sentiment without action is the ruin of the soul

Wings Over Scotland

Ahead of a better nation

Posted on January 16, 2013 by

We’ve been delving around in the innards of some poorly-documented WordPress plugins recently, and we think we’ve finally worked out how to include polls in the body of a post rather than cramming them awkwardly into a sidebar. (You live and learn.) So as much as an equipment test as anything else, and in the light of the First Minister committing the SNP to a written constitution in an independent Scotland, we thought we’d conduct a wee snap survey.

The first thing to note is that not all of the issues below are actually matters for a constitution at all – some of them are properly party manifesto issues, to be decided regularly at elections rather than enshrined into the country’s founding principles. But since the FM’s speech specifically raised the possibility of things like free university education being made constitutional, we’ve taken a wide-ranging view and picked a dozen of the most common pressing topics of debate.

Secondly, as this site is predominantly read by those of a nationalist persuasion, any results will of course likely be skewed in that direction, and should not necessarily be taken as a representative cross-section of Scottish public opinion. But supporters of Unionist parties are encouraged to take part anyway – it’s just a bit of fun. What sort of Scotland would you like to live in?

(Click “Vote” on each poll separately.)

On the monarchy

  • Have a referendum after the death of the current Queen (41%, 400 Votes)
  • Become a republic after the death of the current Queen (17%, 164 Votes)
  • Become a republic immediately (17%, 163 Votes)
  • Have a referendum immediately (14%, 133 Votes)
  • Keep the monarchy (11%, 105 Votes)

Total Voters: 965

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On membership of NATO

  • Remain in NATO conditional on removal of nuclear weapons (71%, 676 Votes)
  • Withdraw from NATO (18%, 170 Votes)
  • Remain in NATO (11%, 103 Votes)

Total Voters: 949

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On defence spending

  • Spend a similar proportion to comparable countries (c. £1.6bn a year) (54%, 520 Votes)
  • Spend the SNP's proposed amount (c. £2.5bn a year) (35%, 336 Votes)
  • Spend less than £1.6bn a year (6%, 55 Votes)
  • Spend the same as we do now (c. £3.3bn a year) (4%, 41 Votes)
  • Spend more than we do now (0%, 4 Votes)

Total Voters: 956

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On foreign-aid spending

  • Spend 1% of GDP on foreign aid (c. £1.5bn a year) (40%, 377 Votes)
  • Spend roughly what we do now (c. £1bn a year) (37%, 347 Votes)
  • Spend less than we do now (15%, 140 Votes)
  • Spend more than 1% (5%, 49 Votes)
  • Spend nothing (3%, 30 Votes)

Total Voters: 943

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On EU membership

  • Remain in the EU (56%, 534 Votes)
  • Leave the EU, join EFTA (40%, 378 Votes)
  • Leave the EU, stand alone (4%, 36 Votes)

Total Voters: 948

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On currency

  • Have our own currency (58%, 543 Votes)
  • Keep Sterling indefinitely (27%, 253 Votes)
  • Adopt the Euro as soon as feasible (14%, 134 Votes)

Total Voters: 930

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On higher education funding

  • Continue free tuition for all (88%, 837 Votes)
  • Free tuition for some, means-tested (8%, 76 Votes)
  • Some sort of graduate tax for all (3%, 31 Votes)
  • Tuition fees for all (0%, 3 Votes)

Total Voters: 947

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On local taxation

  • Local Income Tax, set nationally (36%, 328 Votes)
  • Local Income Tax, set locally (31%, 283 Votes)
  • Land Value Tax (19%, 175 Votes)
  • Keep the Council Tax (11%, 102 Votes)
  • Other (3%, 32 Votes)

Total Voters: 920

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On general taxation

  • Higher taxes on the wealthy to pay for better public services (47%, 436 Votes)
  • Higher taxes on EVERYONE to pay for better public services (29%, 269 Votes)
  • More or less the current tax structure (18%, 167 Votes)
  • Lower taxes - people pay for the services they want/use (6%, 56 Votes)

Total Voters: 928

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On universal health services (tick up to 5 boxes)

  • Keep free personal care for the elderly (94%, 876 Votes)
  • Keep free prescription charges (94%, 875 Votes)
  • Keep free eye tests (93%, 864 Votes)
  • Keep free dental check-ups (92%, 860 Votes)
  • Keep free bus travel for the elderly (90%, 838 Votes)
  • Means-test some or all of the above (8%, 70 Votes)
  • Cancel all of the above (0%, 3 Votes)

Total Voters: 931

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On land ownership

  • Give rural communities the right to buy their land (95%, 877 Votes)
  • Landowners retain all rights to their land (5%, 42 Votes)

Total Voters: 919

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On Berwick

  • I am entirely ambivalent about Berwick (65%, 597 Votes)
  • Demand return of Berwick to Scotland (30%, 274 Votes)
  • England can keep Berwick (6%, 52 Votes)

Total Voters: 923

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56 to “Ahead of a better nation”

  1. tearlach says:

    What? No option to allow the good folk of Berwick a vote on their own future? Brian Wilson was right….


  2. naebd says:

    Independence in Europe for Berwick!


  3. Dan777_A says:

    Decent poll rev, had fun filling it out! love the way the 2nd option to the final question is phrased…..”england can keep Berwick”, though i think the matter could be settled by letting the people of berwick have their own referendum locally at the same time the people of scotland have theirs at a national level.


  4. Donald Kerr says:

    Lack of options in the “On land ownership” question. Where’s the option for state ownership? :)


  5. Luigi says:

    I agree, there should be more options on land ownership. There is room for private owners, community trusts and state owned areas. Personally, I would like to see large wilderness areas of Scotland owned by the people for the people. Why does every square inch of land have to be spoiled just to make money? Can we not just enjoy some areas?


  6. Doug Daniel says:

    Glad to see you chose my Berwick suggestion!

    In terms of tax, I said higher tax for everyone, because I’m not rich and I could certainly afford to pay more tax. As for local taxes, I chose LVT, but in reality I don’t see why there couldn’t be a combination of LVT and LIT (locally set), or whatever your council decided to use.

    For monarchy, I want a republic, but I appreciate that folk like my parents are more likely to vote for it after the Queen is dead. Let’s be practical on this one. I favour our own currency, just like the Scandinavian countries, and I would stay in the EU.

    I’ve said “stay in NATO dependent on nukes out” because apparently Sweden is thinking of joining, and thinking about it, perhaps we should be in there to try and negate rUK’s bloodlust – but that’s dependent on being able to do this while spending £1.6 billion on defence (the same amount I would spend on foreign aid).

    And I shake my fist at whoever wants to impose a tax on those of us unfortunate enough to have defective eyesight… 


  7. Dal Riata says:

    Do you agree that Scotland should be an independent country? Yes 69%   Don’t Know 32%   No 3%

    MSM: “Polls show a further decrease in the numbers intending to vote ‘Yes’ in the 2014 referendum,” :)  


  8. Peter A Bell says:

    I have a bit of a problem with many (most?) of these polls for the simple reason that my answer for day one of independence will often be different from what I would like to see, or consider inevitable, in the longer term.
    On “currency”, for example, I think a formal currency union would be the best option on condition that satisfactory terms could be negotiated. But – and it’s a very big “BUT” – I do not see this as feasible in the long term. Without going into great detail, I’ll simply say that as the economies of Scotland and rUK diverge, which I fully expect they will, a currency union is sure to become unsustainable.
    My poll choice would therefore be an interim currency union leading to the launch of an independent currency, or adoption of the euro if a way is found to make that workable – which I don’t expect to see in my lifetime.


  9. Luigi says:

    SUGGESTION: This appropriate list of questions would form the basis of a brilliant questionnaire survey for the YES campaigners to take to the people on the ground. What better way to engage ordinary people and to encourage them to start thinking about a future Scotland than to have them go through a list of constitutional preferences? What kind of Scotland would they like to see? It would certainly get them thinking. Personally I would love to approach people in the street with this type of survey, but it needs to be properly organized and coordinated for max effect.


  10. tearlach says:

    Luigi – there are no wilderness areas in Scotland, just lots of areas where people used to live,  but don’t any more.

    At the time of the Union, the population of Scotland was 50/50 split between lowlands and the Highlands. it is now a 90/10 split. The population of the north declined dramaticly from 1841, and only stabilised in 1971, and has been growing only from 1991.


  11. JP says:

    A lot of these questions should be put to the people of Scotland in a referendum, such as NATO, currency and staying in Europe, etc. Surprised that wasn’t considered when creating the polls. A multi-option yes/no to a lot of questions can be put to the people after a yes vote. 

    We should definitely have a written constitution but it should be more along the lines of the American constitution (or even based on the declaration of Arbroath) rather than the inane meandering legalese waffle some people have put forward (yes I’m looking at you W E Bulmer). And party politics should definitely be kept out of any constitution, so Eck should get slapped away from it.


  12. squarego says:

    luigi, I’m not sure i agree. i think it might muddy the waters and confuse a few into thinking this was what the referendum vote was about. The opposition would certainly twist it that way. These are all issues that a Yes vote buys us the freedom to decide, but its the Yes thatc’s crucial right now.


