At the forthcoming Eurovision Song Contest, there will be a United Kingdom entry. However, in 2019, Scotland and Wales both competed in the Eurovision Choir event as countries in their own right. In future years, how would you prefer Scotland to be represented in the Eurovision Song Contest?
By a Scottish entry: 60%
By a United Kingdom entry: 40%
That's much more decisive than the slim 53-47 majority in favour of a Scottish Olympic team in the Scot Goes Pop / Survation poll in January. I can think of a few possible explanations for the difference: a) it could simply be caused by pollsters' house effects, ie. perhaps Survation have fewer people in their panel with a strong Scottish identity, b) it may be that people have more of an emotional attachment to Team GB at the Olympics due to specific memories from the past (Torvill & Dean, Linford Christie, Steve Redgrave or whatever), or c) people might have been deterred from abandoning Team GB because larger countries tend to win more medals. The latter worry is irrelevant to the Eurovision, where smaller countries are not disadvantaged against larger ones. (Ireland are still the most successful country in the contest's history with seven victories, although they now have Sweden breathing down their necks with six.)
Another difference with the Olympics is that there's no rule that would prevent Scotland competing without first having to become independent - as can be seen not only from the participation of Scotland and Wales in the Eurovision Choir event, but also from Wales having twice had entries in the Junior Eurovision Song Contest. BBC Alba are believed to have toyed with the idea of a Scottish entry in Junior Eurovision but decided against it - although whether that was because of pressure from London isn't clear. The bottom line is that it's up to the BBC - if they tell the EBU they want a Scottish entry, it would almost certainly happen. Now that we know what licence fee payers in Scotland want, will they listen?
As I always point out, no Scot has even represented the UK since Scott Fitzgerald in 1988. Incredibly, Cyprus and France have both been represented by Scots more recently than that. (Karen Matheson of Capercaillie fame sang for France in 1996.) The lack of Scottish representation deprives us of a golden opportunity to promote Scottish culture and boost tourism.
I shall now embark on the unusual task of giving you the Eurovision preferences of various demographic and political groups. Women are significantly keener on a Scottish entry - the majority is 64-36 among female respondents, compared to a narrower 55-45 among men. Yes voters from 2014 are overwhelmingly in favour of Scottish representation, and among current Yes supporters there's near unanimity - only 7% want to be represented by the UK. The position isn't quite so clear-cut among No voters - 34% of people who voted against independence in 2014, and even 25% of people who would vote No in a new referendum, would like a Scottish entry. Labour voters are close to being evenly divided (44% for Scotland, 56% for the UK), which suggests that even the rump Labour vote still includes a decent number of people who strongly identify as Scottish.
There's a big age divide - under-35s prefer Scottish representation by a majority of almost 3-1, while over-55s are split right down the middle. And fascinatingly, there's a narrow majority among English-born respondents (53-47) for a Scottish entry.
It's worth making the point that because the Eurovision question is to some extent a proxy for Scottish/British national identity, and because 40% of respondents plumped for the British option, it may well be that certain people in the SNP are over-optimistic about the prospect of Yes support rising consistently above 60%. The idea that we should wait for that to happen before firing the starting gun on a referendum may be tantamount to giving up on independence completely.
Now, I'm not necessarily going to claim there's a strong thematic link here, but the next two questions in the poll are about nuclear weapons.
Nuclear weapons were banned by an international treaty that came into force in January this year. However, the nine countries that are currently believed to possess nuclear weapons, including the UK, have so far refused to sign the treaty. Do you think the UK should join the treaty and dismantle its nuclear weapons?
With Don't Knows removed -
There have been polls in the past that have purported to show support for Trident in Scotland, so this could be an early indication that the new treaty is a game-changing moment that will make it a lot easier for campaigners to make the case for disarmament. As you'd expect, the figures for SNP and Tory voters are reverse mirror images of each other (71% of SNP voters support disarmament and 71% of Tory voters oppose it), but what's much more significant is that Labour voters break 46-37 in favour of joining the treaty and disarming. That suggests the type of 'atomic unionism' espoused by Jackie Baillie has the potential to cost Labour a lot of votes. Additionally, 30% of people who voted No in 2014, and 22% of people who would currently vote No, want to sign up to the nuclear ban - which highlights a possible means by which a future Yes campaign could win more converts.
The UK government argues that its nuclear weapons protect the public due to a 'deterrent' effect. However, others argue that the presence of nuclear weapons on the Clyde puts the public in greater danger by making the area a target for nuclear attacks, and by creating a risk of serious accidents. Do you personally feel more safe or less safe due to the presence of nuclear weapons on the Clyde?
More safe: 24%
Less safe: 42%
Makes no difference: 34%
After I saw this result, it occurred to me that some of the 34% who chose the "makes no difference" option may be people who live nowhere near the Clyde and are naive enough to think that makes them safe. In reality, you'd probably need to be in Shetland to escape the effects of a nuclear attack on Faslane.
There's an age and gender divide on the nuclear questions as well. Although a plurality of over-55s want rid of the UK's weapons and say they feel less safe because of them, it's a fairly tight result in each case. And women are significantly less likely than men to think Britain should not disarm or that nuclear weapons make them safer.
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