Yes ahead as referendum campaign enters final lap

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  By a Newsnet reporter
 
The Yes campaign has moved narrowly ahead of its No rival as the race for the referendum enters its final stages.
 
A shock poll by pollsters Yougov has put the campaign for independence two points ahead of its pro-Union opponent with just eleven days to go until the historic ballot.

The survey, carried out by one of the UK’s most respected polling organisations, suggests the Yes campaign has moved ahead of its No rival for the first time since the campaign began.

According to Yougov, excluding undecided voters, Yes is now on 51% (+4) with No on 49% (-4).

The survey result has stunned pro-Union parties to such an extent that at least one UK newspaper has claimed that an emergency proposal is to be offered Scots in an eleventh hour attempt to persuade voters to vote No.

According to the Guardian, “a devolution announcement designed to halt the nationalist bandwagon is due to be made within days by the anti-independence camp.”

The newspaper added: “A senior government minister close to the Better Together campaign said a pledge to set up a new Scottish conference or convention, after a no vote, was imminent.”

The move, if true, will be seen as a sign of panic within the Westminster powerbase which has, until recently, taken for granted that Scots would opt for the status quo.

Signs of a shift in favour of Yes became apparent immediately after the second televised debate between Alex Salmond and Alistair Darling.  In the live head-to-head, viewers witnessed Mr Darling confirm that an independent Scotland could indeed use the pound if it wanted too – thus, at at a stroke undermining a key plank of the anti-independence campaign’s argument against Yes.

The new survey is expected to result in more claims by Unionists, and their media supporters, that an independent Scotland will be thrown out of the European Union.  However, with similar claims already having been dismissed by new EC Commissioner Jean-Claude Juncker, it is unlikely that a repeat will have any significant effect on the referendum result.

Meanwhile, a separate Panelbase poll for Yes Scotland, which surveyed voters between September 2 and 6, showed No leading 52% to 48% when undecided voters were excluded.  The poll, despite giving the No campaign a lead, also indicated a move towards Yes.

The Panelbase poll also found that 47% of women support independence, which 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.”

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

The former UK Chancellor added: “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.”