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Entrepreneur and philanthropist, Sir Tom Hunter has established a new entity, to try to inject momentum, data and evidence into the Scottish Independence debate.

Announcing phase 1 of the results of first exclusive poll, conducted by TNS, into voter concerns over the historic referendum, Hunter noted;

This debate is too important to leave to the politicians alone. It is my belief that the referendum is way closer to call than anyone thinks and for that reason I believe many Scots need far more data and evidence in order to make an informed choice. This poll vindicates that position with 56% of adults in Scotland saying they do not have enough knowledge about the issues related to independence to decide how to vote.

Undoubtedly this is the biggest decision we will take in 300 years and to do so Scots need answers, not rhetoric. Personally I concluded I didn’t have enough information to make up my own mind, hence I’ve established this entity to attempt to throw as much evidenced backed light on the subject as possible.

Hunter noted that aimed to deliver evidence and data addressing key questions undecided voters felt they did not have enough information on ‘by commissioning, as far as possible, unimpeachable studies into these key issues and making them publicly available for debate and consideration.’

He added he would not use his position or money to influence a yes or no vote, but would simply put as much evidence into the public domain as possible to support informed voter choice adding,

I will not at any time announce my voting intention either way.

Commenting on the TNS poll Tom Costley, Head of TNS in Scotland stated;

This is by far the most comprehensive poll we have undertaken in relation to the critical issues facing voters as they decide which way to vote. The results show that many feel they are lacking knowledge and information about the debate, particularly those who are currently undecided about how they will vote. Given the influential role which this group could play in the outcome of the referendum, there is a clear need for more and better information from both sides on those issues which are of most relevance to people.

Summary results of the phase 1 poll make for fascinating reading including headline findings that:

  • 67% of voters believe Prime Minister Cameron should debate the key issues with First Minister Alex Salmond and only 17% believe he should not.
  • 29% of Scots intend to vote yes, 42% plan to vote no and the remaining 29% are currently undecided.
  • The undecided group are important to the outcome of the referendum, with 42% claiming they are certain to vote. However, 81% of this group indicated that they do not currently have enough knowledge to help them decide how to vote.
  • Only 32% believe the Better Together Campaign have outlined the benefits of staying in the UK whilst 34% believe the Yes Campaign have outlined the benefits of Scotland becoming independent.
  • 64% say similarly the Better Together Campaign needs to be seen and heard more in the debate, with 56% saying the same about the Yes Scotland campaign.
  • When presented with the additional option of ‘Devo max’, 31% indicated that they would like to keep the current arrangement of the Scottish Parliament with its existing powers, 35% indicated they would like to see the transfer of more powers to the Scottish Parliament and 24% supported full independence.
  • 71% claimed to have heard of the recently published White Paper from the Scottish Government, though only 14% said they had read any of it.

Concluding Hunter noted;

I think on this evidence we in Scotland have much to do in determining Scotland’s future with an informed debate that truly engages the population as a whole. As we wait for phase 2 of the poll to be analysed we will consider what we can do to support credible, informed debate

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