Since the Scottish referendum we’ve had Scottish polls from MORI, Panelbase, YouGov and Survation and they’ve been consistent in showing large leads for the SNP over Labour in Westminster voting intentions. ICM now have a new Scottish poll out and it shows the same as other companies – topline Westminster voting intentions are CON 13%, LAB 26%, LDEM 6%, SNP 43%, UKIP 7%, GRN 4%.

The 17 point SNP lead is smaller than the 24 point lead that Survation recorded at the start of the week (and without tables yet we can’t really speculate why) but would still produce a landslide win for the SNP if repeated in the general election next year. In the Guardian write up they mention some analysis by John Curtice suggesting that Labour may do even worse than uniform swing suggests – looking at responses from areas where Labour was over 25% ahead of the SNP in 2010 shows the Labour vote dropping more there than average. I’d be wary of reading too much into sub-samples of voting intention in a poll that’s only 1000 people to begin with, but nevertheless this seems perfectly plausible for the reasons I mentioned here – when there is a huge drop in support for a political party a uniform swing does start to become untenable due to a floor effect… there are simply too many seats where a party doesn’t have enough support to begin with to lose that much, so they have to lose more votes in places they had more votes.

UPDATE: Full tabs are here, and reallocation of don’t knows did happen and did help Labour – it would have been a nineteen point lead otherwise.

453 Responses to “ICM Scottish poll gives SNP 17 point lead”

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  1. P Cairns
    I don’t think you understand the history of the STUC. The reason it exists is the refusal of the TUC to allow Trades Council affiliation and with it an independent voice from the union leaderships. The Stuc has always been adamant that it has no relationship to any political party.
    I was secretary of Aberdeen Trades Council which had always played a very strong role on the STUC and provided perhaps its most influential leader in Jimmy Milne who pioneered its outspoken non-parliamentary civic role. The appointment of J Milne many decades ago was opposed heartily by the UK trade union leaders. Unfortunately, due in part to the decline of Trades Councils, the STUC does not have the presence or influence it once had. In recent years it has often been the mouthpiece of those unions most hostile to Labour who would of course be most upset at the idea that the organisation they funded was using that money to fund the Labour Party.
    J Murphy needs to get an aweful lot of money but he will not be getting any of it from the STUC

  2. @R&D

    I couldn’t understand why Norbold wasn’t automodded for ref. to paper whose name must remain unsaid … but I see that it has now disappeared.

    For clarity, the link was to a piece entitled ‘Labour not responsible for crash, says former Bank of England governor’. As you suggest – a statement of the b….ing obvious :)

  3. r&d

    I agree. I think the problem stemmed from the fact that when the narrative started immediately after the last GE, the Labour Party were embroiled in the leadership election and didn’t have time for snappy retorts. By the time our Ed was fully ensconced as leader the narrative had taken hold and had become a “self-truth”.

    Though it is certainly true that more should have been done since to nail the claim that it was all Gordon’s fault.

    At least it’s something different to Scotland…..

  4. The Guardian

    Just testing…..

  5. R and D
    About 8% of Scotland’s population was born in England, around 409k. A much bigger number of Scots live in England but obviously a much smaller proportion.
    The figure is not only important in global terms but the proportion born elsewhere in the UK is a very strong indicator of economic vibrancy with very high figures in Aberdeen and Edinburgh for example but notably low figures in the poorest parts of Scotland. Concern has been raised within my local health board that it may get harder to attract English health professionals to the area.
    Some others I think said that Scots only saw themselves as Scots. Again this varies in the same way. Only a minority of those living in Edinburgh describe themselves as Scots only on the cencus form and it is just over half in Aberdeen.

  6. I feel tempted to suggest that any UK government these days has little or no capacity for causing or avoiding a global banking crisis such as in 2007.

  7. Norbold
    Interesting parallel with Scotland! in that leadership campaign may have prevented retorts of any kind in the aftermath of the referendum victory.


