News / Europe

Poll Shows Record Support for Scottish Independence

Labour party MP Jim Murphy addresses a crowd during his
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

Captured IS Militants Explain Why They Fought

Fighters from Turkey, Syria tell VOA Kurdish Service what drew them to extremism, jihad More

Security Experts Split on Kenyan Barrier Wall

Experts divided on whether initiative aiming to keep out al-Shabab militants is long-awaited solution or misguided effort More

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Officials say they hope to turn Manila into the next Macau, which has long been Asia’s gambling hub More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More