Politicians say they pay no attention to them, but with only ten days to go until Scotland Decides the analysts, the campaign teams, the anoraks and yes, the politicians – will be poring over the latest opinion polls …
The latest polls indicate that the gap between Yes and No voting intentions has narrowed significantly and that the referendum result really is now too close to call. What is certain is that both Yes Scotland and Better Together now face ten days of last ditch campaigning to convince undecided voters to support their cause.
A YouGov poll published in the Sunday Times today shows that Yes support has surged to 51 per cent – up 12 points since the YouGov poll in early August, with No down 12 points.
The findings give Yes its best result so far in any poll of the campaign – Yes has reached 51 per cent, with No dropping to 49 per cent, once ‘don’t knows’ are excluded.
Meanwhile, Yes Scotland published findings from a new poll, commissioned by the Yes campaign and conducted by Panelbase, which finds a record high of 47 per cent support for independence among women, with the gender gap between male and female Yes support virtually closed.
The overall support for Yes in the Panelbase poll is 48 per cent, excluding undecideds. When undecideds are included, Yes support is at 44 per cent – the highest recorded by Panelbase so far.
The Panelbase poll also finds that an overwhelming majority of people in Scotland believe that the referendum is something to be proud of – by 69 per cent to 15 per cent.
Commenting on the YouGov poll, Yes Scotland’s chief executive, Blair Jenkins, said: ‘This breakthrough poll shows that Yes has the big momentum – it’s an all-time high for Yes support in the campaign, and a 12-point swing from No to Yes in the last month. Yes support is rising particularly strongly among women – and already over a third of Labour voters plan to vote Yes.
‘While this poll puts us marginally ahead, other polls show that we still have more progress to make if we are to win. We will be working flat out between now and 18 September 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.
‘Scotland is one of the wealthiest countries in the world. More and more people are beginning to realise that a Yes vote is Scotland’s one opportunity to make that enormous wealth work better for everyone who lives here, create more jobs, and protect Scotland’s NHS from the damaging effects of Westminster privatisation and cuts.
‘While the No campaign press the panic button and blame each other for a series of blunders, Yes will get on with the job of persuading more of our fellow citizens – both No and undecided voters – that we need a Yes vote to put Scotland’s future in Scotland’s hands.’
Welcoming the polls, and discussing the detail of the Panelbase poll, the Deputy First Minister and Yes Scotland Advisory Board member Nicola Sturgeon said: “These are exceptionally positive and encouraging figures – and the Panelbase poll shows record support for independence among women. Compared to earlier this year, female support for Yes is up 13 points.
“There is no doubt from my own experience that as women weigh up the issues – particularly the need for the powers of independence to protect Scotland’s NHS, and to put bairns before bombs by transforming childcare and getting rid of Trident – they are choosing Yes in significantly increasing numbers.
“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.”
Better Together’s Jim Murphy – back on his 100 towns in 100 days tour – said earlier this week that the only poll that matters is the poll on 18 September, and yesterday the unionist side turned their attention to the independence campaign’s welfare plans – they insist the Yes Scotland figures just don’t add up.
The economy is seen as the key battleground in the referendum – many believe that whoever wins the argument over Scotland’s finances will win the vote.
Better Together says new analysis has shown that the SNP’s uncosted promises on welfare don’t add up, and that leaving the UK would put the money we have to support vulnerable Scots at risk. The campaign to keep the union says that a separate Scotland would face an extra £6 billion worth of spending cuts.
The Better Together website says:
New analysis from Better Together has shown the devastating impact this would have on our welfare state.
£6 billion is
- Almost 90% of the pensions bill in Scotland
- Six times the child benefit bill in Scotland
- Three times what we spend on disability benefits in Scotland
The nationalists are asking us to take risks that we simply don’t have to take. Staying part of the UK means we can have more powers for Scotland on tax and welfare, without taking on the risks of independence.
The Nationalists have claimed in their White Paper that they would abolish the bedroom tax, but yesterday two thirds of their MPs couldn’t even be bothered to turn up to vote against it .
The White Paper contains no policy which redistributes wealth from the rich to the poor. The only redistributive policy it has is a tax cut which would take nearly £400 million out of our budget and deliver it into the pockets of the chief executives of the likes of Google, Starbucks and Amazon.
We had the spectacle of Elaine C Smith, representing the Yes Campaign in a TV debate, failing to name a single policy which, with independence, would improve the lives of working class people.
Elaine’s excuse was that she is not a politician – not a defence that could be trotted out by SNP Minister Humza Yousaf who also failed the test in a television interview the next day, as he failed to name a single redistributive policy.’
Jackie Baillie MSP, Scottish Labour’s Social Justice, Equalities and Welfare spokesperson, said: “The welfare state is one of the UK’s proudest achievements. It was founded on the basis of need, not nationality, so that those who fall on hard times get the support they need.
“To make that founding principle a reality we need to be able to fund our welfare state. Independence puts that at risk. The experts at the impartial Institute for Fiscal Studies are clear that leaving the UK would mean an extra £6 billion of cuts.
“The SNP’s welfare claims simply don’t add up. Alex Salmond needs to tell people in Scotland how his welfare promises would be paid for when independence would bring about austerity plus.
“It is those in the greatest need who would suffer most from the cuts that independence would cause. The nationalists are trying to deceive some of the most vulnerable people in Scotland. This is a risk that we just don’t need to take.
“We have a better vision for Scotland. It’s one where there are more powers for Scotland guaranteed, including more powers over tax and welfare, without taking on all the risks of independence. We should say no thanks to that risk.”
STILL UNDECIDED? WANT TO TALK ABOUT THE REFERENDUM?
Come and join Women’s International Group (WIG) for a coffee and blether about the referendum at Royston Wardieburn Community Centre this Thursday (11 September) from 10 – 11.30am. All welcome.