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Wings Over Scotland

Wanting what you can’t have

Posted on January 13, 2014 by

Yesterday’s Scotland on Sunday took a slightly strange angle on the results of a social-attitudes survey conducted by the thinktank “British Future” last month.

“Almost half of the British people believe that the UK would be weakened in the event of Scottish independence, according to the first poll to illustrate the extent that Scotland is valued by its neighbours.”

…or put another way, MORE than half of them DON’T believe that. But anyway.

The Scottish media’s reporting of the poll’s findings barely touched on anything other than that one statistic. We had a delve around in it on Sunday morning and then promptly forgot about it as we wrestled with trying to get the site back online, but there were a few intriguing results.

(As an aside, even on the one above Lesley Riddoch notes in today’s Scotsman that when BF polled English people rather than British ones, the number who thought the UK would be weakened dropped sharply to 33%.)

One, for example, found that the rest of the UK is considerably less confident of a No vote than the Scottish sample was. In England 47% of voters expected a No, against 29% who reckoned the Scots would say Yes – a gap of just 18 points. In Scotland itself, the margin was more than twice as high, at 38 points (58% predicting a No vs just 20% who thought their fellow Scots would plump for Yes).

But the thing we found really interesting was something the respondents shared with a recent Scotland-only poll conducted by the “Better Together” campaign. The only vaguely fair question in that poll found that the nebulous and undefined “more powers” option is still Scotland’s most favoured choice, despite not being on the ballot paper and having no chance of happening in the way Scots want (chiefly, control over welfare and oil revenues, the two things they believe Westminster absolutely will not give up).

And when “British Future” asked the people of the UK a similar question about Britain’s membership of the EU, it got a distinctly familiar-sounding response.



Those are some quite chilling figures for anyone keen on the UK remaining in Europe, which at the last count was still a clear majority of Scots. Almost two-thirds of Britons want to either leave the EU entirely or stay in with an undefined renegotiated settlement. The poll wasn’t very specific about what those terms should be – ringing any bells? – but it’s not too hard to work out from other recent polling that what people have in mind is chiefly immigration, and more particularly a significant reduction in it.

Unfortunately for the Slavophobic people of the UK, the only way that could come about would be if the EU agreed to give the UK special concessions on freedom of movement, and since freedom of movement is pretty much the defining civic purpose of the European Union, that isn’t going to happen any time this century.

We must admit, we find it absolutely fascinating that the two dominant political issues on respective sides of the border are characterised by the fact that the option the public most desires is the most impossible one. (And in Scotland, the one  that politicians are absolutely determined not to offer.)

But what are the practical ramifications of this curious scenario, especially for Scotland? There’s one more graph that might give us some useful pointers.


If you’re already bewildered by all these charts, the pertinent aspect of the one above is the purple bars. Even in the context of specifically the European elections, UKIP voters told “British Future” by a huge margin (more than 2:1 of the next most important reason) that their support for the party was just a protest vote.

It shouldn’t take a genius to work out how that feeling is likely to translate to the 2015 UK general election, when those voters have to take a deep breath and choose either David Cameron or Ed Miliband as the Prime Minister most likely to fulfil their wish for an in-out EU referendum. And with just half the UKIP vote defecting to the Tories already being enough to put Cameron’s party in front by most polling, and Labour’s lead on a steady long-term decline, well, readers can do the arithmetic for themselves.

We noted yesterday the increasingly desperate tone of Labour’s pleading insistence that only a UK Labour government can solve Scotland and Britain’s problems. We think “British Future” may have identified the reason for their alarm.

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36 to “Wanting what you can’t have”

  1. Illy says:

    Well, we’ve had a recent UK Labour government.
    Did it solve Scotlands problems?
    Just how short a memory do these people think we have?

  2. McHaggis says:

    Labour has no chance of winning in 2015 (assuming no changes from current leadership/policies etc)… anyone who says otherwise is clearly delusional.

  3. Beastie says:

    I firmly believe what will become apparent immediately after the next UK election is record low turnout and another Tory bout of horsetrading with the Lib Dems (if they survive at all) and anyone else who’ll ensure a working majority for them.

    Labour, frankly, are not even at the races at present. Milliband is nearly completely ineffective considering it should be relatively easy for him with a government that quite possibly the most hated in decades. Labour don’t have the mid term lead in the polls they would need to win; the UK Parliament does tend to follow that a commanding lead mid term translates to a majority at election.

    UKIP as a protest vote does not fill me with any less dread than people voting for them seriously. They can still end up with representation from that. 

  4. Luigi says:

    So, come 2015, one year after a very successful euro-protest election, the UKIP supporters go back into the polling booths with two options:
    1) Let Milliband in.
    2) Keep Milliband out.
    Mmmmm, I wonder what is going to happen!

