While we are waiting for Populus tonight here’s some bits and bobs from the last few days. Over the weekend there was a new System Three poll in Scotland showing voting intention in a possible referendum on Scottish Independence. The poll showed support for YES at 38%, for No at 40%. It’s a narrowing of the gap since the last time System Three asked the question in October 2008, but in pretty much the same territory as the previous times they asked the question.

Notably there is a huge difference between this and when YouGov asked a similar question in Scotland last week. They found support at 29% for YES and 55% for NO. There’s no obvious reason for the difference. The two questions are:

YouGov: The SNP wishes to hold a referendum on Scottish independence in due course. Voters would be asked whether they agree or disagree ‘that the Scottish government should negotiate a settlement with the Government of the United Kingdom so that Scotland becomes an independent state’. How would you vote if such a referendum were held tomorrow? I would vote YES (i.e. for Scottish independence)/ I would vote NO (i.e. against Scottish independence)/ Don’t know/ Would not vote

System Three: The SNP have recently outlined their plans for a possible refrendum on Scottish independence in future. If such a referendum were to be held tomorrow, how would you vote? I AGREE that the Scottish Government should negotiate a settlement with the Government of the United Kingdom so that Scotland becomes an independent state/ I DO NOT AGREE that the Scottish Government should negotiate a settlement with the Government of the United Kingdom so that Scotland becomes an independent state/ Don’t know

The YouGov version is a bit bolder – it spells out the YES (for independent) and NO (against independence) a bit more clearly, and perhaps makes people think rather more about the independence rather than the negotiations – but they are pretty much in the same ball park.

On other subjects, there is a YouGov poll for the Jewish Chronicle here asking about support for a boycott of Israeli goods. Only 29% of people think it would be a good idea, with 41% opposed. On the wider issue of Israel’s behaviour, 22% think Israel is doing all it reasonably can to live in peace with Palestinians, 47% think Israel is being too harsh towards Palestinians.

Moving on, ComRes have done some polling about belief in evolution for Theos. I may come back to think properly later, but I think Theos’s own report on the polling figures, and evolution, creationism and so on, which can be downloaded here, is well worth reading.

Later on today we should get Populus’s monthly poll for the Times – it normally shows up at around 7.30pm or 8pm. I expect a lot of people will be waiting to see if it shows an increase Lib Dem support comparable to ICM’s at the weekend.


117 Responses to “Things you may have missed”

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  1. Paul H-J

    Yes the Italian Croats are in Istria, though many left after the war.

    Scots = Chips of both kinds. Especially heart disease in Glasgow.

  2. Peter:

    “we just don’t think that UK style FPTP one party rule delivers good government.”

    I’ll vote for good government, and if I have to take independence with it, so be it. Even if the Unionist economic arguments were true, it would be worth it in the long run even on economic grounds.

    Donald Dewar’s vision circa 1956 was that a Home Rule parliament would be a model for Westminster. I’d be content with that, but it is not on offer.

    My granddaughter may have the benefit of better government – as she already does over devolved issues – but it will take two generations of a successful independent Scotland and a failing r-UK for Donald’s hope to be realised at Westminster.

    I used to argue with him every week that no rational honest person could survive in that environment.

  3. “it would be worth it in the long run even on economic grounds. ”

    Well, based on what? The long term would be a Scotland without oil revenues (finite resource). It currently runs a budget deficit of 4-7 billions (variable based on volitility of oil revenues).

    All I am saying is that Scotlands long term economy under independence would see average income fall, increase taxation, and an unustainable (and growing) budget deficit that no small nation like Scotland could manage.

    So where on earth can you claim that in the long term independence would benefit Scotland?

  4. Dean,

    “Well, based on what? The long term would be a Scotland without oil revenues”

    Well we’ve got twenty years to prepare and we already had plans to replace most of our current nuclear and fossil fuels power stations with renewable or carbon neutral alternatives.

    If we win the referendum I think you’ve got about two…… remind me how long does it take to build a nuclear power station.

    Peter.

  5. “we already had plans to replace most of our current nuclear and fossil fuels power stations with renewable or carbon neutral alternatives.”

    Which alternatives?

    What does “most” mean?

    What proportion will be intermittent & variable and what proportion will be base load-and what will the source of base load generation be?

    Who says devolved powers allow Scotland to overide the generation, transmission, distribution and supply of electricity to the United Kingdom ?

  6. I think that Colin raises a number of good points.

    I would add however that you are still not explaining how an independent Scotland would plug the budget deficit of £5.4 billions (a rather conservative estimate).

    If as you have said Peter, how would an independent Scotland solve this budgetary imbalance without having to rely upon volitile oil prices or international loans?
    Independence is all good and well, so is thje development of new energy technologies, but the figures do not support your assumption Peter that Scotland could afford the costs involved without the rest of the UK’s financial support.

