Thursday, August 8, 2013

Panelbase poll : Scots overwhelmingly reject the 'Better Together' belief system

(I know most of you will already have seen this on Wings over Scotland, but as this is the first ever opinion poll that I 'co-financed', I thought I might as well get my money's worth by reporting it here as well!)

Gavin Hastings said it best - it "beggars belief" that some of his fellow countrymen and women (I think he's looking at us, guys) think Scotland would be better off as an independent country. "If we were independent," he asked, "would we not be doing everything in our power to find the benefits of joining up with England, Wales and Northern Ireland? Why, if we have that, would we be looking to divide it?"

That, in a nutshell, is the belief system of the No campaign. But is it actually shared by the majority of the Scottish population, that the No campaign seem so convinced that they speak for? We now know from the Panelbase poll that the answer to that question is a resounding No (how ironic).

If Scotland was currently an independent country, would you vote to surrender control of taxation, welfare, defence and oil revenues in order to join the Union?

Yes 18%
No 55%

It beggars belief that Gavin Hastings could get something so badly wrong (notwithstanding that crucial missed penalty in the 1991 World Cup semi-final). But in all honesty, his notion that we would all be tripping over ourselves to give up our independence if we had it always seemed highly fanciful. The story of the modern world has been of ever-greater independence and self-determination, not of small countries desperately seeking to be swallowed up by larger neighbours.

The other key finding from the segment of the poll that has been released so far is that Scots seem to know (albeit perhaps only at a subconscious level so far) that if they vote No they will be voting for something far short of their preferred constitutional settlement. For example, 60% of Scots think that welfare should be devolved, but only 21% actually believe the unionist parties will deliver that in the event of a No vote. It's not necessarily irrational to vote No in those circumstances - after all, elections and referenda are often a choice of the least worst option. But for a No to be rational, people would have to think it was worth sacrificing the powers that they want in return for getting...well, what? The warm fuzzy feeling of embracing Hothersall-style "internationalism" (the type that only extends to certain English-speaking peoples and comes to an abrupt stop at the English Channel and the Irish border)? Helping people to find clarity on that point ought to be one of the key goals of the Yes campaign, because frankly I think a lot of people who are currently telling pollsters they are minded to vote No wouldn't be able to articulate what it is they think they are actually gaining through the huge sacrifice of a No vote.


  1. Incredible numbers.

  2. Hi there but you have a 'Better Together' advert at the bottom of your page. It 'beggars belief' that this is what you would like on your blog.

    Well done on part financing the WOS poll.

  3. I'm a (retired) rugby player and there was a very strong rumour in the community a few years ago that Gavin was coming out for independence. Guess somebody got to him. He's still the great Scottish full-back.

  4. "Hi there but you have a 'Better Together' advert at the bottom of your page. It 'beggars belief' that this is what you would like on your blog."

    Placed by Google Adchoice based on your viewing history :)

  5. They must be targeting people who view a lot of pro-independence sites. I get it too, and I've never gone near a pro-union site to my knowledge.

  6. Hm, did you control the wording of the question as well as part-financing? I'm not totally sure including "surrender" in a question is conducive to positive response to the question.

    (I'm supporting independence, just not sure about that particular question. There's even a (slim) chance I might be back working in Scotland by the time of the referendum- in which case I'll be a definite yes)


    Matt (aka du garbandier)

  7. Matt, I was being slightly facetious when I said I co-financed it - I was just one of dozens of people who chipped in a few pounds. I did make a couple of suggestions about questions, but I can't even remember what they were! I agree that 'surrender' is subtly leading, but to some extent this was an attempt to balance out the absurdly leading polls that have been commissioned by the No campaign and by unionist newspapers.

    I'm delighted to hear you're backing independence.