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Four in ten Scots back independence

Published:31 January 2012
Fieldwork:27-29 January 2012
Theme:Scotland
Keywords:Constitution, Devolution, Independence, Referendums, Scotland, Scottish Government, United Kingdom, Voting intention
(Click on keywords to find related Research)

In the first significant test of public opinion using the Scottish Government’s proposed referendum question, four in ten Scots agree that Scotland should be an independent country, as revealed in our new poll for The Times and The Sun.


Among those certain to vote in a referendum, 39% agreed with the proposition that ‘Scotland should be an independent country’ with 50% disagreeing with the statement and 11% undecided. Compared to our previous poll in December 2011, where we asked a different question to measure attitudes towards independence, there has been little change in support (+1 point); however, support for Scotland staying in the union has fallen by 7-points while those undecided on the issue has risen by 6-points.

As we have seen from previous surveys, support for independence is strongest among male voters (47%), the youngest age groups (45% of those aged 18-24) and those who live in the most deprived parts of Scotland (58% of those who live in the most deprived areas compared to 27% among those in the most affluent neighbourhoods).

Although it is possible that the referendum could be nearly three years away, two-thirds of Scots (67%) appear to have already made their minds up on this issue, with a third saying that they may change their minds. Those who oppose independence appear to have more set views with 82% saying that they have definitely decided on the issue, compared to 69% among those who support independence.

Scots are split on the issue of when the referendum should be held. Nearly half (47%) back a ballot within the next 18 months, rising to 63% among opponents of independence, while 22% back the Scottish Government’s preference of Autumn 2014.

Mark Diffley, Research Director at Ipsos MORI said:

‘The constitutional future of Scotland has been at the top of the political agenda across the UK in recent weeks with politicians from both sides of the debate putting forward their arguments to voters. Our poll shows that outright support for independence has not shifted significantly as a result of these early skirmishes although it does reveal that opposition to change has reduced with more voters now weighing up the issues before deciding which side to back. The poll also suggests that the Scottish Government’s proposed referendum question has not yet had a significant effect on public attitudes.’

Download the slides here (PDF)
Download the data tables here (PDF)

Technical Note

  • Results are based on a survey of 1,005 respondents conducted by telephone between 27th January and 29th January 2012.
  • Data are weighted by age, sex and working status using census data, and tenure using SHS 2007-2008 data, and by public-private sector employment by Scottish Government Quarterly Public Sector Series data. 
  • An asterisk (*) indicates a percentage of less than 0.5% but greater than 0. 
  • Where results do not sum to 100, this may be due to multiple responses or computer rounding. 
  • Where the base size is less than 30 the number (N) rather than the percentage of respondents is given.

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