WESTMINSTER has been accused of hiding the findings of an opinion poll on Scottish independence, amid allegations it shows a rise in Yes voters.
The survey, conducted by Ipsos MORI, was revealed by Kelly Brown, who sent a letter to a newspaper claiming that she worked for the firm and that the results had not been published because they showed a surge in people backing Scottish independence.
In the letter, she wrote: “A recent poll commissioned by the Cabinet office was ‘buried’ as it returned a result which showed the Yes vote was soaring.”
Ipsos MORI have made no comment, other than to say on Twitter that no one by the name of Kelly Brown is employed by the company.
And today, SNP MP Angus MacNeil (Na h-Eileanan an Iar) called on the Government to be straight with the public and publish the report.
During Deputy Prime Minister’s questions in the Commons, Mr MacNeil asked Nick Clegg: “Your Government has actually hushed up an opinion poll from the taxpayers who paid for it at a cost of £50,000.
“The poll reportedly shows a surge in support for Scottish independence.
“Tory and Labour scare stories are not working. There should be no government secrecy. So will you be straight with the public on independence and publish this poll? There’s not reason that this should be kept secret.”
Mr Clegg replied: “I’ve learnt to try and be a bit wary about opinion polls.
“The only poll that counts is the poll that’s going to happen on September 18 and I very much hope, and I think people even like myself who don’t have a vote, those of us south of the border, fervently hope the Scottish people will decide to remain part of the family of nations that makes up the United Kingdom.
“Because there is so much that we can do together that we simply cannot do apart and that’s very much the argument that I hope will prevail on September 18.”
£75k of taxpayers’ money on indyref polling
Downing Street figures revealed that the Cabinet Office Devolution Team had spent more than £75,000 of taxpayers’ money on independence polling and PR tie-ups in January of this year.
Part of the deal included a contract with Ipsos MORI worth £46,550 for ‘market research on attitudes in Scotland towards Scottish independence’ - a fee almost 50 times that of a standard newspaper poll.
And First Minister Alex Salmond has called on the results of the poll to be made public.
He said: “David Cameron’s government have spent almost £50,000 of taxpayers’ cash on an opinion poll they now appear to be trying to keep secret - that’s unacceptable.”
“No matter how uncomfortable the results may be for Westminster and the No campaign, they now have to publish this poll’s findings.”
A spokesman for the Cabinet Office Devolution Team said surveys were key in the lead-up to the referendum but refused to announce the poll’s findings.
He told The Sun: “We do research to identify information people require to help them make an informed decision. It is not usual practice to publish internal research.”
The Cabinet Office Devolution Team also paid out over £30,000 for ‘communications support’ to PR firm Engine Partners - whose website states: “Engine is a creative community that provides clients with best-in-class communications expertise under one roof. We have brilliant specialists, working better together.”
Pro-independence supporters have attempted to put pressure on Westminster to reveal the survey’s findings using the hashtag #publishthepoll.