  13. JP says:

    I also agree Berwick should have its own referendum, and we should encourage them to be Scottish – not least for the fact that it would totally change the border between Scotland and England, and in so doing the territorial waters would drastically change too.


  14. pmcrek says:

    Yeah the future of Berwick is a matter for the people of Berwick to decide.


  15. ronald alexander mcdonald says:

    Off topic, I can only describe the vast majority of Scottish MP’s contribution yesterday as verbal depravity.




  16. Luigi says:

    I just think it could engage people who are not really thinking about it. I agree, it is not directly about the referendum but it is still appropriate in that it leads people to consider the future and all the amazing possibilities of an independent Scotland. In other words, vote yes in 2014 and together, as a proper nation we decide what kind of nation we build. To me it evokes a wonderful sense of destiny and options. Exciting stuff.


  17. Oldnat says:

    Strange mote and beam positions taken at Westminster.

    It’s wrong for the Scottish Parliament to maximise the chances of success for the view of the majority of MSPs. At the same time, Westminster should be maximising the chances of success for the view of the majority of its members.


  18. Wullie says:

    Give rural communities the right to buy their land. ?????????
    NAH Charge all those who have purchased land back with RESET
    Take the land back in the same manner as it was taken from the people in the first place


  19. kininvie says:

    Too late now I guess, but I would have liked to see something on absentee landlords (of big estates) e.g Tax them 100% of land value unless they are in residence 90 days per year OR Tax them 100% unless they grant proportion of land for people to buy & live on etc….


  20. Ysabelle says:

    Berwick should decide for themselves, so I didn’t vote there.

    I think the people of Scotland should decide on EU versus EFTA after a sensible and mature public debate on both options. Obviously, a sensible and mature debate may be asking too much of some folk….

    On currency, I think there’s the short and the longer term. I didn’t vote there because to me that’s a developing situation which will depend on the likes on things like being in or out the EU, and the state of the Euro, among other things. 


  21. Morag says:

    Ysabelle, that’s why I voted to keep Sterling indefinitely.  In my mind, that was until such time as it was fairly obvious it was better to do something else.  I wouldn’t touch the Euro with a barge pole right now and who knows how that will play out.  But I also do not want a brand new currency on independence day, or even the imminent promise of one.  For a start, it’s too uncertain and would frighten the horses (including this pony), and secondly it would be very bad for Sterling and I don’t want to see England’s currency take that sort of hit.


  22. Ysabelle says:

    Morag, I agree that the pound is fine for now. Maybe that’s how I should have voted!


  23. graeme says:

    Berwick Question is not a good one…Berwick North of the river is actually Scottish teritory, but it was given to England to administer in some long ago treaty….so Berwickers north of the river should be asked if they want to re join Scotland.
    Would be good to see the results if this was available to a more cross section of the public…


  24. rick guthrie says:

    I pray to Richard Dawkins for some one to come up with a tax system that fits all  .until then OTHER will do   .good pole.


  25. kininvie says:

    @graeme I think you’ll find that the border follows the bounds of the old Royal Burgh of Berwick, and that the Tweed has never been the border at that point. Anyway, I don’t see UK govt allowing a referendum in Berwick – the answer is to put up an IndyScot candidate in an election and see what happens.


  26. Macart says:

    No too shabby Rev, enjoyed that. :)


  27. DougieFalkirk says:

    It should be up to the people of Berwick to choose. If enough people wanting the question asked. Good luck to them. DougieFalkirk


  28. Westie7 says:

    Good to see we are all on the same page roughly!
    now add three zeroes to the end of the votes cast numbers after adding another question and I’ll be happy..

    Now as for FMQ tomorrow, any guess as to Klebbs opening topic? anybody? anybody? Bueller? 


  29. EphemeralDeception says:

    If I were in Berwick, I would wait and see to how the post referendum negotiations go, how the constitution is ratified and how the Scottish economy evolves in the short term.
    People in Berwick have the luxury of voting with their feet well after Scotland decides by just relocating a little north.  If a large percentage start to look North for their future then a local referendum could occur but London would block all attempts imo – no section 30 for Berwick.


  30. John Böttcher says:

    For some reason, I cannot vote, just view the results of the vote.

    I’ve tried 3 browsers so far, same result.



  31. SImon says:

    I think land reform and land value tax is an interesting question, and I remember the first act of the new parliament was land ownership reform? I think that LVT has a lot of interesting possibilities as national tax as well as local tax. And I also think that its traditional bedfellow, citizen’s income, might be worth considering as well in the context of social security reform.
    Personally I think this kind of discussion is very good for the cause, it reminds people how much power they as individual citizens will get following independence. At present they have a tiny amount of power exercised through Westminster elections. After independence, they will have many times more exercised through Scottish elections and referenda.


