Sunday Polls

Today’s results for the Sunday Times are up online here. Topline figures are CON 32%, LAB 39%, LDEM 9%, UKIP 13%. On the leader good job/bad job ratings Cameron’s net score is minus 12 (up 3), Miliband’s is minus 38 (down 3), Nick Clegg’s is minus 58 (down 7). 75% now think Clegg is doing a bad job as Lib Dem leader, just 17% a good job. It represents Clegg’s worst score since last May.


The regular economic trackers are continuing to get better (or at least, less bad). 44% of people now think the government are managing the economy well, 48% badly – their best score since 2010. The feel good factor (the proportion thinking they’ll be better off in the next year minus those who think they’ll be worse off) has risen above minus 20 for the first time since the election.

YouGov also asked a question about what people’s reaction to Labour having a agenda that was criticised by big business (often pollsters ask questions which become out of date by the time they are published because of changing events. This one was the opposite, we asked it before Ed Balls announced 50p and got laid into by business interest groups, so for once events made it become more topical!). 45% think it would be bad for the economy if Labour won with policies that large businesses were unhappy with, only 18% think it would be good. On people’s own personal finances 29% think it would be bad, 15% good. (Note that it isn’t actually possible to tell if people think the policies that business is unhappy about would be bad for the economy, or just Labour winning per se. In hindsight it would have been good to have a split sample, with half getting a control question that just asked about a Labour government)

In a separate Survation poll in the Mail on Sunday, 60% of people supporting re-introducing the 50p top rate, roughly the same sort of proportion who opposed it being abolished in the first place.


Going back to the YouGov poll, on balance people are opposed to Britain accepting refugees from Syria, but not by a vast amount. 47% think we should not accept any, 39% think we should – considering how hostile polls often are on issues of immigration this is closer than one might have thought! Those people who support accepting Syrian refugees are actually rather generous in regard of the number we should accept. While politicians are discussing a few hundred, 40% of those who support accepting Syrian refugees think we should offer to take more than 1000.


Most of the rest of YouGov’s poll dealt with the Royal family and the gradual handover of the Queen’s duties to Charles. The public gradually seem to be coming round to the idea of the Queen cutting down on commitments, and to Charles’s future succession. While a majority of people would still oppose the Queen abdicating, 47% of people would now support her abdicating in the future if she were to become too ill to regularly carry out royal duties or appear in public. 46% of people would still prefer her to remain Queen for life, even if she handed over her duties to other family members. This is the first time YouGov have shown more people in favour than opposed to the Queen abdicating if she becomes too ill to continue work.

There is very widespread support for Charles taking over more of the Queen’s duties, 75% think it is a good idea, only 13% a bad idea. By 42% to 36% people would even support Charles taking over ALL the Queens current roles and responsibilities as Prince Regent, allowing the Queen to effectively retire.

Over the last decade YouGov have asked if people would prefer to see Charles succeed as monarch, or the crown skip a generation to William. Having seen a peak in favour of William after the royal wedding, the public now seen reconciled to Charles as King, with 53% now saying the crown should pass to him, only 31% saying it should skip a generation. It’s the first time this question has shown support for Charles as King rise over 50%. There has not been a similar increase in support for Camilla becoming Queen. Only 17% think she should have the title of Queen, a figure that has remained steady for the last six years.


There is also a new ICM poll on the Scottish referendum, conducted for Scotland on Sunday. Unlike most Scottish referendum polling, normally notable for its stability, this one actually shows a significant change! 37% say they would vote YES, up 5 points from ICM’s last Scottish poll in September, 44% say they would vote NO, down 5 points from September.

John Curtice already has a detailed trawl through the poll here and unlike me he has the luxury of having seen the tables. He picks up one particularly interesting thing: the swing since September is strongly concentrated amongst young people. Amongst over 45s there’s no change, amongst people aged 25-44 support for YES is up 6 points, amongst under 25s it’s up 33 points (!). That rings a few alarm bells, but as ever, one shouldn’t read too much into very small subsamples – it could mean ICM had a weird sample that gave them a weird results, or that they had a weird group of under 25s but the overall sample was fine, or that there genuinely is a big shift towards YES amongst younger voters. We shall see.

