Nine out of ten support ‘devo-plus’

THE Scottish National Party has welcomed a survey that suggests the vast majority of Scots favour a constitutional settlement in which Holyrood would have more tax-raising powers.

The results of an online poll conducted by Reform Scotland, the leading think-tank that has been calling for constitutional change, indicated that most people polled believe the Scottish Parliament should be responsible for raising most of the money it spends.

The survey follows the publication earlier this year of Reform Scotland’s proposals for a middle-ground option in a referendum that would allow a “devo-plus” constitutional settlement, a model that would see the majority of revenue powers transferred to Holyrood, leaving Westminster primarily with VAT and National Insurance. Reform Scotland said its devo-plus model would remove the block grant that Scotland receives from Westminster, and make Holyrood solely responsible for raising the money it spends.

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Reform Scotland asked 811 people – sourced from its distribution lists and via Twitter – a range of questions about independence and devolution.

Asked if they thought the Scottish Parliament should be responsible for raising the majority of the money it spends, 86 per cent of those questioned said yes. A majority answered yes across the political parties, although about 54 per cent of the sample declared themselves SNP supporters.

Two-thirds (66 per cent) of those questioned said they would vote “yes” for independence if presented with a straight-forward yes or no question on whether the UK should be broken up. That contrasts with the lower levels of support for independence recorded by polls with random and larger samples.

For example, a survey of 1,002 people conducted by Ipsos Mori in September suggested that only 35 per cent of Scots favoured independence. A similar TNS-BMRB poll, also published in September, put support for independence at 39 per cent.

The SNP supports a full fiscal autonomy option – “devo max” – where Scotland would raise most of its own taxes and then pay the Treasury in London for shared services, such as defence and foreign affairs.

The SNP’s deputy leader, Nicola Sturgeon, said: “This is yet another demonstration that the tide of opinion is clearly flowing in favour of independence and financial responsibility for the Scottish Parliament.

“The SNP government have said that we are willing to include a ‘devo-max’ option in the referendum – yet Labour and the Lib Dems have indicated that they want to be on the same side as the Tories in rejecting more powers for Scotland, a disastrous position in Scottish politics.”

The new Scottish Labour leader, Johann Lamont, renewed her call for an immediate independence referendum.