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Voters demand more details before 2014 referendum

THE importance of the SNP's independence White Paper is underlined today by a new poll showing half of all voters want more information on the economy and jobs as the debate on ­Scotland's future progresses.

The latest TNS BMRB poll also found support for a Yes vote remained on 25%, unchanged from September.

Backing for a No vote slipped one percentage point to 43%, while the number of don't knows rose by the same amount to 32%.

As in previous polls, women were less likely than men to back a Yes vote.

Support for independence stood at 19% among women, compared with 31% among men. A total of 46% of women said they planned to vote No, with 35% undecided. The figures compared with 39% of men opposed to independence and 30% unsure how to vote.

The picture was largely unchanged despite voters being surveyed in the aftermath of the SNP's conference last month, which ensured Alex Salmond and independence were at the top of the news agenda. The First Minister was also playing a role in efforts to save the Grangemonth petrochemicals plant at the time.

If the positive ­publicity failed to boost support for a Yes vote, the clamour for more information revealed by the poll highlighted the importance to the SNP of the Scottish Government's eagerly-awaited White Paper on independence on November 26.

Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon used her conference speech to promise that the detailed blueprint would contain all the answers on how an independent Scotland would work.

The poll of 1010 adults found 49% - including Yes, No, and undecided voters - wanted more information on the economy and jobs.

More than one-third (37%) wanted to know more about pensions and benefits and 31% sought more information on taxes. Other issues included ­immigration (22%); Scotland's share of the UK national debt (20%) and defence (18%).

Fewer people (13%) said they needed details on currency after weeks of debate about the SNP's plan to seek a monetary union with the UK to keep the pound.

Only 4% wanted to know more about the monarchy as Nationalists have established their plan to keep the Queen as head of state.

The TNS BMRB survey, conducted between October 20 and 30, found younger voters were more likely to want answers on a range of issues, with 58% of 16- to 34-year-olds wanting more information on the economy and jobs.

Tom Costley, head of TNS ­Scotland, said: "Having previously highlighted that many feel they are lacking information, this clearly shows financial issues are of greatest concern to the voters.

"The high number of don't knows suggests that both sides need to do much more to ensure that people are confident about the implications of their vote for their financial future."

The survey also suggested there could be a high turnout, with two-thirds (66%) of adults saying they are certain to vote, and a further 14% very likely to vote.

The figure compares with a turnout of 50.4% in the 2011 elections to the Scottish Parliament, and the 63.8% Scottish turnout in the 2010 General Election.

Among those saying they are certain to vote, 29% intend to vote Yes and 47% plan to vote No. Nearly one-quarter of certain voters (24%) remained undecided.

A Yes Scotland campaign spokesman said: "We know from our own research, which is far more exploratory and detailed than conventional binary polling, that the more people learn about the benefits of independence the more likely they are to vote Yes.

"We also know most Scots want decisions over vital issues such as taxation, pensions and welfare to be taken in Scotland rather than at Westminster. Between now and the only poll that really counts we will be doubling our efforts to provide people with all the quality information they need to help them make a properly informed decision."

Blair McDougall, campaign director of the Better Together campaign, described the poll as encouraging. But he added: "With so many people yet to make up their mind it is still all to play for.

"People rightly want more information about the consequences of separation on pensions, benefits, mortgages and savings."

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