The historic union between Scotland and the rest of the UK is under threat once again after a shock poll found Scots would vote to break away in a new referendum. The results will serve as a warning for Scottish Labour ahead of the 2016 Holyrood elections. It will also serve to boost the SNP after a strong performance at the ballot box north of the border at the general election.
The Ipsos MORI survey – of more than 1,000 people between 24 and 30 August 2015 – revealed that 53% of respondents would vote for independence and 44% would vote against the move. The figures will put pressure on new Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale MSP, who succeeded Jim Murphy in August. The research, commissioned by STV News, also revealed that if the UK voted to leave the EU in the forthcoming referendum, 52% of Scots would back another referendum and half (50%) of respondents would back another vote if the Conservatives got their "English votes for English laws" reform through parliament.
First Minister of Scotland Nicola Sturgeon welcomed the poll and described the results as "sensational". The SNP leader also urged her party to "keep working hard" on the back of the findings. The survey comes after Scots voted against independence in a 2014 referendum, which saw more than 55% of the electorate choose to stay inside the union and more than 44% pick separation. But despite the nationalist defeat, the SNP gained momentum on the back of the result and transferred their support into 56 seats in the House of Commons at the 2015 general election.
Sturgeon warned in July of this year that she could called a second referendum after the Conservatives announced their plan to introduce the "English votes for English laws" reform. "I have been very clear that, at least in part, the level of support for independence will be determined by what the Tory government at Westminster does, as well as what the SNP Government does. And there is no question that the great disrespect shown to Scotland in these proposals is likely to have more people asking whether Westminster is capable of representing Scotland's interests at all," she said.
The Ipsos MORI poll suggests that Sturgeon would have public support if she called a referendum in protest against the Tories. The study also found that a Jeremy Corbyn victory on 12 September in the Labour leadership election would have little effect on Scots' voting intentions, as 23% of people said it would make them more likely to vote for the party, while 38% said it would make no difference.