296 Responses to “Sunday Polls”

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  1. @Pete B

    I agree reform of the tax system would be required/is required. I also agree with making tax on divs (and, in the main, capital gains) the same as tax on any other income (after all it used to be surcharged) but there’s no need to mess with corporation tax.

    Why would raising the tax on divs (and other unearned income) damage the economy? It would create an incentive to earn that doesn’t exist today! Would also encourage companies to invest more.

    Wilson had tax at up to 98% (Heath radically reduced from 90 to 75%!) but nobody is arguing for those kind of rates now. 50% marginal rate for the super- well-paid seems eminently sensible to me.

  2. ICM poll

    UKIP – up 2%, so figures in that article suggest a drop of 10% in “Others” (Greens 7% in 2009 – not mentioned in Scotsman article and real “others” – 9.3% in 2009).

  3. ICM poll

    Lallands Peat Worrier has done a quick analysis of the ICM Euro results.

    Amazingly, Labour’s 2nd seat doesn’t come about till round 6 of the calculation – and is hardly solid.

    h ttp://

  4. ICM poll

    Lallands Peat Worrier has done a quick analysis of the ICM Euro results.

    Amazingly, Labour’s 2nd seat doesn’t come about till round 6 of the calculation – and is hardly solid.

    It’s on a twitter picture, so AW needs to see that it isn’t rude before publishing the link.

    Many on here may still think it’s rude! :-)

  5. @ AW
    Thanks for Irish history. One thing is certain; the 2015 Scottish MPs won’t imitate the 1918 Sinn Feiners & set up their own Parliament; they already have one!

  6. @GUYMONDE (10.34)

    Thanks for that info. As a simple employee until I retired, I was always on PAYEE. In other words I paid what the government of the day said I should pay. As your comments confirm, what a difference to some in society, many of whom I suspect are on many times the salary I received. As Alec (I think) said earlier, this circumvention of tax payments must be tackled.

    As a pro-European, I would suggest that this should be the top priority of the European Parliament. European laws to remove the many tax loopholes (including the British run tax havens) would be welcomed by the majority of the population and would change the attitude of many towards Europe. Any such changes must include provision to pay tax in the country where the company makes its profits not in the tax haven where its small “head office” is located.

  7. RobbieAlive

    And the Labour MPs have no chance of getting into the Scottish Parliament as the nominations for candidates are being currently sewn up,

  8. “Wilson had tax at up to 98%”

    He increased the top earned income tax rate to 83% in 1974 (so not that much higher than Heath’s 75%) but there was a 15% surcharge on investment income which could take it to 98%. That applied to incomes above £20,000 pa (£176,477 equivalent today). Even under Mrs Thatcher it was effectively 75% until 1985 when the 15% investment surcharge was abolished.

    The top rate was 99.25% during WW2 and remained in the 90s under all of the pre-Heath Tory governments.

  9. @Marco: “Is Ed B back-tracking on the 50% already?”

    No. It’s what he said in his original speech last Friday:

    “That’s why, for the next parliament, the next Labour government will reverse this government’s top rate tax cut so we can finish the job of getting the deficit down and do it fairly.

    “For the next parliament, we will restore the 50p top rate of tax for those earning over £150,000.

    “Reversing this unfair tax cut for the richest one per cent of people in the country. And cutting the deficit in a fairer way.”

  10. Oldnat

    I’ve never really rated the NATS moans about Scottish media bias.

    However the Scotsman “interpretation” of what the story is on a remarkable poll which shows the SNP up 13 points and UKIP up a mere two from the last Euro poll does tend to confirm the conspiracy theories.

    On the ICM figures the NATS would be heading for three even close to four Euro seats out of six and UKIP none! That is the story not the tripe which the Scotsman journalist witters on about.

    I understand the Scotsman’s survival is on a shoogly nail these days. Little wonder if this is an example of their “quality journalism”.

    Maybe I’ll pay a bit more attention to Oldnat and his colleagues in future.