    I tried Wikipedia and got roughly 84% of English were born in England and the same for Scotland. About 1% of England’s population were born in Scotland and about 7% of Scotlands in England.

    It got a bit more difficult as although the Scottish entry puts English ethnicity at over 8% of Scotlands population it doesn’t give a figure for Scots in England.

    As a rule of thumb with close links and an open border and England’s population nine times Scotlands I think that ratio is probably about right.

    Scots make up about 1% of England’s population and English about 9% of Scotlands!


    I don’t give a monkey for the history of the STUC… It represents Scotlands Trade Unions and they want Holyrood to have more powers than the Labour Party does.

    My point is that Labour will need to explain that, while your point is to try and talk about something else!

    Good luck with that.


  9. Tony Cornwall

    “two sites, one for Scotland and one for the remainder of the UK.”

    Given that Northern Ireland is virtually never mentioned, and Wales rarely, surely they deserve their own sites too?

    My personal preference, however, would be one site for Cornwall, and this one for everybody else.

  10. Thanks for population info. folks.

  11. “My personal preference, however, would be one site for Cornwall,”

    They’ve already got their own site and, coincidentally, it’s exactly the same shape and area as Cornwall itself.

  12. Funny that ole Colin’s not around: he likes a good Scottish thread.

  13. @R&D

    If you compare the Country of Birth and self reported identity tables in the 2011 Scottish Census you can see some interesting numbers.

    As others have said around 8.5% of Scottish residents were born in England but only around 2.5% report only having an English identity.

    The full numbers are:
    Scottish only 62.5%
    British only 8.5%
    Scottish & British only 18.5%
    English only 2.5%
    Scottish & other 2%
    Other UK identities 2%
    Other non UK identity only 4.5%
    mixed non UK and UK (exc Scotland) identities 0.5%

    so you have around 83% identifying with some sort of Scottish identity versus around 35% who identify with at least one other UK identity in addition to Scottishness.

    I went for Scottish, English and British which puts me in the Scottish & other category.

  14. Northumbrianscot

    I selected Scottish and British – the latter because it was the nearest I could find to a common identity with all inhabitants of these islands – regardless of which state they were citizens of.

    While the English born in Scotland are being discussed, I had a look at the SNP/Panelbase poll on trust in party leaders to look after Scotland’s interests. As one would expect, there is a positive correlation between trust in the pro-indy party leaders and voting Yes in September. To a lesser extent, those born in England are more positive to the Scottish leaders of GB parties.

    However, poor Willie Rennie gets treated, by everybody, like Cameron, Clegg and Miliband as being beyond the pale.

    Q “Do you trust [NAME] to stand up for Scotland’s interests?” (Net approval ratings)

    Leader : Yes : Sco
    Sturgeon : 72% : 34%
    Swinney : 44% : 14%
    Harvie : 21% : -7%

    Murphy : -43% : -3%
    Davidson : -62% : -31%
    Rennie : -53% : -37%

    Cameron : -83% : -55%
    Clegg : -80% : -67%
    Miliband : -63% : -49%

    Leader : No : Eng
    Sturgeon : 1% : 24%
    Swinney : -11% : 12%
    Harvie : -27% : -12%

    Murphy : 38% : 35%
    Davidson : 4% : 5%
    Rennie : -13% : -14%

    Cameron : -27% : -37%
    Clegg : -53% : -62%
    Miliband : -30% : -44%

  15. Barney Crockett

    About 8% of Scotland’s population was born in England, around 409k. A much bigger number of Scots live in England but obviously a much smaller proportion

    According to the Scottish 2011 Census 8.7% were born in England plus 0.3% in Wales[1] – about 477k in total.

    In the equivalent E&W Census there were about 733K born in Scotland – 1.5% of the population. The disparity in absolute figures isn’t as great as you might expect on the Dr Johnson principle.

    (figures from official Census websites)

    [1] By comparison Northern Ireland is 0.7%, despite the much lower population, showing the importance of traditional links and proximity.

