By Martin Kelly
Two opinion polls published today showing the gap between Yes and No shrinking further is proof that the momentum is with the Yes campaign, First Minister Alex Salmond has said.
According to a poll by ICM, the No campaign has seen its support drop by four points in one month from 46% to 42% whilst the Yes campaign has remained firm on 39%. Excluding the 19% Don’t Knows, the survey puts Yes on 48% and No on 52%.
Another poll, carried out by Survation, puts Yes up one on 38% and No down one on 46%. Excluding the 15% Don’t Knows, Survation places Yes on 45.4% and No on 54.6%.
In addition the Survation poll found a movement to Yes from both Labour voters and women. In terms of being seen as trustworthy voters felt the Yes campaign was more trustworthy and more positive than the No campaign.
Commenting on the latest poll figures First Minster and leader of the Scottish National Party Alex Salmond MSP said:
“These are very encouraging polls and show the Yes campaign has the momentum because it is more positive and more trusted than the No campaign.
“In contrast the No campaign is in a panic because they are seen as negative and unbelievable.
“It is also very encouraging that women and Labour supporters are moving to Yes and with a third of English born people already voting Yes, we are confident that more will follow as momentum continues.
“The problem for the No campaign is that it is stuck in a rut of negativity. Even today we see yet more evidence that they can’t help themselves and just blunder on with the same old failing message.
“Sending out figures from the political past or dispatching Tory ministers on day trips from Westminster is not cutting any ice.”
Responding to the latest survey results, Professor John Curtice said: “Behind the increase in the ICM poll lie signs of continuing progress by the Yes side in persuading people of the economic case for independence. At 37% the proportion that think that independence would be good for Scotland’s economy is now only four points less than the proportion who think it would be bad.
“Last month that gap stood at five points, in February at nine and last September at no less than 17. Given how close the link is between people’s views of the economic consequences of independence and their willingness to vote for it, this is a trend that must be a source of concern for the No side.
“The No side’s campaign has been criticised in recent weeks for being too negative, thereby perhaps creating a risk that its warnings about the alleged adverse consequences of independence are no longer being believed. There is evidence in both of today’s polls that is consistent with that contention.”
The academic said the polls were not all bad news for the No campaign, adding: “However, the rather better news for the No side is that those are inclined to vote to stay in the Union appear to have become a little more determined in their support. According to ICM, as many as 89% of No voters have definitely made up their mind, compared with only 78% of Yes supporters.”
Head of Yes Scotland, Blair Jenkins said: “The extreme negativity of the ‘no’ campaign is proving a major turn-off for voters, and month by month they are paying the price.”
Blair McDougall, director of Better Together, said: “Whilst it is welcome that there is a majority in favour of keeping the UK together, these polls are a reminder that there can be no complacency from those who believe that the brightest future for Scotland is to remain in the UK,”
Mr McDougall added: “With the launch of our advertising campaign tomorrow and a big grassroots campaign push we will be fighting hard for every single vote between now and polling day. Everybody who wants to keep Scotland in the UK needs to play their part.”
However, Deputy First Minster and deputy leader of the Scottish National Party Nicola Sturgeon MSP said that the latest poster campaign by the No campaign simply underlined their problem.
She said: “Today’s polls underline why No is losing ground and support, but instead of addressing it, their poster campaign indulges in yet more scaremongering. It seems they just can’t help themselves.
“Worst of all, it insults people’s intelligence. Why wouldn’t our pensions be secure? After all, we already pay for them. They are our pensions.
“It is just more of the same from the former Prime Minister with what is fast becoming his single transferable speech. Why on earth does he think making the same speech he did two months ago will help his argument now when the campaign he backs has lost support since its first outing?”
Ms Sturgeon’s comments follow news that former Prime Minister Gordon Brown will make another intervention into the independence debate on Tuesday with a speech claiming independence will put pensions at risk. However the SNP has already pointed out that the former Labour leader was responsible for hitting the value of pensions during his time as Chancellor.
As Chancellor Mr Brown abolished Advanced Corporation Tax (ACT ), which is estimated to have cost pension schemes at least £100 billion within a decade, and in 1999 chose to increase the state pension by just 75 pence.