The Sunday Times today has a new YouGov poll for Scotland. The full voting intention figures, with changes from YouGov’s last Scottish poll, which was conducted right at the end of October and had shown a move back towards Labour, are below.

Westminster voting intention: CON 20%(nc), LAB 37%(-1), LDEM 12%(+1), SNP 27%(-2).
Holyrood constituency: CON 13%(nc), LAB 32%(+1), LDEM 12%(nc), SNP 38%(-1).
Holyrood regional: CON 15%(-1), LAB 28%(-1), LDEM 11%(nc), SNP 34%(+2), GRN 6%(nc), SSP 4%(nc).

As you can see, the figures are largely steady, with the shift from the SNP back towards Labour being maintained. Only on the regional vote has there been a slight shift back towards the SNP, thouh arguably this is the most important vote in determining the actual seats won at a Scottish election. It also suggests that the SNP would win an early election if one is indeed held over the current Scottish budget deadlock. The Sunday Times projects that if these levels of support were repeated at a Scottish Parliamentary election the SNP would retain 47 seats, with Labour losing 2 and the Lib Dems 3. The Greens would gain 3 seats, the SSP 2 and the Conservatives 1.

On the specific question of the Scottish budget, 79% of respondents said they thought there should be a fresh election were the budget defeated again.

Alex Salmond remains in the lead as the best first minister by 20 points, and is the only party leader with a positive approval rating (plus 11), followed by Annabelle Goldie (-3), Iain Gray (-17), Tavish Scott (-19) and Patrick Harvie (-25). Where his rating has fallen is on the economy – at least in comparison to Gordon Brown. Back in September 36% trusted Salmond more on the economy than Brown (26%). Now they are even on 33%.

Finally, support for independence has again fallen marginally – 29% would vote YES in a referendum, with 55% voting NO. In October the figures were 31% to 53%.


89 Responses to “SNP ahead as possiblity of early election looms”

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  1. Any sign of the full numbers? The negative figures for Patrick Harvie sound to me like disgruntled SNP voters complaining that it no longer looks like Salmond walks on water – which would fit with the fact that the Greens have come out of this the biggest winners..

  2. This is a very strong poll for the SNP.

    Firstly because it is 20 months into their term and they are further ahead than they were at the election. Even the Westminster figures show them 10 points up on 2005.

    Second because commentary since Thursday, when the poll was largely taken, particularly after the complete rout of Ian Gray at question time has moved in their favour.If a challange against a Government fails then their position is much strengthened.

    Thirdly on economic trust the position has moved heavily in Salmond’s favour since OCTOBER when the last YOUgov was actually taken. The feeling is that Labour are now on the way down (and possibly out). It is a remarkable result given the lack of Holyrood power.

    Finally Green activists should really give their MSPs the necessary freedom to make agreements. If not then they will miss more opportunities like this one.

    All in all Salmond will be smiling this morning.

  3. James – unless the Sunday Times has them up on their website, YouGov won’t put them up until Monday

  4. Would this be enough to risk a snap election though? Surely that would make sense only if Salmond was confident of landing a knockout blow? Obviously their poll ratings are holding up very well for a mid term government when you would usually expect to see a slump but there would be little margin for error in an election campaign. Some bad news in the campaign could see Labour pick up, remember how Harold Wilson came to rue a bad set of trade figures! The big losers in this are the alternative government, Labour and the LD’s. Neither is making any discernible progress and it makes all the more likely that the LD’s will back the budget.

  5. “Finally Green activists should really give their MSPs the necessary freedom to make agreements. If not then they will miss more opportunities like this one.” – Forfar Loon

    I’m not entirely sure what you mean. Our MSPs decisions are based upon how they apply the party’s policy reference document to a given situation, as any party’s would be.

    We stated what we wanted, we didn’t get anything near it, and so we voted against. Fairly simple…

  6. The final figure seems to me the most significant one – 29% favour independence versus 55% against. The SNP strategy is to demonstrate competent governement through devolution, as a way of demonstrating they can be trusted to form an independent government, while fostering division with Westminster when the chance arrises.

    They have succeeded in their first aim – to be taken seriously as a governing party, and its certainly the case they had done well in maintaining their popularity over the last 2 years. (Though this has probably been helped by Labour’s dificulties over that period – Wendy, Brown etc).