  32. Craig P says:

    Good to see the people of WoS by and large share my opinions, if you were a party I’d vote for you!  Or maybe it is groupthink 😉 
    I went for local income tax raised locally, plus wasn’t sure what effect that would have on national tax so voted to keep national tax ‘about the same’. As far as Berwick goes, that’s entirely up to Berwickers – with Scotland and England agreeing to respect the result. 


  33. douglas clark says:

    In a sense, completely off topic, but then again not!
    It is a delight to see so many people commenting on the threads here. I have noticed a similar increase – though maybe not as marked – on other independence minded sites. Perhaps folk have passed the ‘tipping point’ on what they believe or just feel safe in expressing amongst like minded folk?


  34. Tris says:

    Excellent poll which I thoroughly enjoyed doing. I’m quite happy to see that my answers were by and large in line with the leading answer in each question.

    I too believe that the future of Berwick is one for the Berwick people, given its unique status.

    On taxes, I thought that higher taxes on the wealthy was a fair choice, because if we keep the same structure of retirement pensions and social security, clearly the poor wouldn’t be able to pay any more. I guess it depends on how you define wealthy.

    I think that the more people who do this the better in line with Graeme’s comment). I will link to it on Munguin’s Republic, and I’d urge other readers with blogs to do the same. 


  35. Andrew Parrott says:

    The future of Berwick must be in the hands of the people of Berwick. Of course Westminster is unlikely to let them get hold of it. But, Berwick does have the singular advantage of only being connected to England by four bridges! But there are enough issues to contend with at present without adding Berwick to the list. I think it depends what sources you read but I do believe that Berwick is only administered by England, formal sovereignty over the territory was never transferred. This suggests that Scottish citizenship and a Scottish passport should be offered in future to any long term resident of Berwick who wishes to take up the offer. Similar to the arrangement by which anyone resident in Northern Ireland can have an Irish Republic passport if they wish.  


  36. Luigi says:

    The River Tweed is the historical boundary: Berwick to Scotland, Tweedmouth to England! I am all for self determination for the Berwickers – let them decide. After all, of it’s good enough for the Falklands and good enough for Gibralter, there should be no obstacles to giving Berwickers their own min referendum.


  37. Indion says:

    How about Berwick on Tweed and Tweedmouth as a freeport to help concentrate minds?


  38. Ronald Henderson says:

    Back in 1296 King Edward’s English army invaded Berwick and killed over 6,000 of its inhabitants. The streets ran with blood and the senior members of the town were strung up and hung from the walls. I don’t suppose that sort of thing is allowed to happen nowadays is it? Not very PC after all.
    Probably shouldn’t even mention it….mmm?


  39. LisaR says:

    I agree with Berwick getting its own referendum, I’d love to see them decide to join Scotland again but its should be their decision alone.


  40. lumilumi says:

    The problem with Berwick is that its municipal boundaries would define the boundary between Scotland and rUK, going out to sea… oil, gas, shale… So expect Berwick being kept “English”, whatever it takes.


  41. bigbuachaille says:

    Berwick is a decision for the folks in that fine wee toun. But the maritime border is a scandal that just won’t go away.


  42. Vronsky says:

    73% in favour of NATO membership (at 6:45 on 17th Jan) ?  That is shocking and depressing.  Consider the wars that NATO has fought, and ask yourself what those wars were for.  I’m sure you know but if you’re a bit uncertain,  then when was the last time NATO attacked a country which was not either an oil producer or a pipeline route?  It is a criminal organisation with the blood of hundreds of thousands on its hands, driven solely by  concern for US corporate profits. 
    The ‘but only if they remove their nukes from the Clyde’ bit is a fig leaf.  The NATO nukes will be your responsibility wherever they are based, and it becomes clearer by the day that NATO means to use them.  If they decide to incinerate Tehran will you be comforted by the knowledge that none of the missiles was fired from Scotland, even though your taxes built them and paid the wages of the sociopaths who fired them?  In any case, they now have conventional weapons which are as terrifying in their destructive power as the early nukes – bunker-busters, daisy-cutters, fuel-air explosives and so on.
    Willingness to join this organisation can only be construed as terrible wickedness or terrible ignorance.    Take your pick.


  43. Cameron says:

    Good, clean, educational fun. Thanks Rev.
    Although I now know that I am broadly in step with those who voted, I am astounded at the numbers who seam happy to remain in NATO. How is it possible to square the high ideals Scotland will hopefully aspire to, with membership of what Vronsky correctly points out, is a murdering criminal enterprise? I can only suggest this willingness to aid and abet, is the result of the UK government’s total lack of transparency and democratic accountability.
    The information is out there readers, please arm yourself with the facts.