  16. Tony Cornwall

    I have returned to UKPR after a pleasant Christmas break and find that discussion is still centred on Scotland.

    Well given that in the run up to Christmas there were three separate Scotland-only Westminster polls taken: Survation (f/w 15-18 Dec), ICM (f/w 16-18 Dec) and Panelbase (details not yet up), then it does seem fairly appropriate to discuss the subject. Especially as that’s one more such poll in a week than we got in all of 2013 put together.

    Anyway websites exist for all tastes: :)

  17. Peter Cairns (SNP) – “I am pretty sure the SNP position on a new referendum will be to put it in the manifesto when they are sure that a majority of Scots want it and will vote Yes.”

    Well I’ve just googled all their past manifestos, and they had a referendum in all of them.

    So it would be a major departure if they omitted a referendum in their 2015 manifesto!

    If it is in the manifesto and they win the majority of seats at Westminster, I expect there will be another referendum.

    And if there is major moaning about “cuts imposed by Westminster”, I expect the referendum will be forced on them in autumn 2015, while the oil price is low with the excuse that Westminster is “bowing to the will of the Scottish people and giving them what they want”. i.e a device to force them to vote to accept relatively mild cuts within the UK as opposed to armageddon outside it.

    That’s why the oil price is so important, and what is happening in Norway is so important.

    It looks like the Norwegians have decided to deal with their crisis by increasing the drawdown from their sovereign fund to 5.7% from 5.2% (so a mild increase) and they are going to make up the rest by cutting the welfare state.

  18. Candy,

    “Well I’ve just googled all their past manifestos, and they had a referendum in all of them. So it would be a major departure if they omitted a referendum in their 2015 manifesto!”

    It would, if it wasn’t for the fact that we had fulfilled that manifesto commitment this year!

    To be honest I don’t expect the Labour Manifesto will include a commitment to introduce the minimum wage either!


  19. ^^ Peter Cairns – yes of course.

    If there is no referendum in the SNP manifesto, then there won’t be one in the next parliament, regardless of how well they do in the 2015 elections.

    But if it is in their manifesto, then another one will take place, depending on how well they do.

    So the ball is entirely in their court.

  20. O/T It looks like Britain is about to pay off the debts incurred in the great financial bail-out of 1722 (South Sea Bubble). Plus some of the debts incurred compensating slave owners for the abolition of slavery


    The South Sea debt was £4 million, which must have been a lot of money back in the day. And we’ve only paid 300 years worth of interest on it.

    But like the Lannisters, Britain always pays it’s debts – eventually!

    I guess one “good” outcome from spreading the payment of debts across the generations is that we can take credit for past events. Abolition of slavery, modern Brits have paid for that, winning WW2, we’ve paid for that too. They couldn’t have done it without knowing we’d be along to pick up the bill :-)

  21. Candy,

    “They couldn’t have done it without knowing we’d be along to pick up the bill”

    Well if we’re honest, knowing that we’d have to pay whether we liked it or not probably made it the easy option.

    If we defaulted on previous debt because we didn’t like what it was borrowed for no one would lend to us now!


  22. Peter Cairns – “If we defaulted on previous debt because we didn’t like what it was borrowed for no one would lend to us now!”

    Well some countries HAVE defaulted because they didn’t like what it was borrowed for. eg Germany. I personally think they should just cough up and pay what was owed (to Britain amongst others) because otherwise it’s a sort of easy get-out-of-jail card – just declare the previous govt was nothing to do with you (despite being elected) and escape from the bill.

    The other nice thing about Britain always paying it’s debts is that immigrants who settle and start paying tax are also paying for all those past events along with everyone else. It’s no longer abstract bits of history – they own it by paying for it and become part of the fabric of the nation in doing so.

    It’s nation-building 101 – we’re actually all bound together because we share the common endeavour of Paying the Debt!

