We’ve already seen that the latest Social Attitudes Survey reveals Scotland to be a deeply schizophrenic country, which wants independence but doesn’t want to admit it (even, it seems, to itself). But the deeper you get into the statistics the stranger the picture gets. Ponder, for example, the “Expectations” section.
The survey asked “If Scotland was an independent country, would the following things be better or worse than they are now?”, and recorded the answers in six categories.
VOICE IN THE WORLD
STANDARD OF LIVING
(All other respondents in each category thought there would be no difference.)
So we see that Scots think independence will mean higher taxes. (Though it’s not clear WHY they think that – the SNP only has influence over Council Tax, and they’ve cut that in real terms in every one of their five years of government). But people also think that in return for those taxes they’ll get a healthier economy, a stronger NHS, a louder voice in the world, more national pride and, crucially, a better standard of living.
Seems like a good deal, no? Is it not worth paying higher taxes if it results in a higher standard of living and better public services (basically the Scandinavian model beloved of the SNP), especially if you fancy yourselves as a somewhat left-wing nation? You’d think so. By any measure, the survey shows that the nationalists have won the argument – the people believe that independence will mean a better Scotland.
But when offered that higher standard of living, that prouder, more confident country with a stronger economy and superior public services, the people of Scotland bizarrely turn away from the change that they themselves believe would deliver it. There’s only one rational reason for that disconnect between thought and deed, and it’s fear.
So far the “No” campaign has been founded entirely in scaremongering, and the creation of doubt and uncertainty. And it’s plainly working, to at least some degree, because it’s got the people frightened to act in what they think are their own interests. So expect the negative campaigning to continue all the way up to the referendum.
But at the same time, note that the percentage of people saying they’d vote Yes has only been higher in two of the last 14 years. Note that support is up by a third compared to the year the SNP came to power, despite the economic catastrophe that’s unfolded since then. Note that support for independence is highest – by far – among the young and vital, and lowest among the dying.
You don’t often win the argument and lose the vote. Two years to go.