    However still no sign that the support for independence will move in the SNPs favour, and this is really their reason for winning the election, as a stepping stone. I doubt their current membership can be happy with being just a national party within devolution. So yes, good for Alex Salmond in the short – medium term, and he is still odds on to win a snap election and the election in 2011 too. Not so good for his main political aim however.

  7. Well my prediction earlier in the week for this poll was Westminster shares of;

    Labour 36%, Tory 20%, LibDem 12%, SNP 28%, Others 4%, all +/-2%.

    This poll has;

    Labour 37%, Tory 20%, LibDem 12%, SNP 27%, Others 4%.

    So Labour 1 higher and the SNP 1 lower and everyone else dead on. Either I am getting good at this or as MCGonnegal said in Harry Potter;

    “50 points for sheer dumb luck”

    I am not surprised that in the wake of the credit crunch, the near nationalisation of Scotland’s two largest banks ( and company’s) and in the week of “British jobs for British” workers, support for Independence is down.

    However, I am pretty sure that the Budget will get through, everyone looked over the edge this week and seems to have realised it’s a long way down. No one wants an election least of all those who voted the budget down.

    It does open up the possibility of some manouvering on the Independence referendum. Labour and the Tories will be thinking “Bring it on”, We still want it but will be hard pressed to win it and the LibDems will be pushing for a federal Britain.

    Don’t be surprised if the Libdems float supporting a three question referendum in 2010 with them backing “Devolution Plus” with borrowing powers at it’s heart and possibly a replacement for Barnet.

    If it includes a wide enough range of new powers I suspect that we might say Okay lets have it on those terms, rather than have the Parliament impose a referendum with poorer options.

    We would probably not win it as things stands, but would be well placed to form a stronger government with greater powers a year later, which even if it is far short of what we want is another step closer.

    We really have no option but to adapt to circumstances and play the long game.

    With Luck when the tables are up we might get some regional sub breaks so I can see how the LibDems are doing in the Highlands.

    Peter.

  8. Would would be the effect of an election now in terms of the subsequent poll? Would the Scottish Parliament get a fresh 4 year mandate, running until March 2013 (assuming a 6 week campaign from today) or would it only run until the next scheduled election in May 2011?

    Oh, and Peter, Harry and Ron got 10 points between them for sheer dumb luck ;) (5 after Hermione’s were taken off)

    Sorry to everyone else

  9. Paul,

    I think the 4 year rule still applies so it would be 2011 as well.

    As to the points in HP, knowing that is just sad…..

    Peter.

  10. Peter,

    I think you are absolutely right about the ‘long term’ element that needs to be present in SNP thinking. I’m not a nationalist myself, so from a unionist perspective as ever we have to make the case all the time, your side only have to convince the electorate once in a referendum in order to succeed.

    I think the unionist parties might do well, depending on the political climate at the time, to back the referendum in order to (from their perspective) win and put the whole independence issue into the long grass for 30 years.

    The SNP have crossed a number of crucial hurdles in last 2 years, but one they would need to cross still is the number of people who like an SNP government in Holyrood (or are at least comfortable with the concept) but dont conect that with a support for independence. Nationalist aspirations may be satisfied through devolution and SNP government meaning there may seem no obvious need for independence.

    Change from that may come in time, or be in response to an external event of course, but to do so I think the SNP need to find reasons to leave the UK, as opposed to reasons to become independent. Intersting times to come though, however it pans out.

  11. I wonder how “Solidarity” faired in the poll as the SSP can only win seats if the left vote isn’t split again.

    It will be interesting to see the green vote as it may be that although overall their stance on the budget may not have been popular it might have gone down very well with those who have the environment as their No 1 concern.

    I suspect a similar thing may happen with the BNP, they won’t be a significant factor anywhere and won’t win a Westminster seat, but the “BJFBW” effect might well see their vote rise.

    A boost for UKIP through this might be more of a problem because they unlike the BNP have the ability to cost the Tories some of their target seats where they need an above average swing to beat Labour or the LibDems.

    There may well be pressure on Cameron to respond with some anti EU rhetoric but I think that would be a bad mistake for a party doing well. He is ahead in the polls and this is the governments problem so he should stay low and not risk chasing votes on a contentious issue when he doesn’t have to.

