New survey data has revealed just how out of touch the chattering classes are with public opinion on the issue of Scottish independence.
Data produced by the now polling guru, Lord Ashcroft, has revealed that just 3% of people north of the border believe that independence should be the Scottish Government’s main priority, with the economy and jobs at the top of voters list of priorities, followed by the NHS.
In keeping however with the vast majority of polling so far, the survey found that 65% of voters rejected the idea of Scotland becoming an independent country, compared to 26% who said they supported it and 10% who did not know.
Arguing that the polling showed that Alex Salmond is putting his “obsession” with independence ahead of the interests of Scotland, Better Together Director, Blair McDougall has responded to the findings:
“It is increasingly clear that Alex Salmond is putting his obsession with independence ahead of the interests of the Scottish people. Instead of focusing on the things that people care about, likes jobs and the economy, the nationalists spend all their time campaigning for independence. Alex Salmond is more interested in securing his own place in history than securing a better future for Scotland.
“This attitudes survey shows strong support for the UK but there is no complacency. There is still a very long way to go, so we need everybody who supports Scotland staying in the UK to do their bit to make sure that happens.”
Whilst voters however have rejected the priority the SNP have given to independence, this has not translated into falling support for Alex Salmond with voting intentions likely to worry Labour strategists, just over two years since the party took a drubbing in elections to Holyrood.
Asked how they would use their first vote for a constituency MSP, 40% said the SNP, 35% Labour, 15% Conservatives and just 5% Liberal Democrat. The SNPs also led on voter preferences for the second, regional list vote, gain the support of 36% of those questioned compared to 24% for Labour, 10% for the Conservatives and 13% for the Liberal Democrats.
The figures show also that Alex Salmond has by far the highest favourable ratings of any leader at Holyrood, favoured by 45% of voters compared to the 31% who had a favourable view of Scottish Labour Leader Johann Lamont and 21% for Tory Leader Ruth Davidson and Lib Dem Leader, Willie Rennie.
Writing for the Scotsman, the former Conservative MSP and now columnist for the paper has concluded that whilst the SNP could, on these numbers potentially survive losing the referendum next year. He goes on to warn the nationalists however:
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“After a referendum defeat for the SNP, an electorate awakening to the waste of money and three-year distraction of an independence referendum instead of dealing with the main issue may well choose to punish the SNP and keep it out of power for a generation.”