Scotland on a knife-edge as Yes lead: is this the end of the UK?

Union Jack

In YouGov’s latest poll, released Saturday night, it is revealed that the ‘Yes’ campaign has taken the lead for the first time in any poll.

Scotland’s future within the United Kingdom is on a knife edge, according to Saturday’s poll with 51% planning to vote ‘yes’ and 49% planning to vote ‘no’ - excluding ‘don’t knows’.

Including ‘don’t knows’ the figures become 47% in favour of independence and 45% against it.

YouGov had the ‘Yes’ side at 39% in their 7th August poll, compared to 61% of people intending to vote ‘no’ - a very large gap. The ‘Better Together’ lead then shrank to 57%-43% on the 15th August. And last week Alistair Darling’s side led in the polls 53%-47%, the closest - until now.

There is an incredibly real chance that Scotland will become an independent country so every vote in the referendum will count.

Referendum: If the Scots vote to stay, will the English get to vote for independence too ?

Looking at the results in more detail, all age groups, except the over sixties, are in favour of independence, a pattern repeated in the previous poll. However, for the over sixties group last week’s poll had 63% in favour of the union, but 29% favoured independence. Now figures stand at 36% yes and 59% no.

Additionally, the gender gap has narrowed. 42% of women now favour independence, whereas 47% plan to vote ‘no’ according to this most recent poll. The previous YouGov poll had women only 37% for independence and 50% against. This latest poll shows that the Yes campaign has been doing well to close the gap.

In terms of social grades the C2DE group were evenly split in YouGov’s previous poll, now however, ‘Yes’ has taken the lead in that segment with 51% in favour of a ‘Yes’ vote compared to 40% against.

The result will be very close as ‘Yes’ have clearly gained more support. Peter Kellner, giving a commentary of the results on YouGov, said that: ‘The Yes campaign has not just invaded No territory; it has launched a blitzkrieg’.

But why have ‘Yes’ gained a lead now?

One argument is the performance of both leaders in the most recent television debate, where 71% of people, in a snap Guardian-ICM poll, thought Alex Salmond won whereas 21% thought the winner was Alistair Darling. Momentum is clearly behind the ‘Yes’ campaign.

Writing on Saturday, in the Mirror, Gordon Brown gave another explanation for the increase, that the coalition government and its policies are pushing people towards a ‘yes’ vote. In his article, he wrote: ‘Many are angry that the bedroom tax was imposed upon Scots against their will while at the same time the very wealthy received tax cuts. The SNP also claim that the ramifications of any Tory privatisation of the NHS in England will cut budgets in Scotland.’

Another contributing factor to the ‘Yes’ lead could be the positivity of the independence campaign compared to the negativity coming from ‘Better Together’. According to the poll 60% of people think the ‘Yes’ has been ‘mostly positive’, double the number thinking it has been ‘mostly negative’. As for ‘Better Together’, 60% think Alistair Darling’s campaign has been ‘mostly negative’, double the 31% saying that it is ‘mostly positive’. These polarising views on each of the campaigns has arguably influenced the narrow ‘Yes’ lead.

In eleven days time Scotland will go to the ballot box. With such a close poll it is clear that every vote will count.

The fieldwork for the YouGov/Sunday Times poll was conducted between the 2nd and 5th September 2014 for 1084 Scottish adults. The full results can be found here: http://d25d2506sfb94s.cloudfront.net/cumulus_uploads/document/ywzyqmrf2u/Scotland_Final_140905_Sunday_Times_FINAL.pdf