  7. “how long does it take to build a nuclear power station.”

    Construction began on France’s latest new reactor, Flamanville 3, on 4 December 2007 .and is planned to produce 1650 MWe from 2012 .
    It will generate base load electricity for 60 years.

    This output would require 3000 2MW Wind Turbines with average Load Factor. of 30%.
    They would generate unpredictably intermittent & variable electricity for 20 years.

  8. What about ‘clean coal’ technology?

    I understand that Germany is investing heavily in that field of energy production?

    What is the longevity of it?

    The reason I ask is I rather like the idea of it all (and believe the Nats are prob. right to support expansion of it here, but most experts seem unable to agree on any answers to the above. Just interested to know what you guys thought.)

  9. 80% plus of Scotland’s electricity is generated by 4 power stations 2 coal and 2 nuclear. Most if not all are due for replacement within 20 years.

    However they aren’t all actually needed as Scotland produces about 30% more than it needs. Indeed with efficiency we could probably get by with about 50% of what we need now.

    Among the Renewables are On and Off shore wind, tidal and wave power. In addition their is biomes, particularly timber waste, and of course hydro electric.

    Some of this is intermittent, but the fact that we have pump storage are connected to the UK (as the UK is connected to the the continental grid and gas network). We also want to be linked to Norway.

    As for non renewable we are pushing ahead with carbon capture for both coal and indeed gas, both of which can provide base laod for the rest of the century.

    As to Flamanville 3, that would be this Flamanville 3….

    ” The French Nuclear Safety Authority’s (ASN) decided to suspend concreting at the site on 21st May 2008

    The ASN had already demonstrated considerable patience before finally coming to the exceptional decision to
    stop the construction works.

    The problems that prompted the ASN decision fall into three major categories:

    – Organisation of work, quality control and oversight
    – Reinforcement and concreting
    – Metallurgy and welding.

    In all these areas deficiencies have been repeatedly found, meaning that every aspect of building activity has proved problematic.”.

    Oh and I think you’ll find costs have already risen by 20%.

    60 years of base load followed by 6,000 years of waste storage at public expense.

    The Scottish government controls planning, so if we don’t like it it doesn’t get built, it’s as simple as that. Even if we leave government who is going to risk investing in a power plant that might run the risk of falling foul of the next government.

    Peter.

  10. On Shore Wind is fast becoming environmentally unnacceptable-at least in the places most favoured by BWEA in Scotland.

    Off Shore Wind is fast becoming economically unviable, with major players withdrawing, and the Industry demanding even more subsidies to make it pay.

    Tidal & Wave are years away from proving, and of unknown financial viability.
    Where are you going to build new Hydro Plants?-I can just imagine the environmental impact & the Planning Enquiries.

    Interesting strategy to be connected to UK Grid so you can take UK & French nuclear output whilst intent on refusing to contribute to that nuclear output from Scotland…..”so if we don’t like it it doesn’t get built, it’s as simple as that”, may not be quite that simple if Westminster deems Scottish nuclear capacity a UK neccessity-we shall see.

    All big construction plants have problems. France has managed fine with its committment to nuclear generation and hasn’t got to face the crazy energy security risks we have.

    The management of nuclear waste is an engineering problem which will find satisfactory solutions.Simply quoting the half life of uranium doesn’t illuminate the problem at all-nor does it throw light on the huge strides forward in nuclear power plant technology around the world.

  11. On shore wind in Scotland will triple between now and 2012 and the current economic slow down is due to the credit crunch and the low oil price.

    Given that we are tailing about 25 year investments it might slow for a few years but it will continue.

    As i said the Uk can deem Scottish nuclear power a necessity if it wants but it can’t be built without planning permission. That’s the law and to try to overturn it would be political suicide.

    Anyone who post 9/11 thinks there isn’t a risk in having almost 80 nuclear plants spread around there country has a very poor understanding of security let alone energy security.

    As I said near the start of this the people who are driving forward the nuclear agenda are the companies that make money building them and the unions who’s members get jobs building them.

    If you want to understand nuclear energy in the Uk just follow the money.

    “The management of nuclear waste is an engineering problem which will find satisfactory solutions.”

    When and where and at what cost.

    Peter.

  12. Peter-there is risk in everything.

    How do you know what scale of risk to Oceans & Atmosphere is attached to failed containment of mega quantities of CO2?

    If man -and Scotland-insists on growing his population at current rates, consumption of energy will continue to grow & intermittent “renewables” will not scratch the surface of electricity consumption.

    Replacing the concentrated energy sources which millions of years of geological process has bequeathed us will take more than a few windmills.

    Anyway-this subject is certainly an interesting light into the more obscure corners of the reality of Scottish “Independence”.

  13. “If you want to understand nuclear energy in the Uk just follow the money.”