  5. Ken500 says:

    Polls are rubbish. The pier calls the tune. Many dishonest PR Companies making money out of arrogant ignorance. Now those with an unhealthy interest (ie lining their own pockets) are actually using manipulated Polls to try and influence the outcome. Despicable.

    It won’t work!

  6. Ken500 says:

    UKIP are crooks, run by crooks it is only a matter of time before they get found out. Fradge will face jail, by starting to operate/put up candidates in the UK. That is his main concern, the grandees in the Tory Party have been protecting his lying racism. It is just a matter of time before he gets found out. Breaking Parliamentry Political Party Laws (corrupt) and inciting racial hatred (illegal)

    Fradge is shouting his mouth off trying to get attention/threatening the Tories, to try and cut a deal before the Law moves in. He is colluding with Cameron to try and get a seat in the Lords to save both their hides.

  7. scottish_skier says:

    more than 2:1 of the next most important reason
    Aye, if 2/3 of UKIP vote Tory the Tories are out in front for 2015. Have been in this sense since, well, the council elections back in the spring of 2013 when UKIP did very well.
    Probably not quite enough to yield a majority (may change in time), but if you take out Scottish MPs…
    Note that the rUK, the Tory+UKIP (hard right-wing) vote is largely level pegging with the Lib + Lab (slightly less hard right-wing) vote.

  8. Holebender says:

    The first bargraph seems to indicate that LibDems are more Eurosceptic than Labour voters. I found that surprising.

  9. Illy says:

    @Holebender:  Really?  You find it suprising that the Lib Dems are roughly in between Tory1 (Conservatives) and Tory2 (Labour)?
    I thought that was their whole sales pitch?

  10. scottish_skier says:

    MORI results (difference from SSAS / census):
    49% (-13%) Scottish not British + More Scottish than British
    31% (+6%) Equally Scottish and British
    19% (+11%) More British than Scottish + British not Scottish
    Cross-break issues aside, as usual for MORI the Scottish base of 192 is way too British so Scottish skewed to union part bollocks. 

  11. gordoz says:

    Gues Project Fear is has not had the desired effect ?? – (this on twitter)
    ‘Enjoying the change to a positive tone in the office, and it shows in our leaflets and posters’
    Alistair Darling – Better Together

  12. Adrian B says:

    lol, thats one of the many parody accounts that you are following.

  13. gordoz says:

    @Adrian B
    You’ve got to luv the attempt though ? Change to a positive tone ? – did you hear him this morning on RScotland?

  14. scottish_skier says:

    Probably not quite enough to yield a [Tory] majority (may change in time), but if you take out Scottish MPs…
    Which would be mainly SNP based on polls.
    Imagine that; the SNP denying the Tories a victory (if Scotland did vote No) and holding the balance of power in the UK…

  15. G H Graham says:

    Under Gordon Brown’s prudent stewardship of the government’s coffers, the annual budget deficit DOUBLED from £15.6 to £32.2 billion from 1997 to 2007.
    But it was the wise old grandee, Alistair Darling who discovered that the government could borrow deeper than a Pacific rim trench when he nailed an IOU to the tune of £156 billion onto the backs of the British public in 2009.
    Yep, flipper Darling borrowed on our behalf, over £7 billion a month for over a year.
    So, perhaps diehards still clinging on to the belief that ONLY Labour & North British Labour can rescue us from financial misery, will forgive me for not believing a single miserable moan that comes out their mouth.

  16. Vincent McDee says:

    Preston take on the debt. COMMENTS ARE ALLOWED
    “£Bankers tell me that markets would probably force Scotland to pay up to 1.5 percentage points more to borrow, initially at least, than the UK currently pays.”
    And we all know how friendly Preston is with bankers.

  17. Papadocx says:

    OK Mr Peston so Scotland will be forced to pay 1.5% above UK current interest rate. 
    What would UK interest rate be (not currently) but after separation. Have your friendly bankers forgotten to tell you that or have you forgotten to ask them, you rascal! 
    I know it’s not really the BBC way but try to be fair Mr Peston. The truth the whole truth that’s all we ask.

  18. Adrian B says:

    @ Gordoz,
    You’ve got to luv the attempt though ? Change to a positive tone ? – did you hear him this morning on RScotland ?
    I could hardly keep a straight face. Remember it was January 2010 that he resigned from a law body in order to avoid being investigated over his Westminster expenses.

  19. Doug Daniel says:

    Well well, what do we have here? A fifth of UKIP voters do not agree with their main policy, preferring a transfer of more powers instead; whereas a fifth of Labour voters disagree with their party’s line on the subject, instead supporting the stance of the party seeking independence.
    I’m sure I’ve heard of a similar scenario somewhere before…

  20. Papadocx says:

    Fozzie Bear Carmichael will make the positive case for BT today. One of his benefits is “BBC” FFS. What planet is he from, they are anti Scottish! Did someone forget to tell him?

