Second independence vote backed by 60% of UK Labour supporters, survey suggests

Craig Paton, PA Scotland Political Reporter
·3-min read

A new survey suggests that 60% of Labour supporters across the UK back another independence referendum “in principle” in the next few years, and 56% think the party should too.

The YouGov study, which spoke to 1,073 Labour members between March 17 and March 24, found that while supporters in the rest of the UK believe there should be another vote, just 31% in Scotland feel the same – with 61% against the idea and 8% undecided.

However, the weighted sample in Scotland for the poll was just 43 people.

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Thirty per cent of UK-wide respondents do not back another referendum, while 10% said they do not know.

Most support for another referendum within Labour is in older age groups, with 63% of 50-64-year-olds and 64% of those older than 65 supporting a second vote, compared to 52% in both the 18-24 and 25-49 age groups.

Supporters also appear to break with the messaging from the leadership of the party, which has been steadfastly against another referendum.

Sir Keir Starmer and Anas Sarwar
Labour, led by Sir Keir Starmer, left, nationally and in Scotland by Anas Sarwar, right, has been against another independence vote (Jeff J Mitchell/PA)

Scottish leader Anas Sarwar has said the next parliamentary session at Holyrood should focus on the recovery from Covid-19.

The poll found 56% believe the party should publicly back another vote, while 28% said it should not and 16% are undecided.

The disparity in the party north of the border continued with that question, as just 28% of Scottish Labour members believe the party should support another referendum, compared to 53% who do not and 19% who are undecided.

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SNP depute leader Keith Brown said: “Keir Starmer is completely out of touch with Scotland and his own party members, who overwhelmingly support Scotland’s right to choose our own future in a post-pandemic independence referendum.

“The Labour Party ruined its reputation in Scotland by backing Boris Johnson’s hard Brexit, supporting austerity cuts, imposing Trident nuclear weapons, and working hand-in-hand with the Tories in Better Together.

“It risks falling into terminal decline if it continues to side with Boris Johnson to deny democracy.”

On a visit to Edinburgh Airport on Friday with UK Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer, Mr Sarwar told the PA news agency: “Labour Party members in Scotland and across the UK are focused on a national recovery – not playing cheap games, not going back to the old arguments, I can leave that to the SNP and the Tories.”

Sir Keir also praised the Scottish Labour leader, who has been in post for just over six weeks, saying: “He’s certainly got the qualities to be first minister, you can see that on display every day.

“He’s taking the argument to his opponents, he’s making the case for Scotland and, frankly, he has got the focus that other politicians haven’t got – which is on the recovery in the middle of a pandemic.”

Sir Keir added Labour is “fighting for every vote in Scotland”.