Scotland politics

Scottish independence: Cameron defends indyref poll stance

Yes or no Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The referendum on Scottish independence will be held on 18 September

The prime minister has defended the decision not to publish an independence referendum poll that was commissioned by the UK government.

David Cameron told BBC Scotland the government did not routinely publish its opinion research.

But he said the findings of the government's polls were largely in line with other recently published polls.

Nationalists have said the government buried the survey as it showed a surge in support for independence.

SNP MP Angus MacNeil said in the Commons on Tuesday that the government poll was commissioned from Ipsos/Mori at a cost to the taxpayer of almost £50,000.

Speaking on BBC Radio's Good Morning Scotland programme on Friday, Mr Cameron said: "We don't routinely publish our polls.

"I am sure the Scottish government carries out opinion research - every government carries out opinion research because it is good in government to know what the people you are trying to represent and work for are thinking, so it is a very sensible thing to do.

"I can tell you exclusively on this programme there is nothing in the polls we produce that is any different to any of the published polls, and by heavens there have been enough published polls to last a lifetime."

The prime minister was asked by presenter Jim Naughtie to clarify whether he meant that the government's own private polling was roughly in line with the figures that most of the opinion polls published in the past couple of months were clustering around.

Mr Cameron replied: "Absolutely. There is a range of polls out there, there is a poll on every aspect of this, and they have tended to show that the Better Together campaign is winning the argument but there is a very important fight and absolutely no complacency in the months ahead".

The majority of opinion polls published in recent weeks have suggested the "Yes" campaign has gained ground on, but still trails, the "No" campaign.

Responding to Mr Cameron's comments, SNP MSP Linda Fabiani said the prime minister had "confirmed what we all suspected" and repeated the party's call for the poll to be published "as a matter of urgency".

She added: "Westminster have buried the poll and they have every intention of keeping the results from the Scottish public.

"No campaign bosses have already let slip that they have seen information from the secret poll - by sharing this information the Westminster government is clearly abusing £46,500 of taxpayers' cash.

"This is completely unacceptable - if the UK government can share this information with the No camp there is no reason why they cannot share it with the Scottish taxpayers that paid for it."

The existence of the government survey was revealed in a letter under the name Kelly Brown that was sent to the Sunday Herald newspaper.

The letter's author claimed to work for Ipsos/Mori, and said the results of the poll had been "buried as it returned a result which showed the Yes vote was soaring".

Ipsos/Mori has said that it does not employ anyone with the name Kelly Brown.

Voters will be asked the Yes/No question: "Should Scotland be an independent country" in the referendum on 18 September.

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites