One Statistic Shows You How Tiny, Isolated And Utterly Defeated The Scottish Independence Movement Really Is

Alex SalmondJeff J Mitchell/Getty ImagesSNP leader Alex Salmond, standing on his own.

Campaigners hoping for a “Yes” in the Scottish independence referendum at one point looked like they might win.

A few days before the vote, opinion polls showed the nationalists with a slight lead over the pro-UK “No” voters under the “Better Together” umbrella.

Right before the vote, an Ipsos MORI poll said the vote would be: 53%-47% in favour of “No” — too close to call.

So all along it looked like the “Yes” vote had the support of around half of all Scots, and that there was a true fervor for independence.

But if you look at the actual vote numbers, and make some extrapolations across the rest of the UK, then it becomes clear that Scottish nationalism is little more than a niche, often even in Scotland.

Just 1 in 5 Brits, including all of of Scotland in that total, support Scottish independence.


  • In the actual total vote across Scotland, “Yes” lost by a wider margin than predicted: 55.3% to 44.7%. That’s basically an 11 percentage point loss. If that were a general election in the US, it would be regarded as a landslide for the winner.
  • In terms of the districts voting, only four of 32 districts voted “Yes.” If this was a parliamentary election, the SNP would have four seats and the other parties would have 28. Alex Salmond would be a benchwarmer.

Now look at the whole of the UK. This seems counterintuitive, but remember the central unfairness of the Scottish vote: Independence affects everyone; it would have broken up the whole UK whether the English, Northern Irish and Welsh liked it or not. And those latter countries didn’t get a say.

  • There are roughly 46 million voters in the UK as a whole, of which 3.6 million voted last night. In the non-Scottish UK, 81% of voters do not want Scottish independence, a poll taken before the vote last night showed. If you extrapolate that percentage and add the actual Scottish vote last night, and read them together as if they were a UK-wide poll on Scottish independence, then you would have had about 36 million votes for “No” and only 9.6 million votes for “Yes.”
  • In other words, of those voters affected by a Scottish independence vote, there is a 79% to 21% balance in favour of staying in the UK.

That’s the real statistic here — four out of five people don’t want Scottish independence, and a solid majority of Scots agree with them.

(And of course it is massively ironic that there are more pro-independence voters outside Scotland than there are inside it. Which, again, is an indicator of how tiny this movement is in the larger scheme of UK things.)

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