    …or Wind Farm Development-or Golf Courses on SSSIs-or Scottish Banks…….?!

  14. Colin,

    Carbon capture has it’s issues but on current trend Scotland would still be less fossil fuel dependent than the UK with Nuclear power and wouldn’t be dependent on imported fuel at all, Oil Gas or uranium.

    domestically a leak of CO2 from under the North sea might be an issue but I think people would rather have bubbles in their tap water than thorium.

    Scotland,s population is currently ageing and fairly static, so providing for large number of elderly with a shrinking work age population is more of an issue economically and socially than over population.

    Scotland’s current population is just over 5.1m due to grow to just under 5.4m by 2030. A growth of under 6% over 20 years. from the current 61m by 2030 the UK is projected to reach 72m, approximately 18%.

    Again with sustainable energy production or dependency on foreign fossil fuels the attack is “How will Scotland cope” but when you look at the data the problems are far more acute and pressing for the UK.

    Either way I’d rather go for low tech dispersed multi option energy generation based on plentiful domestic resources than a few big units built and controlled by a hand full of global corporations, importing a resource that if all the worlds proposed nuclear stations are built will become increasing expensive and scares.

    Peter.

  15. I have to agree with Peter on this one. Carbon capture is definately safer than the nuclear option.

    “domestically a leak of CO2 from under the North sea might be an issue but I think people would rather have bubbles in their tap water than thorium.”

    and that seems to be the brilliance of the solution, as any leakages would be minimal at worst, compared to nuclear waste which has long term radioactive consequences. Its simply a matter of how deep the carbon capture is, for example For ocean storage, the retention of CO2 would depend on the depth; IPCC estimates 30–85% would be retained after 500 years for depths 1000–3000 m.

    So carbon capture is rather successful, and the stats are even more favourable when talking of land storage, as well selected stores are likely to retain over 99% of the injected CO2 over 1000 years.

    So, yes- I think the SNP policy on energy is best. Carbon capture (as it works now, compared to the nuclear waste question), but it also as Peter says removes the problem of energy security in a post 9/11 world.

    Dean

  16. “Carbon capture is definately safer than the nuclear option.”

    Dean you simply cannot know that
    .
    Long term Carbon sequestration is as yet unproven.
    Eon have just proposed that their new Kingsnorth coal plant be the first full scale trial for a coal powered plant-they want £1 billion from the Government to trial it.

    “Carbon capture also removes the problem of energy security in a post 9/11 world.”

    Well yes if you want 100% of UKs electricity generation to be from domestic Coal & if you assume that CCS will a) work & b) be affordable.

    But it aint going to happen-the politics of “going back to coal” is just too fraught – and so it should be!.
    The 2020 UK generation mix is more likely to be something like 70% Gas/10% Coal/10% Nuclear ( unless our Government gets it’s finger out on new Nuclear.)

    And how does all that imported Gas give us “energy security” ?-the CCS aspect is irrelevant-We will have to buy it on a rigged international “market”, and import it via pipelines thousands of miles away & long through countries with sky high political risk; or in LNG tankers from the Middle East.

    If you think that is more “secure” than our own nuclear plants you are deluded.

    Fast breeder technology translates known uranium resources into 2500 years of supply-and from countries like Canada, Australia, South Africa & USA.

    I know which option I think provides “energy security”-and it’s the one espoused by James Lovelock-father of international environmentalism .

    And with regard to the much talked about health risks posed by nuclear power plants & stored waste-just do your own research on the safety record & the actual scale of waste & how it is dealt with.
    And when you have formed a view of the real threats posed by it, compare them with -for example-the annual deaths caused in global coal mining, and by polutants from burning it.

  17. I accept your point Colin about the fact that nuclear might get the UK and Scotland away from Gas dependency.

    However as a man how firmly agrees with cutting government overhead costs and reducing the expenses and size of government, I find a problem with Nuclear power. Let me explain why on this level I agree with Peters advocating carbon capture over nuclear-

    Nuclear reactors cost a lot of tax payers money- take for example the Provisional contracts for two 1,117 MWe AP1000 reactors at the Virgil C. Summer Nuclear Generating Station. In this case (where the most modern technologies are being used to depreciate the cots of contruction) the price is stil la whopping $4.9 billion per reactor! Hardly value for money when an environmentally friendly carbon capture option might cost signifcantly less. Note that the billion figure for the Eon example you cited is still a lot cheaper than modern (and well developed) contemporaru nuclear power construction costs.

    And as for nuclear power providing us with energy security free from the need to import- I believe I have read that France requires to import nearly all of her urianiam. So how much might nuclear power really solve this issue (genuine quiery)

    Until the costs (both environmental and fiscal) are ironed out in regards to nuclear I simply see carbon capture as the best (both fiscally & environmentally).

    I would love to have my mind changed on this however.

    Dean

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