A RECENT poll (your report, July 14) suggests that the issue of membership of the European Union would make a significant difference to voters’ intentions in the referendum. I wonder if those polled are apprised of all the facts.
First, even if there were to be an in/out referendum in 2017 and even if the choice was to leave, the UK would not be cutting itself off from the possibility of economic co-operation with the EU. It could become a member of the European Free Trade Association thereby continuing to have access to an internal market with the other 27 EU states. Indeed, this possibility is seen as an attractive one for an independent Scotland by prominent independence campaigners such as Jim Sillars. Second, many experts agree that an independent Scotland would be successful in applying to join the EU, though few agree with the ambitious timescale of 18 months. Not a single expert, however, can be found who agrees with the SNP rhetoric that Scotland would succeed in negotiating the terms currently enjoyed by being part of the UK.
Why does none of the polls ask how voters would feel about being part of the EU without advantageous conditions such as the budget rebate and opt-outs on VAT impositions on food etc? I would be interested to see the results.
Braid Hills Avenue
Your front-page story (“Scots’ fears of exiting EU boost support for Yes camp”) is a perfect example of how apparent momentum can be generated for either side of the independence debate by asking leading questions. If, for example, you asked, “How would you vote in the referendum if a Yes vote would put Scotland out of the EU or affected the timing or terms of our subsequent membership?”, then we would presumably see quite a significant boost for the No campaign.
The question on 18 September is “Should Scotland be an independent country?” We are all perfectly capable of reaching our own assessment of the proposal in front of us. The temptation for pollsters to explore different angles will be strong, but that does not mean that they should give in to campaign spin-doctors who want polls to ask the questions to which they think they have the answer.
If polls must ask a leading question, I would suggest they also ask the opposite question to see what affect that has as well. That way, we may at least learn something new.
Explain me this: Scots want independence from a large political and economic union where rule from London is too remote and uncaring of their small country – yet they seek to be part of an even larger political and economic union where rule from Brussels will be even more remote and uncaring of their relatively smaller country.
Or is it all at root just about being anti-English? In which case, why does the Yes camp expect England to be nice and accommodating to an independent Scotland?