- What are the recent polls demonstrate for Scottish independence?
- What is the New PM means for SNP and Scotland?
- Brexit effect on the Scotland and Sturgeon plan
Two-thirds of Scots trust the Holyrood government to work in the country’s best interests, while just 22% say the same about Westminster. Scottish independence has become a priority for the Scots.
That’s according to the latest Scottish Social Attitudes (SSA) Survey, which polled 1043 people across Scotland between October and March this year. The ongoing survey project found considerable disparities in views towards the Scottish and UK governments, with far more Scots feeling favourable towards Holyrood and its policies.
Some 48% of Scots are more likely to trust the Scottish Government to make fair decisions, while just 15% feel this way about its counterpart in London.
The majority (58%) feel the Scottish Government is good at listening to the public before making decisions, while only 18% think this about the UK Government. Meanwhile, a whopping 75% of people said Holyrood should have the most influence over how Scotland is run, compared to just 14% who want Westminster to have more say.
The study also revealed people’s attitudes towards taxation. While Scottish Tories were calling for the now-scrapped mini-Budget to be replicated north of the Border, providing significant tax cuts, a massive 64% of Scots would like to see the level of tax and spending on key public services increased.
People were asked about the economic situation in Scotland too. With a cost-of-living crisis and rocketing inflation, most people believed the economy was weaker than it was 12 months ago. Around a third felt this was mainly the result of Westminster actions, 25% blamed Holyrood, and 33% cited “some other reason”.
Other necessary data also elaborated as below:
- 68% agreed that income should be redistributed from the better-off to those who are less well-off, while 16% disagreed
- Over half of the people (54%) in Scotland were satisfied with how NHS Scotland is run.
- 98% of people thought it was important to vote in Scottish Parliament elections, 95% in local council elections and 92% in UK Government elections
- 64% of people thought the Scottish Parliament was giving Scotland a stronger voice in the UK, and only 7% thought it was giving Scotland a weaker voice
Trust in the Scottish Government has increased by 5% since 2019 after Ms Sturgeon’s administration was responsible for the country’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Nine in ten of those who held a positive view of how Scotland handled the pandemic trusted the Scottish Government to work in Scotland’s best interests “just about always/most of the time”, compared with 35% of those who viewed Scotland’s pandemic performance negatively.
The research found that 59% of Scots now believe the Scottish Government have more influence over how Scotland is run, compared to just 40% in 2019. Three-quarters (75%) of people in Scotland believe the Scottish Government ought to have the most influence over the way Scotland is run, compared with 14% who thought the UK Government should.
The data publication comes weeks after the British Social Attitudes Survey found support for Scottish independence at an all-time high.
It is the first time the annual report has found majority support for independence at 52%, with the fieldwork carried out in 2021. The same data showed support for Northern Ireland remaining in the UK had also slipped to just 49%. Polling expert John Curtice said the UK Government now faces a “particularly formidable challenge” in bringing the Union together.
Rishi Sunak has signalled that Scotland is on his mind, with a phone call to Nicola Sturgeon on his first day in office.
While he may be seeking a closer relationship with the first minister than his predecessor Liz Truss – who never got as far as picking up the phone – there are still significant political differences between their governments.
During the summer Tory leadership contest she won, Ms Truss described Ms Sturgeon as “an attention-seeker” who should be “ignored”. And once installed, she proceeded to do precisely that. They only spoke during informal exchanges at events following the Queen’s death.
Ms Sturgeon noted that she had discussed “mutual respect, including for mandates” with the prime minister during their introductory phone call. She believes she has a mandate for a referendum; Mr Sunak believes he has the order to run the UK government for another two years without a general election. Respect there may be, but agreement on either point is unlikely to be forthcoming.
There are serious challenges, Mr Sunak’s talk of leading “the most active UK-wide government in decades” also suggests he is keen to expand the boots. He cashes the ground approach to emphasise to Scots that they have two governments working on their behalf.
For all that this is controversial with Scottish ministers, who suspect Holyrood is being cut out of the loop in a “Westminster power grab”, it is hard for even SNP-run councils to refuse extra funds. The return of Jeremy Hunt as Chancellor suggests the wave of budget cuts and potential tax rises he was warning of will come to fruition, although we will now need to wait until mid-November for the detail. This means it also remains to be seen how it will affect Holyrood’s finances.
Scots businesses have raised concerns about continuing challenges in trading since the UK left the EU at the start of 2020 and has called on the UK government to make dealing with Europe easier. The slump has been supported by a £3bn drop in Scotland’s most exported goods, mineral fuel, mainly oil and gas – with sales dropping from £9.139bn to £6.246bn.
The First Minister intends to hold a second independence referendum on October 19, 2023. Still, the Supreme Court needs to give the go-ahead that the Scottish Government can have such a vote unilaterally.
The incoming PM’s plan to strengthen the Union will focus on publicly holding the SNP to account for its “failed record” after presiding over the poor accident and emergency waiting times and the country having one of the highest drug death rates in Europe.
The former Chancellor will move into No ten under economic pressure, with calls for a general election from opposition parties mounting. Ms Sturgeon said the political turmoil at Westminster provided a solid case for independence and feared economic pressure would impose “horrific” austerity on Scotland due to UK Government policy.
However, the First Minister said she would do her best to foster a “constructive working relationship with him in the interests of those we serve” after having not officially met with Liz Truss during her fleeting premiership. She added: “I don’t think there can be very many people who look at what is happening at Westminster and the implications of that for every family and business across the country right now who doesn’t think we can do better than this.