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Shock poll: Scotland’s ‘Yes’ campaign pulls into lead. It’s 51% to 49%

6 September 2014

9:34 PM

6 September 2014

9:34 PM

Tomorrow’s Sunday Times poll by YouGov puts the Yes campaign ahead at 51 per cent, with No on 49 per cent when undecided voters are excluded (even when they’re included, ‘yes’ are still ahead by two points: 47-45). In the space of four weeks, ‘No’ has blown a 22-point lead.


It was only recently that the No campaign started to wonder whether this could happen: previously there was an acceptance that the polls could narrow in the last few weeks, but the narrative was that the SNP were behind and were simply trying to engineer a close enough defeat for them to argue for a significant new settlement for Scotland.

Now the Yes campaign has every opportunity to gain sufficient momentum not just to get a narrow defeat, but a victory. A narrow defeat would still be good for Alex Salmond, but even the narrowest victory won by a hair’s breadth would of course be spectacular.


Rupert Murdoch tweeted about this earlier on – he seems to smell an intifada.

The question is who will this poll galvanise the most? Will it horrify wavering voters and send the Better Together campaign into a final frenzy to win over those lingering undecideds? One thing we can be certain of is more detail on what further powers Scotland would get if it stayed within the UK. Or will it give the SNP a final furlong spurt of energy? As we’re dealing with an expected turnout of around 80 per cent with voters who have never pushed a slip of paper into a ballot box before coming out to vote, no-one knows the answer. And that’s what makes tonight’s poll particularly terrifying for unionists.

UPDATE, 9.45pm: Alistair Darling has responded:

‘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.’

PS  FROM FRASER NELSON: Make no mistake, the UK government will now be on full panic mode. This eclipses everything: the country is 12 days away from dissolution. We’re seeing an almost perfect rerun of what happened in Quebec in October 1995 when the ‘yes’ pulled into a lead at the last minute. Then, Canadians (who had ignored the debate until then) suddenly took notice, realising that their country was falling apart. Seven days before the poll, a massive unity rally in Montreal was organised (details here) by a fisheries minister acting on his own initiative. God knows such initiatives are needed now.

Spectator appeal: Write a short letter, of no more than 250 words, addressed to a Scottish voter telling them what you’d like for them to save Britain, and stay part of a united country. We’ll publish the best. Find out more here.

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Show comments
  • David J Timson

    Has anyone asked YouGov if they have recently signed up a significant number of new panel members from Scotland? (Or larger numbers of previously silent members suddenly responding to their requests to take part in polls…) Since they rely on people volunteering to form part of their online panels they would be (potentially) susceptible to an influx (possibly a planned influx? Surely not…) Although they do weight their polls Aye/Naw might be less constrained by class or previous voting intention. (Plenty of Labour voters have always favoured independence and plenty of “no independence in a million years” voters put their crosses next to SNP candidates to get rid of the hopelessness and cronyism that is Scottish Labour.)
    I know that some people will think I’m a conspiracy theorist. I’m not (much 🙂 ). I think my explanation is possible, but not likely. However, the question should be asked. Something has to explain why YouGov has gone from Better Together’s favourite outlier to Yes Scotland’s favourite if-not-outlier-certainly-on-the-very-edge-of-what-we-have-seen-before. The Nats will say that it’s Salmond’s brilliant performance in the second debate. Maybe, but surely we would expect all the polls to move the same way (and in a similarly seismic way) in response. Perhaps YouGov were wrong in every previous poll (they are now closer to the rest of the pack, maybe). On the other hand, YouGov haven’t done too badly in predicting the outcome of recent general elections (anyone any idea how they’ve done predicting Holyrood elections?) So why would they be so wrong for so long on this one?
    More polls will no doubt be taken and they should tell us whether the YouGov one is an outlier or not. Until then, no-one should get too excited.
    On the plus side, Murdoch backing a Yes vote should see the numbers heading back towards No! Maybe an independent Scotland will have phone-hacking on its national curriculum…

  • Peter Stroud

    So one poll suggests that the Scots might vote YES at the upcoming referendum: and government goes into panic mode. We immediately hear that even more powers will be given to the Scots parliament – as a reward for keeping the status quo. As an Englishman I object strongly to giving away any more powers if the NO campaign wins. Scotland will be independent in all but name; if any more powers are transferred north of the border. If the NO campaign wins, then the status quo must be maintained. More powers should only be transferred following the permission of English folk. We should hold a referendum on the subject.

