Economy key concern in referendum

The economy remains top of voters concerns over independence according to new research by the Scottish Centre for Social Research (ScotCen). They also found widespread optimism about the impact of independence did not translate into majority support for leaving Britain. The findings are based on the Scottish Social Attitudes Survey.

A total of 34% of people said independence would make the Scottish economy stronger, compared with 29% who believed it would become weaker. The report said:

“As yet, a majority of people in Scotland are not convinced that independence would be of positive economic benefit. People’s willingness to support independence does not solely depend on whether or not they have a strong sense of Scottish identity. It would appear that the eventual outcome of the referendum could well turn on which side is thought by the Scottish public to have the better of the economic argument .”

This follows another report by the think-tank Capital Economics which warned that the UK would demand a “near veto” over an independent Scotland’s budget as the price for keeping the pound. This is a point we have made in several Red Paper articles.

ScotCen research also highlights the public’s ongoing confusion over which parliament does what. For example, a quarter of Scots still think Westminster makes the key decisions on health. It works the other way as well because two-thirds though Holyrood makes the key decisions on welfare benefits. That statistic should really worry the Scottish Government!

What it does show is that we shouldn’t take polls that say the public support a particular model of devolution particularly seriously. That is a subtlety the wider public are not yet tuned into.


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