    Peter.

  12. Totally off topic but I’ve just watched the news with the ridiculously high billing for snow in Kent, complete with outside broadcasts.

    Snow… I’ve seen heavier dandruff. What next calling out the snow ploughs when you spot a kid with a choc ice.

    Peter.

  13. You underestimate the extreme importance of everything that happens in Kent ;)

  14. Anthony,

    My wife’s favourite is the cartoon from the guardian…

    ” There will be a lot of weather in the south becoming gradually less important as it moves north.”

    In truth with 8% of the population even covering a third of the UK i don’t expect to feature hugely, but there really is no reason for people to react to some snow like it’s the new ice age.

    When i lived in Bedfordshire about twenty years ago we had to go round the [email protected]% to see my brother who was passing through Gatwick on his way to Australia.

    It had been stormy the night before but nothing I hadn’t seen before often enough being brought up in part in East Kilbride outside Glasgow.

    It turned up that it was actually the great hurricane but to be honest I see every bit as bad up here most years particularly in Novermber. But then in the highlands there are only a quarter of a million in an area the size of wales so it’s not headline news either.

    Peter.

    Peter

  15. Peter, can you enlighten me (us?) as to the meaning of “BJFBW”?

    On the weather, even the Met Office site has the south-east in red and the rest in orange even though the chances of “heavy” snow is about the same everywhere. (red meaning more severe). Heavy snow was 1962-63 in my opinion. They’re only talking about a foot at most this time.

  16. BJFBW… “British jobs for British Workers”, or more accurately “When the going gets tough pick on a minority to blame”.

    Peter.

  17. Looks like the peak has been reached for popularity of Scottish Independence and now on the decline along with the SNP.

  18. “BJFBW”

    British Jobs For British Workers.

    File under: “TIRWIHS”

  19. Mike,

    “Looks like the peak has been reached for popularity of Scottish Independence and now on the decline along with the SNP.”

    I’ve heard more sense from bubble wrap….

    Peter.

  20. Support for Independence around 30% even before the arguments are presented is incredible.

    People who base a judgement on a figure of 30% haven’t had much experience of campaigning.

    Strong, fact based arguments linked to loud colourful campaigning produce momentum and once you have that, 50% is a mere bagatelle.

    The Independence movement is very well placed to secure victory in 2010. A bit like a long distance race where the eventual winner sits in 2nd or 3rd place waiting to make his move.

  21. Shh, Brian! What if the No campaign hear you and also go for strong, fact based arguments linked to loud colourful campaigning?

  22. Brian,

    Much as I hope your right the experience of referendums tends to be that it is easier for the NO campaign.

    They can create a broad coalition around everyone’s fears, even if they are contradictory, and win with negative campaigning easier than a YES campaign can on a point of principle.

    As to fact based argument, like it or not, once campaigning starts in earnest, that goes out the window.

    The US presidential campaign ran for over a year and was the most expensive in world history but it’s only now that we can really start to see what Obama is like.

    Peter.

  23. Could someone let me know what this poll would mean if repeated in a general election in terms of seats won or lost?
    thank you

  24. charliej- conservative up 3 seats, snp up one seat, labour and lib dem both down one:

    SEATS TO CHANGE

    berwickshire roxbrough and salkirk CON FROM LD

    dumfries and galloway CON FROM LAB

    argyll and bute CON FROM LD

    ochill and south perthshire SNP FROM LAB

  25. Hello from snow-stranded London. Good news (for people like me) on the independence question, although perhaps we should be surprised at how little things have changed, given RBS/HBOS…

    Agree that the sheer importance of snow in the south east cannot be understood by those in the rest of the country. Don’t they understand that people down here are unable to survive fluctuations in temperature? anything below 5C or over 25C causes a condition known as ‘chronic overreaction’. This is particularly pronounced in those who work in the media….

    In a recent poll 8/10 londoners a worried that polar bears are an increasing threat to their children :)

  26. God. My typing gets worse all the time.

  27. Thank you Stuart
    so not much of a difference come general election time to Labour’s control north of the boarder in terms of Westminster.
    Why do Labour still perform so well in a country they have failed more than any other region of the UK?

