NEWS12 August 2014

Scottish referendum campaign divides opinion

News UK

UK — Scottish voters are increasingly anxious about independence and there is a renewed sense of Britishness north of the border, although support for independence is increasing, according to ScotCen Social Research’s report.


Since the Edinburgh Agreement in 2012, the proportion of voters who think that independence will be good for Scotland’s economy and its international influence has fallen, with 38% saying Scotland’s ‘voice in world’ would be weaker, up from 25% in 2013 and 22% in 2012. Almost half ( 44%) think the economy would be worse under independence, up from 34% in both 2013 and 2012 according to the latest annual Scottish Social Attitudes survey.

And the numbers of people who believe inequality will increase in an independent Scotland has increased: in this year’s survey 30% said the gap between rich and poor would be greater under independence compared with 25% in 2012 and 2013.

The survey was conducted between May and July 2014, prior to the TV debate between SNP leader and Scotland’s First Minister Alex Salmond and Alistair Darling, leader of the pro-UK campaign on 5 August.

And despite voters’ concerns about the consequence of independence the survey shows that over the past 12 months the proportion saying they will vote Yes (once Don’t Knows are excluded) has increased from 36% to 39%.

From a political perspective there is still much campaigning to be done as almost a third ( 29%) said they are still undecided when asked how they will vote in the referendum. However, around half of these undecided voters are able to say what they think they will do in September. After taking these inclinations into account, in total 33% say they will vote Yes in September, 51% No.

A gender divide is evident among voters according to the survey; only 27% of women now support independence, compared with 39% of men. This 12 point gap is double that of 2013 ( 6%) and is the highest ever found in a Scottish Social Attitudes survey. One key reason for the gender gap is that women are less certain of the consequences of independence – just 27% of women say they are sure what independence would bring, compared with 37% of men.

John Curtice, co-director of Scottish Social Attitudes survey at ScotCen Social Research said: “Support for independence has only increased because those who are convinced it would be beneficial for Scotland are more willing to put their cross in the Yes box. However, at present there are still insufficient voters who are of that view to deliver a majority for independence.”

The 2014 Scottish Social Attitudes Survey interviewed a probability sample of 1,339 adults face to face between 12 May and 17 July 2014. Data is weighted to reflect known patterns of non-response and the age and gender profile of the adult population in Scotland.