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New Poll on Scottish and Welsh Independence

 

Graham Henry of Media Wales has very kindly shared with me some details of a recent poll, run by YouGov on their behalf, which asked a few questions about attitudes in Wales to Scottish independence, and then also asked about independence in Wales. (You can see Graham’s report about the poll, for the Western Mail, here).

There were several main questions asked in the poll. The first was simply the question to be asked in this September’s referendum: ‘Should Scotland be an independent country?’ Given that people in Wales do not have a vote in the referendum, one might query the point of asking such a question (as some have done about similar previous polls run in England); however, given that the result of the Scottish vote will have some implications for the rest of the UK no matter what the result, it is, I think, of some interest what the rest of us feel about the referendum in Scotland. Anyway, the results in Wales were fairly decisive:

 

Yes:                                                     16%

No:                                                      62%

Would not vote/Don’t Know:     22%

 

While it is no great surprise that the majority of people in Wales do not support Scottish independence, the breakdowns by party support are rather interesting. It is hardly unexpected that very strong majorities among supporters of the main ‘unionist’ parties endorse the continuation of the union. It is, perhaps, a bit more surprising that only 48% of Plaid Cymru supporters indicate their support (with almost as many, 41%, opposed).

The poll then asked about the likely impact of Scottish independence for Wales: ‘Do you think Scotland becoming an independent nation would be good or bad for Wales, or would it make no difference?’ Here the split of opinion is much less lop-sided. Only 10% believed that it would be good for Wales (with only 3% saying ‘Very good’), but far less than an absolute majority (32%) say that Scottish independence would be bad. The plurality of respondents, some 41% choose ‘neither good nor bad’, with another 17% opting for Don’t Know. This may reflect many people being rather vague about the likely implications of Scottish independence for Wales. But it may also reflect the broad sense that, for many people in Wales, the key element of the ‘union’ for them is their link with England.

Again, the party splits on this second question are notable mainly for the attitudes of Plaid Cymru supporters. While 35% of them believe that Scottish independence would be good for Wales (with 18% believing it ‘very good’), over a quarter also believe that it would be bad. In contrast, few supporters of the unionist parties perceive any positive implications of Scottish independence for Wales.

The Scottish referendum question was then repeated for Wales: ‘Should Wales be an independent country?’ Here, the results are even more decisive than for Scotland:

 

Yes:                                                     12%

No:                                                      74%

Would not vote/Don’t Know      13%

 

Thus, people in Wales seem actually to be slightly more supportive of independence for Scotland than for their own nation!

It is perhaps worth saying that while support for independence here, at 12%, is rather higher than has typically been shown in most polls over the last decade or so, that it almost certainly largely down to question wording effects. Most polls offer independence as one option within a multi-option constitutional preference question, whereas here it is one option out of only two main ones. Thus, the fact that independence receives 12% support here, compared with the 5% shown in the BBC/ICM poll published in late-February, almost certainly does not indicate a sudden jump in support for independence. It just shows that a different question was asked.

Once more, the party splits show supporters of the main unionist parties strongly opposed to independence, while Plaid Cymru fails to carry even the majority of its own supporters for one of its flagship policies: 44% of Plaid voters indicate they support independence, with almost as many (39%) being opposed.

Finally, the poll asked two questions about the economic implications of Welsh independence: for Wales and for the survey respondents personally. (Thus tapping into what scholars term ‘sociotropic’ and ‘egocentric’ attitudes: how you think something would affect society as a whole, and how it would affect you). The table below summarises the findings (in %) of these two questions: 

 

Wales

Personally

Better off

9

6

Worse off

69

54

Make no difference

9

21

Don’t Know

13

19

 As can be seen, opinions are somewhat more definite about the implications of independence for Wales than for survey respondents themselves. But the balance of opinion is very clearly negative for both. Few people think that Welsh independence would be a good thing economically, wither for the country or for them. Indeed, even among Plaid Cymru supporters, more take a negative view than a positive one on both questions.

Scottish independence is a realistic proposition: there is a referendum being held in less than five months’ time on the matter, and while a No vote is still the more likely outcome, a Yes vote is very far from inconceivable. Independence for Wales is a rather different matter. Independence currently enjoys much lower levels of support in Wales than it does in Scotland. Were Scotland to vote Yes, I think a more serious debate about Welsh independence might well begin. But for independence to become a serious part of the political agenda one thing that would surely have to happen is a much greater proportion of people in Wales coming to believe that independence would have significant economic benefits, both for them and for the nation as a whole.

Comments

  • j parry

    this poll asked about voting intentions for euro, assembly and westminster, it also asked about smacking which appeared in the paper today, their drip feeding out,

    the viting intention is more interesting than indy views in wales.

    • Roger Scully

      I decided to leave it to others to discuss the smacking and smoking elements of the poll, knowing little about either.

      I haven’t seen any data about voting intentions from this poll.

  • j parry

    you have to take the views of PC supporters with a pinch of salt. would scottish indy be good for wales? getting squeezed even more by westminster, the welsh would have less of a say, a wales and england without scotland will marginalise the welsh people.

  • Harry Hayfield

    Yes, that’s what struck me as well. Plaid (a party who holds up the proposed Catalan independence referendum as a model for the future of Wales) is around 20% in the Assembly polls I have seen of late and yet only about 75% of their support is saying “YES” to Independence.

  • J Jones

    “Plaid…..only about 75% of their support is saying “YES” to Independence.”

    Where are those figures Harry? Roger is quoting 44% of plaid supporters in favour of independence…although I’m not clear how the question is worded. Is this a question like:- “If there was a vote on independence for Wales tomorrow…….?” or is the question “Do you believe that Wales should be Independent from the rest of the UK?”.

    The theoretical question might have a very high “Yes” answer but the question about the immediate prospects could have a very low level of agreement even amongst Plaid voters.

    That 44% of plaid voters supporting Independence equates to 9% of the electorate…..9% is a common level of support for Independence for Wales in previous polls (supposing none of the Unionist party supporters would vote for Independence). 12% support overall isn’t inconsistent even with the BBC/ICM poll’s 5% when you consider levels of variation…just two extremes around the mean.

    • Roger Scully

      The question was a direct parallel of the Scottish Referendum question: “Should Wales be an Independent country?”

      I think the main difference for the 12% support here, and 5% support in BBC/ICM, is very probably question wording.

  • Ioan

    I was asked this question (‘Should Scotland be an independent country?’ ) over the phone (so it was not YouGov – cannot remember who it was), and I replied “it’s up to the people of Scotland”, he asked me the same question again before putting me down as a” don’t know”… I hope that Scotland becomes Independent – but it’s not up to me!

    • Roger Scully

      We used that because it is the wording of the referendum question in Scotland, and therefore increasingly used by pollsters as their standard question on the Scottish referendum.

  • Ioan

    I am favour of an Independent Wales, but you have to answer “No” to the question “Should Wales be an independent Country?” because the majority of people in Wales are against. Silly question.

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