New Poll: Scotland would vote in favor of independence if the vote was tomorrow

2BE8597B00000578-3219746-image-m-53_1441203326502Something notable was announced today in Scotland, but it may not be as notable as it might at first seem.  Nearly a year on from last year’s Scottish Independence Referendum, Scottish television station STV announced the findings of a national poll that examined an array of political issues on the minds of Scottish voters.  Tops on the list of surprising results is the tally in favor of Scottish independence among all those questioned.  Post-referendum polling had never before shown an overall majority in favor of separating from the UK including undecided votes.  The poll results announced today show that if the referendum were to occur tomorrow, 53% would vote in favor of independence, 44% against and only 3% undecided.  That is a first and if it’s accurate its a big deal.

While this poll has been labelled a “shocker” by Scottish media it is only one poll and it has already been heartily criticized by the Labour party.  Labour joined together with the Tories last year to oppose Scottish independence in the “Better Together” campaign. In a press release today, the Labour party pointed out that the pollster that STV used to conduct the poll is not the most accurate in Scotland and has misjudged voter sentiment on independence before.  But Labour has more reasons than just independence to be unhappy with this latest poll.

When asked about the upcoming Scottish Parliamentary elections, the poll reports that support for the SNP continues to grow at the expense of Labour.  If the poll is spot on, next year SNP will emerge from the May parliamentary elections with a majority government of 74 of the 129 MSP seats in the Scottish parliament. Meanwhile Labour is projected to lose 11 seats retaining only 26 of their current 37.  To pour salt in the wound, the poll also finds that a stunning 71% of those asked responded favorably to Nicola Sturgeon’s work as Scottish First Minister so far.  That in contrast to only 28% approval rating for David Cameron, UK Prime Minister.

2BE8597F00000578-3219746-image-a-50_1441202968883So as time marches on it makes sense to keep an eye on a couple of things.  To begin, it will likely take many more polls like this one to begin to nudge Scottish pro-independence leadership to take steps toward setting a new referendum.  The better wisdom in Scotland right now suggests that we will not see a second independence referendum unless a Yes vote is a slam dunk.  However, if the poll results continue to look like those released today, look for a second referendum mention in the SNP 2016 party manifesto.

The second thing to watch is the toll that success ultimately takes on the SNP.  The word “dominant” is truly beginning to describe the impact of the SNP on politics.  Political dominance across national and local government in Scotland makes the SNP a target.  Cracks already are apparent as news about SNP infighting, sweet deals and other unattractive behavior are actively rooted out by the attack dog British press.  Now the SNP will be judged by its performance in government as opposed to the strength of its arguments in favor of independence.  That leaves room open for other left of centre political parties like the Scottish Green Party and the new farther left political alliance RISE to gain momentum and support, which, they are in fact doing.

As we in the Scottish diaspora continue to watch, political rules in the homeland continue to change in ways that were hardly imaginable a decade ago.  All of these changes will undoubtedly have an impact on things that the diaspora hold dear in Scotland.  How will the new generations of Scottish leadership treat heritage issues like historic built environment and landscape?  What sort of view to tourism will the new Scotland have?  Will the level of Scottish governmental support for Gaelic cultural revival increase or diminish in the upcoming years?  All very good questions that remain unanswered for the present.  Keep watching!

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