Support for Scottish independence declines again

Polling published today by Ipsos Mori for The Times suggests that the SNP’s independence headache continues as support for Scotland staying in the UK has increased to its highest level since August 2011.

Polling published today by Ipsos Mori for The Times suggests that the SNP’s independence headache continues as support for Scotland staying in the UK has increased to its highest level since August 2011.

Asked the same question as that which they will be presented with in 2014, ‘Should Scotland be an independent country?’ among those who have definitely decided how they will vote, 67 per cent said no compared with 33 per cent who support the idea of independence. This represents a 5 per cent swing towards the ‘No’ vote since similar polling conducted in February.

The regular Scottish Public Opinion Monitor also polls voting intentions which show a narrowing of the SNP’s lead over Scottish Labour to just 3 per cent. Of those certain to vote in the next Scottish Parliament Elections, 39 per cent expressed support for the SNP, down by 4 per cent since February; Scottish Labour are on 36 per cent (up 1 per cent); the Scottish Conservatives have increased their support by 3 per cent to 16 per cent and the Scottish Lib Dems are up 1 per cent to 8 per cent.

Meanwhile, Mr Bombastic (aka the Scottish first minister) may at last be losing his air of invincibility as deputy first minister. Nicola Sturgeon has overtaken Alex Salmond as the most popular political leader in Scotland. 49 per cent of those polled expressed satisfaction with her performance compared with the 47 per cent who said the same of the first minister.

Sturgeon also has a net satisfaction rating of +14, although this is down three points since February. She is followed by Scottish Green Party leader Patrick Harvie, who has a net satisfaction rating of +11, and Scottish Labour Party leader Johann Lamont, who has a net satisfaction rating of +5. The long-term decline in the first minister’s approval rating continues and is now +2, down five points since February, and down from a high of +35 in December 2011.

Outlining the scale of the challenge now faced by the Yes to independence campaign, Christopher McLean, senior research at Ipsos MORI Scotland, said:

“Following recent debates over the currency and pensions in an independent Scotland, our latest poll shows that support for Scotland remaining in the Union is growing. Although there are just under 500 days to go until the referendum, most Scots who plan to vote say that they have made up their minds, with a clear majority opting to remain part of the UK. This suggests that the Yes Scotland Campaign will have to convince the vast majority of the remaining, floating voters to support independence if it is to stand any chance of achieving independence in September 2014.”

The poll findings are likely to be a welcome retirement present for one Sir Alex Ferguson, who has previously gone on record as declaring:

“If ever there was a time to be wary of Scotland pulling out of the UK, it is now. It would be a total distraction from what really matters — the economy, jobs, schools and hospitals.”

In December last year, meanwhile, Ferguson accused Alex Salmond of “silencing” Scots. Following the decision by the Yes Scotland campaign to cap donations from those living outside Scotland at £500, the Labour supporting Ferguson made a symbolic donation of £501 to the Better Together campaign to highlight what he claims is the injustice of the cap. At the time he explained:

“Eight-hundred-thousand Scots, like me, live and work in other parts of the United Kingdom. We don’t live in a foreign country; we are just in another part of the family of the UK.

“Scots living outside Scotland but inside the UK might not get a vote in the referendum, but we have a voice and we care deeply about our country.

“It is quite wrong of the man who is supposed to be leader of Scotland to try and silence people like this. I played for Scotland and managed the Scotland team. No-one should question my Scottishness just because I live south of the Border.”

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