  23. Surely any future referenda will still need the agreement of the UK government. It’s not something that is in the gift of the SNP, however well they do in elections

  24. P Cairns
    You can be as abusive as you like about me oror as dismissive as you like about the history of the Labour and Trade Union Movement. I only pointed out you were inaccurate in saying that the STUC funded, never mind were the main funder, of the Labour Party in Scotland. The Labour Party certainly does need a good and improving relationship with its affiliates who do indeed provide most of the Labour Party’s income.
    However there is no particular need for them to relate to non-affiliated unions though good relations are always a positive. I can assure you that the leaderships of for example Unite, Unison or the GMB much prefer to speak for themselves to the Labour Party rather than through intermediaries. Mr Moxham and his colleagues at the STUC are never less than fully aware of that.

  25. @Candy
    ‘So it would be a major departure if they omitted a referendum in their 2015 manifesto!’

    But the context is entirely different now – simply because we have just had a referendum!
    Is it seriously to be suggested that the SNP can credibly turn around and say ‘we did not like the result of the last Referendum – so can we have another one please?’

  26. @Graham

    The Irish did it over the EU.

  27. @R & D

    A future Government would grant another referendum if it was in it’s benefit or would be on the wrong side of the argument denying it.

    That’s the hard face of practical politics.

  28. Catmanjeff

    Thanks for the link. I do like Paul Mason’s work.

  29. @R&D

    The Constitution is currently under the Scotland Act and will remain under Smith a reserved matter so in theory a binding referendum is wholly in the hands of a Westminster. (Although theoretically no referendum binds Parliament).

    There remains Constitutional uncertainty over the ability of Holyrood to hold a “Consultative” referendum. In practice the SNP preferred to have the additional powers Section 21ed to them to ensure there was no legal challenge. I believe they never formally conceded that Holyrood couldn’t have gone it alone. Better legal scholars than I (Lallands Peat Worrier for one) are of the opinion that in effect this point has now been conceded and Holyrood would need to request extra powers again in future.

    On the other side though Unionist parties conceded that if the Scottish Electorate voted for a majority of MSPs who had a manifesto commitment to a referendum then this had to be delivered. I suspect this would be of similar moral significance again in future.

    Having said all that I’d expect devolution of the right to hold future constitutional referenda to Holyrood to be one of the key demands of the SNP in supporting any minority government in 2015.

    I’d also expect the SNP not to include Constitutional Referenda requests in their Westminster manifestos in future to reinforce their moral argument that it should be Holyrood calling future referenda.

  30. @NorthumbrianScot

    You keep wasting our time reiterating your original points, ignoring what I said in my posts about the problems with what you claimed. So just briefly: it might be convenient for the pro-yes argument to dismiss the oil price crash as “theoretical”, but it isn’t, it actually happened. And the reason we look at impacts on Norway etc. is to ensure we look at practical outcomes, not just theoretical. The impact on interest rates, exchange rates and investment is real, not theoretical.

    As I said, the idea it is all in the past might also be convenient for yessers but doesn’t work either – oil price crash is not in the past, and it affects the ongoing debate e.g. about pushing early for another referendum or not. No doubt focusing on any gloating regarding the oil price might also suit yessers; to be genuinely non-partisan though you would need to take issue with the nonsense “doomsaying” provocations that caused this response, but instead you are unaccountably continuing to espouse the doomsaying thing yourself, even after proof it wasn’t doomsaying.

    So, to move things on… either you don’t appreciate the salience of the oil issue, or you do and therefore wish to hush it up. Especially because numerous pro-yes arguments on many things have been accompanied by partisan provocations but you have no wish to similarly hush those up. But being charitable as it is the festive period, one shall assume the former and I’m sure there are a goodly number on here who will do their utmost to help and post additional info. to help you as to the practical impact of the oil thing as and when it occurs!!

  31. @NorthumbrianScot

    Some less-theoretical, more practical impacts to chew over!!* An article about the impact of the oil price on profitability of existing oil assets and investment in future assets, contrasting UK and Norway’s position.

