Exclusive poll: Scotland close to backing independence

New Statesman/ICD poll shows that 44 per cent support independence, with 45 per cent opposed.

"'Do you agree that Scotland should be an independent country?" That's the question that Alex Salmond intends to put to Scottish voters in autumn 2014. But how many are on the First Minister's side?

An exclusive New Statesman/ICD poll has some encouraging news for the SNP leader. Asked if Scotland should become an independent country, 45 per cent of Scottish voters say no and 44 per cent say yes, a higher level of support for independence than previously indicated by polls.

In total, 38 per cent of British voters say that Scotland should secede from the UK, with 34 per cent opposed. Just 20 per cent of UK voters believe that Scotland would be better off if it became independent, compared with 52 per cent who believe it would be worse off. Conversely, 36 per cent of UK voters believe that England would benefit if Scotland left the UK, compared with 34 per cent who believe it would suffer.


The survey also confirrms that a majority of voters support full fiscal autonomy or "devolution max" for Scotland, an option that Salmond has insisted should be included on the ballot paper. Asked if Scotland should be given full control over its tax and spending, 51 per cent say yes and just 32 per cent say no, with 17 per cent undecided.

Voters are divided on whether the Scottish government or the UK government should determine the wording and timing of the referendum. Forty one per cent of UK voters say that Westminster should, while 34 per cent say that Holyrood should. However, encouragingly for Salmond, an overwhelming majority of Scottish voters (72 per cent) say that his government should have control over the referendum.


The survey also found strong support for an English parliament. Asked if they support the establishment of a separate body with similar powers to those currently held by the Scottish parliament, 45 per cent of English voters say yes, with 20 per cent opposed and 35 per cent undecided.


This exclusive poll for the New Statesman was carried out by ICD Research, powered by ID Factor, from 21-22 January 2012 and is based on a sample of 1,000 UK responses, of which 85 were Scottish.

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.

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It's Gary Lineker 1, the Sun 0

The football hero has found himself at the heart of a Twitter storm over the refugee children debate.

The Mole wonders what sort of topsy-turvy universe we now live in where Gary Lineker is suddenly being called a “political activist” by a Conservative MP? Our favourite big-eared football pundit has found himself in a war of words with the Sun newspaper after wading into the controversy over the age of the refugee children granted entry into Britain from Calais.

Pictures published earlier this week in the right-wing press prompted speculation over the migrants' “true age”, and a Tory MP even went as far as suggesting that these children should have their age verified by dental X-rays. All of which leaves your poor Mole with a deeply furrowed brow. But luckily the British Dental Association was on hand to condemn the idea as unethical, inaccurate and inappropriate. Phew. Thank God for dentists.

Back to old Big Ears, sorry, Saint Gary, who on Wednesday tweeted his outrage over the Murdoch-owned newspaper’s scaremongering coverage of the story. He smacked down the ex-English Defence League leader, Tommy Robinson, in a single tweet, calling him a “racist idiot”, and went on to defend his right to express his opinions freely on his feed.

The Sun hit back in traditional form, calling for Lineker to be ousted from his job as host of the BBC’s Match of the Day. The headline they chose? “Out on his ears”, of course, referring to the sporting hero’s most notable assets. In the article, the tabloid lays into Lineker, branding him a “leftie luvvie” and “jug-eared”. The article attacked him for describing those querying the age of the young migrants as “hideously racist” and suggested he had breached BBC guidelines on impartiality.

All of which has prompted calls for a boycott of the Sun and an outpouring of support for Lineker on Twitter. His fellow football hero Stan Collymore waded in, tweeting that he was on “Team Lineker”. Leading the charge against the Murdoch-owned title was the close ally of Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and former Channel 4 News economics editor, Paul Mason, who tweeted:

Lineker, who is not accustomed to finding himself at the centre of such highly politicised arguments on social media, responded with typical good humour, saying he had received a bit of a “spanking”.

All of which leaves the Mole with renewed respect for Lineker and an uncharacteristic desire to watch this weekend’s Match of the Day to see if any trace of his new activist persona might surface.


I'm a mole, innit.