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Public Attitudes Towards Scotland's Constitutional Future

Published:6 March 2012
Fieldwork:27-29 February 2012
Theme:Scotland
Our poll on Public Attitudes Towards Scotland's Constitutional Future for The Times shows that support for independence, using the Scottish Government’s preferred question wording, stands at 39%. Half of Scots voters are opposed to independence while a further one in ten are undecided. Opposition to independence is strongest among older people and those living in more affluent areas.

The poll also explored attitudes towards a range of issues surrounding the constitutional debate.

Devolution max

Talk of ‘devolution max’ appears to be permeating into the public consciousness as two thirds of Scots say they have heard of it. A majority of Scots believe that a devolution max option should be included as a separate question on the referendum ballot, compared to just over a third who believe the referendum should be a single question on independence.

Devolution max is supported by a majority of Scots (71%) and is particularly strong among those who support independence, almost nine in ten of whom support the proposal.

Impact of independence

The prospect of independence has a negative impact on Scots’ levels of optimism for their personal circumstances and the country as a whole. Scots were first asked whether they think a number of aspects will improve, get worse or stay the same over the next five years, and then asked whether the same aspects will improve, get worse or stay the same if Scotland became an independence country. In each case, the net score (the proportion who think the aspect will improve minus the proportion who think it will get worse) decreases considerably when the prospect of independence is introduced. Optimism regarding respondents’ personal finances saw the largest decrease, falling from a net score of +4 to a score of -14 in an independent Scotland, while optimism regarding Scotland’s standing in the world fell from a net score of +22 to +9. There were also decreases in net optimism regarding job security (-1 to -7) and economic conditions in Scotland (-5 to -11).


Important issues

The economy is set to be the key battleground in the forthcoming referendum campaign. Just over one in five Scots (22%) name it as the single most important issue for them. This is followed by employment/unemployment (7%), health (5%), personal finances (4%) and education (4%).

Who should lead the ‘No’ campaign?

Over half of Scots are unable to name a suitable candidate to lead the ‘No’ vote (55%). Of those who are able to name someone, David Cameron is the top choice (25%), followed by Scottish Labour leader Johann Lamont (9%) and former Chancellor Alistair Darling (7%).

National identity

When asked which best describes their national identity Scots are generally more likely to identify themselves as Scottish rather than as British. A quarter of respondents say they feel Scottish not British (24%) while 30% feel more Scottish than British and 31% feel equally Scottish and British. Only 11% feel entirely British or more British than Scottish. Over three quarters of those who support independence said they feel either Scottish not British (46%) or more Scottish than British (31%). Of those who oppose independence, just under half said they felt equally Scottish and British (44%) while one in ten said they felt British not Scottish (12%).

Download the infographic here (PDF)
Download the charts here (PDF)
Download the data tables here (PDF)

For more information, please contact Mark Diffley or Chris McLean on 0131 220 5699
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Mark Diffley
Mark Diffley

Research Director

Email Tel:+44(0)131 240 3269
Christopher McLean
Christopher McLean

Senior Research Executive

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The Times



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