25 May 2012

Scotland’s ‘yes to independence’ campaign begins

A major drive to persuade Scots to vote to leave the United Kingdom is under way, but how many people really want to go it alone?

Underwear bearing the flags of Scotland and the UK (Getty)

As the “yes to independence” campaign began on Friday a poll of 1,004 people found only a third of Scots want independence.

That did not dampen the spirits of “Yes Scotland” campaigners in Edinburgh, who vowed to stage the “biggest community-based camapign in Scotland’s history” in the the run-up to the independence referendum.

First Minister and Scottish National Party leader Alex Salmond said: “We unite behind a declaration of self-evident truth. The people who live in Scotland are best placed to kake the decisions that affect Scotland.”

Mr Salmond was joined at the launch by the actor Alan Cumming. A message of support from Sir Sean Connery was read out.


Some 33 per cent of Scots would opt for independence, while 57 per cent would reject it, the YouGov poll found. The poll was paid for by the soon-to-be-launched anti-independence campaign and results show lower support for independence than other recent surveys.

According to the polling results, only 58 per cent of people who voted for the SNP in May’s landslide victory for Alex Salmond’s party would back independence in a snap referendum. Some 28 per cent of SNP voters opposed it.

Alistair Darling claims the results mean Mr Salmond’s campaign for Scottish independence has stalled. The poll findings were released by the former Labour chancellor hours before Mr Salmond’s launch of his party’s “yes” campaign for the 2014 referendum.

Read more: What if Scotland chooses independence?

305-year-old union

“The nationalists will go to great lengths to try to prove there is a groundswell towards leaving the UK but the truth is that their campaign is stalled,” Mr Darling said. “Alex Salmond has failed to convince Scots that they should leave the United Kingdom.”

Although Mr Salmond had been in power for five years, Mr Darling claimed the poll confirmed that only a minority of voters want to leave the UK. The union between between England and Scotland is 305 years old.

Head-on challenge

Mr Darling’s intervention is a head-on challenge for Mr Salmond by the anti-independence coalition formed by the three main pro-UK parties of Labour, the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats.

The survey asked 1,004 Scots if they agreed Scotland “should become a country independent of the rest of the UK”. Some 27 per cent of women agreed with this statement.

Some 47 per cent thought Scotland would be financially worse off after separation compared to 27 per cent who said it would be wealthier. Thirteen per cent said independence would make no difference.