An ICM survey for the News of the World shows that English voters are more supportive of independence for Scotland than Scottish voters and younger voters are most enthusiastic of all.
56% of English voters support independence but only 41% of Scottish voters. 66% of English voters aged 18 to 24 agree with Scotland leaving the Union.
The News of the World suggests that the English-to-Scotland subsidy (which it suggests is £447 for every taxpayer) may explain the difference. 55% of Scots agree that England should subsidise Scotland but only 33% of voters south of the border agree.
68% of English voters and 58% of Scottish voters support ‘English votes for English laws‘.
Earlier this week an analysis by the Financial Times cast doubt on the economic viability of an independent Scotland.
Initially, calculates the FT, Scotland will be able to maintain its current levels of public spending because of the bumper revenues from the ‘black gold’ of the North Sea. The SNP will struggle, however, to keep its promise to invest £90 billion of oil revenues in a future endowment fund and maintain Scotland’s European levels of public spending.
Furthermore, the FT report shows that Scotland will only be able to maintain its current level of spending for ten years after which declining oil production will lead to increasing budget deficits. It is estimated that Scotland’s current production of three million barrels per day will diminish to less than one million barrels by 2020.
In the words of Chris Giles, the FT’s Economics Editor:
"The choice facing an independent Scotland would be as stark as it is simple. Cut public expenditure rapidly to provide room for an oil endowment fund, or remain reliant on volatile revenues from declining oil production to plug the hole in a high-spending averagely-taxed economy. Both would leave Holyrood with hard political decisions."
The SNP’s leader Alex Salmond has already pledged to address the spending difficulties by emulating Ireland and cutting corporate tax to 20%. He believes that this will be sufficient to attract investment into Scotland. Economists interviewed by the Financial Times are not so sure. They argue that the tax cuts would be too little, too late. This is because a 20% cut will still leave Scotland’s tax burden above the rates in Ireland and the new EU countries.
Related link: The case for Union needs to be made to the English, too