Scottish Poll Shows Shift Toward Independence After Power Pledge

The U.K.’s promise to hand more power to Scotland as the government tries to quash support for nationalism has so far failed to dissuade voters against seeking full independence, according to a monthly poll.

The survey by ICM Research, published yesterday by the Scotland on Sunday newspaper, showed 36 percent of respondents in favor of leaving the U.K., an increase of two percentage points from a month ago. Forty-three percent backed the U.K. remaining intact, a drop of three points.

Scotland holds a referendum on independence on Sept. 18, with the main political parties in London opposed to the campaign led by Alex Salmond and his Scottish National Party. Prime Minister David Cameron’s Conservative Party this month put forward plans to give Scotland more financial power as the pro-union group tried to head off any chance of a Yes vote.

“What the ICM poll does clearly suggest is that the real announcements about more devolution that have been emerging from the No camp in recent weeks have yet to make much impression on voters,” John Curtice, professor of politics at Strathclyde University in Glasgow, said on his blog yesterday.

ICM canvassed 1,003 people across Scotland this month. The newspaper didn’t give specific dates or a margin of error. The proportion of people undecided on how they will vote on Sept. 18 rose by one percentage point to 21 percent.

Harry Potter

The seven-percentage point lead for the No campaign is the same as in March and compares with three points in April before it widened last month. When undecided voters are taken out, 45 percent of people intend to vote for independence with 55 percent opting to retain the 307-year-old U.K.

Next month’s poll will take into account comments made last week by prominent figures declaring support for the U.K.

Former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton entered the debate by telling BBC Television she “would hate to have you lose Scotland. I hope that it doesn’t happen.” Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling, a resident of Scotland, meanwhile said she wanted keep the status quo and donated 1 million pounds ($1.7 million) to the pro-U.K. Better Together Campaign.

“My hesitance at embracing independence has nothing to do with lack of belief in Scotland’s remarkable people or its achievements,” she wrote on her website. “The simple truth is that Scotland is subject to the same 21st century pressures as the rest of the world.”

Dividend vs Bonus

In contrast to the ICM poll, neither campaign gained any ground last month in one by TNS published last week.

The survey taken in the week to May 28 showed 42 percent of respondents plan to vote to remain in the U.K., with 30 percent supporting independence and 28 percent undecided. The 12 percentage-point gap was unchanged from the month before.

Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander put forward his department’s calculations of a “U.K. dividend” of 1,400 pounds for every Scot by sticking with the status quo on May 28 and not having to bear the cost of independence.

On the same day in Edinburgh, Salmond spoke of an “independence bonus” of 1,000 pounds for going it alone and having control over North Sea oil revenue.

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