  • Mike

    Divorce is a messy business as I can attest to but Salmond hasn’t spelled out the real cost of this divorce. As I’m sure my bitter ex will might accept, be careful what you wish for as despite her getting over half of the assets she is worse off now and I’m better off.

    It will be the same with Scotland, many up there want divorce for purely emotional reasons and are ignoring practical concerns. Its a fact that proportionately two people can live cheaper than one and its the same here with the weaker partner Scotland being supported by the stronger partner. That maybe a price worth paying for England & Wales to keep the union but after splitting the assets up, you’re on your own people and don’t cry poor afterwards !

  • Flashbak420

    Wonder if Scotland will forgive those who were expelled hundreds of years ago for support of a Scottish King for Scottish people? 🙂

  • David Prentice

    I don’t understand the fuss! Scotland goes and the Labour Party loses the power base it has used to systematically destroy the country. Forget this letter writing nonsense and get the champagne on ice, Fraser, ready to celebrate the return of England for the English!

  • beenzrgud

    Whether right or wrong the future of our nation has been placed in the hands of the Scots (at most 10% of those residing on these isles) , and so it is they who make the future for us all. History has shown us that together we are the very best of humanity that this planet has to offer. Sure we’ve made mistakes, but they have been dwarfed by some of the greatest leaps of progress in the history of mankind. We really are stronger as one nation no matter how much Alex Salmond wishes this was not true, and separated we will be all the more diminished. As a country we have our problems, which we are rapidly bringing to the fore, but most of us can see that change lies in our future. It should come as no surprise that we are challenging the status quo and that others (in the EU) will be encouraged by our example. The Scots have the opportunity to end the UK, or allow it to continue to challenge the limits of convention. Forget the rest of history, this is the thing that Scotland will be remembered for above all others. The UK is more than a blip in the history of mankind, and its impact will be felt for hundreds of years at least. The Scots should understand the immensity of the decision that lies before them, and put Mr Salmond in his true context in the scheme of things. The very fact that Scotland is holding such a referendum should say something about the nature of the nation it belongs to. Our country is based on values and ideas rather than the power to overcome opposition. We’re not perfect but we are one of the leading lights in the world. The Scots should consider their place in shaping the world before destroying the vehicle that made it all possible.

    • Liz

      “History has shown us that together we are the very best of humanity that this planet has to offer. ”

      That’s humanity screwed then.

      • beenzrgud

        You may be right, but my point still stands.

  • Bonkim

    Polls should be banned two weeks before the date.

  • gowestdoug

    For a No supporter like me this is getting all too close for comfort. Last night’s panel base poll shows no change so we need to see whether other pollsters reflect the staggering Yougov swing this week. Frankly I don’t trust it but that may be wishful thinking.

  • global city

    The Union may have been safer had we listened to the likes of this man.

    ‘The State’ has made itself too important and intrusive. Not only that they cobble us with restriticons as a result of their vainglorious parading round the world making commitments that have cumulatively limited out Common Law. The EU, of course, is the greatest act of treachery when it comes to forcing us into a new system of life by right and regulation.

    When the UK was a mere nation we were much happier and had more freedom….then ‘the State’ reared it’s ugly bulk.

  • James Salvatore

    As a Scotsman and a Brit – this is getting very very scary.