  28. Another way of looking at it would be that the Conservatives only perform well in the South and the Countryside, although I agree that Scotland has long needed a few more Tories.

  29. Paul D,

    If there is a snap election this year the next Scottish election would still be in May 2011 as scheduled. Section 3 of the Scotland Act 1998 comes into play, the May 2011 election will be held unless there is an election in the 6 months preceding it.

    Brian,

    I think when the fact based arguments are presented it will be the No campaign, not the Yes campaign that will benefit.

    In any event, as it would require an act of the Westminster parliament to break up the UK, any Scottish referendum would be inconclusive anyway, as it would only represent about 8% of the UK population, and it is unlikely that a Westminster government would pursue a policy based on the wishes of 4% (50% of 8%) of the population.

    My musings about the Scottish Budget Fiasco can be found at http://ukpoliticsnews.blogspot.com

  30. Unionist parties could indeed call Salmond’s bluff but many senior Labour figures don’t really like the idea that Holyrood should have the power to call a referendum so resist on those grounds.

    The SNP are doing Ok in government but the danger is always that just being in government, both at Holyrood and on local councils generates its own discontent. The SNP’s stalwart candidate in Dunfermline has the misfortune to be chair of the Education committee. He is the face of the council that is trying to clear up the PPP mess left by the previous Labour administration. We all know it’s Labour’s fault but his attempts to fix things are very unpopular. It’s like Glenrothes redux. I’ll still vote SNP on the list at Holyrood but there’s no way I’ll be able to vote for him if he’s the Westminster candidate.

    I suppose it’s the same for Brown at Westminster. Folk have just had enough and cannot bring themselves to vote for the man who has alienated them- even if he’s done them some good in the past.

  31. Neil,

    If the people of Scotland vote for something in a free and fair referendum and the UK government says no, then we are in uncharted territory.

    But in truth it wouldn’t happen, because the population of England wouldn’t tolerate a government that tried to keep Scotland in the UK against it’s will.

    If states in the EU or elsewhere think it’s legitimate and democratic then the UK could find itself defending the indefensible. I suppose there is always UDI if the UK vetoes it, and then what can the UK do.

    It’s not as if the UK could hold Scotland by force even if it wanted too.

    Whatever way you look at it, if we vote for Independence, it happens.

    Peter.

  32. Neil,

    I agree with Peter on this one – it would be totally daft to suggest that the whole UK electorate would have to back Scottish independence in order for it to have validity.

    The UK governments possition for example on Northern Ireland is that if a majority within N.I. favoured leaving the UK and joining the Republic then that would be accepted. Put it this way, you dont require both people in a couple to want a divorce in order to end a marriage. This principle is fairly well established internationally too. Where a distinct territory expresses a democratic wish to become independent through some referendum or election result it does not (or should not) require the rest of that nation to approve. This of course is less often the case where there is not democratic government.

    I’ll be a unionist my whole life, but independence must be Scotland’s choice alone.

    However Peter – the difficult part actually is what happens if parts of Scotland then excersised their democratic right to reject independence and remain in the UK (most obviously Orkney/Shetland, but in theory other areas too)? I would never want to see Scotland divided in two, but if you follow the democratic argument to its conclusion it’s not impossible and it would be difficult to arge that ‘independence from Britian’ is possible but ‘independence from Scotland’ isn’t.

  33. Peter,

    I hardly know where to start.

    1) The legal position is that the Union could only be dissolved by an Act of the Westminster parliament, and if you think the rest of the UK are going to rally round against a government which will not do the bidding of 4% of the population, you are greatly deluded. Furthermore, the population of the rest of the UK are, in general, against a break-up of the union, and their consent would be pretty key to the required act being passed.

    2) A Unilateral Declaration of Independence would do very little. Even if Scotland were recognised by some EU countries as legitimate, the UK government would still be obliged to see Scotland as part of its territory (As the UK constitution provides for the sovereignty of parliament, bringing us back to the point about 1707 not being repealed). In this situation, far from there being little Westminster could do, there would be little Holyrood could do.

    3) If you are suggesting that Scotland could enforce the break-up of the union against the wishes of Westminster by force of arms, you need a serious reality check.