  11. L Hamilton


    I’ve always discounted allegations about broadcaster (as opposed to press) bias. It’s a reasonable rule of thumb that political activists will always see bias against them.

    However, Dr Robertson’s analysis, and the Beeb’s explanation (I presume that STV would say the same) suggests that the SN (Situation Normal) is actually AFU (All F***** Up) – as the WWII RAF described institutional inability to respond to reality.

  12. As I couldn’t see any response to my query on the effect of weighting on MOE (apologies if there is one), I tried googling it. This basically confirmed my understanding that weighting, while useful descriptively while estimating means and percentages, tends to increase standard errors and hence what seems to be called MOE. What I failed to find was any formula which would give a handle on the likely effect on standard errors of a very low response rate in particular categories (e.g. very few under twenty-fives responding so that the weight given to them would be much greater).

    Obviously the precise effect of low response rates in a category would depend on the way different survey companies calculate their weights (I assume they create a single weight for each case and don’t use different weights in different analyses). So it would not be next to impossible to make any precise estimate of the effect in particular cases. However, my guess is that when trying to interpret particular polls we need to look at a) whether the percentages fall within the MOE as we currently take it to be b) whether there are particular groups (e.g. age) which are used in weighting and unusually high or low and the likely effect of this on the proportion c) what political factors might explain any changes from the general trend. My impression is that we rarely look at b and that these recent Scottish data might encourage us to do that more.

  13. @Oldnat (RE: Curtis)

    “At present, it seems Scotland would vote to stay in the European Union, by 46 per cent to 33 per cent, whereas the rest of the UK would want to leave – by 37 per cent to 46 per cent.”

    Personally I have to desire to add to the existing EU commitments. I’ll wager that the average Scot has little interest in the EU, but will believe whatever their preferred party leader is telling them. Do these numbers suggest that an Independent Scotland would join the EU with more commitment than the UK? Or do they suggest that the EU status quo is preferable?

    If we’re going to be as rich as Norway or Switzerland, shouldn’t we opt out?

  14. Ah ha!

    “Yet at the same time, fewer than a quarter of Scots are definitely committed to staying in the EU, while the actual level of support for maintaining freedom of movement in the EU is only 20 per cent.”

    Which says that for once, I seem to be in the majority. Less government all round please!

  15. No obvious mention on the Beeb. Wonder if / when it will turn up?

  16. Bank of England agents report for December 2013

    h ttp://

    Always interesting to read due to the cautious and moderate language used compared with the hyperbole of other organisations

    My summary would be

    Moderate growth in all sectors in the economy

    Modest growth in employment in the next 6 months

    Inflation muted

    Investment intentions modest

    Moderate growth in retail sales restrained by tight disposable incomes

    The agents report has been saying similar pretty much for the whole of 2013.

    Have a look if you have time.

  17. Also this Forecasts for the UK Economy produced by the UK treasury, comes out every month about the 20th of each month and summarises the forecasts of various organisations

    January 2014

    January 2013

    h ttps://

    if you compare their forecasts now with their January 2013 forecasts you will see how wrong these organisations are, and not just last year but every year, sometimes too gloomy, sometimes too optimistic, but always wrong. Remember that when you read them in the newspapers..

  18. SZYGY
    Regarding our exchange on a realistic concept of “full” employment and my argument for one which links to a structure (e.g. TECs etc) for linkage of training with industrial manpower demand, you might note the report of Prof Sir Roy Anderson’s advisory group on the need for a linkage of secondary education to the labour market:
    The report’s comment on the inadequacy of average two year tenure of Education Secretaries in successive governments, and the need for long-term planning, supports the need for a wider institutional reform, and is given point by the Panglossian reaction of the Department of Education to the report, that they do not think that the system needs any further change : “as this week’s results show………..”

  19. marco

    “Jeez…this is embarrassing.”

    Because you didn’t take in what the policy was in the first place you mean?

  20. The discussion on the previous thread raised concerns over how representative that ICM poll was in terms of the results on the Yes/No vote.

