Much has been written about the possibility of the Scottish National Party pushing for another referendum on independence should they augment their recent surge in Westminster seats with a victory in the Scottish parliamentary elections next year.
This is despite reports that the Scots could lose out financially if they claimed fiscal autonomy for themselves because of tumbling oil prices. Perhaps for that reason many of them are sceptical that Scotland will become independent before the next general election (currently scheduled for 2020) – though the English are not so sure.
Figures from a recent Survation poll, which included people from across Britain, show that a third of Scots think their country will be independent by the end of this parliament. Though this gives unionists cause for optimism the English seems to view divorce as more likely, with 43 percent predicting Scotland will break away within the next five years.
“It’s interesting that Scotland is split pretty much down the middle on whether independence will happen, even within a decade, while more people in England think it’s already lost,” says Sunder Katwala, director of the think-tank British Future, which commissioned the online survey of 4,000.
Long-term pessimism of the fate of the United Kingdom, which has existed for more than 300 years, is more rife than the short-term kind. Almost three-quarters of both English and Scots predict that this may be the last united British generation, with both groups expecting dissolution of the Union within 25 years.
“That’s a long-term challenge for unionism and an opportunity for Nicola Sturgeon to play the long game,” Katwala added. “Up to a third of that 72% will be ‘No’ voters who are resigned to independence, and her task will be to convince them that it’s all going to be alright.”
Header image – Edinburgh Castle by Stuart Caie