Why it’s wrong to think Brexit mess is argument against Scottish independence – Angus Robertson

Independence momentum is growing in Scotland as the UK’s Brexit mess continues. Poll details published at the weekend show that support for independence has reached tipping point at 50 per cent, writes Angus Robertson.

Tuesday, 15th October 2019, 6:00 am
Poll details published at the weekend show that support for independence has reached 50 per cent. Picture: Lisa Ferguson

In what might be a key development 45 per cent believe that Scotland would be better off economically as an independent country within the European Union with only 35 per cent saying the UK after Brexit.

That positive economic finding in a Panelbase poll for the Sunday Times was also present in a Survation poll for Progress Scotland which found that 41 per cent of respondents believe that independence will be good in the long-run against 40 per cent who disagree.

Given how important economic prospects are for many voters, especially those not persuaded to vote Yes in the 2014 referendum, these results are potentially very significant.

As Brexit looms, people in Scotland are changing their minds about the UK's broken political system (Picture: Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)

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Undoubtedly Brexit is the biggest single issue which is causing people to change their minds. Views of swing voters in Lothian matched the national average or were ahead on independence, which is perhaps down to strong regional support for ‘Remain’ but is particularly noteworthy given the 2014 deficit in independence support.

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While nationally 63 per cent believe that Brexit makes independence more likely, in Lothian it was 68 per cent. While Brexit has changed 53 per cent of people’s views on independence, it is 56 per cent in Lothian. While 59 per cent of swing voters say they are more likely to vote for independence, in Lothian it is 63 per cent. All of these findings come with the caveat of sub-sample results, but the consistency is still noteworthy.

In what was a double-sized national poll for Progress Scotland by Survation with more than 2,000 participants, a strong majority believe there will be another independence referendum within the next two years.

Same question: Yes or No

Amongst those holding an opinion 61 per cent say it will take place within that timescale, with overwhelming support for the same Yes/No question as 2014. Respondents believed that was “clear and easy to understand”, “the question was fair” and “I would be satisfied if that question was used again in another referendum”.

I set up Progress Scotland less than 12 months ago to properly research the views of people who are open-minded or undecided about Scottish independence.

Already we’ve been able to establish that one-fifth of voters are in that key category, and many are actively considering how they might vote in another independence referendum. We commission opinion polls, focus groups and other kinds of research with the support of subscribers who fund this important work.

In the months ahead we will continue to research the different needs, interests, concerns and expectations of those who have not yet been persuaded by the case for Scottish independence.

It seems pretty clear to me that there is a significant group of people who are prepared to consider voting ‘Yes’ in a referendum and transform Scotland for the better.

By being able to motivate ‘Yes’ supporters from 2014 as well as communicate and persuade previously sceptical voters there is a natural majority for Scottish independence.

Reaching those open-minded or undecided voters will not be successful by simply turning up the volume, it will only work by properly understanding their priorities.

It might be tempting for some people to think that because the Brexit mess is causing so much instability we should not press on with constitutional change.

The opposite is true. Unless we empower ourselves as a country all of us in Scotland will continue to be victims of a broken UK political system.

Things can be so much better as an independent country within the European Union. We should get on with it.