Scottish Independence Poll Shows Scots In America More Opposed To Yes Vote

30/07/2014 16:55

Scots living in US are much more sceptical of independence than those living in the country, with many Scots-Americans fearing the "special relationship" with America would suffer if their country left the UK, according to a new survey.

The survey showed 74% of Scottish-born people living in the United States wanted Scotland to remain in the UK and 38% fear independence would harm its relationship with America.

Earlier this month, an ICM poll of those living in Scotland - the only ones who will have a ballot to cast in September's referendum - showed around 45% are opposed to independence, compared with 34% in favour and the rest undecided.

scottish american flag

A runner on New York's Scotland Run

The American survey was conducted by non-profit corporation Friends of Scotland, which polled more than 200 Scots who live in the US.

If the Scotland votes yes, 66% of respondents would prefer to retain their British passports than change to a new Scottish issued one, the survey said.

A total of 84% felt those pushing for independence had not set out a vision of what the new nation's foreign relations would be handled, saying they did not believe "sufficient thought has been given to Scotland’s international representation through embassies and consulates to guarantee, protect and promote Scotland’s interests abroad".

Friends For Scotland was founded in 2001 by actor Sir Sean Connery - who is a vocal advocate of independence - to promote Scottish interests abroad, particularly in the US.

American tourists' visits to Scotland are estimated to be worth £280 million to the Scottish economy a year.

Scots who live in the US but favour independence include actor Alan Cumming, who bought a property in Edinburgh ahead of the poll so he could vote, only to be told he couldn't because it was not his main residence.

The poll is not the first intervention in the Scotland debate by those living in the US.

The intervention of Barack Obama was a decisive moment in the debate over Scottish independence.

"The UK has been an extraordinary partner to us. From the outside at least it looks like things have worked pretty well and we obviously have a deep interest in making sure one of the closest allies that we will ever have remains a strong, robust, united and effective partner," he said at a press conference alongside David Cameron in June.


Hillary Clinton, who may succeed Obama as president, also opposes Scottish independence.

Speaking on Newsnight, she said: "I would hate to have you lose Scotland. I hope that it doesn't happen but I don't have a vote in Scotland. But I would hope it doesn't happen."

She added: "I would think it would be a loss for both sides but, again, I don't have a vote."

Clinton said the special relationship between Britain and the US was "worth everything to me and to our country".

She added: "I do think we see the world very similarly."

The Yes Campaign was undeterred by the Friends of Scotland survey findings.

"Importantly, the respondents to this survey highlight that 62% believe that Scotland’s strong relationship with the United States will endure after a Yes vote and that Scotland will come together after the referendum," a spokesman for Yes Scotland told The Huffington Post UK.

"Large numbers of the respondents also want more powers for the Scottish Parliament, but as the referendum debate has developed, more and more people in Scotland have come to realise that the only way to achieve a meaningful package of powers - that Holyrood could use to grow the economy and build a fairer society - is to vote Yes in September."

He added: "People in Scotland are comfortable with many identities, be they Italian, Polish, American, British, English, Irish, Indian and Pakistani. Everyone is entitled to their view, but the referendum is about who is best to take decisions on Scotland’s future and we believe that is the people who live and work here.

"It is certainly not a Tory government at Westminster that continues to impose economically damaging policies in Scotland."

