Scottish election 2021: Poll finds confusion over SNP's plans for independence

An opinion poll has found “widespread misunderstanding” of economic facts among Scottish voters and confusion over the SNP’s plans for independence, a pro-Union think-tank says.

A poll conducted by Survation for the think-tank These Islands found 57 per cent of those who supported independence believed the Scottish Government’s annual GERS figures were “made up by Westminster to hide Scotland’s true wealth”.

The annual figures are used to calculate Scotland’s fiscal deficit and are published by the Scottish Government.

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Survation polled 1,047 Scots between April 21 and 23.

Scottish independence supporters gather in George Square for a rally organised by 'All Under One Banner' on May 1. Picture: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images
Scottish independence supporters gather in George Square for a rally organised by 'All Under One Banner' on May 1. Picture: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images

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When undecided voters were removed, 51 per cent said they would vote No in an independence referendum were it held tomorrow, while 49 per cent would vote Yes.

Overall, a net figure of 30 per cent said they agreed the GERS (Government Expenditure and Revenue Scotland) figures were “made up by Westminster to hide Scotland’s true wealth” while 30 per cent disagreed.

Among potential Yes voters, agreement was at 57 per cent.

Some 54 per cent of independence supporters agreed with the statement “Scottish tax revenues are understated because of Scottish exports leaving via English ports”.

Meanwhile, 66 per cent of independence supporters agreed with the statement “Scottish tax revenues are understated because taxes generated by the whisky industry are not properly allocated to Scotland”.

The Scottish Government says all exports, including whisky, which leave via ports elsewhere in the UK still count as Scottish exports in official figures.

These Islands said overall there was “widespread misunderstanding about Scotland’s balance of tax and spending”.

On the SNP’s currency plans, 35 per cent of the poll’s respondents said they did not know what the SNP’s policy for currency in an independent Scotland is.

Some 25 per cent said they believed it was to “keep the pound indefinitely” and 17 per cent said it was to “keep the pound until a new Scottish currency is adopted”.

In 2018, the SNP’s Sustainable Growth Commission set out plans to keep the pound during a transition period, with a separate Scottish currency a possibility after six economic tests are met.

Kevin Hague, chairman of the think-tank, said: “This survey reveals for the first time the true scale of what amounts to a fact-denial epidemic in Scotland.

“We have been tracking the spread of economic disinformation in the Scottish independence debate for some time now, but we are still shocked by these findings.

“A desire to see a well-informed electorate should not be a partisan issue. This survey should worry anybody who believes that sound democratic processes require a well-informed electorate.

“The debate about Scotland’s future in the UK is obviously about a lot more than economics, but it is clear from this survey that many supporters of independence deny (or have been persuaded to deny) simple economic facts – that cannot be healthy for democracy.”

The poll results were released after a separate survey for The Herald by BMG Research published on Sunday suggested the SNP was set to win 68 seats while other projections show the Alba Party will take two seats, once the regional distribution of its support is taken into account.

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