Current Affairs Politics

A Majority In Scotland Now Favour Independence?

A newspaper poll in Britain has shown an astonishing increase in support for Scottish independence, with up to 49% of voters in Scotland favouring the drive for autonomy (however these percentages do come with a hefty caveat). The London-based Independent on Sunday commissioned the survey of voters in Scotland and across the island of Britain:

“Alex Salmond’s dream of inching Scotland quietly towards independence is working – and Westminster does not know what to do about it. A significant new poll reveals that since the Scottish National Party won outright control at Holyrood in May, there has been a surge in support for breaking up the union.

According to a ComRes survey for The Independent on Sunday, 39 per cent of people across Britain now say Scotland should be an independent country, up from 33 per cent just five months ago. The rise in support for a split among those polled in Scotland is even more striking, up 11 points from 38 per cent to 49 per cent. Voters in every region of the UK now back Scottish independence.

The IoS poll findings confound strenuous efforts made by the three main parties to repel the SNP surge under Mr Salmond following the shock of his crushing victory at the Scottish parliamentary elections in May.

In an attempt to force Mr Salmond on to the back foot, David Cameron and Nick Clegg want MPs in Westminster to agree to block Scottish MPs from voting on English issues before the SNP referendum. The coalition agreement pledges to establish a commission to consider whether to bar MPs from devolved nations from all but UK-wide votes, first raised by Tam Dalyell in the 1970s when he was Labour MP for West Lothian.

He is already paving the way for a favourable result in the referendum, confirming plans to open the vote to 16-year-olds. His plans assume younger voters are more inclined to back independence, having grown up with devolution since 1999. His chances of success are underlined by the IoS poll, which shows that backing for independence among 25- to 34-year-olds from across the UK has surged from 31 per cent in May to 42 per cent now. Among 18- to 24-year-olds, there has been an increase from 28 to 32 per cent.

At its conference in Inverness this week, the SNP will detail a steep increase in its membership, which has doubled to almost 19,000 in less than a decade – making the nationalists the biggest party in Scotland.

Rising membership and a surge in the polls is the holy grail of all politicians. And yet the SNP’s resurgence has passed almost unnoticed by most outside Scotland. In Westminster, ministers privately admit to fears that the UK could be “sleepwalking” towards a break-up. Unless they can wake the nation up to the issue, their nightmare could yet come true.”

The details of the poll can be seen here.

Meanwhile the Scotsman newspaper has revealed that an attempt may be made by the British Government and British Nationalist parties based in London to take control of any future referendum away from the authorities in Scotland:

“ONE of Scottish Labour’s leadership contenders has said he may back a controversial plan to take the forthcoming referendum on independence out of Alex Salmond’s control and hand it to Westminster.

Tom Harris, MP for Glasgow South, told a meeting of party members last week that if the SNP “rigs” the referendum “the ball will be in the UK government’s court”.

He added: “It would be ironic if the Tory-led administration of David Cameron were more capable than the SNP government of asking Scotland an honest question.”

His comments come amid speculation that the UK coalition may opt to run the referendum. In an interview this summer, Cameron suggested he may be prepared to call a snap vote.

However, senior Scottish Liberal Democrats have questioned whether it would be feasible, fearing such a move risks a backlash.

Constitutionally, Westminster has the authority to hold a referendum, but all parties have so far accepted Holyrood should do so if possible.

However, last night a spokesman for Salmond said: “The prospect of Labour MPs at Westminster conniving with a Tory Prime Minister to interfere in the Scottish democratic process is as unedifying as it is damaging for Labour.

“Mr Harris doesn’t seem to understand the democratic reality in Scotland – the referendum is a matter for Holyrood to scrutinise and deliver, not Westminster.”

I fear the British Nationalists parties understand that all too well. Which is why they cannot allow it.

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