By a Newsnet reporter
A newly published survey has revealed the referendum race is as close as ever with both sides on near identical levels of support.
The poll by ICM gives Yes 40%, No 42% with the remainder undecided. Stripping out don’t knows, the result is 51% No and 49% Yes.
The result of the poll which was conducted between Tuesday and Thursday this week, will be a blow to the No campaign after a relentless push, including a visit by all three UK party leaders, sought to stem rising support for Yes.
In what will be a huge blow to the Labour party in Scotland, the ICM survey revealed 42 per cent of people who voted Labour in 2010 will be voting Yes.
Welcoming the new ICM poll, Yes Scotland Chief Executive Blair Jenkins said today:
“This is a hugely encouraging poll for Yes – the highest in a regular ICM referendum poll so far. It shows that the barrage of intimidation from the No campaign isn’t working – David Cameron’s co-ordination from Downing Street of big business to talk down Scotland has been met with a giant raspberry, particularly among Labour voters.
“The people of Scotland are seeing right through this nonsense, and know that a Yes vote is Scotland’s one opportunity to achieve job-creating powers, protect our NHS from the damaging impact of Westminster privatisation and cuts, and ensure that never again do we get Tory governments imposed on Scotland that we have roundly rejected.
“We are in touching distance of success next Thursday, and there is everything to play for. The referendum is on a knife edge, and this will spur on everybody who wants and is working hard for a Yes to redouble their efforts.
“As we say in response to all the polls, we are working flat out 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.”
The new survey follows a string of similar polls which have all suggested a near dead-heat as we enter the final week of campaigning.
Today’s ICM poll has coincided with the publication of another survey by pollsters Yougov which put the No campaign in front by 52% against 48%. At the weekend the same firm gave a lead of two points to Yes.
The surveys come as both campaigns intensified with both Yes and No seeking to win over the crucial undecided voters.
Yesterday the No campaign seized on statements from banks such as RBS and financial organisations like Standard Life after it emerged some were making contingency plans in the event of a Yes vote.
The Yes campaign hit back after it emerged the RBS proposal did not affect operations or jobs in Scotland.
Today there was a boost for Yes with the Chairman of Wetherspoons highlighting the opportunities of a Yes vote for business.
Speaking today, Tim Martin said that an independent Scotland could be “very successful”.
He added: “there is a lot of nonsense talked by businessmen and politicians that it is impossible for Scotland to survive by itself”
Mr Martin also pointed out that countries with similar populations to Scotland such as New Zealand are able to thrive as independent countries. Wetherspoons has seventy branches in Scotland – employing 3000 people and enjoying sales in excess of £100m.
Mr Martin’s interview followed similar statements by business leaders which challenged some of the more extreme claims relating to Scottish independence.
Sir Angus Grossart, chairman of merchant bank Noble Grossart and one of the most influential figures in the Scottish financial establishment, said some commentary on the referendum’s market impact had been “severely overstated” and people should “stay cool and not panic”.
“I think it is getting out of hand, a severe overreaction,” he told the Financial Times. “The FTSE seems perfectly stable today, but to hear some of the comments you almost expect people to be predicting a plague of locusts or mice next.”
Martin Gilbert, Chief Executive of Aberdeen Asset Management, said he thought an independent Scotland would be “a big success”.
Mr Gilbert also dismissed claims that any UK Government would block a currency union with a newly independent Scotland.
He said: “A sterling union would be both highly desirable and highly likely, whatever is said in London now.”
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