    • wardancer

      Its only one poll out of 37 over 3 years and the lead is just1%. But I’ll tell what’s scary…I have had my door chapped at least 15 times in the past month alone by the Yes campaign and not once in 18 months has the No campaign shown up. The No campaign seem to have been looking at the lead they had and thought they had nothing to do. Its actually quite pathetic, maybe, just maybe they have left it to late.

      • James Salvatore

        Good point -same here. The No campaign has been as good as invisible.

  • wardancer

    37 opinion polls in three years and the only one to put the Yes vote in the lead is by a mere 1% and the whole country suffers an anuerysm. A poll released yesterday put the NO lead ahead by 4 points, this was ignored in favour of screaming headlines about that 1%.

  • Raimo Kangasniemi

    The supporters of independence have positive reasons why they want independence, the supporters of union most of the time don’t seem to be able to muster positive reasons without evoking threats. Positive messages tend to work better than threats.

    I think the unionists should stop for a moment and think why they want to keep the union. Just because something has existed for 300 years doesn’t mean that it should go on existing just on basis of it’s previous existence. But that’s a very common unionist claim – and it reveals another weakness in their arguments.

    The unionists want to preserve the union for the sake of the past, the supporters of independence want independence for the sake of the future. Again, supporters of independence have the positive message, unionists’ message is that people should live in a museum, warming themselves with the embers of a great past instead of seeking a great future.

    • Mike

      If something isn’t broke, why fix it. The yes campaign is all about emotional claptrap like a wife who has got bored with her husband and wants a divorce. No account is taken over the stability and well being for a couple of centuries but just a flighty moment that the green may be greener elsewhere and they are bored with the relationship.

      Just look at the surveys, over 50% of wives who filed for divorce regretted it a couple of years later and wished they’d never gone there and many husbands who were emasculated in the family courts, picked themselves up and made a better life for themselves.

      This will happen to Scotland thanks to Salmond and it will all end in tears for those in Scotland. There will be adjustments but once all the fuss has died down and Salmond is faced by the harsh realities of taxation, it look at all like the package he sold people.

  • john

    Mrs Windsor will not be best pleased if her Scottish retainers show disloyalty. What will Charlie’s coronation (uggh) look like if the Scots have done a bunk? Half the fancy dress parade will be gone! God forbid the Ozzies, Kiwis and Canucks also get ideas of dissaffection.

  • Zoomy333

    Been reading a few of the comments here, and I just want to reassure voters south of Gretna; a Yes vote will not bring about permanent Tory rule. Labour’s triple term in Parliament from 1997 – 2010 would have still happened without Scottish votes. Scotland has only influenced the vote twice since WW2, and those parliaments both collapsed prematurely.

  • Seldom Seen

    What Rupert Murdoch knows about ‘libertarianism’ can be written on the head of a pin

  • Pat Conway

    Still too close to call.

  • Ludo

    “We relish this battle. It is not the Battle of Britain – it is the battle for Scotland”, said Darling. Well, in that case I really do hope he loses, because that doesn’t sound like it’s in the best interests of England.

    Please vote YES!

  • Dean Jackson

    “‘No’ has blown a 22-point lead.” That’s impossible, and…

    proof that the polls are being massaged by Marxist agents…

    The concept of Union has always meant security from outside invasion, the original threat to Presbyterian Scotland and Anglican England being an invasion from either Catholic France or Catholic Spain. What else would bring two such diverse cultures together, the Celts of Scotland and the Anglo-Saxon Normans of England? And the threat of foreign invasion is more subtle today, even unseen, because the enemy is weak in numbers, hence the enemy’s need to conceal its identity. Who is this enemy that threatens Britain?

