PRO-INDEPENDENCE Scots may not need to win the argument on the country’s future economy in order to win a second referendum, Professor Sir John Curtice has said.

The eminent polling expert said that, for the Yes side, a “draw” on economic arguments could be enough to secure a win at a future independence vote.

Curtice said that the No side faced a greater challenge, needing to “win” such a debate on economics in order to secure a win for the Unionists.

The president of the British Polling Council and a professor of politics at the University of Strathclyde, Curtice was writing for Economics Observatory when he made the comments.

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In an article focusing on the economic consequences of either a Yes or No vote, Curtice said “we should perhaps not be surprised” that voters tend to be “more or less evenly divided” about whether independence would be beneficial for the economy or not.

“At most there has been a slightly bigger drop in the proportion of voters who now have a negative assessment of the economic consequences of independence than there has in the proportion who take a positive view,” he said.

“The biggest difference is the growth of those who say that independence would not make much difference (or say they don’t know).”

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He pointed to one poll from Hanbury Strategy, which found in February 2021 that while 35% thought that the economy and taxes would be better as part of the UK, 35% stated that they would be better in an independent Scotland.

“Perhaps of equal note is that as many as 30% said that it would not make much difference or that they did not know which would be better,” Curtice goes on.

“This is potentially a crucial group. Contrary to what one might anticipate, these voters are not evenly divided between those who support independence and those who back the Union. Rather, according to Opinium, they are nearly two to one in favour of Scotland becoming independent – just as they were in 2014.

“For some voters, the feeling that independence will not make much difference either way may well be enough for them to back independence…

“If a second referendum on Scottish independence were called, Unionists would need to win the economic argument in the eyes of voters. For nationalists, on the other hand, a draw might well be enough.”

The professor also said that the economic arguments around independence had changed fundamentally since 2014 due to Brexit.

He said a referendum would likely be seen as a choice between being independent in the EU, or a part of the United Kingdom, and the UK’s economic weight would seem far less important in the wider European context.

“There is little doubt that whatever their views about the economics of independence, voters in Scotland are pessimistic about the consequences of leaving the EU,” Curtice added.