factors in deciding how you vote in the independence referendum? (Tick up to two.)
The future of the economy: 50
The prospects for my children/grandchildren: 43
Ensuring Scotland always gets the government it votes for: 31
Maintaining the UK’s international standing/influence: 25
My own prospects: 19
Emotional reasons (national pride etc): 8
Looks like that old jibe that Scots can be bought next September for £500 either way might have some truth in it. Questions like this, of course, are always susceptible to dishonest answers, because nobody likes to come out and say “I’m doing it for myself”. We’d hoped to cancel that out a bit by letting people tick two answers, but the theory may have backfired slightly.
We’re slightly disappointed that only 31% of people care much about Scotland getting governments it’s rejected at the ballot box for six years in every 10.
We’d imagined Labour voters as well as SNP ones would object to the one-way street that is England forcing Tories on the rest of the UK while never suffering the reverse, but as it gets harder and harder to tell Labour and Conservative (and Lib Dem) policies apart we suppose a cynic could understand why they weren’t all that bothered.
In the end just 21% of Labour voters chose as a priority that Scotland should be governed by the party Scotland chooses, compared to 53% from the SNP.
(In this question, incidentally, there was very little difference between the sexes.)
If all other things were equal, and it was purely a matter of personal preference, would you LIKE Scotland to be an independent country, or would you prefer it to remain in the UK?
Independent country: 44
Remain in the UK: 48
Don’t know: 9
This is quite a sobering result for the Yes camp, but not as depressing as it might first appear. It doesn’t mean that people can’t be persuaded – see the previous question – but it does mean they need to be convinced that there’s something in it for them other than just a change of flag, otherwise they don’t fancy all the hassle. (52% of men would do it on principle alone, whereas 51% of women would stay as they were.)
There was some encouragement for the Yes camp, too, in the number of people who could be swayed by Scotland simply being no worse off. 29% of Labour voters and 29% of Liberal Democrats (along with 9% of Tories) would prefer Scotland to be independent deep down, so long as they didn’t lose out as a result. As we’ll see later, “We cannae dae it!” is still the biggest obstacle the independence movement has to overcome.
So what about a couple of more specific scenarios? First up, our longest question.
The Scottish Government’s annual budget (like those of Wales and Northern Ireland) is determined by a block grant from Westminster calculated according to the ‘Barnett formula’, which is unpopular with many English voters and MPs.
Labour, the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats have all recently said that they want to abolish this system and replace it with a ‘needs-based’ alternative, which would give Scotland a smaller share of UK spending than it receives at present.
If you knew that the Barnett formula was going to be abolished after 2015, how would it affect your vote in the independence referendum?
Much more likely to vote Yes: 18
Slightly more likely to vote Yes: 9
No difference – I’ll vote Yes anyway: 21
No difference – I’ll vote No anyway: 33
Slightly more likely to vote No: 2
Much more likely to vote No: 3
Don’t know: 15
Nicola Sturgeon’s speech at the SNP conference was attacked by the Unionist parties and media, with no apparent sense of irony, as negative and fearmongering. But the assertion in the question’s preamble is a fact. All three Westminster parties desperately want to scrap Barnett and free up more money for England, and with the threat of independence removed by a No vote there’ll be nothing left to stop them.
If that message gets through to Scots, a highly significant 27% might switch their vote, and that’s more than enough to completely turn around even the worst opinion polls. In particular, it could be the nudge that SNP-voting indy-sceptics need: 35% of Nats would be more inclined towards Yes if they though Barnett was on the way out, along with 26% of Labour voters.
David Cameron has pledged that the UK will hold an in/out referendum on membership of the European Union in 2017. If you believed the UK was going to leave the EU in the next few years, how would that affect your vote in the SCOTTISH INDEPENDENCE referendum?
Much more likely to vote Yes: 14
Slightly more likely to vote Yes: 6
No difference: 53
Slightly more likely to vote No: 3
Much more likely to vote No: 7
Don’t know: 16
Earlier we found Scottish people to be pretty ambivalent about Europe, but when you put the question in starker and more direct terms, they’re not keen on the thought of leaving. 20% would be tilted towards Yes by the thought of finding ourselves outside the EU, although for 10% it’d be a positive.
Overall, then, the prospect of an exit could yet be a significant factor, especially if UKIP do well in the European elections in May 2014 (as they’re widely expected to) and put more pressure on the Tories at Westminster. Only half of Scots say it definitely won’t make a difference to their vote.
We’re keeping these posts down to 1000 or so words so as not to overwhelm you with data, so that’s all we’ve got time for here. Join us again later, when you’ll hear Nurse Piggy say “Now THAT’S some good news for the Yes campaign.”