Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Yes voters who were born outside Scotland

I'm not sure if this has been commented upon elsewhere yet, but one feature of last week's Ipsos-Mori poll on independence that struck me as particularly interesting was the breakdown of voting intention by country of birth -

People born in Scotland :

Yes 36%
No 53%

People born in other parts of the UK :

Yes 14%
No 74%

People born in the Republic of Ireland :

Yes 59%
No 41%

People born outside the UK or Ireland : 

Yes 43%
No 44%

Some of these figures have to be treated with extreme caution, because the sample sizes vary considerably.  Taken together, though, they prove fairly conclusively what most of us already know on an anecdotal basis, namely that a healthy proportion of people who came to Scotland from other countries plan to vote Yes, and that this includes a significant minority of English people.

No-one will faint with amazement at the discovery that English people in Scotland are disproportionately likely to vote No.  In many ways, it's straightforward human nature - if you feel that you're currently living in "another part of your own country", you don't want to break that spell.  Of course, that's entirely irrational - culturally Scotland will be no more or less "foreign" after independence than it already is, and if you don't need a passport or a change of currency to visit your family and friends in England, where is the issue?  My guess is that the 14% Yes vote in this poll for voters from other parts of the UK will increase markedly as reassurance is provided on these points, as I suspect that many English voters will be rather attracted to the idea of finding a safe refuge from the excesses of Westminster Tory rule.  They'll also discover, of course, that Scotland will remain their country after independence - they'll be entitled to Scottish citizenship, which they will be able to take up without losing their citizenship of the UK.

Perhaps the most extraordinary finding of this poll, though, is that voters from outside the UK are more likely to vote Yes than those who were born in Scotland itself!  That offsets to a significant degree the Yes campaign's problem with voters from elsewhere in the UK, with the overall Yes vote for people who were born outside Scotland standing at a respectable 24%.


  1. James, I don't find it at all surprising that people who have moved here are supporting independence. I have some good friends from, in particular, Poland, Denmark and Estonia and all are fully aware of the benefits of being free from the dominance of a large foreign neighbour. Living in mid-Argyll I also know a lot of people who have moved here from England and regrettably continue to read the Telegraph and the Daily Mail, but they are capable of being gently won over.

  2. Timothy (likes zebras)February 22, 2013 at 5:05 PM

    Ah, found this now. Fascinating.

    I would guess that people who have moved to Scotland from outside the UK will tend to feel quite positive about the place.

    There's a certain amount of self-selection here, as these people will have chosen to move to Scotland, rather than, say, London.

    I know that for myself, I'm a bit concerned that Scottish independence will make my daughter's future more complicated (she's English-born, but Scotland resident). I reckon you're right that there's potential for reassurance to win some of those people over.