Economics of Independence ScotRef

Yes continues to dominate in post #indyref debate polls and analysis

vote-yes_no copyWe previously reported a growing trend that Yes was coming out on top in every debate on Scotland’s future in our article “Yes winning 63% to 33% after three post debate polls”

The evidence since continues to demonstrate that people move towards voting Yes after engaging with evidence from both sides of the debate.

There were three such examples this week.

1) Thrive Business Debate

Last night in Edinburgh, members of the Scottish business community met to analyse the prospectus for independence and the factual case for a Yes vote in 2014.

Business for Scotland was represented by David Cairns the Executive Chairman of PrismTech, an £8m turnover software company with offices in Stirling and England.

Undecided business professionals were swayed by the Yes case, particularly the economic opportunities of independence. Control of fiscal powers – such as tax, investment and export support – will provide greater opportunities for business in Scotland to increase their competitiveness.

One participant, Dr Gen Cannibal who is the Director for Environment with Progenus Environmental Ltd, was fully convinced by the case for independence.

He said: “The Yes campaign arguments were more factually accurate and convincing by a long way. This was especially the case in regards to the renewable energy sector which has the potential to be a major economic earner for the Scottish economy but only if it is supported.”

This sort of feedback is a regular occurrence at Business for Scotland events.  Previously, Stuart MacDonald said  “I must admit before I attended I was sitting on the fence but having sat through various speakers and listened to the evidence I am now strongly in favour of the Yes vote.”

Business for Scotland has found growing support for independence within the business community and our own membership has now grown to over 1,000. In stark contrast, the No Campaign is struggling for business support and is heavily reliant upon former or failed Westminster political candidates with spurious business credentials to make their case.  This is because more serious business people don’t want to publicly back the No Campaign’s ridiculous scare stories for fear of damaging their own reputations.

2) Strathclyde University Union Debate

On Monday night, at Strathclyde University there was a discussion on independence and employment.

Given the dysfunctional nature of UK employment relations and the proposals in the “Scotland’s Future” independence White Paper to improve this, it’s no surprise the economic debate led to an increase in support for ‘Yes’.

Business for Scotland was represented by Gordon MacIntyre-Kemp, who was joined on the Yes side by Peter McColl, Rector of the University of Edinburgh, James Dornan MSP and Jean Urquhart, independent MSP and owner of the Ceilidh Place Hotel in Ullapool.

This resulted in a commanding victory of 60.6% to Yes vs 24.2% for No.  Support for Yes increased when 55% of the undecided voters before the debate switched to Yes. The No campaign failed to pick up a single extra vote.

This once again indicates a growing willingness from undecided voters to be persuaded by positive arguments for independence, particularly when they are simultaneously presented with the case for a No future.

3) High School Student Debate

On Monday there was also a school hall debate at St Ninian’s High School in Kirkintilloch. It was organised for Secondary 4, 5 and 6 – many of whom will be voting for the first time in 2014.Economics, jobs and prosperity were at the heart of the Yes case for independence.

Young people were inquisitive as to the benefits of controlling defence policy in Scotland, the opportunities for improving the economy and public services, and tackling the levels of social inequality.

All three questions led back to the crucial economic case – that Scotland will be financially better off as an independent country.

On defence – as covered by Business for Scotland – there will be a substantial ‘Defence Dividend’ of at least £500 million a year. Pupils were receptive to spending money wasted on nuclear weapons in better areas such as childcare. An independent Scotland’s economy will benefit from increased investment with control of policy in Scotland. This provides opportunities to create more jobs and life opportunities that help alleviate social exclusion and poverty.

The feedback was tremendous.

By one teacher’s account, there was a majority against independence 3 months ago in September. After the debate 50% had changed their position from either undecided or ‘No’ to voting ‘Yes’. This gave ‘Yes’ a majority as not a single person indicated that they changed their mind to voting No.

It was fantastic to see so many young people deciding to vote Yes. Young people have the most to gain from an independent Scotland. Whether it’s protecting university education from fee rises, investing in apprenticeships or improving opportunities for enterprise – it’s clear that decisions which affect Scotland are best taken in Scotland.

Many pupils were engaging in this discussion for the first time. Old notions that Scotland is ‘too poor’ were conclusively debunked. For the No side, Gregg McClymont MP had absolutely no response to the official GERS figures showing Scotland’s stronger balance sheet relative to the UK and independent reports which demonstrate Scotland’s economy is performing better than the UK as a whole.


These three events were the latest market signals that people and business in Scotland are receptive to the economic arguments for independence. Evidence and research is definitive: Scotland can and will be a successful independent country. It is therefore no surprise – when people are presented with the evidence – that voters decide to support independence.  It is not unreasonable to suggest that 60% of people who engage with the debate and listen to both sides can be expected to vote Yes in September.  The No Campaign will keep muddying the waters and scaremongering to make the debate less engaging and informative. But on these terms a Yes vote is within Scotland’s grasp.

About the author

Michael Gray

Michael is Head of Research with Business for Scotland.

A graduate from the University of Glasgow, he has carried out a series of interviews with academics, politicians and the public in Denmark, Iceland and Ireland. Michael's on twitter @GrayInGlasgow.


  • Hi.must say,Scotland has an INFINTE source of energy. Hydro Power right now we harness about 2% were actually energy rich
    Drilling for oil under the sea is the work of savages. We should use oil till we bring our
    vast white power up to speed.If you think it’s
    going to stop raining vote that says what will we do if oil runs out.. wake up. The next big thing falls on our heads most days. So FEAR NOT

  • the message is clear and simple believe the opposite of what comes out of the bitter together camp that would include polling figures . FEEDOM is just around the corner

  • I’ve seen Gordon MacIntyre-Kemp being interviewed on TV a few times. It’s no wonder BfS wins its debates with speakers of that calibre who score heavily on presentation, content, sincerity and competence.

    We have the arguments and we have the calibre of people to put them across as Nicola has demonstrated on and off the television – there’s someone called Salmond whose pretty good as well I’m told :0)


  • From Today herald

    “The TNS BMRB survey showed the No campaign leading by 14%, a figure that is down from 19% in September. Conducted between December 3 and December 10, the latest poll confirmed a gradual shift in support towards the pro-independence”.

    So even polls with methodologies that fatter the no campaign are seeing significant shifts to YES!

    It will be slow but as people engage they begin the journey to yes.

    • I dont believe the polls. Had discussions with 4 different people today all said they and all their families were voting yes. The last was a young lad who came to fix the radiator. furious at the rubbish in the press and could not understand the polls since he didnt know anybody who wasgoing to vote no.

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