SUPPORT for independence is showing no sign of a breakthrough, with the latest poll indicating fewer than a third of Scots are poised to vote Yes in next year’s referendum.
The majority of voters want to stay in the UK with 56 per cent set to back the union in next year’s referendum, according the poll commissioned by former Tory Deputy chairman Lord Ashcroft. Only 30 per cent are set to vote yes, in line with the results of a Yougov poll earlier this week.
More than half of Scots also want to see the UK’s Clyde-based nuclear weapons system replaced when the current Trident system is decommissioned, the poll adds. This contradicts previous findings which has indicated that most Scots were against nuclear weapons.
Only one third of people north of the border want the UK to give up nuclear weapons completely, according to the poll commissioned by former Tory Deputy chairman Lord Ashcroft.
The nuclear issue has been at the heart of the referendum debate with the SNP pledging to remove the weapons from Scotland after independence with a CND poll this year indicating 60 per cent of Scots opposed the weapons.
But Lord Ashcroft says the CND survey question quoted a misleading figure for the estimated cost of Trident, and failed to mention that the current system was coming to the end of its useful life.
He said Nationalists seized on this as a “huge opportunity” in the independence campaign.
“As we know from their attempt to rig the referendum question, the SNP has form on this sort of thing,” the Tory peer added.
“Trying to show that people think what you want them to think is not the same thing as trying to find out what they really do think. I am more interested in the latter – so last week I asked what people in Scotland really do think about Trident.”
When asked about the principle of having nuclear weapons, 48 per cent of Scots say they are opposed, while 37 per cent support them. But pressed on the prospect of Trident coming to the end of its useful life, the Ashcroft poll finds 51 per cent of Scots think it should be replaced. Of these, 20 per cent back an equally powerful system and a third (31 per cent) are supportive of a less powerful but cheaper system.
The submarine-based Trident system is currently housed at Faslane in Dunbartonshire and the poll finds 43 per cent of Scots think the weapons should continue to be based in Scotland, with 39 per cent against and 18 per cent saying “don’t know”
And even if Scotland votes for independence next year, only half of those surveyed thought the UK’s nuclear weapons should have to leave the current Clyde base. In addition, 35 per cent would be happy for the UK to lease the Faslane base, with 15 per cent undecided.
But Arthur West, chairman of Scottish CND, said the organisation’s polling shows a “clear majority” against Trident.
He added: “It’s not just polling but also the public work that we do when we hold hold meetings, do stalls and speak to people. This flies in the face of our own research.
“I don’t know if Lord Ashcroft gets out very much but we do and there’s clear opposition.
“The other thing is that we’re finding that people who might not necessarily side with us are coming to our side because of the economic situation and the costs.”
An SNP spokeswoman said she was “extremely confident” that a majority of people in Scotland want to get rid of Trident nuclear weapons,
“Only a Yes vote next September can get rid of Trident for Scotland so that we can spend Scotland’s share of this money helping to build a fairer society and stronger economy,” she added.
A spokesman for the pro-independence Yes Scotland campaign said: “All research, both professionally conducted and anecdotal, tells us that the vast majority of people living in Scotland are absolutely opposed to nuclear weapons, new or old, being based in our country. And no one should be in any doubt that his is not just for cost reasons.”