Scottish independence: Finance will sway voters

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THE state of the economy rather than national identity is easily the most important factor in people’s minds over the question of Scottish independence, researchers said yesterday.

The annual Scottish Social Attitudes Survey concluded that hard questions over the nation’s finances were “key to gathering support”, following a series of interviews with more than 1,000 Scots.

This, they concluded was more important than questions of whether people felt British or Scottish, or both. It is also far more significant than the issue of whether or not independence would make Scotland a more equal country, an issue heavily featured in recent weeks by the pro-independence Yes Scotland campaign.

The survey found that only 38 per cent of people who believe independence would reduce the inequality gap actually say they will vote “yes” in 2014.

“This suggests the issue is not central to most people’s views of the merits of otherwise of independence,” the survey found.

In a blunt warning to the Yes Scotland campaign, the survey concluded that it had “at best, lost a year” having failed to increase support for independence in the year following Alex Salmond’s announcement of a referendum.

The survey found that support for independence had fallen by nine points from the 2011 poll to 23 per cent.

Research consultant for ScotCen, John Curtice, professor of politics at Strathclyde University, said: “There is no clear evidence of any progress for the SNP in advancing support for independence.”

As with previous polls, the survey found that independence was more popular among men than women.