    Sam might wanna read this too: apparently future Norwegian assets are going to cost a lot more to develop, as they are found near the Artic Circle…

    * (Note absence of gloating, of hyped, emotive provocations (e.g. doom-saying), or of unhelpful accusations of partisanship etc.)

  32. Hi Carfrew.

    As I pointed out I neither voted Yes nor campaigned for Yes.

    I was merely raising issues of tone in yours and others posts.

    Substantively I agree that Oil Price shocks are easier to cope with as part of a larger economic unit.

    Enjoy the festive period and continue to post constructively and pleasantly in future.

  33. @NorthumbrianScot

    Yet another straw man: I never said you voted yes. It’s just that your arguments were rather one-sided. Anyways, let’s not dwell on that… some more constructive stuff!!

    Another reason we can’t escape the oil thing is that it looks as though the media are not gonna be going along with your wishes. Five hours ago the Telegraph had this headline:

    “SNP’s independence oil forecasts ‘wrong by £155 million a day'”

    “Alistair Carmichael, the Scottish Secretary, said the collapse in the oil price would have meant £15.5 billion being wiped off Alex Salmond’s claim that the North Sea would generate £20.2 billion for a separate Scotland’s coffers in its first three years.

    The “independence funding gap” is now the equivalent of £155 million for each of the hundred days that have passed since the September 18 referendum, he said.

    Mr Carmichael demanded Nicola Sturgeon and John Swinney, her deputy and finance minister, explain how they “got it so badly wrong” during the referendum and take steps to ensure future projections are more trustworthy.

    His intervention came as Company Watch, a financial risk management group, published research estimating that 70 per cent of the UK’s publicly listed oil exploration and production companies are now unprofitable and have racked up losses of £1.8 billion.”

    Graun has summat similar. Question is as to impact on VI, but it’s still early days…

  34. YG publish 5 trends in 2014

    (I think Barney may have written the headline to Trend 2 :-) )

  35. Carfrew
    Very interesting article
    Earlier comment may have suggested I was happy re-fighting the referendum. Nothing could be further from the truth. I anticipated that a No would propel Scotland to deeper consideration of its practical future. Sadly that hasn’t so far happened. Instead we are looking at Smith, is it enough, do we need another referendum?? etc etc.
    As a councillor I am looking all the time to advance my city in harness with the wider world.
    Norway is one critical part of that. The much higher costs (labour, tax etc) have always been there and are exacerbated by the Arctic situation. Aberdeen (and therefore Scotland( has a great potential to work with communities in North Norway to try and control costs. Scotland must move away from seeing oil as a source of tax revenue and government power towards focusing on the industry in its wider, world role. Certainly we can’t look to create a facsimile of Norway.

  36. How refreshing that dear old Merve King has announced that Labour was not in fact responsible for the recession four years ago.What a pity he he did not
    say so at the time.But what was that old nonsense about a sinner that repent eth,blah ,blah.

  37. “Funny that ole Colin’s not around: he likes a good Scottish thread.”

    Colin in a kilt? How very daring.

    @Carfrew – I’m also interested in how press reporting of the implications of oil prices could change political dynamics, but I’m not holding my breath.

    One element of this whole sorry affair was the ability of the Yes campaign to successfully persuade thousands of Scots that nothing in the MSM could be trusted. It’s this inability to critically explore different information sources that probably means many people won’t draw the connection between the crash and the integrity of the Yes campaign.

  38. Carfrew,

    In terms of both tax revenue and Debt would the current oil price drop have a larger impact on Scotland if it had voted Yes than the Financial crash and the nationalisation of the Banks had on the UK?


  39. What does the collapse in the oil price do to our ecomomy (ieGB) and is it positive (boost ’cause everything is cheaper: akin to a tax cut as some have suggested), or negative because of a drop in revenue from corporation and petrol taxes?? Will we be feeling individually ‘better off’ just in time for the election, while public finances are worse.

