Home Business News Scottish public divided over whether treating next General Election as a ‘de facto’ referendum would establish independence mandate

Scottish public divided over whether treating next General Election as a ‘de facto’ referendum would establish independence mandate

by LLB political Reporter
25th Aug 22 12:04 pm

New polling from Ipsos Scotland shows a clear majority of the Scottish public accept that a referendum held with the agreement of the Scottish and UK Governments could provide a democratic mandate for independence.

However, they are more divided over the other options currently being discussed.

  • 63% of Scots said that a Yes vote in a referendum that both the Scottish and UK Governments agreed to hold would definitely or probably establish a proven democratic mandate for Scottish independence. Just 18% said they felt this would not establish a democratic mandate, while 19% were unsure or had no strong views.
  • 47% said that a Yes vote in a referendum to which the UK Government had NOT agreed would definitely or probably establish a democratic mandate, while 35% felt it would not, and 18% were unsure or had no strong views.
  • 39% said that if a majority of voters supported pro-independence parties at the next General Election, but there was no explicit referendum, this would establish a democratic mandate for independence. Almost the same proportion (38%) said it would not, while 24% were unsure or had no strong views.
  • A majority of both 2014 Yes (79%) AND No (53%) voters said that a Yes vote in another independence referendum run with agreement from both governments would establish a proven democratic mandate.
  • However, attitudes to holding a referendum without the UK Government’s agreement are more clearly divided along Yes/No lines – 76% of those who voted Yes in 2014 think this would establish a democratic mandate, while 64% of those who voted No think it would not.
  • Meanwhile, 64% of Yes voters felt that a majority vote for pro-independence parties at the next General Election would provide a democratic mandate for independence, but 15% of Yes voters felt it would not and 21% were unsure.

Arguments for independence

Distrust of Westminster and a perception that Scotland wishes to go in a different direction to England are the two arguments in favour of independence that find most favour among the Scottish public. The public are more divided on the strength of the economic case for independence.

  • 59% thought the argument that “People in Scotland want to take the country in a very different political direction to England” was ‘very’ or ‘fairly’ convincing, while 36% felt it was ‘not very’ or ‘not at all’ convincing
  • 58% thought that the argument that “Scotland should be independent because Westminster governments cannot be trusted to act in Scotland’s interests” was convincing and 38% that it was not convincing
  • 53% thought the argument “Scotland should be independent because the UK left the European Union even though Scotland voted to Remain” was convincing (rising to 63% among those who voted Remain in 2016), while 44% felt it was unconvincing (72% of those who voted Leave).
  • 46% thought the argument that “In the long term, Scotland’s economy will be stronger outside the UK than within it” was convincing, while 47% felt it was not convincing

Arguments for the Union

The perceived economic risk of independence is the argument for the Union that resonates most with the Scottish public, although appeals to ‘common ground’ across the UK and to the benefits of devolution within the UK may also find favour.

Ipsos asked the Scottish public “How convincing, or otherwise, do you find the following arguments in favour of Scotland staying part of the UK?”:

  • 57% thought the argument that “Leaving the UK and becoming an independent country would be a major risk for Scotland’s economy and jobs” was ‘very’ or ‘fairly’ convincing as an argument for Scotland staying part of the UK, while 38% found it ‘not very’ or ‘not at all’ convincing
  • 56% thought the argument that “In spite of current challenges, the different countries of the UK still have more in common than divides us” was convincing as an argument for staying in the UK, compared with 39% who thought it was not convincing
  • 55% thought the argument that “Scotland gets the best of both worlds from having its own devolved parliament and also being part of the UK” was convincing, while 41% thought it was not convincing
  • 52% thought the argument that “Leaving the UK would leave Scotland isolated and weaker on the international stage” was convincing, while 43% thought it was not convincing.

Rachel Ormston, Research Director at Ipsos in Scotland said, “These findings highlight the challenges for pro-independence supporters in finding a mechanism to establish a democratic mandate for independence that is widely accepted by the Scottish public as a whole.

“While the UK Government appears unlikely to agree to a second referendum in the near future, this is currently the only route that a clear majority of Scots view as legitimate.

“This is in spite of the fact that one of the arguments in favour of independence that the Scottish public find most convincing is that Westminster cannot be trusted to act in Scotland’s best interests.”

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