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Friday 9th September 2011 | 13:37
Ipsos MORI’s Scotland poll, released two days ago, continues to show considerable opposition to the idea of independence. Those certain to vote are 60% to 35% opposed. Respondents were, however, presented with the idea of a beefed up Scottish parliament with full tax-raising powers, which those certain to vote supported by an overwhelming 67% to 28%.
The referendum findings contrast with the TNS-BNRB poll published earlier this week which found, when respondents were not asked both the increased powers followed by the independence question, but simply the latter, they supported it 39% to 38% (which in turn represents a shift since May, when unionism had an 8 point lead). As we’ve commented before, however, the phrasing used by this poll is perhaps slightly less definitive than the MORI version: ‘the Scottish Government should negotiate a settlement with the Government of the United Kingdom so that Scotland becomes an independent state’ rather than ‘extend the powers of the of the Scottish Parliament to enable Scotland to become an Independent country, separate from the UK.’
However, much as the question will be crucial, offering a choice will hugely influence the prospects of independence. There are some who argue that increased devolution will increase Scots’ desire for independence, but these polls seem to suggest that it may at least delay it.
Particularly interesting is the attitude of SNP voters, 33% of whom oppose independence in the MORI poll (with 61% in favour). As SNP support now sits four points up on their sensational election result – 49% to Labour’s 28%, Salmond should perhaps concentrate on shifting his own supporters over to his party’s raison d’être, without of course scaring them back to a unionist party.
But the First Minister, who already boasts a remarkable political shelf live, has always played a long game. He would probably be quite content to see a referendum in this parliament that gave his government full fiscal control of Scotland’s affairs, as every unionist party north of the border goes through an existential crisis.
As usual, the numbers look good for Alex Salmond.