Scottish vision of independence fails to convince voters - polls

Scottish vision of independence fails to convince voters - polls
Scotland's First Minister Alex Salmond and Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon pose for picture during a press conference to launch their regional government's long-awaited "white paper" ahead of next year's historic independence referendum, at Glasgow Science Centre in Glasgow, Scotland, on November 26, 2013. An independent Scotland would keep Queen Elizabeth II as its monarch but create its own defence force, nationalist leader Salmond said as he unveiled the detailed proposals

LONDON - The Scottish government's long-awaited blueprint for independence has failed to convince voters that they will be better off ending their 306-year-old union with England, according to three new polls.

The first YouGov poll since First Minister Alex Salmond released his 670-page vision statement on Nov. 26 showed on Wednesday that the proportion of Scots opposed to independence was 52 per cent, unchanged since a similar poll in September.

The poll conducted between Dec. 6 and 9 showed the number backing independence had edged up one percentage point to 33 per cent with 13 per cent of voters uncertain and two per cent planning not to vote at the referendum on Sept. 18 next year.

That echoed an Ipsos-Mori poll on Monday showing the independence prospectus had done little to shift voter intentions, with opposition at 57 per cent, down two percentage points from September, and 34 per cent support, up three percentage points. The poll found 10 per cent of Scots undecided.

The first poll after the launch of the blueprint, by Progressive Scottish Opinion, put the Yes vote unchanged at 27 per cent with the No vote at 56 per cent, down from 59 per cent.

The Scottish National Party (SNP), led by Salmond, had long heralded its independence white paper as a major turning point in the debate that could win over undecided voters after separatists have consistently lagged unionists in polls.

The blueprint promised Scots they could forge their own prosperity by taking charge of their own taxes and spending while keeping the pound, the queen and staying in the European Union (EU).

"But this poll shows there hasn't been a big change since the white paper which the Yes campaign hoped would shift opinion that has been static for the past year or so," said YouGov spokesman Anthony Wells.

"It will be a bit of disappointment for the Yes campaign."

Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has insisted that the impact of the Scotland's Future document could take some time to filter through to voters.

The economy has emerged as the lynchpin in the debate, with the YouGov poll of 1,074 Scots showing almost half of voters, or 48 per cent, believe they would be worse off as an independent country and only 26 per cent expecting to gain.

Politics professor John Curtice from Strathclyde University said there appeared to be little prospect of a Yes majority next September unless the nationalists could pursue their economic case more effectively.

"What remains to be seen is whether they have any new, more persuasive economic arguments to be unveiled in the New Year,"Curtice said in a commentary on the latest polls.

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