Scottish priorities: poll suggests key issues for Scottish voters

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon preparing for acceptance speech

The Ipsos-Mori poll, commissioned by the BBC, shows some of the key issues that Scottish voters will think about when at the ballot box in May.

With the SNP set to take a significant number of Scottish seats in May, Scotland will be a key battleground in the election.

The BBC commissioned poll indicates what is prioritised by voters. Respondents to the poll were asked to give each policy a score of 1 to 10, with 1 meaning that the policy should not be implemented and 10 meaning that it should be put in place immediately. The number given for each policy is the mean of all respondents.

SEE ALSO: Scotland: a key battleground in the election

In total 1,042 people in Scotland participated in the poll which was conducted between the 19th and 25th of March and published on the 7th April. The full results can be accessed here.

Different questions have been released on different days this week. Some of the highlights are as follows:

  • Increasing the minium wage for over 21 year olds to £7.85 (living wage) - 8.2
  • Guarantee that old age pensions will rise over the next five years - 7.9
  • Stop energy companies from increasing prices for the next 20 months - 7.7
  • Introduce a tax on homes worth more than two million pounds (mansion tax) - 7.4
  • Increase the top rate of tax to 50p in the pound (those earning over £150,000) - 7.2
  • Increase spending on public services even if that means the deficit doesn’t get eliminated by the end of the next parliament - 6.3
  • Hold an in out referendum on the European Union - 6.1
  • Reduce the amount the government borrows by cutting spending rather than by increasing taxes - 5.7
  • Hold another referendum on Scottish independence within the next five years - 5.6
  • Eliminate the deficit by 2020 even if that means reduced spending on public services - 4.6
  • Reduce taxes - even if that means cutting public services - 4.0
  • Renew and upgrade Trident - 4.0

Raising the minimum wage has proved popular, if the poll is to be believed, as is protecting pensions and freezing energy prices for 20 months. This poll will be good news for the Labour party as well as the SNP who have put their support behind a great number of these policies in some shape or form.

In good news for Nicola Sturgeon, the policy of increasing spending on public services even if that means the deficit doesn’t get eliminated by the end of the next parliament got a score of 6.3. This is important as her party’s proposal is to modestly increase spending even if that means eliminating the deficit later. However, a score of 6.3 is not as high as the 8.2 that respondents on average gave for increasing the minimum wage, suggesting some concern over the party’s economic proposals. Nonetheless it does a lot better than the policy of reducing taxes even if that means cutting public services, which was given an average score of 4.0.

On the issue of referendums, support for an in/out EU referendum proved moderately popular with a score of 6.1. The anti-EU party, UKIP, have just one MEP north of the border but this poll suggests that the public of Scotland are open to the idea of a referendum. As for holding another independence referendum in the next five years this appeared to have less support with a score of 5.6. It is clear that the SNP are not going away, and with it neither will the demands for independence from parts of the country, but the middle score of 5.6 suggests that many are completely against the idea of another referendum so soon.

As for the issue of Trident, which leaders clashed over in the recent TV debates it is clear that there is a strong-anti Trident sentiment in Scotland. The proposal of renewing Trident got a score of just 4. In the second debate, Nicola Sturgeon confirmed that SNP MPs in the next parliament would vote against the renewal of the deterrent.

The poll indicates some key priorities and feelings that Scottish voters have. Whether or not they will be addressed will not be seen until the dust settles and the clouds part on the 8th of May in just over four weeks time.

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