    Supporters of the “no” campaign would be more concerned if the Euro poll, based on the same sample, had shown a poor result for the SNP and a reasonably good one for Labour. That would have dispelled any concerns that there were too many nationalists in the ICM sample. As it is, the Euro poll result does not give any reason to doubt the earlier concerns that the ICM sample could have skewed the Yes/No poll result.

  21. Statgeek/Oldnat,

    It’s wonderful to see some actual data on Scottish attitudes and the EU.

    So, while Scotland is indeed more pro-EU than the rUK, we’re also not overwhelmingly enthusiastic about it.

  22. I think the remarkable feature of the Polls is the resilience of UKIP support level in the face of news regarding the party.

    If I have understood the announcements correctly.

    Mr Farage said the 2010 Manifesto was Drivel and didn’t know the contents,despite actually being the Co-author of the Summary of it and presenting it at the time.

    Announces that Women with Children are worth less to an Employer in the City than men

    Want’s the reintroduction of Hand gun licences from the public despite the fact that it’s removal has been accompanied by a consistent fall of around 150 Hand gun related murders each year.

    While the real nutters in the party are merrily blaming the floods on divine intervention because God Doesn’t like same sex couples getting married!

    Any other party would IMO opinion suffer as a result of these pronouncements and any other Party leader would be given a Galactically hard time by the media for it!

    It rather reinforces the notion that UKIP isn’t really a party it’s a pressure group that it supporters only rally care about it’s core messages of not liking foreigners or foreign institutions.

    I suspect support will drop away once the Euros have been and gone (a fun chance to display your dislike of foreigners).

    Where it will go is actually anyone’s guess.

  23. Statgeek mentioned early in this thread yesterday that he had updated his site, and I had a look yesterday, and revisited the site this morning.

    The polling/regional trends pages still show Labour ahead everywhere except Rest of South. In the important Midlands and Wales section, Labour seem from the trend line to have a clear lead again, and the individual blue and red dots do not mingle any more, confirming this view.

    The picture seems to be uniformly bad news for the LDs.

    The only slight cloud on the horizon for Labour would appear to be Scotland where although Labour have a clear and large lead, the SNP trend line is upwards, but this seems to be at the expense of the Conservatives, and Labour are steady. (I do not have the information to measure this against the recent by-election.)

    Luckily perhaps for Labour, there is no similar movement (that I know of anyway) for more powers for the north of England, where Labour have a large and increasing lead.

    Conservatives on the other hand must wait on ‘events’.

    So my prediction, based on this three-month snapshot, is clear.

  24. @Marco – “Is Ed B back-tracking on the 50% already ?”


    “Jeez…this is embarrassing.”

    Indeed – for the journalists who can’t read, and the posters who believe the journalists.

  25. Hi Marco

    Ever wish you’d never posted something?

  26. ” laws to remove the many tax loopholes (including the British run tax havens) would be welcomed by the majority of the population and would change the attitude of many towards Europe. Any such changes must include provision to pay tax in the country where the company makes its profits not in the tax haven where its small “head office” is located.” Peter Bell 12.43

    I agree with this post.

    ” ” the commentariat have been able to loftily dismiss the possibility. ”
    Can we have some examples so that I can better understand who the “commenteriat” are [not you presumably….] see if I agree they actually have dismissed the possibility and, finally, just how loftily they did so?”

    I actually said ‘presumably, indicating this was a presumption on my part, by way of positing an explanation for the apparent lack of discussion of the practical implications of a yes vote. In other words, people haven’t seemed to think it worth discussing because there’s no real possibility of it happening. I said this could now change. I suppose I was basing my presumption mainly on the tenor of comments here on UKPR.

    As an example of the sort of topics that I haven’t seen discussed, if Scotland is less anti-EU than rUK, does this increase the likelihood of rUK voting for EU exit in a 2017 referendum? And if rUK votes to leave, but independent Scotland doesn’t have a referendum, would this mean Scotland could remain in the EU without having to re-apply?

    There are lots of questions like these that could become a lot more interesting, and with which commentators will have to engage, if independence starts to seem a real possibility.

