There’s one last bit of data from our poll that we haven’t revealed the results of yet. That’s because, unlike the rest of the survey, this one absolutely WAS a leading question. We asked it partly to satirise the ridiculously slanted nature of those used in some “Better Together” polls, such as this one, but also to make a more serious point.
If you’re looking forward to Wednesday’s game at Wembley, this one’s for you.
Q: Scotland and England are about to play each other at football for the first time in several years. Scotland currently has “national” teams representing it in various sports, including football and rugby, whereas in others it competes as part of the UK.
Many other nations, particularly in FIFA, wish to see this anomaly ended and have the UK represented by a single team in all sports.
Should there be a No vote in the referendum, which of these opposing views is CLOSEST to your opinion?
If we choose for Scotland not to be a sovereign nation, we should accept the abolition of our national teams. It makes no sense to be different countries for different sports, and it’s not fair to other countries that the UK takes up four qualifying places in tournaments when much larger nations only get one: 34%
The UK should continue to get special treatment in sport by being able to enter four teams in competitions instead of one: 66%
No doubt which way that question’s pushing respondents, then. But look at the result.
As far as we’re aware, NOBODY in Scotland has ever actually suggested that we should abolish our national teams (other than in the occasional event of a humiliation against Moldova or Tonga, of course) on the grounds that we don’t govern ourselves. We’ve never read a single newspaper column or even a reader letter calling for it.
But by simply asking a leading question, we managed to persuade over a third of Scots to say that we should give up our football and rugby teams. And it wasn’t a matter of sour grapes from SNP types – the proportion of respondents who agreed with the proposition that Scottish national teams should be abolished on a No vote was:
Lib Dem: 25%
(Women were far more likely to agree – 41% against 26% of men – and the age group most in favour was 18-24s, who were 54% in favour of abolition, perhaps because at that age they have no memory of anything but failure and embarrassment on the part of our football and rugby teams.)
Scotland and England haven’t played each other at football for 13 years, and the Scottish media is making a big deal of Wednesday night’s game, even though it’s just a friendly. The Daily Record ran a 16-page supplement celebrating great Scottish victories (and a few humiliating defeats) on Saturday, yet the paper regularly and strenuously advocates Scotland’s “nation” status being restricted to sport. We can be in FIFA and UEFA and the IRB in our own right, but not the EU or NATO or the UN.
SNP black sheep Jim Sillars got in a lot of trouble in the early 1990s for calling Scottish people “90-minute patriots”, suggesting that they were proud Scots for the duration of football matches but then happy to meekly submit to UK rule after the final whistle. He quickly backed away from the line under a barrage of criticism, even though it was demonstrably true, because there are some thoughts that politicians (on all sides) are generally advised to keep to themselves.
(See former Labour provost of Glasgow Michael Kelly’s assertion in last week’s Scotsman that basically voters are too stupid to be entrusted with democracy:
“At the end of the day, I cynically wonder, will [debate] matter? It might if you could trust democracy. Sadly, my experience is that you cannot. Effective democratic elections require voters who are intelligent, educated and, importantly, self-sacrificing. The reality around the ballot box is more often pigheadedness, ignorance and self-interest.”
…and ponder how that’d have gone down if he was still in office.)
Sillars, rather curiously, has recently revived the line. But it seems you only have to ask the question in a certain way to get a lot of Scots to openly agree with it.
(Full data tables for this question here.)