  44. Les Wilson says:

    I agree with Peter Bell, sterling should be a temporary arrangement.
    When all is in place we should transfer to our own currency, and NOT the euro, we should join EFTA. We should not want Europe to plunder our resources, just as we do not want Westminster to it. Independence after 300 years in servitude should mean Independence and complete control of our future. We should not give it away the moment we regain it, it would seem to me a crazy thing to do.

    Not enough people are properly informed about EFTA, they should be, and then possibly a vote on it.

    My idea for our own currency would be the Scottish Dollar Sc$.
    This would be in keeping with other countries who have became independent from Westminster. Ie Australia, Canada, Singapore, plus others.

    I think that after a kefuffle with the Bank of ENGLAND, who, in fact will hate losing us, not hate the taking us in, as some Unionists would suggest.

    As an Italian born restaurant owner in Inverness said to me as I informed him of just why we need to be Independent, ” This is really going to be exciting, is’nt it!”
    I can only whole heartedly agree .


  45. Neil says:

    On the subject of land, it should generally be in state ownership, those living in urban areas are likely to come from people who were kicked off of the land to allow for sheep, they have been essentially dispossessed from their native land and now have no chance of getting to be involved in rural community buy backs. With land and home ownership if you aren’t resident for 270 days of the year then you should have to pay a high level of tax to essentially dissuade people from having multiple properties.


  46. DM says:

    Should be an option for the people of Berwick to decide if they wish to be part of RUK or an independent Scotland.
    For that reason, I had to say that I am ambivalent about Berwick.


  47. Stevie Mach says:

    Nice poll, but as all such polls, the answers will be skewed a little as to the general opinions of the readers of the blog. Still, if that factor is taken into consideration, it still has a great deal of value.
    I think many of the big ticket questions will be better resolved once the main goal is achieved, either by public consultation or further referenda.
    Look forward to some more polls, how about some questions on law and order, nationalisation of power, rail, etc.?


  48. Cameron says:

    With due respect to those living in Berwick, the topic is a distraction for the primary task of delivering independence in 2014. Currently, Berwick is part of England and not Scotland, though there does appears to be a certain ambiguity as to its constitutional status. The people of Berwick might want to join our gang if we vote Yes, but that will be their choice. What then, do we wade through decades of piecemeal negotiations to re-draw the current border? I am pretty sure that the SG is only empowered to carry out the referendum within the existing boundaries of Scotland, so please lets keep our eye on the ball.


  49. Doug Daniel says:

    I’m surprised so many people have taken the Berwick question so utterly seriously. When Stu was asking for suggestions on Twitter, I suggested it to him as a bit of a joke, and I’m fairly sure he included it as a bit of a joke too.

    No one is seriously suggesting Scotland should start trying to increase its territory after we’ve just completed a 300 year struggle to get back our own independence!


  50. Cameron says:

    @ Doug Daniel
    I’m not sure if everyone spotted that, thank goodness you pointed it out.


  51. Lothian Sky says:

    Berwick can have a referendum on rejoining Scotland, if that’s what Berwick wants to do. Until then, it does us absolutely no favours to even mention it!!


  52. Morag says:

    There’s one context where it can come in handy.  When Brian Wilson and his cronies start agitating for the Northern Isles to be granted the right to be part of England, it pays to come back with, what about Berwick?


  53. Dan H says:

    luigi says:
    “This appropriate list of questions would form the basis of a brilliant questionnaire survey for the YES campaigners to take to the people on the ground.”
    squarego says:
    “it might muddy the waters and confuse a few into thinking this was what the referendum vote was about. The opposition would certainly twist it that way. These are all issues that a Yes vote buys us the freedom to decide, but its the Yes that’s crucial right now.”

    So, we take the questionairre to the doorstep, let them read it and ask “would you like to fill out this questionaire that seeks your opinion on issues that affect you and your country?”
    When they say “yes” we reply (without letting them fill in the questionaire) “so, we can count on your vote for independence in 2014 then, can we?”


  54. ayemachrihanish says:

    Rev, Great pilot – well done! As commented by others some of the themes /voter options are not easy to align. For instance on general or local taxation do you think Land Value Tax is well enough understood by all of the 800+ contributors that voted? That aside brilliant!


  55. Cheryl says:

    Great poll!
    Give Berwick a referendum!


  56. Les Wilson says:

    Oh to hell with it, lets throw in Carlisle into the pot too!! 


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