17 May 2015

Scots still 50/50 on independence in next decade – new poll

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New opinion polling for British Future in Scotland and across Great Britain today finds that most Scots don’t believe the country will become independent in the next five years – with only a third (33%) believing independence is likely or very likely to come during this parliament. Six in ten respondents in Scotland (60%) think that Scotland is unlikely to become independent by 2020.

In the medium term, Scotland remains a 50/50 nation – with 52% believing independence will happen in the next decade.

The English, however, are more pessimistic about the future of the Union, with 43% thinking that Scotland is likely to break away in the next five years and a majority (59%) believing it will become independent by 2025. Many, it seems, have watched the SNP landslide result on election night and concluded that Scotland is already lost.

Photo: Amanda Slater, Coventry, England.
Photo: Amanda Slater, Coventry, England.

Over the longer term of 25 years, however, nearly three quarters of Scots (72%) think Scotland is likely to become independent in a generation. The English agree, with 71% saying they think Scotland is likely to become independent in the next 25 years.

The online poll, by Survation, surveyed 3,977 UK adults – 1,056 of them in Scotland – straight after the general election from 8-14 May. It also sought people’s views on a new devolution settlement between Scotland and Westminster.

Three quarters (73%) of respondents in Scotland agreed that “a new government should now come up with a new constitutional settlement for the UK that offers significant powers to the nations and regions of the UK,” while only 13% said that “the new government should not offer significant further powers to the nations and regions of the UK.”


Those fearing divisions and polarisation in Scotland may take comfort in the possibility of some consensus between ‘Yes’ and ‘No’ camps on the way forward, as Chris Creegan argued on this site recently.

In the rest of Britain the responses were quite different. Only 48% of people in England agree that Scotland should be offered more powers, with a quarter (26%) against the idea and another 26% undecided, saying they don’t know.

Sunder Katwala, Director of British Future, said:

“It’s interesting that Scotland is split pretty much down the middle on whether independence will happen, even within a decade, while more people in England think it’s already lost.

“This fits with Nicola Sturgeon’s pragmatic, gradualist approach and reluctance to call a quick referendum.

“With nearly three quarters of Scots wanting more powers, Sturgeon can feel confident that a broad consensus, uniting Yes and No camps, supports a new settlement for Scotland.

“David Cameron has more work to do with the English. Some doubt that the union can be saved and while only a minority are against Scotland getting more powers, he will have to persuade the undecideds that it’s worth his time and energy.

“In the longer term, nearly three quarters of Scots think the nation is likely to become independent by 2040. That’s a long-term challenge for unionism and an opportunity for Nicola Sturgeon to play the long game – up to a third of that 72% will be ‘No’ voters who are resigned to independence, and her task will be to convince them that it’s all going to be alright.”


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