  40. The trust rating for politicians are interesting

    Nicola Sturgeon positive rating of +32% is high, but maybe Alex Salmond’s ratings were similar.

    Ed Miliband is on -45%. That seems really low for a Labour leader. I am not sure the ‘Vote Labour so Ed can be PM’ is going to work for LiS. They will have to rely on the negative ‘Vote SNP and get the Tories’.

    With Jim Murphy on a respectable +2 (similar to Lamont’s ratings if I remember correctly), there is a real difference between trust in Scottish politicians compared to trust in Westminster politicians.

    Nicola Sturgeon +32%
    John Swinney +15%
    Patrick Harvie -6%

    Jim Murphy +2% Ed Miliband -45%
    Ruth Davidson -25% Cameron -52%
    Willie Rennie -31% Clegg -64%

    Murphy is trusted at the same level by Tory, LibDem & Labour 2011 voters at around 60%

    Nicola scores lowest amongs Conservative 2011 voters but 50% of Labour 2011 voters trust her. As 2011 was a low point for Labour that is quite impressive.

    Murphy is -45% with 2011 SNP voters (with 19% trusting him)
    Sturgeon is +14 with 2011 Labour voters (with 50% trusting her)

    So it looks like SNP can make further gains from Labour 2011 voters. Whereas it is a hard task for Murphy to eat into the SNP 2011 support. Murphy can make inroads with Tory and LibDem voters +37 for both groups. But they are small groups.

    Murphy scores -43% with Yes Voters
    Sturgeon +1% with No Voters

    Murphy scores +38% with No Voters
    Sturgeon scores + 72% with Yes Voters

    So again the Yes vote is coalescing around the SNP and is anti-Labour. Whereas the No vote is dissipated.

    The question is:

    ‘Who do you trust to stand up for Scotland..’ so perhaps a bit biased towards Scottish politicians and the SNP,

    However the findings back up the a recent Scottish poll (YouGov I think) which had the question:
    ‘who do you trust to make the right decisions for you and your family’ 55% choosing Holyrood against 17% choosing Westminster.

    So in summary looking at just this poll; if I was a Labour strategist I would be going with “Vote SNP get the Tories” and targetting Tory and LibDem voters, so a move to the Blairite right.

    If I was an SNP strategist I would be going with “Only the SNP stands up for Scotland” and targetting more of the Labour vote but being careful not to move too far left or to be seen as too extreme so subtle targeting.

  41. Pertinent to a Scottish thread is the revelation, (in the newly released Thatcher cabinet papers) that a major architect of Cameron government policies was responsible for suggesting ‘..that Scotland be used as a testing ground for the introduction of the poll tax, the flagship policy that was to eventually to topple her as prime minister.’

    Oliver Letwin told Thatcher in a memo written in November 1985:

    “If you are not willing to move to a pure residence charge in England and Wales immediately, you should not introduce a mixture of taxes but should rather use the Scots as a trail-blazer for the real thing,”…. Letwin, whose parents knew Thatcher, had got his job on the recommendation of the cabinet minister Sir Keith Joseph.

  42. I think Carfrew and others are missing Northumbrian Scot’s points about the oil price. People are well aware that it goes up and down (though by the time it gets to the pump it’s more unidirectional). They also see it as being a valuable and limited commodity that they perceive as having gone up over the years. So any fall in the price will be seen as temporary and not a matter for long-term worry – especially if the whole process originates in some sort of abstruse politics being played by the Saudis.

    So the price may be a short-term cause of concern (and of course especially for those who work in the industry), but most people will not see oil losing its value permanently. The instant, universal appearance of Thorium reactors and near-free energy might cause more problems, but clearly that does not trouble many thoughts. And in any case Scotland is still part of the UK, so the immediate losses will affect all of the country (and would have done for 18 months after a Yes vote)[1].

    So the perception of most people will be that the oil price makes very little difference to the long-term case for independence or not. It’s a bit like the arguments over the currency during the referendum. Even many No voters thought that something would be worked out so it didn’t matter, Yes and undecided voters were even more unaffected.

