Scottish independence more likely as Gordon Brown attacks Tory tactics

New poll shows over half of Scottish voters believe they will see independence in their lifetime


Almost half of voters in Scotland believe independence is now more likely as a result of the way the General Election has been fought.

With voters due to go to the polls two weeks today, the latest data compiled by Sky has found that 43 per cent of Scottish voters believe the way the campaign has been fought makes a divide in the Union more likely.

Meanwhile over half (55 per cent) predicted that Scotland would become an independent country within their lifetime.

The results will serve to vindicate those, such as the last Conservative Scottish secretary Lord Forsyth, who have warned that David Cameron’s efforts to play up the SNP threat to pander to English voters is playing a dangerous game.

The findings will also embolden those within the SNP who are hoping that the party’s manifesto for elections to Holyrood next year will contain a promise of another referendum on Scotland’s future.

Speaking to Sky News, SNP Leader Nicola Sturgeon reiterated that she was ‘not planning a referendum’ and that ‘something material would have to change’ for another vote to take place.

She continued to explain that the General Election election would not provide a ‘mandate’ for a new vote as there was a ‘democratic lock’ on such a referendum. She said:

“Circumstances would have to change and then people would have to vote for it.”

The polling also contained yet more bad news for Labour, as both Nicola Sturgeon and David Cameron were clearly seen by respondents as the most capable leaders.

Over half (51 per cent) indicated that they thought Sturgeon most capable followed by 22 per cent who said David Cameron, 11 per cent for Ed Miliband and just one per cent stating Nick Clegg was the most capable leader.

Asked which leader they felt was best able to make tough decisions, 40 per cent said Nicola Sturgeon followed by 26 per cent for David Cameron, 13 per cent for Ed Miliband and two per cent for Nick Clegg.

The figures come after the former prime minister Gordon Brown last night accused the Conservatives of deliberately whipping up English nationalist sentiments against Scotland.

Speaking at a gathering in Fife he said of the Tories’ electoral strategy:

“The only way they can win is to build resentment in Scotland of the English and resentment in Scotland of the English.”

Arguing that the SNP ‘are not interested in a Labour government’, he said that only a Labour government would ‘immediately deal with food bank poverty, zero-hours poverty, inequality and the NHS’, and warned that large numbers of SNP MPs could mean ‘months of constitutional chaos’.

Brown continued:

“People are talking all the time about hung parliaments, negotiations, deals… We will talk about poverty, inequality, the health service.

But he acknowledged the desire for change north of the border:

“I’ve been going around Scotland and the one thing that is clear, was clear during the referendum campaign and is clear now, is that people want change, they feel insecure.

“But they don’t just want constitutional change.”

Launching into a stinging critique of the SNP for delaying action to tackle the rise in the number of food banks and the bedroom tax, Brown argued that the SNP ‘didn’t want to let Westminster off the hook – they simply don’t do it as there are political reasons’.

The SNP would, he argued, be in ‘exactly the same position as always’ if they make significant gains, namely as ‘a protest group, they will make a song and dance about it but can they make real change?’

Arguing that ‘it is Labour that will stand up for the values of sharing and solidarity’ Brown went on to address head on Alex Salmond’s joke yesterday that he would be writing the next Labour budget. Brown noted that ‘everybody knows, no one is going to ask him’.

Ed Jacobs is a contributing editor to Left Foot Forward. Follow him on Twitter

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