  28. “As an example of the sort of topics that I haven’t seen discussed, if Scotland is less anti-EU than rUK, does this increase the likelihood of rUK voting for EU exit in a 2017 referendum? And if rUK votes to leave, but independent Scotland doesn’t have a referendum, would this mean Scotland could remain in the EU without having to re-apply?”

    Why would Scotland have to reapply in the event of the UK leaving post-referendum? I might suggest Scotland leaving UK but remaining in Europe would add an interesting twist to the EU referendum voting debate as well.

    It might highlight exactly what ‘free trade’ does and means.

  29. @Phil Haines – I thought that the problem with the ICM sample was not that there were too many nationalists in it – the proportion voting yes in the raw sample was 34%. It was rather that there were some under-represented sub-samples where possibly random variation resulted in an unduly high ‘yes’ vote. As a result the weighting did produce a much higher proportion saying ‘yes’ than usual.

  30. @Charles
    Thanks, that rings a bell. In which case it was the sample after reweighting that’s the issue. It would be usual for the same reweighted sample to have been used for all of the published figures from that poll.

  31. There’s an interesting comment on the John Curtice blog:

    ” I believe that you ignored the most likely explanation for a large swing amongst younger voters, Dr. Curtice. They are also by far the most likely to be active on so-called ‘social media’ (I truly loathe that term) where the case for independence is being heavily and I believe successfully made. They are most likely to be aware of blogs like Wings over Scotland and NewsnetScotland and have read about the Robertson study damning the BBC and STV news coverage for bias, which many older Scots still depend upon for news.

    You seem to ignore that very substantial jump to Yes of 6% in the 25-44 age group which to me indicates that whilst the methodology may have slightly inflated the 16-24 jump, it can reasonably be expected to be at least as large or larger than that of the 25-44 group.”

    It seems a plausible suggestion. Might there be a social media snowball starting to roll? And if the influence of MSM on voting behaviour amongst young people in Scotland is indeed drastically reduced, could the same thing happen UK-wide in the GE?

  32. JohnKay,

    I think the answer to your second question is no. If Scotland is independent, then it will already have left the EU by the time your 2017 referendum in rUK comes around. I don’t think a year from independence is long enough to negotiate terms of entry and rejoin.

  33. @Floating Voter

    I find the BoE Agent Summaries to be far more reliable than other economic reports. If the Agent Summary says one thing and another, more marketed survey says another, the BoE has always been right in the last couple of years.

    If anyone wants to understand how we can have a recovery that doesn’t affect VI, then they need to read the Centre for Cities report that outlines starkly that the current recovery we have is no good to the Tories since it’s quite remarkably concentrated in London.

    Declaration: I’ve worked with the CfC and think they’re great.

  34. @PopulusPolls: New Populus VI figures: Lab 40 (=); Cons 33 (+1); LD 11 (=); UKIP 8 (-1); Oth 8 (=) Tables

  35. I posted something yesterday that never saw the light of day and is now lingering somewhere in a cyberspace void. It may well be that a couple of tongue-in-cheek references tipped me beyond the comments policy, for which I abjectly apologise, but the serious point of my post was to try and share some interesting, polling derived, data on voting behaviour.

    We’ve had some lively discussions on these pages in the past, sometimes prompted by Anthony himself, about the voting patterns associated with people of particular religious faiths. I happened upon a piece on the BBC news website yesterday that I thought shed some very interesting light on these voting patterns, both reinforcing past assumptions but also shaking some old myths. It’s a pretty comprehensive piece of work that delves into different religions and also examines inter-denominational comparisons within the Christian faith.

    The report was published by Theos, a Christian think tank, and was entitled “Voting and Values in Britain: Does Religion Count?”. It analysed data from the British Election Survey and the British Social Attitudes survey.

  36. “@PopulusPolls: New Populus VI figures: Lab 40 (=); Cons 33 (+1); LD 11 (=); UKIP 8 (-1); Oth 8 (=) Tables”

    Nothing much changing there, then, although it’s interesting to see Populus regularly having UKIP in single figures, lagging behind the Lib Dems. YouGov tend to be in line vis-a-vis the Labour and Tory VIs, but out of kilter with Populus on the Lib Dems and UKIP.

