There is still support for an independent Scotland according to a poll undertaken by the Dunedin Napier News website.
In the poll conducted during October 2008, 57% of respondents said that they supported independence for Scotland, whilst 43% said they were against the idea.
This result echoes previous poll results published before the SNP won the 2007 Scottish elections, showing that the recent economic crisis has not affected Alex Salmond’s dream of an autonomous state.
There has recently been much speculation over whether support for an independent state is dwindling since the Westminster government bailed out both RBS and HBOS at a cost of £37billion to the taxpayer.
Gordon Brown used the financial crisis to attack the SNP in the lead-up to the Glenrothes by-elections by highlighting that an independent Scotland could not have afforded to bail out the two major banks (which are based in Edinburgh) because Scotland’s annual budget only comes to around £30billion.
However, Alex Salmond hit back during the SNP conference in Perth: “I would have thought that the condition of the economy, the fears of our people, the state of the financial sector, are a staggering condemnation of the state of the United Kingdom.”
“During the period of financial chaos over the last few weeks we willingly responded to the call to put political differences aside in a national emergency. We did so because we thought it was the right thing to do.
“And how did the Prime Minister respond? At his very first opportunity last Tuesday he launched an attack on independence and the SNP.”
Economists have criticised Salmond’s “arc of prosperity” since Iceland and Ireland – both countries used as examples of the possibilities for Scotland’s future – have both succumbed to the global crisis. However Salmond was quick to attack claims that Scotland would have gone the same way had it been independent.
In his closing speech, Salmond pointed out that the other countries in his “arc of prosperity” Norway, Denmark, Sweden and Finland are “amoung the few countries in Europe forecast to escape recession.”
However some respondents to the Dunedin Napier News poll remained sceptical over the question of independence. One commenting “Independence? Who owns our oil? Who owns our gas?” and another saying “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”.
Helen Matthews, an Edinburgh resident said: “The result of this poll just shows that we are as uncertain as ever about going independent. Fair enough it is a majority – but I doubt if it came down to a referendum that the Scottish people would take the risk. We won’t really know what people think until we have a referendum.”