  21. FlimFlamMan says:

    “£Bankers tell me that markets would probably force Scotland to pay up to 1.5 percentage points more to borrow, initially at least, than the UK currently pays.”
    And given the relationship between Westminster and The City they may do that, or worse, but only if Scotland continues using sterling.
    Nation states that use the currency of another state or body are at the mercy of that other state/body and the financial sector in general.
    If an independent Scotland has its own currency the bankers can’t force anything.

  22. Doug Daniel says:

    “If an independent Scotland has its own currency the bankers can’t force anything.”
    Because countries that use their own currency dictate to lenders what rate they’ll borrow at? Aye, okay…

  23. titchyboy85 says:

    Keep up the good work. Brilliant.

  24. msean says:

    If England votes ukip at the European elections,Scots will have an idea of what will happen in the future. Any electorate who could vote for a divisive mob “of swivel eyed loons” at any time (even as a protest) is not what we need to be relying on to deliver a Labour govt. The message sent to Scotland is that England wants Tories and what Scotland wishes doesn’t matter at all.

  25. gordoz says:

    Adrian B – Totally forgot this info from the past on the safe pair of hands (many thanks for the reminder)

  26. HandandShrimp says:

    I wouldn’t call the Preston piece balanced. He talks as if already Scotland is a foreign country and the enemy. However, it serves a purpose.   

  27. Illy says:

    “is not what we need to be relying on to deliver a Labour govt.”
    Voting for “The Labour Party” isn’t going to give us a labour government either.

  28. scottish_skier says:

    Voting for “The Labour Party” isn’t going to give us a labour government either.
    What’s got Darling and co really panicky is that the Scots electorate has this all worked out. From what I have, the SNP are on very min low 40’s or more likely mid 40’s for Westminster. This means that the electorate are thinking ‘Well, if there’s a No, I’m voting SNP as they’re the only ones which will fight for e.g. devo max’.
    That and they gave the ‘feeble 50’ another chance in 2010 – going against the UK-wide Tory swing – and it failed, miserably. Not only that, but the Lib Dems went Tory. Scotland won’t vote Lib/Labour again for a UKGE.
    People should note that the SNP were polling 30% ahead of 2010. 10% then tactically voted Labour on the day. They won’t do that again. Add in your net ~14% from Lib defectors (no chance they’ll vote Lib again) and you have your mid 40’s for the SNP.
    Best hope Darling et al. have is to back independence. A narrow No is likely to see them out of a job anyway. Likewise for Lib MPs.

  29. Paul says:

    I think the SNP should now stand down from Westminster elections we don’t want them to be power brokers which ever way they went would be ammunition for the unionists Labour party the SNP would either have to vote with them and who would want Labour back in after the mess they made the last time or vote to let the Tories back they can’t win whatever they do They wouldn’t want to be accused as being tartan Tories again.

  30. Luigi says:

    Scottish skier,
    Is there anything new about this big SNP lead over Labour (for Westminster), in terms of magnitude and/or duration/persistence, or have we been here before?

  31. fairiefromtheearth says:

    It is in Scotland own intreast to have its own central bank run by the Scottish Goverment, after all the bankers make monies out of thin air with nothing to back it, have you ever went into a bank and asked to change a £20 note into sterling. the answer is NO even before you can finish the question. Iceland jailed the bankers that caused their banks to collapse strange we never saw that on the independent BBC.

  32. scottish_skier says:

    Is there anything new about this big SNP lead over Labour (for Westminster), in terms of magnitude and/or duration/persistence, or have we been here before?
    It has never happened before as far back as my records go. It happened at the same time as the massive swing to them for Holyrood ahead of 2011. It doesn’t seem to have changed much since then.

  33. SquareHaggis says:

    All this media bias and political misinformation is a form of bullying.
    My kids are currently covering this subject in school at the moment and the method they use is to expose the bully.
    You guys are doing an excellent job, time to put the bully in the dog-house where he can reflect upon the consquences of his actions.

  34. handclapping says:

    The swing to the SNP needs to be really massive to eat into Labour’s heartland constituencies. We are talking 48% vote share. The thing that really puts the skids under Labour is a vote share down below 30%.
    It is probably easier to try and knock Labour’s vote down than to get the SNP vote up, unless the SNP can be seen as the only chance.

  35. Paul Kelly says:

    On current UK feeling Labour would have to quite literally close down, change their name and come back as a the right wing radical party  in order to have a prayer of getting into government in the next 15 years.

  36. PRJ says:

    ‘ve heard a rumour that the Tory party is going to increase the number of MP’s in Scotland by 41. The realisation that Labour and Tories both have the same policies has forced a merger between the two. The up and coming election’s forced this issue and many in the Labour party feel that there policies are more akin to the Tories, making this beneficial to Scotland. The merged party will be called “Conservative for Scotland.”

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