  • No: Barack Obama
    The American electorate may have gone off their president after five and a half years in office but Barack Obama still enjoys 2008 levels of popularity in the UK. People from the No Campaign probably fainted when Obama said "the key word is 'united'" when asked about Scotland.
  • Yes: Sir Sean Connery
    Danny Lawson/PA Archive
    Austin Powers may be against independence but James Bond isn't. Sir Sean has told his fellow Scots that independence "is too good an opportunity to miss". He also said the potential boosts to the film and creative industries are "particularly exciting".
  • No: Hillary Clinton
    "I would hate to have you lose Scotland," the potential next American president told Jeremy Paxman on Newsnight. "I hope that it doesn't happen but I don't have a vote in Scotland. But I would hope it doesn't happen." She added: "I would think it would be a loss for both sides but, again, I don't have a vote."
  • Yes: Brian Cox (Not That One)
    The face of BBC science has not declared for or against Scottish independence but his namesake, actor Brian Cox is firmly in favour of it. He has provided the voice of Duggy Dog, an animated Highland Terrier created by the Yes campaign who aims to "sniff out fact from fiction" in the independence debate.
  • No: David Bowie
    Martin Rickett/PA Wire
    Since dabbling in right-wing politics in the 1970s, Bowie's views appear to have mulled somewhat. When Kate Moss collected his BRIT award earlier this year, she read a statement on behalf that asked Scotland to "stay with us". The statement said: "In Japanese myth the rabbits from my old costume that Kate's wearing live on the moon. Kate comes from Venus and I from Mars, so that's nice. I'm completely delighted to have a Brit for being the best male, but I am, aren't I Kate? I think it's a great way to end the day. Thank you very, very much and Scotland - stay with us."
  • Yes: Alan Cumming
    Andy Kropa /Invision/AP
    This Scot is firmly pro-independence. So much so, the New York-based actor bought a flat in Edinburgh last year so he would be able to vote in September's referendum. Unfortunately, it was deemed not to be his "main address" and, by extension, he will not be able to vote.
  • No: JK Rowling
    Ian West/PA Wire
    JK Rowling, who wrote her first Harry Potter book while living in Edinburgh and still lives in the Scottish capital, has given £1 million to defeat Alex Salmond. She wrote she was "no fan of the Westminster government". She added: "The simple truth is that Scotland is subject to the same 21st century pressures as the rest of the world. The more I listen to the Yes campaign, the more I worry about its minimisation and even denial of risks." A Twitter account digested this and reflected: "What a #bitch after we gave her shelter in our city when she was a single mum."
  • Yes: Billy Bragg
    Jonathan Short/Invision/AP
    Always outspoken, Bragg's take on Scottish independence is that it would be as good for his native England as it would for north of the border. The left-winger said: "Scottish independence throws up the possibility of a more progressive England. We won’t be British any more, we’ll be English."
  • No: The BBC, According To Protestors
    Jonathan Brady/PA Wire
    On Sunday, 2,000 people gathered outside BBC Scotland's Glasgow headquarters to protest what they saw as its pro-union stance. A couple who attended the protest said: "The BBC is paid for by all of us whether Yes or No but it doesn’t reflect both sides of the campaign. They don't cover stories that damage No, but are always headlining stories against Yes."
  • No...ish: Pope Francis
    Pope Francis voiced concerns about Scottish independence - but his comments were non-commital to the point where both the yes and no camps welcomed them. Speaking about secession movements across the world, the infallable representative of God on earth said countries breaking away from larger states should be considered on a "case-by-case basis". He acknowledged the case was "clear" in in some cases but listed Scotland as one of the cases where "I ask myself it is so clear". He said: "Let's think of the former Yugoslavia. Obviously, there are nations with cultures so different that couldn't even be stuck together with glue. "The Yugoslavian case is very clear, but I ask myself if it is so clear in other cases - Scotland, Padania, Catalunya." No campaigners said the Pope was "right to warn about the impact of division" while No campaigners said: "As His Holiness says, these matters should be looked at on a case-by-case basis."
  • Yes: Glasgow's Sunday Herald
    Sunday Herald
    The Sunday Herald became the first Scottish paper to back the yes campaign in May with this front cover. It wrote: "We understand the past, as best we can, and guess at the future. But history is as nothing to the lives of the children being born now, this morning, in the cities, towns and villages of this country. "On their behalf, we assert a claim to a better, more decent, more just future in which a country's governments will be ruled always by the decisions of its citizens.''
  • Yes. No. Wait, What?: Elijah Wood
    Sir Sean appeared to win an ally when Lord of The Rings actor Elijah Wood said Scotland should "fucking go for it" with independence. But he later backtracked, claiming he had misunderstood the question he was asked at the Edinburgh Film Festival. Speaking to the Scotsman, he said: "You know, in truth, I thought they were talking about independent cinema. I mean, it’s a film festival.”
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