Ian Swanson: Economic assurances are way to win referendum

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JUST £10 a week would be enough to swing the independence referendum either way, according to the latest measure of public opinion.

The respected Scottish Social Attitudes Survey found 52 per cent of people would vote Yes if they thought they would be £500 a year better off, but only 15 per cent would back independence if they thought they would be £500 worse off.

It makes Scottish voters sound extremely mercenary, but do people really approach the crunch decision on the country’s future like an auction, ready to throw in their lot with whoever can offer most cash?

On the key question of how people do plan to vote, the survey found 20 per cent saying Yes, 42 per cent No and 33 per cent not yet decided.

It showed voters were concerned most about the economic impact of leaving the UK. And in contrast, despite the seemingly endless debates on the topics, the question of whether an independent Scotland would be able to keep the pound and if it could remain a member of the European Union had “little or no impact” on how they intended to vote.

Another illuminating finding was that 64 per cent say they are “unsure” what independence would mean.

That £500 divide, then, might not mean that voters can be bribed by either side for a tenner a week, but rather that they want to register the fact that financial stability and security are their prime considerations when looking to the future and that, regardless of the posturing by politicians, they want practical answers and hard facts about what would happen.

The SNP’s White Paper describes Scotland as “a wealthy country that can afford to be independent” and claims annual tax receipts here are £1700 per head higher than the equivalent UK figure. The Better Together campaign says Scotland could be independent but then casts doubts on its financial strength.

The global banking crisis – and the “Arc of Prosperity” giving way to the “Arc of Insolvency” – did not provide the best backdrop for Alex Salmond and his colleagues to argue for Scotland striking out on its own. But the current economic recovery – however patchy or problematic – gives a more helpful context in which to talk about potential futu JUST £10 a week would be enough to swing the independence referendum either way, according to the latest measure of public opinion. The respected Scottish Social Attitudes Survey found 52 per cent of people would vote Yes if they thought they would be £500 a year better off, but only 15 per cent would back independence if they thought they would be £500 worse off.

It makes Scottish voters sound extremely mercenary, but do people really approach the crunch decision on the country’s future like an auction, ready to throw in their lot with whoever can offer most cash?

On the key question of how people do plan to vote, the survey found 20 per cent saying Yes, 42 per cent No and 33 per cent not yet decided.

It showed voters were concerned most about the economic impact of leaving the UK. And in contrast, despite the seemingly endless debates on the topics, the question of whether an independent Scotland would be able to keep the pound and if it could remain a member of the European Union had “little or no impact” on how they intended to vote.

Another illuminating finding was that 64 per cent say they are “unsure” what independence would mean.

That £500 divide, then, might not mean that voters can be bribed by either side for a tenner a week, but rather that they want to register the fact that financial stability and security are their prime considerations when looking to the future and that, regardless of the posturing by politicians, they want practical answers and hard facts about what would happen.

The SNP’s White Paper describes Scotland as “a wealthy country that can afford to be independent” and claims annual tax receipts here are £1700 per head higher than the equivalent UK figure. The Better Together campaign says Scotland could be independent but then casts doubts on its financial strength.

The global banking crisis – and the “Arc of Prosperity” giving way to the “Arc of Insolvency” – did not provide the best backdrop for Alex Salmond and his colleagues to argue for Scotland striking out on its own. But the current economic recovery – however patchy or problematic – gives a more helpful context in which to talk about potential future prosperity.

For people tempted by independence but hesitant about Scotland launching itself into a world of economic turmoil, the positive economic signals will be a fresh encouragement.

Polls guru Professor John Curtice, research consultant for ScotCen, who conducted the social attitudes survey, has said the referendum debate risks “short-changing” voters by not addressing their real concerns.

Issues like the currency and EU membership have been the hottest topics for the politicians, but as the survey shows they are not cutting much ice with the public.

It’s not so much that people don’t care about these issues – most will recognise they do have significant implications – but voters may well have concluded that in spite of all the pronouncements and predictions, no-one can know what will happen or make any decisions at this stage.

The survey concludes that the economic arguments on independence are the ones centre stage for voters. The vast majority who think Scotland’s economy would be better under independence say they will vote Yes and the vast majority of those who think the economy would be worse will vote No.

It seems clear what the politicians need to focus on between now and September 18. re prosperity.

For people tempted by independence but hesitant about Scotland launching itself into a world of economic turmoil, the positive economic signals will be a fresh encouragement.

Polls guru Professor John Curtice, research consultant for ScotCen, who conducted the social attitudes survey, has said the referendum debate risks “short-changing” voters by not addressing their real concerns.

Issues like the currency and EU membership have been the hottest topics for the politicians, but as the survey shows they are not cutting much ice with the public.

It’s not so much that people don’t care about these issues – most will recognise they do have significant implications – but voters may well have concluded that in spite of all the pronouncements and predictions, no-one can know what will happen or make any decisions at this stage.

The survey concludes that the economic arguments on independence are the ones centre stage for voters. The vast majority who think Scotland’s economy would be better under independence say they will vote Yes and the vast majority of those who think the economy would be worse will vote No.

It seems clear what the politicians need to focus on between now and September 18.