News / Europe

Poll Shows Record Support for Scottish Independence

Labour party MP Jim Murphy addresses a crowd during his "100 streets in 100 days" tour to promote the case for Scotland to remain part of the United Kingdom, in Edinburgh, Scotland, Sept. 2, 2014.
Labour party MP Jim Murphy addresses a crowd during his "100 streets in 100 days" tour to promote the case for Scotland to remain part of the United Kingdom, in Edinburgh, Scotland, Sept. 2, 2014.
Reuters

A poll showing support for Scottish independence at its highest ever level threw the fate of the United Kingdom into question on Tuesday, just two weeks before Scots vote on whether to secede.

The poll by YouGov showed the unionist lead had shrunk to 6 percentage points from 22 a month ago as support for independence jumped to 47 percent in August, suggesting a major shift in opinion ahead of the Sept. 18 referendum.

After months of polls showing nationalists heading for defeat in the vote, the YouGov poll for the first time raises the real prospect that secessionists could achieve their goal of breaking the 307-year-old union with England.

“A 'Yes' victory is now a real possibility,” YouGov President Peter Kellner, one of Britain's most respected pollsters, said. “A close finish looks likely.”

Polls show different levels of support for the unionist campaign and although none have shown the independence camp in the lead, the sudden surge indicated by the poll electrified Britain's political class after its summer break.

A vote to breakaway would be followed by negotiations with London on what to do about sterling, the national debt, North Sea oil and the future of Britain's nuclear submarine base in Scotland ahead of independence penciled in for March 24, 2016.

If Scots voted to leave the United Kingdom, Prime Minister David Cameron would face calls to resign ahead of a national election in May 2015 while Labor's chances of gaining a majority could be scuppered if it lost its Scottish lawmakers.

Sterling fell to near a five-month low against the dollar and also slipped versus a generally weak euro on Tuesday, while the cost of hedging against sharp swings in the pound rose as investors sought to insure against the risk of secession.

Traders saw further losses as the vote approaches.

“A Scottish 'Yes' to independence poses far more questions  than it answers but my best guess is that a 'Yes' would trigger a 3-5 percent fall by sterling as an initial reaction,” said Kit Juckes, currency analyst at Societe Generale.

Close finish?

YouGov's Kellner, 67, said the poll data was so astounding that when he first saw it, he double checked to see if there had been a sampling error. But he said that after checking the data, he was certain a real movement had taken place.

“When I first saw our data, I wanted to make sure the movement was real,” he said. “I am certain it is.”

The poll was carried out on Aug. 28-Sept. 1 and 1,063 people were questioned.

When respondents were asked how they would vote in the referendum, 42 percent said they would vote for independence while 48 percent said they would vote against. Eight percent said they did not know and 2 percent did not intend to vote.

It was the first time YouGov has showed support for “Yes” above 40 percent and support for “No” below 50 percent. About 4 million Scottish residents have a vote in the referendum, so the poll indicates 320,000 voters are still undecided.

By excluding those not intending to vote or undecided, the poll showed support for keeping the union at 53 percent against 47 percent seeking independence.

“The 'Yes' campaign has both gained converts, and secured a two-to-one lead among people who were undecided and have now taken sides,” Kellner said.

Supporters of the Labor party, traditionally the dominant political force in Scotland, had become more supportive of independence, while economic worries about the prospect of independence had diminished, YouGov said.

Odds narrow

Scottish nationalists said the poll, which comes just over a week after pro-independence leader Alex Salmond won a television debate, was a breakthrough moment in the campaign.

“More and more people are beginning to realize that a 'Yes' vote is Scotland's one opportunity to make that enormous wealth work better for everybody who lives and works here,” said Blair Jenkins, head of the independence campaign team.

Nationalists accuse London of squandering Scotland's wealth and say Scotland would be one of the world's richest countries if it took control of its own destiny.

Unionists, including Britain's three main political parties, say the United Kingdom is stronger if it stays together and that Scottish independence would bring significant financial, economic and political uncertainty.

Jenkins said the unionist campaign was in panic but the British government said it had confidence in its argument in favor of Scotland staying part of the United Kingdom.

“The only poll that counts is the referendum itself,” Cameron's spokesman told reporters.

“There isn't a change in the approach that the government has been and will be taking, which is in summary a real confidence in the argument that the government and others are making.”

Bookmaker Ladbrokes said that the odds on a vote in favor of independence had narrowed overnight since the poll to 11/4, meaning punters now put the likelihood of a split at its highest since May this year. That continued a narrowing trend seen since the first television debate in August when the odds were 5/1.

“Since the second debate we've been taking upwards of 5,000 pounds worth of bets a day for 'Yes' from all over Scotland,” said Ladbrokes spokesman Alex Donohue. “It's basically one way traffic at the moment.”

You May Like

UN Watchdog Urges Israel to Probe Possible Gaza War Crimes

More than 2,100 Palestinians, most of them civilians, were killed in a 51-day war in Gaza, along with 67 Israeli soldiers and six civilians in Israel More

New Kenyan 'Thin SIMs' Poised to Transform African Mobile Money

Equity's new technology is approved in African nation for one-year trial, though industry leader Safaricom says thin SIMs could lead to data theft and fraud More

Solar's Future Looks Brighter

New technology and dropping prices are contributing to a surge in solar power More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
October 25, 2014 4:21 PM
Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukraine

Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.

All About America

AppleAndroid