Scottish independence polls: how the public mood has changed since devolution | United Kingdom | New

IndyRef2: Sturgeon says ‘let the people of Scotland decide’

A quarter of a century ago, just under three-quarters of Scots backed the creation of a Scottish Parliament in a referendum. Since then, the powers vested in the nation have grown, as has the support for independence of its people. Almost eight years after the first referendum, Prime Minister Nicola Sturgeon has proposed a second one in 2023, as the latest poll suggests supporters of keeping the Union have a narrow 2% lead.

Amid the cost of living crisis in June, when 83% of Scots said they were unhappy with then Prime Minister Boris Johnson, the people of Scotland were split evenly 50-50 on the issue of independenceaccording to Ipsos.

The latest survey conducted by Panelbase shows support for Scottish independence at 49%, with 51% in favor of keeping the Union, after adjusting for undecided voters.

As the Scottish government tussles with Westminster over its right to hold another referendum, on the 25th anniversary of Scots voting to establish a Scottish Parliament, has thrown a look at the history of the independence movement.

Alex Salmond and Nicola Sturgeon were at the forefront of the push for Scottish independence (Image: GETTY)

As the 1970s drew to a close, support for Scottish independence reached just over 10%.

However, under Margaret Thatcher, whose government introduced the deeply unpopular poll tax a year earlier in Scotland, support jumped to 40%.

After stabilizing at around 30% in the mid-1990s, the decentralization plans introduced by Tony Blair saw the idea gain momentum once again – with the ‘Yes’ side rising to over 40% in the polls for the first time in 1997.

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The Scottish Parliament building at Holyrood

The Scottish Parliament building at Holyrood in Edinburgh opened in 2004 (Image: GETTY)

Nicholas Sturgeon

Nicola Sturgeon promises a second independence referendum on Brexit Day, January 31, 2020 (Image: GETTY)

In a referendum held on September 11, 1997, 74.3% of Scots support the creation of a Scottish Parliament.

To the secondary question of whether this parliament should have tax variation powers, 63.5% of voters voted in favor.

The first elections were held less than two years later and the first meeting of the Scottish Parliament took place on 12 May 1999.

On July 1, 1999, the Scottish Parliament was officially opened by Her Majesty The Queen and given full legislative powers.

Originally meeting in the General Assembly Hall of the Church of Scotland in Edinburgh, the body moved in 2004 to the new Scottish Parliament building in Holyrood.

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Votes for Scottish independence by region

How Scots voted in the 2014 independence referendum (Picture: EXPRESS)

With the Scottish Parliament given the power to legislate on devolved matters such as agriculture, housing, health and social services, calls for independence faded in the first decade of the new millennium.

By the time Gordon Brown, himself a Scot, became Prime Minister in 2007, support for independence had fallen to 24%, its lowest level in more than two decades.

However, in the years since, support for Alex Salmond’s Scottish National Party (SNP) has grown, with the independence party winning an outright majority at Holyrood in 2011 with a manifesto committing to a referendum.

The referendum was finally held on 18 September 2014 and resulted in 55.3% of Scottish voters opposing plans for an independent Scotland and 44.7% voting in favour.

The 84.6% turnout was the highest recorded for a UK election or referendum since 1910.

Despite the defeat of the independence campaign, support continued to rise, particularly following the 2016 Brexit referendum in which Scotland voted 62% to remain in the EU .

Shortly after Mr Johnson became Prime Minister in July 2019, support for Scottish independence topped 50% for the first time in history.

The devolved government has taken responsibility for managing the coronavirus pandemic in Scotland, and in November 2020 support for the Yes campaign peaked at 56%.

Glasgow 2014 pro-independence rally

Pro-independence rallies were held across Scotland ahead of the 2014 referendum (Image: GETTY)

In January 2021, the SNP said that if the independence parties were to win the Scottish general election in May, the devolved government would table a bill for a second independence referendum.

After forming a coalition government with the Scottish Greens – also pro-independence – in June 2022, Ms Sturgeon announced her intention to hold another referendum, stylized as IndyRef2, on October 19, 2023.

Tangled in a legal battle with Westminster, which argues the Scottish Parliament lacks the power to pass such legislation, the SNP was asked on Wednesday to argue its case in the Supreme Court.

Incoming British Prime Minister Liz Truss – who described herself as a ‘child of the union’ during her Tory leadership campaign after spending part of her childhood in Paisley – has repeatedly said she would not allow another referendum.

Speaking at the Perth roundups in August, Ms Truss said: ‘At the time of the 2014 referendum it was agreed by the SNP that this was a once in a generation referendum.

“I believe politicians keep their promises, and Nicola Sturgeon should keep her promise. What she should be doing, rather than fussing over another referendum, is to deal with the very real issues in Scotland.

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