    4) In the event that the UK government decided to call Scotland’s bluff and repealed the 1707 Act, or overlooked a UDI (which would be unconstitutional), Scotland would rapidly become bankrupt. It is well known that the level of subsidy which Scotland receives from the rest of the UK is what keeps it afloat. If this subsidy were withdrawn, Scotland would be at the IMF with begging bowls within a month.

  34. Chris,

    I do see your point, but the nuances of the UK constitution make this case rather different. The union of Scotland and England is established by Act of parliament, and cannot simply be done away by a referendum of one party. It is not like a divorce – legally speaking.

  35. I can’t help feeling that there’s a bit of talking at cross purposes going on here. Peter is clearly talking about how difficult, even impossible, politically it would be for a UK government ignoring a referendum vote in favour of Scottish independence. Neil is focusing on the legal obstacles to such a result being honoured, and also on the idea that England won’t have been consulted and therefore there won’t be an onus on the UK government to do so.

    I can’t argue with the niceties of the UK’s rather ramshackle constitution, but that doesn’t bother me because I think the politcal effects of a “yes” would ensure the UK government did act.

    As Peter has pointed out, the principle of consent is well established in the case of Northern Ireland. It may not be enshrined in the constitution, but it exists nonetheless as a politcal principle (sorry if that seems like an oxymoron!). It would be untenable for the UK to apply a different political principle to Scotland, and there’s no sign that any of the unionist parties do so.

    I’m unsure why you think the voters of England would want to hold Scotland captive, Neil, if we’d voted for independence. That would effectively be the situation we’d find ourselves in.

    As to Peter’s remark about keeping Scotland by force, that’s clearly been misinterpreted. Should a “yes” vote be ignored, it would be naive to think we’d all just shrug our shoulders and say “OK then”. We’re certainly not going to rummage in the attic for Great Great Great Grandpa Hamish’s old claymore, but there would be plenty of scope for protest and civil disobedience. Is the UK going to send in the troops to clear protestors off the streets of Edinburgh? I really can’t see England as the Burma of Europe.

    No one likes being told “you can’t do that”. It provokes a thrawn response: “Oh you think so? We’ll see about that”. When Thatcher came north to tell us how grateful we should be for her elightened reign, the response was rather different. That would be as nothing to a Scottish electorate being told its view was of no consequence.

    I think it is safe to conclude that Neil’s arguments would not come to pass, because neither the Tories, Labour or the Lib Dems have made such arguments. Instead, they have repeatedly acknowledged the right of Scotland to determine it’s own future. Unless Neil knows something about the English that I’ve missed, why would that change?

    Steven

  36. Neil,

    I understand what you are saying and i think you are correct, as Steben says we may have been at cross purposes a little. Perhaps what i was identifying was more the political reality on the ground after any pro-independence result in a referendum – ie a way to make it reality would have to be found – rather than the mechanism for legally achieving the separation itself.

    Speaking purely personally, I hope it never comes to that anyway :-)

  37. Sorry Steven, I’m dystexic and hense make a hash of typing your name

  38. Neil,

    OK, having re-read it, the one point of issue I have with your post to Peter is the assersion that Scotland is dependent on Westminster handouts to survive financially.

    Am I not right in saying that these spending figures are based soley on land-based taxation revenue and do not include the contribution made to the UK exchequer but off-shore oil and gas revenues raised from Scottish territorial waters? When these figures are added in, is it not correct to say that there is no subsidy paid to Scotland?

    I believe in the Union, but I get very angry about this English ‘subsidy junky’ jibe we always have to put up with – I’ve never come across a Scotsman that either believes that there is a subsidy, or even wants one in the first place. If there is one, Neil, you are welcome to have it back – we have no need of your charity. I think the union is to our benifit in a number of ways, but I dont doubt we could survive financial on our own thank you very much.

    Chris C.
    Edinburgh

  39. Neil,

    As others have pointed out your argument is based on legality rather than real politik.

    Laws no matter how long established are, when they don’t have the support of governments or peoples, just bits of paper. They are like a currency, once people lose confidence in them they are worthless.

    Regardless of what acts of parliament, no matter how sovereign you think it is, hold the Uk together once one part of it decided it wants to go, no amount of legal wrangling will change the outcome.

    There may well be argument and dispute over how we divide the assets but the division will come. That how the USSR collapsed, the parts didn’t want to be part of it any more.

