Polling guru John Curtice exposes Nicola Sturgeon’s chances of second referendum
John Curtice discusses ‘policy challenge’ for Indyref2
Sir John Curtice revealed that 48 percent of Scots believe coronavirus would have been handled better if the country was independent. There are growing concerns in Westminster about support for Scottish independence, as Nicola Sturgeon argues there would be grounds for a new referendum if her SNP party wins a majority in the Holyrood elections scheduled for May. Boris Johnson is visiting Scotland on Thursday to argue that the Union has been integral in administering the Covid-19 vaccine, providing coronavirus testing and giving economic support.
Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Sir John said: “The best evidence we have is what has been dominating people’s lives ever since lockdown and that is coronavirus.
“The essential clue is a couple of times now pollsters have asked people, ‘do you think coronavirus would have been handled better by an indepenent Scotland or worse?’
“The most reading of this on the weekend, 48 percent of people said ‘better’. Only 23 percent said ‘worse’.
“Of course a lot of the people who say they think coronavirus would have been handled better are already committed to voting ‘yes’.
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“However 20 percent of people who voted ‘no’ in 2014 say that they think maybe actually Scotland would have handled coronavirus better as an independent country.
“You can also see from the polling details that at least a half who said ‘no’ are now ‘yes’ supporters.”
The Scottish Parliament has backed the idea of planning another independence referendum despite accusations it is “reckless and damaging” to do so during the coronavirus pandemic.
The Scottish Conservatives described the SNP’s recent announcement of an independence taskforce and a route map for a vote on independence was “not just unfathomable, but unforgivable”.
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But in a parliamentary debate, a Tory motion calling for the Scottish Government to create a vaccine taskforce rather than one to plan another referendum campaign was rejected by MSPs.
The failed motion called for Parliament to agree that “planning an independence referendum in 2021, during an ongoing global pandemic, would be reckless and damaging”.
Instead, an SNP amendment stating “there can be no justification whatsoever to deny people in Scotland their democratic rights” if there is a pro-independence majority after May’s Holyrood election passed by 65 votes to 56
Opening the debate, the Scottish Conservatives’ health spokesman Donald Cameron said: “After everything Scotland has gone through and is still going through, it simply beggars belief that this Government thinks it’s right to talk about IndyRef2 at this point in time.
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“For some completely unfathomable reason, the SNP have chosen the middle of a global pandemic as the right time to serialise their never-ending obsession with independence.
“That’s not just unfathomable, but unforgivable.”
Urging the Government to focus on the vaccination programme, Mr Cameron listed examples of appointment delays, discrepancies and apparent concern from GPs about the supply of the vaccine.
“All of this points to a disorganised rollout process with no clear direction or leadership and it also does not bode well for the future, when we get to the next priority groups in the coming weeks and months,” he said.
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