Scottish independence on a knife edge as 'Yes' vote narrows gap ahead of referendum

Latest figures show Yes vote on 49 per cent, and better Together campaign on 51 per cent

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The Independent Online

The Scottish independence debate is still on as knife edge with a new poll today finding just two percentage points between yes and no – and nearly one in five voters undecided.

At the end of a week of intense political campaigning with the No camp attempting to get back on the front foot, the ICM poll for the Guardian suggests that it has had little effect on voters.

The poll, the first to be done using a telephone canvas rather than an online panel, finds support for No on 51 per cent and Yes on 49 per cent once don’t knows were excluded. Including undecideds, the rounded figures leave Yes on 40 per cent, and No on 42 per cent.

The poll also suggests very high levels of political engagement. Eighty-seven per cent of respondents described themselves as “absolutely certain to vote” – compared to the 55 per cent who said the same thing about the next Westminster election.

Unusually, young people are almost as engaged as their elders, with 82 per cent of 16- to 24-year-olds and 87 per cent of 25-34s insisting that they are 10 out of 10 sure that they will cast a vote.

Those aged 25-34 are most inclined to back independence by 57 per cent to 43 per cent. In contrast people aged over 65 are most likely to back the Union by 61 per cent to 39 per cent.

Later today Ed Miliband is expected to share a platform with the former Prime Minister Gordon Brown as part of the No campaign while the Ukip leader Nigel Farage is also campaigning in Scotland.

Alex Salmond and the nationalists reject claims that Scotland's economy would suffer if the UK broke up

Speaking from the campaign trail in Aberdeen, Alex Salmond said Mr Farage could be viewed as an asset to the Yes camp.

“He's not in the Yes campaign but, yes I think he is an asset in this sense: one of the motivating forces behind people voting yes, one of the several reasons, the principal reason is that some want to see a more prosperous and fairer country,” he said.

“A lot of people in Scotland have no time for that and therefore Mr Farage is a rival to Scotland and will be an asset to the Yes campaign, and a huge embarrassment of course to the No campaign."

Writing in the Daily Record this morning, Mr Salmond said that Scotland stands on the cusp of history and spoke of a "flourishing of national self confidence.

“It’s this revival in Scottish confidence that tells me we’ll make a great success of an independent Scotland.

“After all the case for Yes is based on the firm belief that the best people to take the best decisions about Scotland are the people who live and work here.”

His comments come after banks including RBS and Lloyds announced contingency plans to move south of the border in the event of independence.


Yesterday he called for an inquiry into why “a Treasury source” discussed RBS plans to relocate its headquarters to London with the BBC and other news outlets before the bank made the announcement officially.

But in a letter to the First Minister last night the Cabinet Secretary Sir Jeremy Heywood said that there had been no breach of the Ministerial Code in relation to the reports of RBS’ position in the media.

With referendum day just six days away, both sides are picking up the pace and will be campaign across the country.

Salmond will be campaigning in Glasgow, Edinburgh, Stirling, Aberdeen, Dundee, Inverness and Perth.

Labour leader Ed Miliband will be joined by former prime minister Gordon Brown and Scottish Labour leader Johann Lamont at a rally in Glasgow, as the party seeks to take the lead in building support for the No campaign.

Additional reporting by AP