7 Sep 2014

Independence vote goes down to the wire

A YouGov poll puts the yes and no camps almost neck and neck, as Chancellor George Osborne promises new powers if Scotland stays in the union.

Chancellor George Osborne is set to announce plans to devolve more powers to Scotland after a poll by YouGov put the yes camp in the lead for the first time.

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With less than two weeks to go before Scots vote on whether to stay in the United Kingdom, Mr Osborne said the final details were being worked out on giving Scotland “much greater” tax-raising powers and fiscal autonomy if it stayed in the UK.

YouGov, polling for the Sunday Times, has put the pro-independence campaign ahead by 51-49 per cent, leading Mr Osborne to warn that Scotland “will not be sharing the pound as an independent country with the rest of the UK if the separatists win the vote”.

The poll is the latest indication of surging support for the yes campaign, which has overturned a 22-point polling deficit in the last month.

The YouGov figures exclude people who said they will not vote or are still undecided – but with those groups included, independence is backed by 47 per cent of those polled, and staying in the UK by 45 per cent.

This two-point gap is within the margin of error, making the contest too close to call.

Neck and neck

A second poll, carried out by Panelbase for Yes Scotland, found that no is leading 52 per cent to 48 per cent when undecided voters are excluded.

Panelbase also found that 47 per cent of women support independence, which Yes Scotland say is a 13-point increase in six months.

Scotland’s Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon described the YouGov findings as “exceptionally positive” but said the yes campaign “still has a lot of work to do to win”.

Alistair Darling, leader of the Better Together campaign, said it was “a wake-up call to anyone who thought the referendum result was a foregone conclusion”.

Independence vote goes down to the wire

“You will see in the next few days a plan of action to give more powers to Scotland,” he added. “More tax powers, more spending powers, more plans for powers over the welfare state.”

“The timetable for delivering that will be put into effect the moment there is a no vote in the referendum.

More powers?

“The clock will be ticking for delivering those powers, and then Scotland will have the best of both worlds. They will both avoid the risks of separation but have more control over their own destiny, which is where I think many Scots want to be.

Independence vote goes down to the wire

But Ms Sturgeon said it “increasingly looks as if the no campaign think people in Scotland are daft”, adding: “If the No campaign parties had any serious intention of delivering substantial new powers for Scotland, then why has it taken until 10 days before polling day, with a poll showing yes in the lead, for them to come up with this?

“There is no option of more powers short of independence on the ballot paper, there is no guarantee whatsoever that if Scotland votes no we will get a single additional power for the Scottish Parliament.

“If people want the powers we need to protect our public services, protect the health service, ensure that we can create jobs, grow our economy, protect the vulnerable through a decent social security system, the only way to get that is to vote for the powers a yes vote will deliver.”