Belfast Telegraph

Home News UK

Shock poll puts Yes camp in front

A shock poll has given the Yes camp the lead in the Scottish referendum battle for the first time, amid signs of infighting among senior figures backing the union.

The YouGov research for the Sunday Times found 51% supported independence, compared to 49% who wanted to remain in the UK.

The results are the latest evidence of a dramatic surge for the campaign headed by First Minister Alex Salmond, which has seen the gap between the sides - once regularly in double digits - vanish in a matter of months.

The two point gap is within the margin of error for such polls, meaning the contest, which climaxes on September 18 is effectively too close to call.

Rumours about the latest YouGov findings have been swirling for days. The firm has charted a remarkable turnaround for Yes, which has seen them recover from a 22 point deficit in just one month.

Writing in the Sunday Mirror, former Prime Minister Gordon Brown acknowledged that the referendum battle was proving tougher than some had expected - and laid the blame squarely on the Tories.

"Why has it been difficult to win Scottish votes in support of this principle of sharing that most Scots hold dear?" the Labour MP for Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath wrote.

"Many are angry that the Bedroom Tax was imposed upon Scots against their will while at the same time the very wealthy received tax cuts. The SNP also claim that the ramifications of any Tory privatisation of the NHS in England will cut budgets in Scotland.

"But English and Welsh people have already given an answer to the SNP claims.

"The answer is that 90% of English people want to keep the NHS public and retain it free at the point of need.

"And the vast majority across the whole UK dislike the Bedroom Tax and would even consider more taxes to make our NHS better."

He added: "Our union is not out of date or an anachronism or a museum piece but a unique, unparalleled, multinational living partnership that Europe and America cannot match or mirror.

"And what our ancestors built up, no nationalist should be allowed to split asunder."

The poll shows a four point increase in support for Yes from the last YouGov poll published earlier this week.

The No camp were leading by 14 points in mid-August and 22 points early last month, when undecided voters were excluded.

Alistair Darling, leader of the pro-Union Better Together campaign, said the poll "must now serve as a wake-up call to anyone who thought the referendum result was a foregone conclusion".

The former Chancellor said: "The polls may conflict, but the message I take from them is clear: If you want Scotland to remain part of the UK family you have to vote for it on 18 September. Separation is forever.

"These polls can and must now serve as a wake-up call to anyone who thought the referendum result was a foregone conclusion. It never was. It will go down to the wire. Now is the time to speak up and speak out.

"We are hitting the streets, knocking on the doors, making the calls in unprecedented numbers and we are hearing the people of Scotland respond positively to our vision of Scotland securing the best of both worlds. That means more powers for Scotland without taking on all the risks of separation.

"We relish this battle. It is not the Battle of Britain - it is the battle for Scotland, for Scotland's children and grandchildren and the generations to come. This is a battle we will win."

Labour leader Ed Miliband raised the prospect of manned border posts being introduced if Scotland votes to go independent.

In an interview with the Scottish Mail on Sunday, he insisted: 'If you don't want borders, vote to stay in the United Kingdom."

A spokesman for Mr Miliband added: "The last time I looked there were two sides to the border - and we would be in charge of one of them. It would be up to us, not Mr Salmond, to secure our northern border."

A second poll, carried out by Panelbase for Yes Scotland between September 2 and 6, found that No is leading 52% to 48% when undecided voters are excluded.

The Panelbase poll also found that 47% of women support independence, which Yes Scotland say is a 13 point increase in six months.

Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said: "These are exceptionally positive and encouraging figures - and the Panelbase poll shows record support for independence among women.

"Yes still has a lot of work to do to win on the 18th, we remain the underdogs, but we approach the final 10 days with huge enthusiasm and confidence.

"A positive finding that everyone can unite on - whether Yes or No - is that overwhelmingly people in Scotland believe that deciding our future in a democratic referendum is something we can be very proud of as a nation.

"The referendum has engaged many people who have never voted before in their lives, filled public halls the length and breadth of the country, and ushered in a sense of possibility and creativity.

"The challenge for all of us is to unite as a country once the decision is made, and do everything we can to maintain this boost in democratic participation that the referendum has ushered in."

Yes Scotland chief executive Blair Jenkins said the YouGov poll showed that the independence campaign has the momentum.

"While this poll puts us marginally ahead, other polls show that we still have more progress to make if we are to win," Mr Jenkins said.

"We will be working flat out between now and 18 September to ensure that we achieve a Yes vote, because it's the biggest opportunity the people of Scotland will ever have to build a fairer society and more prosperous economy.

"While the No campaign press the panic button and blame each other for a series of blunders, Yes will get on with the job of persuading more of our fellow citizens - both No and undecided voters - that we need a Yes vote to put Scotland's future in Scotland's hands."

A Labour spokesman insisted the suggestion that Mr Miliband would introduce border guards was overblown.

"No Labour 'plan' for border guards in independent Scotland nor does Ed say that," the party posted on Twitter.

The latest YouGov poll showed the Yes vote increasing by four points, while No dropped by the same number.

The headline figures exclude those who would not vote or are undecided. With those groups included independence was backed by 47% and staying in the UK 45%.

In an interview with the Sun on Sunday, Chancellor George Osborne again highlighted the "economic risks" of a Yes vote.

"Independence for Scotland, separation for Scotland carries with it real economic risks for Scotland, for example over what currency they use, and it would be economically damaging for the United Kingdom - I don't think we should pretend otherwise," he said.

"But ultimately this is not a decision for me now, this is a decision for the people of Scotland."

Mr Osborne added: "I think the United Kingdom would be diminished, Great Britain would be diminished without Scotland in it, and so obviously I wish the Scottish people vote to stay in."

Popular

From Belfast Telegraph