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Independence supporters reject ‘elite’ label from knighted pollster

07 Feb 2021 4 minute read
Picture by Emyr Jenkins

Independence supporters have objected to being branded the “elite” by a pollster with a knighthood.

They rejected the idea that support for Welsh independence is more of an “elite level zeitgeist” than a “popular cause”, which was put forward by Scottish political scientist Sir John Curtice.

Speaking to Conservative newsletter State of the Union he said that while support for Welsh independence had grown it was not yet at the level of a mass movement.

Membership of the grassroots pro-independence group has grown to over 17,000, and support for independence has been put at 23 per cent in a recent opinion poll. this reaches 30 per cent if the don’t knows are removed, which is a similar level to support for independence in Scotland before the 2014 referendum.

George Atkinson said: “A real life elitist calling normal people elitists. Wow.”

Emyr Gwyn said: “Don’t know much about him but the cynic in me would suggest that anything negative coming out of the mind, however brilliant, of a ‘Sir’ should go straight to Junk on this topic.”

Aled Edwards: “As one of those indy friendly elitists from Rhondda Cynon Taf who was educated in a really posh school in Blaenau Ffestiniog I have no idea what John Curtice is going on about here but that’s OK. He doesn’t either!”

Llion Jones said: “I respect Prof John Curtice and his invaluable work but to state that support for Welsh independence emanates from an elite zeitgeist is spectacularly wrong. Total misjudgement.”

Plaid Cymru MP Hywel Williams said: “The people who say support for independence at 23 per cent is where it’s been for a while, look strangely like those who were ridiculing it for being supposedly just 5 per cent or so quite recently.”

Iwan Sion Gareth said: “Who knew a third of the Welsh population were members of the elite? This guy needs to get out of his ivory tower more often to get some semblance of a grasp on reality.”

Bryn Williams said: “’Sir John’ and ‘speaking to Conservative newsletter’ is all you really need to read.”

Tim Harrop-Griffiths said: “I never knew that the elite made up such a large part of Welsh society. Every day’s a school day.”


Highlighting the fact that the question is now being asked regularly in polling, “it’s getting support of around 23 per cent or so. It’s actually been at that level pretty much for the last couple of years or so, but if you go back to the very earliest readings it was a bit below 20 per cent.”

According to State of the Union, he said that the “The debate about Welsh independence is more about the ‘elite level zeitgeist’ than a ‘popular cause’”.

State of the Union is written by former UK Special Adviser, Fraser Raleigh, and former Chief of Staff to the Welsh Conservatives, Ant Pickles.

Discussing why the union seemed to be on the verge of breaking apart, John Curtice said that its defenders couldn’t agree what they wanted, which was similar to the Remain side after the Brexit referendum,

“[It’s] because unionists cannot agree amongst themselves as to what that vision is,” he said. “A fundamental weakness of the unionist side is that it is fragmented between Conservative and Labour and they can all agree about what they don’t like, therefore you end up with a ‘Project Fear’ style campaign but you can’t agree on what you’re trying to achieve.

“And of course, there’s something remarkably reminiscent about another recent political event, which is Brexit. What was the strength of the leave side in the Brexit campaign? They pretty much in the end managed to agree about what they wanted to achieve and in the wake of that pretty much managed to get the leave vote all behind the Conservative Party.

“What could the remainers not agree on? Do we want Norway? Do we want hard Brexit? Do we want soft Brexit? Do we want another referendum, etc, etc? Therein lay division.”

John Curtice also said that the coronavirus pandemic would likely have a big impact on how people thought about devolution in the UK.

“‘The coronavirus pandemic is by far and away the most important issue in the history of devolution. It just leaves absolutely everything else in the shade,” he said.

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