    But maybe even more important in polling terms is the matter of tone. Like it or not, endless pointing to the oil price comes across as gloating at collective misfortune because it ‘proves’ you were right[2]. It’s not a good look and schadenfreude at the expense of electorate is hardly likely to endear politicians to them. Even pointing out that the UK/Scotland is not protected from such fluctuations in the way Norway is, is going to raise the question “And whose fault is that?”.

    At best this behaviour comes across as arrogant: “We know best – now shut up and vote for us”. And having spent the last few months telling Yes voters “You lost – get over it”, they now seem unable to get over winning. I suspect that the reason is that Labour have been severely shaken by these polls, having expected the No vote to magically reset everything back to 1997 or whenever. So they think if they do the same thing but louder, it will work.

    [1] I also assume that if different geo-political factors had caused the price to soar to $250 a barrel, those now saying how right they were, would be calling for another referendum and admitting that the SNP were correct all along.

    [2] Obviously if anyone actually did predict the recent movements in the market, we’ll all be interested to see the fortune they made on the futures market.

  43. Incidentally, among all the discussion on whether and when there should be another referendum, it’s worth remembering that there has been quite a lot of polling on the subject. Naturally there are those who say “Tomorrow” and those who say “Never”, but allowing for differences in wording, ten years plus seems about the median

    This suggests that the SNP is unlikely to push too hard for one, except in extreme constitutional circumstances where they can convincingly claim they we forced into it. Anything else is likely to cause a backlash and they couldn’t afford to lose a second time so near.



    In terms of both tax revenue and Debt would the current oil price drop have a larger impact on Scotland if it had voted Yes than the Financial crash and the nationalisation of the Banks had on the UK?


    December 29th, 2014 at 11:14 pm


    As you can probably imagine, that’s a rather difficult question to answer, given the Oil crash has not been going on that long, and we don’t know how long it will last or how much further prices may fall.

    That said, one needs to take the following into account:

    – The UK being a much bigger economy with the resilience that this provides was able to weather the banking storm quite well given the initial hit..
    – Thus the economy recovered quite quickly under the stimulus package and QE measures, getting back to more than 2% growth inside two years. It was the subsequent flatlining of the Austerity era that magnified the hit
    – The UK, controlling its own currency, was able to mitigate the banking crisis via a collection of measures: dropping interest rates, devaluing the currency, and hundreds of billions of QE of course – measures that would not likely be readily available to a nation without its own currency (and hence outside of the UK more difficult for Scotland alone to have protected its own banking)
    – since interest rates, currency values and need for stimulus are also issues when oil prices collapse, the lack of currency control would also impact Scotland rather more than, say, Norway
    – The UK, being one of the world’s largest economies, and a nuclear power, has a seat at the top table of various important institutions and the clout to influence things. Thus as the banking crisis unfolded, Brown was able to influence other nations to follow his lead re: stimulus etc., in a way that Scotland alone probably couldn’t. Similarly Osborne could fight the EU for exemptions from transaction taxes etc., and could probably have a better chance of fighting if necessary over oil issues
    – As a newly-Independent country, an unknown quantity, Scotland would have a need to impress the markets and hence newly-independent countries like to run a surplus for a bit to gain credibility. Under a situation of collapsed oil prices, Scotland would need to borrow from the start without a track record and thus may find borrowing hard to come by, or at injurious rates
    – which may be exacerbated by the talk during the Indy campaign of reneging on debt!!
    – and further exacerbated as markets take note of the weakness regarding currency, with the associated difficulties regarding ability to mitigate impact via interest rates, currency devaluation, QE etc., the dependency on oil, lack of a sovereign wealth fund enjoyed by Norway etc.
    – This is before considering the likely reduction in taxes necessary to assist the oil industry through the crisis, impacting revenues down the line, as Alec points out
    – and the fall off in investment, and any capital flight
    – with few instruments to cope, as the deficit balloons, taxes may have to rise and wages be cut, leading to folk fleeing to seek work over the border…

    Take a look at what’s happening to Norway and Russia, for some examples. And Scotland does not have the size of Russia, or the advantages of an oil fund or currency control enjoyed by Norway.