    The enemy is within and without, and are Marxists who’ve co-opted the political parties of the West, including the West’s leading institutions, from the media to religion. We know this to be true not only because we were warned of the enemy within by KGB defector Major Anatoliy Golitsyn in 1962, but because the West’s institutions failed to warn its populations that the collapse of the USSR (and East Bloc nations) was a strategic disinformation operation, as proved by the West’s failure to not only verify the collapse, but de-Communize the Soviet Armed Forces officer corps (which was 90% Communist Party officered in late 1991), and failure to de-mobilize the six-million vigilantes that assisted the Soviet Ministry of Interior and militia to control the populations in the larger Soviet cities.

    The West’s fate depended on verification of the collapse of the USSR, verification’s absence proving co-option of the West’s institutions. On the Soviet side, there could be no collapse when (1) the Soviet Armed Forces officer corps remained Communist Party dominated; and (2) six-million vigilantes continued to control the population. There can be no collapse of the USSR without…

    Verification, De-Communization and De-Mobilization.

    A United Britain is a threat to the USSR and her ally China, and a hindrance to their global strategy to “liberate” the world by means of infiltration of the West’s institutions.

    In order for Scotland to decide on Union or independence, Scots must be armed with all the information that’s necessary to make the correct decision. The co-opted media will not present the facts as laid out above.

    Read my comments to The Scotsman article, “JK Rowling honours Malala Yousafzai at Book Festival” for a concrete example of how the USSR co-opted Western media and governments act together to manipulate their populations to support political policies those populations would otherwise never support…

  • Newcombe

    Breakup of the union would be a disaster for Scotland, but like EU referendums, can they keep having these until they get the result they want?

  • William Clark

    Erm, the ‘London’ government consists of MPs elected for constituencies all over the country – why do so many chumps seem to need to have it explained to them that they don’t actually all come from London? In fact very few of them do. The ‘London oppression’ mantra is mendacious stupid childish nonsense trotted out by bossy self-righteous ‘socialists’ who tell you they are the ones that should be in charge of everything because of this, even though they are crap and will actually destitute you and your family and your town and your ‘country’. Bye Scotties – enjoy.

  • ManOfKent

    Now look what Wesminster has f***** up. That it has happened directly after visits from Cameron and Miliband in the region tells you all you need to know, Can’t they find a couple of nice cozy cells for them in the ‘Bloody Tower’ so they do no more damage?

  • trace9

    The link to the Montreal rally comes up with an Error message. Thus the poll too, hopefully..?

  • Fergus Pickering

    My own theory for what it’s worth is that the fascist edge of the SNP which has some silly Gaelic name has frightened people into not saying NO. See the great Andrew Gilligan. Of course most English people want the buggers to go. I would regret it, bu then I am half scots. I am also a UKIP supporter and we would do well out of it. I shall put my money on NO when the odds look better at the bookies.

  • Liz

    They’re keeping the monarchy, the pound, the BBC, it’s got to be the lamest independence ever.

    • john

      First two not for long I think! Beeb is OK.

    • Mike

      Yep, it sounds just like the wife in the divorce courts who wants to retain everything she got used to in a marriage like financial support, vacations, a car and a nice home but wants to get shot of her partner and then claim maintenance from him.

      Sorry people, what ever the asset split is going to be, if we divorce you’re on your own from there on out and they’ll be no coming back for hand outs later on. The spurned partner (England & wales) demand a clean break divorce !

  • Liz

    All this begging is demeaning. If they don’t like us (and they don’t) then they can piss off. What’s the problem? It’s not like Scotland is going anywhere, it’s just that with luck there might be fewer Scottish people running the country and sticking that ugly flag on anything that stays still long enough.

    • Mike

      I suspect that those in Scotland with common sense will move south and Scotland will become as broke as Greece but without the warm climate.

  • Liz

    I just wish they’d take Blair, Brown, Campbell, Campbell, Cameron and Nelson with them.

    • Ordinaryman

      Yes, but then they’d have to find jobs for them, which would be far more difficult than getting the majority of the English to worry about Scotland becoming an independent nation.

    • john

      This is the type of leadership talent they will be denying themsleves.