Support for Scottish independence at record high

A poll conducted by Ipsos MORI shows 58 percent of Scots in favour of leaving the United Kingdom.

By Lorna Hutchinson

Lorna Hutchinson is Deputy Editor of The Parliament Magazine

14 Oct 2020

Ipsos MORI’s Scottish Political Monitor, run in partnership with STV News, has found the highest level of support for independence ever recorded among the Scottish public.

Among those who would be likely to vote in an independence referendum, 58 percent say they would vote in favour of independence while 42 percent would vote against.

Moreover, 64 percent of Scots believe that the UK Government should allow another independence referendum to be held within the next five years if the Scottish National Party (SNP) wins a majority of seats in the 2021 Scottish Parliament elections, while 34 percent say that the UK Government should not allow this.

Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, addressing her fellow SNP members, said, “This level of support is hard earned but mustn’t be taken for granted. Stay focused and independence will follow - I’ve never been more certain.”

“Independence is about Scotland - everyone who lives here - determining the path we want to take at home and in the world. For those of us already convinced, let’s keep persuading others, with respect and civility. We all have a stake in the future we build.”

“The Scots have Johnson presiding over a nationalist English government hell-bent on denying Scotland European heritage and identity” Denis MacShane, former UK Europe Minister

But Sturgeon emphasised that in the shadow of the Coronavirus pandemic, the Scottish government’s immediate responsibility is to lead Scotland through the crisis, adding, “right now, nothing matters more.”

Michael Russell, Scottish Cabinet Secretary for the Constitution, Europe and External Affairs, said, “This is about getting the day job done properly. This is about keeping the heid and keeping building support. This about focusing and delivering despite the distractions. This is about a better future for everyone who lives here and contributing to a better world.”

The Scottish independence referendum in 2014 saw 55.3 percent voting against independence. The 44.7 percent who voted in favour of leaving the United Kingdom cited "disaffection with Westminster politics" as the main deciding factor, according to a subsequent poll.

Relations between Scotland and Westminster have soured considerably in recent years, with Scots, who backed Remain by 62 percent in the 2016 Brexit referendum, subsequently taken out of the European Union against their will.

The Coronavirus pandemic has sown yet more seeds of dissatisfaction, with varying approaches to the crisis causing further strain between Scotland and the UK government.

The poll showed 76 percent of Scots dissatisfied with the way Boris Johnson is doing his job as UK Prime Minister - the lowest ratings Ipsos MORI has ever recorded for him in Scotland.

“The longer Johnson continues his ridiculous theatre play, the higher this number will grow” Terry Reintke, Greens/EFA

Denis MacShane, the Scottish-born former UK Minister for Europe under Prime Minister Tony Blair, said, “French kings gave Scots equal rights with French people to live freely in France up to 1789 and invention of national citizenship. As [Boris] Johnson removes all rights from Scots to live, work, do business in Europe on today's free and equal basis expect more anti-London resentment in my opinion.”

He added, “The Scots have Johnson presiding over a nationalist English government hell-bent on denying Scotland European heritage and identity.”

Alyn Smith, a former MEP who is now SNP Shadow Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, said that “for the few Scots who prefer Westminster to decide our EU relationship, I can only suggest watching more Westminster debates; I promise you’ll very soon change your mind.”

German Greens MEP Terry Reintke said simply, “The longer Johnson continues his ridiculous theatre play, the higher this number will grow.”

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