Socialist Worker

Polls show consistent support for Scottish independence

by Bob Fotheringham
Issue No. 2727

Nicola Sturgeon is sticking to strictly mainstream tactics over independence

Nicola Sturgeon is sticking to strictly mainstream tactics over independence (Pic: Scottish government on Flickr)


The latest Ipsos Mori opinion poll on Scottish Independence has record numbers in favour, with 58 percent saying they would vote for a break from Britain.

According to polling expert John Curtice, “this is the ninth poll in a row since June that has put Yes ahead”.

Support for the union is crumbling across Scottish society, particularly among young people. Now 79 percent of those aged 16-24 would vote yes.

The Tories’ disastrous handling of the coronavirus crisis has made them even more unpopular. Three quarters of those polled are dissatisfied with the job Boris Johnson is doing. Conversely Scottish first minister Nicola Sturgeon’s popularity is rising.

Her approval rating is sitting at 72 percent.

Elections to the Scottish Parliament take place next May. One recent poll showed the Scottish National Party (SNP) on 58 percent, the Scottish Conservatives at 19 percent—and Scottish Labour on 13 percent.

This means that the SNP is on course to win a substantial majority in the Scottish Parliament.

Competent

The SNP, whose handling of the pandemic has been in reality little different from the Westminster government, has benefited from the fact that Sturgeon appears more caring and competent.

Brexit is also a factor. Scotland voted against leaving the EU.

But it is worth noting that support for independence is also on the rise among Scottish voters who voted Leave in the Brexit referendum.

The Scottish TUC has made it clear that it is strongly opposed to the Tories’ Internal Market Bill, which it believes represents a strong attack on devolution. It has said, “Should the UK Government proceed with the bill, against the wishes of the Scottish Parliament, it makes the case for a second independence referendum unanswerable.”

Marchers on Glasgow demo demand Scottish independence and end to Tory rule
Marchers on Glasgow demo demand Scottish independence and end to Tory rule
  Read More

None of this means that independence is inevitable. There is a great deal of disquiet in the movement about the lack of a clear commitment from Sturgeon to hold a second referendum in the near future.

The SNP leadership does not have an alternative strategy that could force Boris Johnson’s government to agree to a second referendum vote, or accept Scotland becoming an independent country.

Pro-business

Andrew Wilson, the architect of the SNP’s pro-business and neoliberal Sustainable Growth Commission, gave a revealing interview to The Herald newspaper on Sunday.

He was against a repeat of the tactics used by the Catalonian independence movement.

 “Legitimacy matters,” Wilson says, especially if Scotland wishes to return to the European Union. “Some EU countries, chiefly Spain, would be more likely to veto if we go through the process in a non-constitutional manner,” he adds.

Wilson wants to see an “annual solidarity payment going from Scotland” to what’s left of Britain after independence “to make good our inherited obligations”.

England needs to know that “we’d contribute a share of the national debt interest ongoing,” he says.

Neil MacKay from All Under One Banner told Socialist Worker, “Nicola Sturgeon is reluctant to talk about anything other than coronavirus. There does not seem to be any real resistance to the Tories or a plan of action from the Scottish Government”.

Devastating critique of  SNP and care homes
Devastating critique of SNP and care homes
  Read More

Opinion polls are an important snapshot of public opinion at a moment in time. They guarantee nothing.

The issue of independence has been kept alive by a series of mass demonstrations organised by All Under One Banner over the last few years. They have been able to hold a series of small socially distanced rallies during the pandemic and held a number of successful online debates and discussions

It is only mass action by ordinary people that can force a second vote or bring about the radical change that workers in Scotland are looking for.

And the content of independence has to be a radically different society in the interests of working class people. That means, for example, substantial public ownership, an emergency programme of climate action, taxing the rich and an independent currency.

This is how to mobilise the force to defeat the Tories.

There is a growing gap between the democratic wishes of the Scottish people and what the British state is willing to concede.

The Labour Party with its refusal to back a second referendum and continuing support for the union, finds itself cut off from large sections of the population.

All Under One Banner has its second National Assembly on 14 November. Details here

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