Monday, March 25, 2013

YouGov poll : Scots reject No campaign's wish for key powers to remain at Westminster

YouGov have released the details of an SNP-commissioned poll that primarily inquired into where people think that key decision-making powers should lie.

Which government do you think should be responsible for all tax and spending decisions in Scotland, including tax revenues from oil and gas?

The Scottish Government 52%
The UK Government 35%

Which government do you think would be best at deciding welfare and pensions policy for Scotland?

The Scottish Government 53%
The UK Government 34%

Which government do you think would be best at representing Scotland and Scottish interests in the European Union?

The Scottish Government 50%
The UK Government 39%

The point being of course that if voters feel that all these things should be controlled by the Scottish Government, it would be a touch odd to vote No to independence and ensure that every single one of them remains controlled by London. But perhaps there is a logically consistent way in which people who hold these views could still vote No? The only thing I can think of is that they might feel so strongly that Scotland is too wee and too stupid to control its own defence and non-EU foreign policies that everything else just pales into insignificance. But that seems unlikely. It can't possibly be that they feel they will be economically worse off under independence, because presumably the desire for Scottish control over tax, spending and welfare implies that they think a Scottish government will take those decisions more wisely. That's a pretty big consideration by any standards.

So while there's an outside chance that defence and non-EU foreign affairs may be what is swinging the balance for some, there comes a point where the Yes campaign are entitled to point out that the emperor has no clothes, and that if you actually mean what you say about wanting Scotland to control tax and spending, oil and gas revenues, welfare and pensions, and its own EU representation, it's probably best not to vote No and prevent all those things from happening.

The poll also asked whether David Cameron should reverse his apparent decision to run away from a televised debate on independence with Alex Salmond...

First Minister Alex Salmond has called for a head-to-head television debate with the Prime Minister David Cameron during the referendum campaign on Scottish independence, but it has been reported that Mr Cameron will refuse to take part in such a debate. Do you think that David Cameron should or should not take part in a TV debate with Alex Salmond?

Should take part 67%
Should not take part 19%

* * *

Congratulations to Eve Muirhead, Anna Sloan, Vicki Adams, Claire Hamilton and alternate Lauren Gray for winning the world curling championship for Scotland yesterday, after an incredibly tight game against Sweden that was decided by the final stone. I seem to recall that when Hammy McMillan's rink won the world men's curling championship in 1999, and again when Jackie Lockhart's rink won the 2002 women's title, BBC Scotland hurriedly snapped up a highlights package from Canadian television. It would be nice if they could do so again this time and bring the event to a wider audience, because after all Scotland don't become world champions in team sports every day of the week. Assuming that doesn't happen, though, the entire final is currently available to watch for free at the TSN website. If you don't want to watch the whole thing, be sure to scroll through to the end to see the Olympic-style medal ceremony, complete with the raising of flags and Flower of Scotland being played in the team's honour. Best enjoy that spectacle while we can, because of course if Muirhead and co win Olympic gold in Sochi next year (as they will presumably now be slight favourites to do), it'll be the Union Jack and God Save the Queen!

Mind you, if that does happen it might just turn out to be the last Olympic gold for Great Britain ever, in any sport. Now there's a tantalising thought...

* * *

Yesterday was something of a landmark for this blog, as it received its second-highest number of visitors in its five-year history. (The outright highest number occurred on a freakish day in the spring of 2011 when one of my posts went viral on Twitter.) Thanks to everyone for dropping by on a very cold Sunday!

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Panelbase shows yet another swing in favour of independence - plus a huge SNP lead for Holyrood

I seem to be saying this quite a lot recently, but the latest poll on independence voting intentions shows a swing to the Yes campaign. Better still, it also marks the No side's lowest lead in any poll this year.

Should Scotland be an independent country?

Yes 36% (+2)
No 46% (-1)

Strictly speaking the figures cannot be considered directly comparable to the previous poll by Panelbase, because the real referendum question is now being used. But in a sense that's good news - poll after poll is reaffirming that, at the very least, the new Electoral Commission-approved question is not helping the No side. All the pollsters who have given a verdict so far this year are now unanimous in showing a small swing to Yes in their most recent poll - Panelbase had previously been the odd one out on that score.

If the news from this poll is moderately encouraging on the referendum question, it's positively wonderful on the question of voting intention for the Scottish Parliament -

Constituency vote :

SNP 47% (+2)
Labour 30% (-3)
Conservatives 12% (-1)
Liberal Democrats 5% (-)

Regional list vote :

SNP 45% (+1)
Labour 25% (-6)
Conservatives 12% (-)
Greens 8% (+2)
Liberal Democrats 5% (-)

Which leaves only one question to be answered. Can anything stop the Willie Rennie For First Minister bandwagon?

* * *

For anyone feeling depressed about the state of Scottish sport after events at Hampden, it might be of some consolation to know that Scotland have reached the final of the world women's curling championship tomorrow. I've just watched a recording of the semi-final against Canada, and I had a sick feeling in my stomach over the last thirty minutes as the game seemed to be slipping away. But not for the first time, Eve Muirhead saved the day with a special final shot.