Sunday, 19 May 2013

Why an EU Ref makes a Yes Indyref vote even less likely

I love polls.  And I love the study of psephology - try saying that just after you have had your wisdom teeth out!  Most of all I love the detail revealed in the full tables of data behind the polls - the trends, the regional variations and the balance across age groups.

It is with this interest that I read the latest Panelbase Poll on Scotland and Scottish Independence.  It shows the following:

44% No, 36% Yes, 20% Don't know. (sample 1004, survey May 10-16)

Interestingly IPSOS Mori showed:

59 % No, 31% Yes, 10% Don't know (sample 1001, survey April 29- May 5)

The first showed a small drop in the No vote, the second showed a drop in the Yes vote.

Hmmmm - a little contradictory in terms of how big the No vote is and how many undecideds there are.  We shall see how other polls measure this and how the trends go.

My own view is this; the Yes camp has been stuck on around a third for a while and this matches pretty much the level of support Independence has had in Scotland since the 1970s give or take a couple of blips around devolution being introduced, Alex Salmond winning a majority in Holyrood and the introduction of the poll tax over 20 years ago.

Yes seem to be losing.  The Heather has failed to catch light.  And while millions moved in the streets of Barcelona, the Catalan capital, for their national movement, Scotland's just about filled the Ross Bandstand in Princes Street Gardens.

Yes seem increasingly on the backfoot under close scrutiny on the currency and several aspects of the consequences for pensions - both public sector and private.  Fissures have been appearing between the SNP on one hand who want to keep the Pound, the Queen and the Bank of England as well as shared financial regulation (funny independence that - may as well keep some political union if that's the game!); and on the other hand, the hard left who support a more recognisable independence complete with Scotland's own currency, a republic and withdrawal from NATO.

Other aspects of the movement's vision appeared to be wearing thin.  Strike out for freedom and let 1,000 flowers to bloom.  We could be a Nordic paradise free from Westminster austerity and injustice.

Is this from the SNP whose tax cutting agenda (Community Charge freeze, Corporation Tax, Air Passenger Duty and VAT) promises to deliver a social justice nirvana at the same time?  Or is it with a hard left agenda that presumably will bring with it high unemployment, accelerating economic decline and nothing but social justice disappointments?

It doesn't really add up does it?

But one thing could change the direction of this debate - Europe.

As the Conservatives set about trying to destroy themselves once more over Europe, an In/Out referendum for Britain in Europe looms large and exiting the EU a real possibility.  Note what today's Panelbase poll says:

If the UK is going to leave he EU the vote on Scottish Independence becomes:

44% No, 44% Yes, 12% undecided.  A dead heat!

The EU shenanigans may be about to open the field up again for the Scottish Independence Referendum.

I have just one set of thoughts I wanted to put down about this today.  That this is the electorate's gut reaction of the last few days as this issue has exploded onto the scene once more.  It is not yet a considered view in the light of analysis and discussion of the pros and cons of the various options.  Simplistically I believe the various options line up like this for a would be independent Scotland:

Scotland in EU, Rest of UK in EU
As you were, the Independence debate is framed as it was.

Scotland in EU, Rest of UK out of EU
Nightmare.  This is a nightmare for the single market that we hitherto shared with England.  The currency, financial regulation, and the operation of all sorts of cross border institutions become an even bigger problem. And what of Schengen and border controls in this sceanario. Nightmare.

Scotland out of EU, Rest of UK out of EU
Even bigger nightmare.  Not in the UK, not in the EU, small and on the fringes of Europe, and dealing with tariffs and a regulatory environment from the outside.

It actually strikes me that if the rest of the UK leaves Europe, which I think it would be mad to do, Scotland may well be better remaining part of that UK.

Another alternative may be to share a regulatory and monetary environment with the rest of the UK - both outside the EU, but that is not really independence is it.  Again, we might as well have a democratic political say in such a union if that is to be the case.

(And yes I know you could have Scotland out of Europe and the rest of the UK in but I think that is unlikely and if it were to come to pass I don't see that scenario as being too clever either).

Which all goes to show that as we consider what all this means, I think uncertainty over Europe actually makes a Yes vote for Scottish Independence even more unlikely!!

These are my initial thoughts.  I await developments and further analysis with interest.  And more polling too!       



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