    In the end, what all this demonstrates is that you would not really be that Independent. Opec could bring your economy to its knees on a whim. It’s up to them how long they choose to keep oil prices low. Maybe you’ll get lucky, but you’d be depending on luck: remember that they messed with oil prices through nearly a decade in the Seventies/early eighties, and it had quite profound effects…

    Oldnat is fond of saying that once Independent, you would be free to negotiate as equals. Which sounds nice, but in reality it is not enough to be independent to negotiate as equals, you also need clout. Opec are currently demonstrating what that really means…

  45. @ Roger Mexico

    Thank you

  46. @Roger Mexico

    No, we didn’t miss his point, I dealt with each in turn. Like him, you are choosing to completely bypass my counters and just reiterate his “points”.

    To complain of gloating without acknowledging the provocations about doomsaying – which also turned out to be wrong – and indeed many other pro-yes provocations is just hopeless. Especially when some are still promoting the doomsaying thing despite the reality.

    (You have done this before, when claiming the UK were threatening Scotland. I pointed out it was as much a reaction to Scotland threatening to run off with the oil and renege on the debt if not able to force their way on the currency thing AS WELL, but you ignored that and carried on with the “stab-your-face” metaphor). Actually you’re a fan of reneging – you advocated the Icelandic option in the past – well try borrowing to cover a deficit because your oil revenues are collapsing under that scenario.

    Also, the contention that the oil price thing must be temporary. You don’t know this. It may be, it may not. wasn’t in the Seventies now was it?

    In addition, as I have explained, even short term price cuts can have big effects on a small nation, dependent on oil, without an oil fund, without its own currency, without a track record, having already threatened to renege, needing to cut taxes to keep the oil industry alive…

    Even Norway, with a track record, their own currency, and a big oil fund, are having issues already…


    I”ncidentally, among all the discussion on whether and when there should be another referendum, it’s worth remembering that there has been quite a lot of polling on the subject. Naturally there are those who say “Tomorrow” and those who say “Never”, but allowing for differences in wording, ten years plus seems about the median

    This suggests that the SNP is unlikely to push too hard for one, except in extreme constitutional circumstances where they can convincingly claim they we forced into it. Anything else is likely to cause a backlash and they couldn’t afford to lose a second time so near.”

    December 30th, 2014 at 1:53 am


    Yes, that’s convenient, but polls are not the same as votes now, are they.

    The whole point of the discussion on the matter is that a big SNP win could reasonably be interpreted, given their stance on Independence, as a mandate for a another referendum. Though given the oil price, they’d be unlikely to push for it right now…

  48. @Barney

    Yes, Scotland may well benefit from collaboration. Whilst part of the UK, the UK as a whole could fund and pioneer the technology for North Sea oil. Challenging for the Norwegians to do the Arctic thing alone…

  49. @Roger

    “[1] I also assume that if different geo-political factors had caused the price to soar to $250 a barrel, those now saying how right they were, would be calling for another referendum and admitting that the SNP were correct all along.

    [2] Obviously if anyone actually did predict the recent movements in the market, we’ll all be interested to see the fortune they made on the futures market.”


    This is just appalling reasoning. Everyone knows Scotland would be better off if oil prices do well. I myself have pointed out they’d do rather handsomely with oil prices as they were before the crash.

    The point is that the Union becomes more attractive if things go bad. E.g. if their banks need bailing out, or the oil price collapses…

    And one does not need to predict an outcome, to know things may go wrong. No one knew what would happen with oil prices. But they knew they COULD go bad, and they were right.

    The Yes campaign were the ones who got it wrong, sold a pup. But you have no issues with them, only with those who actually got it right. Hilarious…

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