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Indyref issues: 27% want Scots army, 25% new broadcaster...47% fear immigration influx

JUST over a quarter of Scots think an independent Scotland should have its own armed forces and public opinion appears sharply divided over key SNP proposals, according to the full results of a major survey.

Only 27% of 1500 polled would prefer to be defended by a newly formed army, air force and navy, in the event of a Yes vote, compared with 67% who would want an independent Scotland to combine its military with that of the UK, the ScotCen Social Attitudes Survey has found.

The findings, which were published in full yesterday, suggested the SNP's plan to establish a Scottish Defence Force - after it heavily criticised British involvement in the Iraq War - was at odds with public opinion. Support for a joint military was strong among Yes and No voters.

Plans to turn BBC Scotland into a Scottish Broadcasting Service [SBS] emerged as less popular than keeping services as they are now. Only a quarter of those questioned favoured the SNP's hopes of an SBS and the BBC working in tandem, though Yes supporters were considerably more likely to want a new state broadcaster than No voters.

The results also challenged Alex Salmond's claim that Scotland is a significantly more left-wing country than England and that independence would naturally lead to a more generous welfare regime and better-funded public services

Around 53% of Scots believe that unemployment benefits are too high, double the number in 2001 and mirroring the hardening of attitudes down south.

Only 26% felt unemployment benefits were too low, down from a high of 45% in 2001. Yes voters were only slightly more favourable to increased welfare than No votes, the survey showed.

On immigration - which the SNP plans to increase signif-icantly to help tackle problems caused by the country's ageing population - the survey found 47% of Scots were concerned about the possible impact of more incomers from Eastern Europe. The fear was shared equally between Yes and No voters. Scotland also appears to have become more eurosceptic, in line with UK trends.

ScotCen director Professor John Curtice said: "The idea of Scotland having its own defence force is probably one of the propositions that Scots find most difficult to contemplate, even those who are supporters of independence."

The survey found support for the SNP's plans for a currency union with 79% of people (70% of Yes voters and 85% of No voters) wanting to keep the pound.

Only 57% believed an independent Scotland would end up using the pound, possibly reflecting the UK Government's warning that it would be unlikely to agree to a formal currency-sharing deal.

A further 21% felt an independent Scotland would end up using the euro, and 16% believed it would set up its own currency.

A third of No voters, the survey showed, wanted to keep the pound but were doubtful it would happen but 23% of Yes voters felt the same way.

A majority (62%) also backed the SNP's plan to retain the Queen in the event of independence, though 51% of all Yes supporters wanted Scotland's head of state to be a president.

Better Together campaign director Blair McDougall said: "This survey is further proof that on the big arguments the nationalists are losing ground."

Finance Secretary John Swinney said: "The economic benefits of independence are the biggest factor in how people will decide to vote, meaning that when we win the economic argument, we will win the referendum."

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Local government

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