By a Newsnet reporter
The gap between those in favour of Scottish independence and those against appears to be closing after publication of the latest poll in the Sunday Times.
Carried out by Panelbase, on behalf of the newspaper and Real Radio, the survey placed support for independence at 37%, and support for the status quo on 45% with 18% undecided.
The eight point gap is considerably less than the 24 point lead enjoyed by the anti-independence campaign just over two weeks ago and indicates a significant shift in public opinion.
More significantly, the survey of nearly 1,000 Scots showed that a majority would embrace independence if there was a possibility of a return to government of the current Tory/Lib Dem coalition or a Conservative outright majority at the 2015 general election, with 52% saying they would vote yes – a jump of 15% - with those against dropping five points to 40%.
Even the return of a Labour government at Westminster would lead to more opting to vote Yes in 2014, the gap reducing from eight points to just four. If Ed Miliband looks set to become the next UK Prime Minister then support for Scottish independence increased from 37% to 44%, whilst support for the Union also increased but by a smaller margin – 45% to 48%.
The survey was carried out on the 19th October, the day of the SNP NATO debate and prior to Alex Salmond’s keynote address. It indicates a continuing trend that has seen support for independence growing from 28% on 4th October to 37% two weeks later.
Welcoming this latest survey, SNP Business Convener Derek Mackay MSP said:
“This is an extremely positive poll, which indicates strong and rising support for Yes across the political spectrum. We believe that Yes support will continue to grow now that the referendum terms are agreed, and as we spell out how Scotland will flourish with the powers of an independent Parliament.
“The alternative to Yes would be to see the achievements of home rule - such as free personal care and free tuition – rolled back by a No vote and the continued imposition of Westminster austerity.
“As the polls show that the referendum is game on, what is consistent is that a clear majority of people believe that the Scottish Government is better at making decisions for Scotland than the UK Government - and most people will vote for independence if they believe that they and their families will be better off.
“There is an important job of work to do to persuade more people in Scotland to support the case for independence – we are confident we can and will do that, and if we win the argument we will win the referendum in autumn 2014.”