Yes to independence campaign gains significant ground

The gap between those who support Scottish independence and those who oppose it has narrowed, according to a new poll.

The gap between those who support Scottish independence and those who oppose it has narrowed, according to a new poll.

The findings, collected by Survation on behalf of the Scottish Daily Mail, show that 38 per cent support independence compared to 47 per cent who oppose it. Earlier this month, similar polling by the same organisation had given the No camp a 20 per cent lead.

The poll is the first to be undertaken since the recent exchanges over a currency union, with the chancellor, together with the Liberal Democrats and Labour, having made it clear that they will not let an independent Scotland remain part of sterling.

Asked about their attitudes to the currency union, both those supporting and opposing independence have a strong preference for a currency union that would enable them to keep the pound (41 per cent for Yes voters and even more, 52 per cent, for No voters).

However, when asked what they expected to actually happen, only 23 per cent of No voters expected a currency union to come about. In contrast, 45 per cent of Yes voters believed that a currency union would come about.

No voters were more likely than Yes voters to take the pessimistic view that Scotland would end up using the pound with no currency union and no control over monetary policy (20 per cent held this view), and 23 per cent said they did not know what currency Scotland would end up with.

Yes voters were more confident, with just 9 per cent expressing uncertainty about the future of Scotland’s currency.

Interestingly, the intervention of the three main UK wide parties seems to have had little effect. The pollsters explain:

“Looking specifically at the intervention by the ‘three chancellors’ announcing they would not be willing to enter a currency union, the effects have simply been to harden the stance of supporters on both sides of the independence debate. Only 4 per cent of No voters and 3 per cent of Yes voters suggested it would make them at all more likely to consider the alternative option, though the reaction of solidifying support was stronger on the Yes side, due probably to a visceral reaction amongst nationalists against any suggestion of being threatened by English politicians.”

Responding to the results, Professor John Curtice of Strathclyde University observed that “when one looks at this poll, one has, at minimum, to conclude that it offers no evidence that the currency intervention has delivered the No side any immediate boost.”

Declaring the findings to be “exceptionally encouraging” for the Yes campaign, the SNP deputy leader Nicola Sturgeon declared:

“It is clear that there has been a severe backlash to George Osborne’s bluster and threats on the pound – with more than half of the No campaign’s lead wiped out in just three weeks, and far more people more likely to vote Yes on the back of the Westminster establishment’s attempted bullying rather than No.”

Calling however on Alex Salmond to provide a plan B on the currency, Alistair Darling, head of the Better Together campaign, responded:

“We know that if we leave the UK, we are leaving behind the security of the pound.

“Scots are clearly saying to Alex Salmond that he cannot keep us in the dark.”

Like this article? Sign up to Left Foot Forward's weekday email for the latest progressive news and comment - and support campaigning journalism by making a donation today.