Scottish independence support shows fall

Dwindling support for Scottish independence may be partly responsible for the looming Glenrothes by-election being much closer than expected, a poll suggests.

Voters in Glenrothes go to the polls on Thursday with what was once seen as a surefire Scottish National party (SNP) win now regarded as too close to call.

A new poll published in today’s Sunday Herald may go some way to explaining why. It suggests support for Scottish independence has fallen by six per cent over the last three months.

And the survey, conducted by TNS System Three for the paper, said support for Scotland being sovereign over all affairs had fallen to 35 per cent from the average of 40 per cent over the last nine months.

Support had fallen to 39 per cent in July and had suffered another decline of four points in the last three months.

Polling data also shows a two per cent increase in those opposed to independence and another two per cent rise in those uncertain about independence.

Meanwhile a new poll by the Sunday Express shows Labour moving ahead of the SNP in the contest for the Glenrothes seat with 26.5 per cent of the vote, a 3.5 per cent lead over the nationalists.

A similar survey of 1,000 voters conducted six months ago showed Labour trailing the SNP by 13 points.

The last few months have seen the world economy in crisis with Britain having to take large stakes in some of the country’s biggest banks.

SNP leader Alex Salmond publicly criticised the UK government’s emergency moves to assist the Royal Bank of Scotland and to assist Lloyds TSB in taking over HBOS.

Speaking about the results of the poll to the paper, an SNP spokesman said: “This is a very encouraging poll, which confirms that support for independence and equality for Scotland is extremely strong. And the 15-point gap in the summer of 2007 has halved to just eight points now.”

Labour leader in the Scottish parliament Iain Gray said: “The last few weeks have shown the SNP’s argument for separatism has been undermined by the global banking crisis and the plummeting price of oil Scotland’s best prospect lies in partnership in the UK.”