Fewer than half of Scottish voters back 'de facto referendum' plan, poll finds
More than half of Scots say the next general election should not be used as a "de facto referendum" on independence, according to new polling.
The plan to use the next Westminster vote as a judgement on public support for independence was declared by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon last summer.
The SNP leader said this would be the back-up plan if the Supreme Court ruled that the Scottish Parliament does not have the power to legislate for a new referendum on the constitution. The justices delivered that verdict in November and Patrick Harvie of the Scottish Greens has described using a general election to decide the question as a "last ditch" move.
Now research by Survation on behalf of pro-UK campaign group Scotland in Union has found that 54 per cent do not believe the next Westminster vote should be used in this way.
A total of 33 per cent do support the move and 14 per cent said they don't know.
The poll also found that, when asked if Scotland "should remain a part of the United Kingdom or leave the United Kingdom", 59 per cent would vote to stay in, with 41 per cent voting to quit the Union.
More than 1,000 over-16s were questioned between December 22 and January 1.
On the SNP's stewardship of public services, 61 per cent said it is not handling the NHS well, compared with 34 per cent who said the opposite. Similar figures were recorded for the handling of the economy and rail services.
Scotland in Union chief executive Pamela Nash said: "The overwhelming majority of voters want to remain part of the UK and only a third believe the next election should be a 'de facto referendum' on leaving the UK, demonstrating how out of touch the SNP and Greens have become."
The SNP will hold a special conference to discuss its independence strategy at the Edinburgh International Conference Centre in March.
The date was revealed last month after five consecutive polls recorded a majority support for independence, once undecided voters are removed.
At the time, SNP MP Kirsten Oswald said the Supreme Court verdict had "galvanised the Yes movement" and "more and more people recognise independence not just as desirable, but necessary".