Game on for Scottish independence campaign after surge in polls

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 02 September, 2014, 10:32pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 03 September, 2014, 5:36am

Scotland's prospects of independence after a referendum in two weeks received a boost yesterday when a second opinion poll showed the "Yes" camp within touching distance of victory.

While all polls have put the "No" camp ahead, the latest YouGov survey was the second in four days to find the gap closing ahead of the September 18 vote.

"The political atmosphere across Scotland now is electric," wrote Magnus Linklater in the The Times. "The fight is on. And there is no time to lose."

The YouGov poll found that 47 per cent of people questioned would vote "Yes" to independence, compared to 53 per cent who would vote "No", excluding those who were still undecided.

YouGov's last poll in mid-August put support for the "Yes" camp at 43 per cent and for the "No" group at 57 per cent.

The latest survey of 1,063 people showed identical results to a Survation poll released on Friday after a strong performance from pro-independence First Minister Alex Salmond in a TV debate with the "No" leader Alistair Darling.

John Curtice, an academic and leading authority on Scottish opinion polls, said the latest poll would "electrify the campaign".

"The 'Yes' side will now be able to argue with some conviction that they have gained momentum and can hope that they might yet secure a dramatic and historic victory," he said.

The poll showed the gap narrowing between those who think an independent Scotland would be economically better or worse off - 44 per cent said it would be worse off, down two points since mid-August, 35 per cent said it would be better off, up three points. Eleven per cent said it would make no difference, and one in 10 didn't know.

Blair Jenkins, chief executive of the Yes Scotland campaign, said the poll showed his side had "the big momentum" while Blair McDougall, campaign director for the "No" camp Better Together, called on the "silent majority" to vote.

Yesterday was the last date for voters to register. Most analysts believe turnout will be between 70 and 80 per cent.