Tuesday, January 16, 2007
BBC Poll Reduces Fear of Scottish Secession
Most of the attention paid to the recent BBC Poll focused on the increased support it indicated for an English parliament(see also here). My eye however, was taken by the fact that more respondents favoured the status quo than independence. Only 32% of Scots wanted independence while 56% favoured staying in the union[keen eyed viewers will have noticed my pictures of Holyrood in session alongside a symbolc thistle]. This result differs from other recent polls which have shown majorities for independence both north and south of the border. This is an outcome which terrifies Gordon Brown, who knows Scottish MPs are likely to be the difference between government and opposition for Labour come the next election.
This poll reinforces the general feeling I have long held that even if the SNP won an election in Scotland, the broad body of Scots would prefer to stay within the Westminster fold. This is because:
i) Scotland is a high tax economy with some 50% of GDP generated by public spending. Should an independent Scotland seek to introduce an Irish style low tax economy, as has been suggested, there would be a massive bonfire of welfare institutions which no Scot could easily contemplate.
ii) At present Scots receive some £1500 per head of public money more than those south of the border; they would not wish to lose this Barnet Formula inspired bonus either.
iii) Without the England connection Scotland's influence would count for little on the European and (especially) world stages.
iv) If the Scots converted to the euro, as the SNP suggest, they would encounter severe problems of adaptation with the country which is likely always to be their chief market.
v) Most people living in our political culture are conservative with that small 'c' and would not welcome the turbulence such an upheaval would cause.
Both I suppose. We know Labour is scared because of their pronouncements at their Scottish conference. And on balance I'm not in favour of independence; as an Anglo-Welshman I think the union contributes more than it takes.
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