    Mind you, not as out of kilter as ComRes and Survation who’ve had UKIP om 19% and 18% quite recently!!

  37. @virgilio –

    Thanks for your comments.

    Have been looking again at your post about “common traits” in the EU-wide VI polls. UK is in sync with some of the trends but with a difference. Specifically in the decline in right-of-centre EPP parties and rise in far-right eurosceptics

    In the UK both right-of-centre parties are eurosceptic but in different (and mutable) eurosceptic blocs. It’s likely that there will be a parallel move towards hardline euroscpticism, but no massive increase in overall representation.

    There has been some speculation on these pages about how eurosceptic parties can make real trouble for the functioning of the new parliament if their representation reaches 30% overall… though other commentators are mentioning their likely level of representation reaching around15-20%.

  38. Hal

    You should keep up with the debate.

    The overwhelming views of the academics appearing before the Scottish Parliament – whatever their view on detail of the process – is that there will not be any period where Scotland would be outside the EU. This is because negotiations will start from the decision of the referendum while the NATS propose independence in the Spring of 2016.

    It was , after all, Professor James Crawford, the UK Government’s own chosen academic lawyer who described the 18 month timetable of the Scottish Government as “realistic”.

  39. The monthly household finances index is out from Markit. They are billing this as generally positive, which is a bit odd, given the figures.

    Pretty much everything is below the 50 mark, suggesting continuing decline, although inflation expectations have eased, and earnings are showing very slightly growth (up 0.1 on the month) at 50.8. Job security has improved, but is still below 50, although workplace activity is up and well over 50.

    However, there has been quite a sharp fall in ‘financial wellbeing over the next 12 months’ down from 48.6 to 45.5.

    All in all, signs of some improvement, but still with very patchy performance of actual household finances, which the survey suggests continue to worsen.

  40. @L

    You are being a tad presumptuous. Negotiations can end in disagreement as well as agreement.

    Whatever the timetable, for Scotland to join the EU, negotiations would have to end in agreement, both that of Scotland to whatever terms it was offered, and that of EU states to the terms offered to Scotland. If they are prepared to sign up to anything, the Scots might end up finding that they had won a “Yes” vote only to end up with less independence than when part of the UK.

  41. @Alec

    I read that report. I think they said the slight improvement in family finances was due to a decline in inflation pressures rather than wage increase.

    I was surprised about how low the numbers were despite the write up. having said that I don’t have much time for the system Markit use, so I really shouldn’t comment because I don’t accept their parameters. I think I will stick to the BOE agents reports and the official ONS data.

  42. @L Hamilton

    The European Commission could not possibly negotiate with a state before it exists. Barroso has confirmed this. Why anyone thinks otherwise is a mystery to me; I think they are fooling themselves.

    Indeed no-one in Scotland has a democratic mandate to negotiate Scotland’s foreign affairs as no-one has ever been elected for that function. Until independence the body that remains competent for foreign affairs is the UK government but (obviously) it cannot decide what Scotland would want to do after independence. Even further, the UK could not give guarantees about the future Scottish government’s plans (e.g. regarding the euro), which is what the EC would need. So the idea of negotiations before independence is a total non-starter.

  43. johnkay

    Actually the word that most irritates me from posters is your, rather pompous “the commentariat” which, ironically, you used in your own comment.

    It reminds me of people saying “Bloody tourists” when they are on holiday.

  44. @L Hamilton & @Hal – I’m not a legal expert by any means, but I would be reasonably confident that negotiations on EU membership would start post referendum, but pre independence, if the UK asked for these, which it would, in the event of a yes vote. While there may be legal technicalities that prevent this, legal technicalities have never stopped the EU doing things it wants to do, if there is general political support. So I don’t see the timing of the negotiations as an issue in itself.

