Surge of support for Scottish independence
Surge of support for Scottish independence

For the first time, independence has taken a lead in an opinion poll on Scotland’s constitutional future.

A tracking poll by TNS System Three has found that 41% of Scots now ant the government of the Scottish National Party in the Edinburgh parliament to negotiate an Independence settlement, compared to 40% who backed the union with England.

Last August, a poll showed 50% supported the union, with just 35% supporting independence.

Scotland’s First Minister Alex Salmond said the result showed Scots were now ready to vote for a separate Scottish state in a referendum.

Since its election last year, his administration has laid out its plans in a white paper for a referendum on Independence to ask whether the Scottish government “should negotiate a settlement with the government of the United Kingdom so that Scotland becomes an independent state”.

SNP depute Leader Nicola Sturgeon welcomed the poll and pointed out that this was the second poll in recent days to show a surge in support for Independence.

“Just this month, many of our key measures in government have taken effect - including the phased abolition of prescription charges, restoring free education in Scotland, freezing the Council Tax, and cutting business rates.

“And the poll clearly indicates that Westminster attempts to bully Scotland and the Scottish Government - on issues such as threatening to withhold Council Tax benefit, trying to block a local income tax, and withholding prisons spending - are also boosting support for equality for Scotland, and a parliament with full powers. Labour’s London-based aggressive and negative campaign is getting a strong reaction in Scotland.

“The other parties are running scared of the right of the people to choose Scotland’s future in a democratic referendum - and no wonder, on the basis of these figures.

“The other party leaders are deeply split on the issue, and are finding it impossible to justify refusing the people of Scotland that basic democratic right.”

Salmond used the poll figures to call for a major public debate.

“Scotland has an unrivalled opportunity to succeed by gaining the powers and responsibilities that can only come with independence and equality in the modern world,” he wrote.

“The reality of the 21st century is that the processes of independence and interdependence are one and the same. As our world becomes ever more interconnected in terms of trade, international relations, the environment and security, the case for nations having a voice at a global level becomes ever more compelling.

“It is a progressive process that has been under way for more than half a century. In 1945, the new United Nations was established with just 51 member countries. There are now nearly 200, including more than 30 new members since 1990. It is by becoming independent that nations can maximise their influence in our interdependent world.

“For Scotland, independence would give us a voice and votes in the European Union, where we have many vital interests at stake, and also enable us to act on our instincts for internationalism, emulating the success of other small countries, such as Ireland and the Scandinavian nations.

“In opposing independence, the unionist parties demonstrate a poverty of vision for Scotland, forever relegating Scotland to a parochial role as part of an unequal Union.

“When the prime minister says there are global issues that are shared matters of interest, I agree wholeheartedly. But I also believe that Scotland, as an independent country, can and should participate in the global solutions to these challenges. Indeed, I believe that to engage in such a way is our international responsibility.

“On many issues, such as tackling climate change, developing renewable technology, or ridding our planet of weapons of mass destruction, it is very clear that the Scottish contribution would be more progressive than the response of governments in London, past and present.”

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