Demographics and the reality of support for independence among the young – Stephen Bailey

By Stephen Bailey

Data from the 2014 independence referendum, collected by YouGov at that time, helps to clarify the demographics by age group of support for independence. Its findings are very revealing and shatter a long-standing shibboleth of Scottish nationalism-that most of the younger generations support independence.

It found that:

* In the 16-24 age range there was a tiny majority AGAINST (yes, you read that right, AGAINST) independence. Just under 50% of young people supported Scotland staying in the Union, with support for independence behind this by only a few points.

* In the 25-39 age range, there was a small, but larger than the 16-24 age range, majority for independence. This was the group with the largest degree of support for independence.

* In the 40-59 age range, there was a small, just over 50%, majority for staying in the Union.

* In the 60-64 age range, again a small but over 50% majority for staying in the Union.

* In the 65+ age range, there was a massive 65% majority for staying in the Union.

Source: YouGov analysis of the 2014 independence referendum.

So, looking at broader trends, it emerges that there is a very nuanced picture when it comes to the demographics of support for independence, with a broad split between most younger groups supporting independence and the older groups staying in the UK. However, it isn’t as simple as that with the support for independence from younger age groups only being very slightly bigger than that for staying in the UK AND, surprisingly, the youngest (16-24) age group actually showing a tiny majority for staying in the UK. There is all to play for with the young, who are clearly not a lost cause for Scotland staying in the Union.

These findings should give substantial heart to all those that want to maintain the Union. Clearly, the objective, verifiable, empirical evidence supports the conclusion that there is a nuanced picture among the younger generations of Scots and that belief in Scotland as an integral part of the UK in that demographic is roughly neck and neck with anti-UK nationalism. The young HAVEN’T abandoned the Union.

It’s also clear that it’s the malign influence of the SNP on the Scottish education system that has produced the pro-independence result among the 16-24 age group.

There’s now a generation of young UK citizens who have grown up and had their formative experiences and influences since the introduction of legislative devolution in the late 1990s. They have lived their entire life under the current constitutional arrangements and the subsequent constitutional crisis it has provoked, never knowing anything different.

Neither have they been made aware of the real issues that lie behind the UK Constitution and a desire to keep the UK together. They have had nationalist extremists bombard them with skewed propaganda that manipulates them into a distorted, historically inaccurate view that to be patriotic they have to hate the UK.

They are being forced down a path that could eventually lead to independence, and they are being deprived of any kind of balanced outlook. 

One method the SNP has employed to achieve their objective of separating Scotland from the rest of the UK is to indoctrinate the young with biased propaganda that distorts the truth behind UK history and pushes a synthetic sense of grievance that Scotland was the victim of English imperialism-the Braveheart myth. 

Inaction, complacency, and apathy on this issue are just not an option and are extremely dangerous. It’s the urgent task of all who would like to maintain the Union to stand up and challenge this pernicious, cultish attempt by modern aggressive anti-UK nationalism to subvert our country by undermining belief in its future among future generations. For a fuller discussion on the SNP’s abuse of the education system to advance their separatist agenda, click here: 

It’s NOWHERE NEAR too late to save support for the Union among the young and this task is vitally important. Let us teach the young the real narrative of the shared values that shape our nation and help create a truly united pan-UK that will exist into the future.

NB: The article does not represent the views of Scotland Matters.

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