chapter  7
28 Pages

Voting in the Referendum

It is well-established that individual turnout in elections is affected by a relatively small number of social factors, namely age, marital status, length of residence in the community, housing tenure and, to a lesser extent, class-related variables. In addition, strength of party

% % Yes Yes 52 66 Yes No 27 11 NoNa 21 23

Subjective identities Among the most basic identities that people have is a sense of national identity - a sense of being part of a national community (see Keating, 1988). Conventional notions of national identity suggest that the state and the nation are coterminous and that national identity is a relatively simple matter for most citizens. While this is sometimes true it is clearly not the case in the United Kingdom where people might

feel themselves to be English, Scottish, Welsh or Irish as well as being part of a British 'nation'. Although feelings of national identity may vary from time to time - involvement of the state in a conflict such as the Falklands War in 1982 or even a royal marriage may heighten feelings of Britishness while the success of the film 'Braveheart' may have made Scots feel more Scottish - there is evidence that in Scotland since the 1970s Scottish identity has increased in importance and intensity (see Bennie et al. 1997: 132-3). Table 7.6 shows the national identities of our respondents at the time of the referendum with comparable figures from the 1992 Scottish election study. In 1997 a rather larger proportion of voters felt themselves to be simply Scottish, fewer felt equally Scottish and British and the same (small) proportions were more inclined to describe themselves as British.6