Putting it all together
So far we have looked separately at the degree to which people’s sense of identity, their perceptions of the economics of independence, and their views about equality and the welfare state appear to help us to identify who is more or less likely to vote Yes or No. However, it could well be the case that those with a strong sense of Scottish identity are also more likely to think that independence would be beneficial economically and also that it would help to make Scotland a more equal society. This makes it less than straightforward to identify which of these possible considerations does actually matter most to voters. To obtain a clearer picture we need to undertake a multivariate statistical analysis that identifies which of all the possible considerations we have examined in this chapter are most strongly linked to whether people say they are going to vote Yes or No after taking into account the apparent influence of all the other considerations. (See the Technical details chapter for more details on multivariate statistical analysis).
Full details of the results are given in the Appendix. But they are relatively straightforward. Of all of the issues examined in this chapter, the one that is most clearly linked to whether people are inclined to vote Yes rather than No is whether they think that the economy would be better or worse under independence. Also of particular importance seems to be whether people feel that pensions should be funded out of a UK-wide pool or whether people are content for them to be paid for out of Scottish taxes alone. Thereafter two further financial indicators prove to be moderately important – whose economy is thought to benefit more from the Union and whether or not people think they would personally be better off if Scotland were to become independent. National identity does still play some role even when all of these more instrumental considerations are taken into account, indicating that for some if not most voters voting Yes or No is simply a question of affirming their Scottish or British identity. Finally, those who think that unemployment benefits are too low are marginally more likely to back independence. Otherwise the debate about equality does not appear to play much of a role in voters’ minds at all.
So it seems that for most voters the debate about the economic consequences of independence together with their perceptions of how good a deal Scotland gets currently out of the Union appears to be key to the decision they are inclined to take. Few seem willing to vote Yes unless they are convinced that independence would be economically beneficial. At the same time, people’s views about how welfare should be funded in Scotland also play a role, but
on the other hand the quest for a more equal society that perhaps enjoys a bigger welfare state has little or no traction. People’s sense of national identity sits there in the background, and indeed for some it is sufficient to account for which way they are inclined to vote, but it appears that is not the case for most voters. They need practical reasons to persuade them to vote one way or the other too.
- Download chapter
- Much the same pattern of response was obtained when three of the four questions (on the economy, the standard of living and taxes) were previously asked on the 2011 and 2012 surveys.
- Bases for Table 3.4 are as follows:
The picture was much the same when the question was also asked in 2012: then 47 per cent said it would not make any difference, 25 per cent that the gap would be bigger and just 19 per cent that it would be smaller.
Bases for Table 3.10 are as follows:
Note that neither sex, age or social class proved to be significant independently of the considerations that were included in the model. So the gender, age and class differences identified earlier in the chapter simply reflect differences between these groups in the incidence of identity and/or perceptions of the consequences of independence.
- Related links