|Written by Chris Young|
For all the talk that an SNP victory in Scotland at next month’s General Election will be a de-facto passport to a second referendum, in practice, the reality may be somewhat different.
The party has been clear that the issue of a second referendum is off the table – for this election at least.
That much we know.
But there can be little doubt that the vast majority of the SNP’s 100,000 plus membership will be looking towards May 7 in the hope that a strong result acts as a catalyst for revisiting the constitutional question once again.
Nicola Sturgeon, fresh from an impressive performance in the UK leaders’ debate, seemed less at ease when pressed during this week’s Scottish equivalent on the party’s constitutional preferences and seemed less sure footed as usual on the other vexing question - full fiscal autonomy, which independent experts the IFS say could cost the country £7.6 billion in lost revenue.
Describing the 2016 Scottish elections as “another matter” she drew boos from sections of the 200 strong crowd gathered in Edinburgh’s Assembly Rooms for STV’s Scottish leaders’ debate.
And when this happened, you couldn’t help but feel that emotions on both sides of the independence debate remain as raw as ever more than 6 months after Scots voted to stay part of the UK.
But by Wednesday evening’s BBC Scottish leaders’ debate, the prospects of a referendum appearing in its Holyrood manifesto appeared to dwindle as the First Minister said it would take more than the passage of time for a second vote to be viable.
An interesting dichotomy is playing out in Scottish politics.
On the one side, the SNP is widely viewed as having run two competent and effective administrations since it was first elected in 2007.
Not immune from criticism, it has nevertheless built itself a reputation as the heir to Scottish Labour’s title as the party best placed to provide a strong voice for Scotland at Westminster.
And barring a political catastrophe, it is expected by many – coalition or otherwise – to be returned to power in Holyrood next year.
But while the ever increasing predictions of an SNP landslide in Scotland four weeks from now adds weight to the suggestion that Scots may be ready to embrace the idea of independence, the polls tell a different story.
It’s an issue that continues to polarise opinion.
Once “don’t knows” are excluded, the latest YouGov survey has those backing Scotland remaining in the UK in the lead, by 51% to 49%.
Those figures suggest the SNP’s of independence remains an altogether harder sell.
LATEST GENERAL ELECTION POLLS (SCOTLAND)
|Organisation (dates conducted)||SNP||Lab||Con||Lib Dem||Others|
|YouGov/The Sun (26 Mar – 31 Mar)||46%||29%||16%||3%||6%|
|Panelbase/Sunday Times(30 Mar – 2 Apr)||45%||29%||14%||4%||6%|
|YouGov/Times (8 Apr – 9 Apr)||49%||25%||18%||4%||4%|
By Chris Young, Public Affairs Account Manager - 3x1 Public Relations