Forces of independence “never been stronger” according to key social survey

Nathanael Williams

New report finds support for independence at double the level of 2012 and overwhelming among young Scots

SUPPORT FOR INDEPENDENCE is at its strongest point yet according to the survey on Scottish social attitudes which shows pro-independence opinion holding strong after the first minister’s announcement on Monday (13 March) to seek a second independence referendum. 

Combined with recent polling it shows that support for Scottish independence remains resilient, resting above it’s 2014 vote at 46 per cent – a figure double that of the last survey taken in 2012. 

The survey asked respondents to choose between independence, devolution and not having any kind of Scottish Parliament at all. It recorded a higher level of support for independence than at any time since 1999 and double the level registered by ScotCen in 2012 (23 per cent), when the 2014 independence referendum campaign got under way.

The respected survey run by ScotCen also revealed that there was overwhelming support for independence among 16 to 24 year olds in Scotland, at 72 per cent.

It comes after First Minister Nicola Sturgeon’s announcement on Monday (13 March) that she would seek support from the Scottish Parliament for a second independence referendum and follow’s the final passing of the Brexit bill by the house of Commons.

The news also flies in the face of speculation by some unionist commentators that support for independence would decline as a result of Sturgeon committing to a second independence poll so soon after the 2014 vote.

“There is a cast-iron democratic mandate for a referendum, and the first minister has set out a plan to give Scotland a choice.” Bruce Crawford MSP

The author of the report, John Curtice, a senior research fellow at ScotCen said: “The nationalist movement in Scotland has never been stronger electorally. Meanwhile, from its perspective the outcome of the EU referendum appeared to be a perfect illustration of their argument that for so long as it stays in the UK, Scotland is always at risk of having its ‘democratic will’ overturned by England.”

Supporters of independence will be encouraged by the report’s findings which show a consistency of support of independence compared to the last referendum which was characterised by significant fluctuations in Yes polling.

Responding to the latest figures Ross Greer MSP, the Scottish Greens’ external affairs spokesperson, said: “It’s little wonder that more and more people in Scotland, particularly young Scots, are moving to Yes, given that the Tories have failed to recognise the Remain vote here and then continued with an arrogant negotiation stance that refused to compromise with or even listen to Scotland.

ScotCen graph showing staying power of Yes

“Voters in Scotland deserve a choice between being trapped in the angry, isolated Britain planned by the Tories, which will cost Scotland 80,000 jobs and a £2,000 drop in average wages or putting our future in our own hands, taking our own place in the world and building the fairer Scotland most of us want to see.”

Scottish Labour’s Westminster spokesperson Ian Murray MP said that the impartial report “underlines that our country is divided enough.”

Support for independence rested at 23 per cent at the beginning of the referendum campaign in 2012, but soared to 45 per cent by the time of the first vote on 18 September 2014.

 However, some polling experts have pointed to structural weaknesses in the Yes voting profile, including turnout among young voters, which tends to be lower was lower than turnout among older groups more likely to vote No. Women and older voters are both groups which have shown a greater propensity toward voting against Scottish independence.

“Voters in Scotland deserve a choice between being trapped in the angry, isolated Britain planned by the Tories or putting our future in our own hands.” Ross Greer MSP

Bruce Crawford SNP MSP added: “It is no surprise that more and more people in Scotland are now supporting independence as the promises made to Scotland in 2014 are systematically unpicked by the UK Tory government.

“There is a cast-iron democratic mandate for a referendum, and the first minister has set out a plan to give Scotland a choice, when the options become clear, between a hard Brexit and becoming an independent country. This analysis proves that the people should have the opportunity to make that choice and not, as our opponents have howled, that Scotland’s voice should be silenced.”

Picture courtesy of Maria Sorolla

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