    I am not saying the UK is like the Soviet Union but the same principle applies.

    Peter.

  40. Re the issue of the economy and nationalism.

    Who cares? Nationalism is not about logic; it’s about attitude / history / language / self image.

    Only those against the nationalism argue economy. One notes, for example, that Ireland was bankrupt when it became a nation and that -what- half of the world are bankrupt states (consider Pacific Islands etc).

    Seriously it is totally irrelevant about the numbers around a ‘state’; it is about how the people see themselves which matters.

    And whenever I discuss this with English people (and I am not Scottish, nor English) I see such hatred to the idea I know why the Scots need to be independent. And it is hatred; the argument seems to me to be to be about the last vestige of the Empire which died a hundred years ago and which the English can not understand has gone. England has trouble understanding the idea of ‘managed decline’; it once was important but is progressively less so.

  41. I have quite a few things to reply to here,

    Peter, Chris and Steven,

    Yes, you are right, I have been talking a little beside your point. It would be politically untenable for a Westminster government to ignore the result of a Scottish referendum – nevertheless, the point about the legal difficulties is a valid one – and it would not be easy for a Westminster government to break up the union against the wishes of the people of the rest of the UK – that is all I am saying. Incidentally, that would not be easy for them politically any more than legally. Despite how we may view things up here in Scotland, UK governments are concerned about the opinions of English people too.

    Chris,

    Firstly, I think there is a slight misunderstanding. I am Scottish, and I have lived in Scotland all my life. Perhaps I should have made that clear, this is not a patronising rant from an Englishman telling the Scots how much they depend on me.

    Secondly, on the question of finances, I am sorry to break this to you, but we are HEAVILY subsidised by England. Firstly, the SNP have (deliberately?) grossly overstated the net value of the remaining North Sea oil reserves. Remember that oil no longer retails at $150 per barrel, but at less than a third of that price, and that this is not the 1970s, we have been tapping these reserves for around 40 years. Furthermore, we do not have the technology to empty oil wells – current technology allows us to extract less than 50% of the oil in an oil well. Unless there is a major technological breakthrough (which admittedly is being worked on) the oil could run out a great deal sooner than we think.

    Then there is the vexed question of who would have the right to the oil wells, and who would gain the economic benefits. This is also legally very contentious, and it is not something that Peter can turn into a political issue either. It is probable that the legal position would be for ownership of the wells to pass to Scotland, but that does not necessarily mean that all the economic benefit would accrue to Scotland. A lot of the work, and the money that was put into extracting that oil came from England (and elsewhere) – and it is laughable to suggest we can just go and mop up the treasure – the world doesn’t work like that.

    Lastly, I think you have underestimated the sheer extent to which Scotland depends on England financially. The Taxpayers Alliance reckons it at about £10bn per year in taxation/public spending terms alone. With the rapidly falling oil reserves in the North Sea, it is doubtful whether this would balance the books, even if Scotland reaped the full economic benefit, which it would not.

    I am sorry, but however distasteful the idea is, we NEED the union economically. The sentimental arguments positted by Jack, about bankruptcy not mattering, sound very hollow when the country goes bankrupt.

  42. Neil,

    The international law of the sea usual draws the line at 90′ or straight from the land border.

    That’s what we will abide by and as it’s used for every off shore oil or gas field in the world so will the UK, because if it doesn’t you’ll get countries claiming different parts of the Persian Gulf or Gulf of Mexico because of what the UK has claimed in the North Sea.

    Which ever it is we will get 60-90% of the UK oil reserves which is more than enough for a country with 8% of the population. people look at it in terms of oil revenue and government expenditure but the real impact is on balance of trade.

    If we assume that we are roughly independent in oil then on the lowest estimate of 60%, we go from consuming 8% of UK Oil to getting 7.5 times as much as we consume and can export export the equivalent of 50% of UK consumption.

    The UK has to go from 100% fuel efficient to just under 50% and needs to import 50% of it’s oil. At 1.7m bpd currently and $40 a barrel the price for 50% of that would be about £9 bn.

    So we would have an extra £9bn in exports and the UK £9bn more off the balance of payments. Given that the Uk couldn’t even balance the books in the last 10 years of above average growth I don’t know how you’d cope without even half of the oil.

