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Action needed to engage voters as new poll shows referendum disconnect

08 January 2014 | tagged News release

Campaigners on both sides of the independence debate need to do more in 2014 to engage and inform voters, the Law Society of Scotland said today, as it published new independent polling on public attitudes towards the campaign so far.

The poll was carried out by Ipsos MORI on behalf of the Society after the publication of the Scottish Government's white paper.

However, with nine months to go to the referendum, the results show large sections of the electorate feel uninformed and do not believe the campaigns are addressing the issues they care about:

  • Only 14% of voters said they were 'very well informed' about the issues being debated in the campaign so far. That figure fell to just 10% for female voters.
  • 40% said the debate has been useful in helping them decide how to vote in the referendum.
  • Whilst 54% said the debate so far has not covered the issues important to them, this figure fell to 45% for 16-24 year olds.
  • 67% said they found it difficult to decide whether the information provided in the debate was true or not.

Much has been made of the tone of the referendum debate thus far with speculation the aggressive nature of exchanges were turning people off. However, the poll for the Law Society showed that only 26% felt the campaign had been too aggressive.

Bruce Beveridge, President of the Law Society of Scotland, said: "This is an exciting and quite possibly pivotal time for Scotland. The importance of the question facing us in September, described as the biggest for our nation in 300 years, demands a thorough and worthy debate.

"This poll shows that, with only nine months to go, many Scots still do not feel properly informed. Over half say the debate is not covering the issues they care about. And as many as two-thirds are finding it difficult to decide whether or not the information they are getting is true.

"The responsibility to engage people and to ensure the right questions are being asked and answered on both sides of the debate, lies not just with politicians and the official referendum campaigns but also with companies and organisations. Civic Scotland, including the Law Society of Scotland, has to work harder to ensure people feel they can make an informed choice come September.

"As part of our commitment, we will be publishing more information in the next few months to help inform the debate. We will continue to scrutinise the proposals, both from those who advocate independence and from those who wish to remain within the UK. We will also be partnering with others to deliver a series of events that will allow a more detailed exploration of a range of issues."

Notes to editors

The polling was carried out independently by Ipsos MORI on behalf of the Law Society.

• Ipsos MORI spoke with 1,006 respondents (adults aged 16+) by telephone 29 November-5 December 2013.

• Data are weight by: age, sex and working status using census data; tenure using SHS data; and public-private sector employment using Scottish Government Quarterly Public Sector Employment series data.

• Where results do not sum to 100%, this may be due to computer rounding, multiple responses or the exclusion of 'Don't Know' categories

The results were:

On the whole, how well informed, if at all, do you feel about the issues being debated in the referendum campaign? Do you feel;

 

%

Very well informed

14

Fairly well informed

42

Not very well informed

34

Not at all informed

9

Don't know

1

 

 

 

 

%

 

Strongly agree

Tend to agree

Neither/nor

Tend to disagree

Strongly disagree

Don't know

The debate so far has been useful in helping me decide how to vote in the referendum

15

25

13

19

25

2

The debate so far has been interesting for people like me

21

32

10

16

18

2

The debate so far has been too aggressive

9

17

13

36

19

5

The debate so far has not covered the issues that are important to me

30

24

12

19

10

5

I find it difficult to decide whether information provided in the debate is true or not

34

33

9

13

8

3

 

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION: Please contact Kevin Lang on 0131 476 8167. Email kevinlang@lawscot.org.uk

08 January 2014

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