A referendum on Scottish independence, currently scheduled for autumn 2014, may still be a way off, but public opinion is moving in the right direction for the SNP if a Sunday Express poll is to be believed. It found that 51 per cent of people in Scotland back independence. This follows a New Statesman poll earlier this week which found 44 per cent of the Scottish public in favour.
Speaking on the Andrew Marr Show this morning, Salmond had his own theory on why this could be:
I think that some of that increase in support for independence is a reaction against the sort of dictatorial line we’ve been getting from some of the pronouncements from Downing Street.
I think the prime minister would do well to perhaps listen to the voice of the people and try to conduct this debate with a bit more positivity.
However, this might not be the only reason. Notably, the poll used Salmond’s preferred referendum question — “Do you support Scotland becoming a country independent from the rest of the United Kingdom?” — which has come under fire for being loaded, as the phrasing is designed to invite a positive answer. (Political Scrapbook pointed out this week that schoolchildren are taught that these types of questions are wrong).
Interestingly, although Salmond criticised Westminster, he also appeared to suggest that Scotland would remain part of the UK, even if people vote for independence:
The Queen will still be our head of state … I don’t think it would be a good idea to talk about United Kingdoms when what we’re actually talking about is political independence for Scotland.
He also renewed calls for a third option of devo-max to be added to the ballot paper. Cameron has indicated that devo-max, which involves greater economic rather than political freedom, would be inconsistent with remaining in the UK.