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'Yes Scotland' Campaign Shoots Ahead

The "Yes Scotland" campaign has finally gained a majority, the results of the latest YouGov opinion poll showed, however, the margin is still too narrow to determine the future of the United Kingdom.

MOSCOW, September 8 (RIA Novosti) – The "Yes Scotland" campaign has finally gained a majority, the results of the latest YouGov opinion poll showed, however, the margin is still too narrow to determine the future of the United Kingdom.

YouGov, which had previously painted a pessimistic picture for the Yes side ahead of the referendum on Scottish independence September 18, published a poll that showed an eight point swing from No to Yes in less than a month. The publication generated considerable public excitement. However, the outcome of the referendum is still largely unpredictable.

"A two-point gap is too small for us to call the outcome," The Guardian quoted Peter Kellner, the YouGov chief executive, September 7. "The fact that the contest is too close to call is itself remarkable, as Better Together seemed to have victory in the bag. Month after month, they held a steady lead, averaging no 58 percent, yes 42 percent. In the past four weeks, support for the union has drained away at an astonishing rate."

According to the latest YouGov poll, Yes are now on 47 percent, No on 45 percent, with the rest undecided. However, once the Don’t Knows are excluded, Yes are on 51 percent, No 49 percent, which marks a four point swing on the company’s previous poll, and no less than a 12 point swing in comparison to the previous month.

At the same time, the August 19 Panelbase poll conducted for the Yes Scotland campaign itself estimated No to be at 48 percent and Yes at 44 percent, with 52 percent and 48 percent correspondingly if the undecided are excluded. These results are in line with the general public sentiment of previous months, favoring slightly the “Better Together” campaign.

A more comprehensive “poll of polls” issued by What Scotland Thinks September 7, shows Yes now standing at 47 percent and No at 53 percent, which represents a two point increase in the Yes vote and a corresponding drop in the No vote.

The reason for such a change in attitude appears to be the natural human desire to hope for the best rather than prepare for the worst. While “Better Together” has been largely focusing on the losses for Scotland in case the union with the UK is broken, “Yes Scotland” has been painting a positive picture of an independent Scotland with a particular emphasis on economic benefits, which is known to be the key issue for any election.

According to the recent results from What Scotland Thinks, today 51 percent of Scots think that the No side is bluffing when it comes to claims that the rest of the UK would not allow Scotland to share the pound in a monetary union. In addition, 67 percent of those who were asked feel that the Yes campaign has done a good job of making a positive case for an independent Scotland, while only 36 percent think Better Together has done a good job of painting the positive case for remaining in the UK. Moreover, the percentage of those who believe independent Scotland will be better is continuing to rise.

The response of the No side will be a proposal of a new convention that would develop plans for further devolution. However, whether it will help “Better Together” create a more attractive image of Scotland within the frames of the UK is still to be seen.

The long-standing issue of the Scottish independence is to be settled by a referendum scheduled for September 18. Initially planned by the ruling Scottish Nationalist Party as a three-option ballot (independence, independence-lite and further devolution with the remaining union), the referendum was permitted by the central British government at Westminster (Agreement of October 15, 2012) to have two options only (independence, union). As a result, the majority of voters (around 60 percent would rather prefer an intermediate option of further devolution) have to make a difficult choice with no option that fully corresponds to their preferences, which makes the results of the referendum unpredictable even now with such a short time for campaigning remaining.

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