One month to Scottish independence vote, Yes camp in tough fight

Just under half of voters favour staying in UK but undecided may be key to result

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 17 August, 2014, 11:26am
UPDATED : Monday, 18 August, 2014, 3:35am


With a month to go until Scotland votes on independence from Britain, polls suggest the plan will be defeated, leaving First Minister Alex Salmond and the 'yes' camp in an uphill battle to secure victory.

Salmond has struggled to convince a majority of Scots on the key question: whether Scotland's economy, fuelled by North Sea oil and whisky exports, is strong enough to support independence.

Most opinion polls show 45 t050 per cent support for Scotland remaining part of the United Kingdom, with backing for independence ranging from 35 to 39 per cent.

But it is thought that up to a quarter of voters could still be undecided or may change their minds before the September 18 ballot.

Shoppers in Glasgow, Scotland's biggest city which has just hosted the Commonwealth Games, reflected the uncertainty which some feel in the run-up to the vote.

"I think you would need a degree in politics to understand it properly," said Mark Pentland, a 50-year-old taxi driver who is undecided on which side to support. "If it goes wrong, then we can't really go back."

Looking confident as ever despite the polls, Salmond says his opponents are conducting "Project Fear", trying to put people off voting yes.

"When you're putting forward a position of change, the people who want to stop change will want to conjure up all sorts of phantoms and bogeymen," he told an event in Edinburgh this week.

"It's like one of those old Hammer horror movies - when Dracula gets dragged into the sunlight, he disintegrates."

The leader of the 'no' campaign, Alistair Darling, hit back in a speech on Saturday, saying predictions of an emotion-driven "Salmond surge" remain unfulfilled.

Blair McDougall, campaign director for the pro-union Better Together camp led by Darling, said the economy and the currency would continue to dominate their campaigning.

"We think that Alex Salmond has basically failed to do a lot of the fundamental homework he should have done before this sort of stage of the campaign," he said.