    Where @Hal has a point, and where the nationalists seem to completely miss the point, is that, because Scotland would still be part of the UK, the UK government has a total right of veto over any proposals. Nothing would be proposed within the final settlement unless Westminster approved of it. Independence could still be agreed, in theory, but if UK did not support every clause of the proposed EU membership, there would be no prospect of gaining the support of the Commission or all
    member states for Scottish accession. Apart from the UK being able to block this with it’s veto, Spain has already conformed they would not support automatic membership after a contested split, as has the commission itself.

    Nationalists need to realise that when it comes to the EU negotiations, English voters will have a veto, and will want to ensure they are not disadvantaged by any Scottish concessions.

  45. Alec

    I assume by “English” you are not excluding Welsh and Northern Irish, as they will also have a say [assuming they haven’t buggered off also]

    Maybe “British” would be correct – we will still be a united kingdom – just slightly littler.

  46. @R&D

    We may need a new word
    Rukkish doesn’t appeal
    Only scottish has t’s
    so perhaps Brish
    or for estuarians Bri’ish

  47. GM


    Its already a phrase anyway.

    Probably better as “Best-of-UK” rather than “Rest-of-UK”.

    They won’t leave anyway.

  48. The fascinating thing about the various ‘what-if’ discussions concerning the consequences of possible Scottish independence is how much all of them miss the point. As I kept on pointing to beyond the point of tedium when coalitions were being discussed in 2010: “The British Constitution is what happens”. Because there is no written constitution which can only be interpreted by the Courts and changed slowly and with difficulty, there are always ways of getting round problems or indeed causing new ones. But these are a matter of political will and agreement, not something set in stone.

    It’s particularly disingenuous for politicians to pretend the situation is otherwise, because they are the ones who have the power to make the decisions and they can’t get away with pretending that they have no freedom to do things. But even if certain things are not possible under current laws, those laws can be altered – in a situation where such laws probably have to be amended anyway.

    To take one example: the position of Westminster MPs elected for Scottish constituencies once Scotland became independent. Any set of laws put through to effect Scottish independence would surely specify this. You can argue as to what such a law should say, but it’s pointless proclaiming what will happen because the relevant law hasn’t been written yet.

    Incidentally in pointing to what happened with Irish independence, Anthony highlights the ridiculous way in which many of those laying down what ‘will’ or ‘has to’ happen with Scotland tend to ignore that there is already a substantial precedent in part of the UK splitting off and one that happened in more violent and contentious circumstances. For example all those proclaiming that Scotland ‘couldn’t’ use the Pound, ignore the fact that Ireland continued to do so till 1928 and then merely issued identically sized coinage and notes with parity value for the next 51 years. The only thing that broke the link was Ireland entering the Exchange Rate Mechanism (and the Punt becoming the stronger currency) but I can remember notes and coins being used interchangeably with UK ones.

    But it’s not just the British Constitution that is “what happens” – the EU is very similar. There is no written constitution and a long tradition of pragmatic decisions reached by negotiation that are then incorporated as special cases even if they break what few rules there are in the first place. Again anything is possible with sufficient flexibility and again that lies in the hands of politicians. So for them to pretend that they can’t do certain things is simply untrue. If there’s the will there’s the way and if an independent Scotland didn’t become a full member of the EU straight away, that would be because the EU members wanted it that way not because it wasn’t possible.

    In practice, both within the EU and the UK, the pressure will be to compromise and produce workable solutions. There would no doubt be much striking of attitudes on both sides, but if something workable could be produced in a short time out of the wars in Ireland, then it should be possible from the amateur dramatics of the Scottish independence debate.

  49. Actually I have a great deal of sympathy for the independence movement – especially if they lose by a small margin as that would be hard to take.

    On balance, as someone qualified [apart from ability] to play footy for Scotland I do think we are better as one nation.

    Its curious to wonder how tiny kingdoms would work:

    eg “London and the Sahf-East” sounds prosperous etc but if all it offers is services it might not be so clever.

  50. The tables for the ICM polls for the Scotsman are nw available:

    Its worth pointing out that the under-25 figures were based on a sample of 74 – 23% of whom were Don’t Knows. There are no figures for either Holyrood or Westminster VIs, though there weren’t in their September polls either.

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