    I suppose the UK could build a two dozen nuclear power stations, if anyone would lend the money

    Oh and I wouldn’t call the Taxpayers alliance a reputable source. The biggest issue by far for us all Independent or not is how to pay off what Gordon Brown has decided to borrow on our behalf’s.

    Peter.

  43. Peter,

    I see that it is useless to debate with you on this point. You quite evidently did not read all of my post.
    1) I am Scottish
    2) Even by your very liberal estimate of £9bn benefit, this does not cover the very conservative estimate of £10bn subsidy which Scotland receives through the tax/benefit system
    3) I never said that the West Shetland shelf or the waters off the North-East coast would not be in Scottish territorial waters, I said that Scotland would not be able to claim 100% economic benefit from the oilwells in these waters – which is very true.
    4) You seem more concerned with showing that England would be in deficit than showing that Scotland would break even. It is true that England would still be in deficit, but they would be closer to breaking even than they are now, meanwhile, Scotland would be a lot deeper in it economically than we are with English help.
    5) The taxpayers’ alliance produce immeasurably more reliable figures than Alex Salmond’s fertile imagination. The view that Scotland would be economically self-sufficient comes from the man and party that believed a self governing Scotland could afford to underwrite HBOS to the tune of £100bn – a laughable claim.

    On one point you are correct, the main issue is the unbelievable government debt which was used to fund Gordon Brown’s socialism, which we will have to pay for over the next 30 or 40 years. Believe me, Scotland is far better placed to do so with English help than it would be paying even 8% of it alone.

  44. Neil,

    Sorry if my post came over as a rant to you, was not intended, applogies mate :-) As i said in an earlier post I would be happy to have an independence referendum, so as to compaign for a ‘No’ result, but perhaps where we differ is that I would focus on the cultural & practical reasons for the Union and you would focus on the financial.

    Chris

  45. I am amazed that Cllr Cairns suggests Scotland decalre ODI and use force to ensure they get their way. And then people wonder why the SNP will never get a a majority.

    Just look at the polling twice as many people are against independence than are for it. Issue closed for now – instead of constantly trying to get the subject raised in the media in the hope that the majority of people living in Scotland (remember a lot of Scots live and work in England so do they get a vote?) destroy the union which has helped both countries for hundreds of years.

  46. Neil,

    This constant bean counting about the deficit this year or last misses the point. It’s like deciding if you can buy a house on the basis of wages from your last job.

    The choice is about whether you think you can afford it in the future and being able to make your own choices.

    Our argument is there are hard choices to be made and we should make them ourselves rather than have them made for us. The Unionist argument is that we can’t make those choices and we should let others make them for us.

    Long ago I made the decision to leave home and make my own life and have my own family rather than live with my parents staying in my bedroom and coming home before it got dark.

    Living with my mum and dad would have been safer, but not much of a life.

    Peter.

  47. Neil-Peter’s reply to you , is the sort of response which, some time ago, convinced me that trying to get Scots Nats to think about the finances of Independence, is like trying to get a teenage daughter to acknowledge the cost of her constant supply of new clothes.

    It is of as little interest to her , as the “bean-counting” of Independence is to Nationalists. Their desires are both emotionally based, and leave no room for consideration of their consequences.

    As Peter says-Independent Scots will indeed have hard choices to make.
    I have come to understand that they must be allowed to make them-as every teenager eventually has to.

  48. I should have added that a majority of Scottish “teenagers” seem to want to stay home -presumably for fear of those “hard choices”.

  49. ”Our argument is there are hard choices to be made and we should make them ourselves rather than have them made for us. The Unionist argument is that we can’t make those choices and we should let others make them for us.”

    Peter – with due respect, this is not the Unionist position, or at least not my unionist position. In my view we DO make these choices, as part of the UK, by electing representative to the UK parliament and they participate with all the other representatives. I see the UK as a family where we make decisions together, not as a straightjacket where our decisions are taken for us by someone else as you descibe above.

    I do sympathise with your ”I want to be free to chart my own destiny” argument, I’m just not sure I understand exactly what it is you want to be free from.

    Chris

  50. Colin,

    I am a Scottish 20 something and still at home… but only due to the difficulty in finding a job in my field right now, which is Finance… I’d love to be in the position to make some hard choices, but not right now!

    Chris

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