ALMOST half of Scots believe the SNP Government wilfully distorted the economics of independence to try to win a Yes vote in 2014, according to a new poll.

The YouGov survey found 48 per cent of people thought the economic forecasts, including those on oil revenue, were “a misrepresentation to increase support for independence”.

Just 28 per cent thought they had fair and 24 per cent who didn’t know.

Loading article content

The public finances in the first year of an independent Scotland would have been up to £11bn worse than SNP ministers predicted, accord to the government’s own official figures.

The poll, commissioned by the pro-UK Scotland in Union group, also found 42 per cent of people disapproved of the SNP’s record in power over the last decade.

This compared to 39 per cent who approved, a net rating of -3, and 19 per cent didn’t know.

Nicola Sturgeon’s personal approval rating was +1, with 44 per cent saying she was doing badly and 45 per cent saying she doing well as First Minister, and 10 per cent undecided.

The survey of 1019 adults last week also found 45 per cent thought they and their family would now be worse off financially if there had been a Yes vote in 2014, compared to 21 per cent who thought they would be better off, and 14 per cent who didn’t know.

Those aged 16 to 49 were the most positive about both the government’s record and Ms Sturgeon’s performance, with the elderly most hostile to both.

However there was scepticism across all groups in relation to the economic forecasts put before voters in the independence referendum.

Even among the 16-24 age group, the most positive about the SNP, 30 per cent thought the data had been twisted, compared to 29 who said it was fair, and 40 per cent who didn’t know.

In the 25-49 group, 40 per cent said misrepresented against 31 per cent fair; in the 50-64 group it was 50 per cent to 30 respectively, and among the over 65s it was 64 to 21.

Even a sixth of people who voted SNP in June thought it had been misrepresented.

The White Paper on Independence, launched by Alex Salmond and Nicola Sturgeon in November 2013, forecast North Sea oil revenue of up to £7.9bn in 2016/17.

The Scottish Government’s own data said in August that they had been £208m.

Instead of a deficit as low as 1.8 per cent of GDP, as forecast in the White Paper, it would have been closer to 8.3 per cent.

The huge difference is largely attributable to the collapse in the oil price since 2014, when crude prices more than halved from the SNP’s estimate of $113 per barrel.

Pamela Nash, the former Labour MP who is Chief Executive of Scotland in Union, said the poll showed the people of Scotland would struggle to trust the Nationalists again.

She said: “People made their decision in 2014 based on a number of factors but there can be no doubt that economics was a key reason.

“The official figures now show the White Paper was billions of pounds wide of the mark.

“More and more people are realising they were misled by their own government and they would have been worse off if they had voted for independence. This is a question of trust and people will now think twice before believing anything Nicola Sturgeon and the SNP say.

“She should use her conference to apologise to the people of this country for misleading them and almost causing an economic disaster which would have damaged Scotland.”

An SNP Spokesperson: “The SNP Government's forecasts were in line with many others - and lower th?an the UK Government's own oil price prediction.

"In terms of Scotland's economic future, by far the biggest threat comes from the Tories' chaotic Brexit plans to drag our country out of Europe against its will.

"?The Tories' extreme Brexit outside the single market and customs union threatens jobs, investment and living standards right across the country - and Scotland did not vote for that."