By a Newsnet reporter
A newly published poll has suggested momentum is now with the pro-independence campaign with new figures indicating a swing of just three per cent is needed to secure a Yes vote in this year's referendum.
The ICM poll conducted for the Scotland on Sunday newspaper found support for independence has grown from 32% to 37% since September, with a corresponding drop in No support by five percentage points to 44%.
According to the poll, when the 'don't knows' were excluded, support for Yes stood at 46% compared with 54% No. When the 'don't knows' disclosed how they were 'most likely' to vote, Yes stood at 47% compared with No at 53%.
The poll of more than 1,000 over-16s was conducted by ICM for Scotland on Sunday between Tuesday and Friday.
SNP Depute Leader and Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has welcomed a new poll that shows the largest swing towards a Yes vote during the campaign.
Commenting, Ms Sturgeon said:
"This is extremely encouraging - with eight months to go this poll shows that our positive message is making significant progress, and a swing of just over three per cent will put Yes ahead. It reflects our experience of talking to members of the public since the launch of the white paper, including in the Cowdenbeath by-election.
"The rise in support for Yes comes after many people will have taken the time to digest the 'Scotland's Future' document, and strongly suggests that the detailed information on how we can use the full powers of an independent Scotland to transform childcare is encouraging more women and men to vote Yes.
"The White Paper is the most comprehensive blueprint for an independent country ever published, detailing the kind of future we see for our country - a fairer, more prosperous one.
"This poll also underlines the untenable position of the Prime Minister in refusing to debate with the First Minister - despite the fact that the No campaign is being led by his Tory government from Westminster. The referendum is all to play for, Yes is clearly in a potentially winning position, and David Cameron is going to come under more pressure from his own side to step up to the plate.
"I believe that over the next few months growing numbers of people will weigh up the gains of an independent Scotland against the costs of a No vote, and join the growing numbers who are choosing Yes."
Speaking to the Scotland on Sunday newspaper, Blair Jenkins, chief executive of Yes Scotland, said: "A potential Yes vote of 47 per cent at this stage is an excellent place to be with eight months to go. It demonstrates very clearly that we are getting our message across and that momentum is very much on our side.
"The poll represents a very significant swing to Yes and shows that we need just over a 3 per cent swing to take the lead. It is particularly encouraging that there is a five-point increase in support from women and a four-point rise in the number of people who believe independence will be good for the economy is also a welcome shift in our favour.
"We know that the more people learn about the benefits of independence the more likely they are to vote Yes.
"People are now also carefully weighing up the consequences and costs of a No vote and, as a result, support for Yes increases. The referendum is about two choices. One is sticking with a Westminster system that isn’t working for Scotland. The other is a unique opportunity to make decisions that match our own needs and priorities, to better use our vast wealth and resources for the benefit of all people in Scotland and to build a fairer country of which we can all be proud."
A spokesman for Better Together, speaking to the same newspaper, said: "Despite Alex Salmond spending millions of pounds of taxpayers' money, the majority of people in Scotland don't want to trade the strength and security of the UK for the risk and uncertainty of independence.
"We will campaign tirelessly between now and September to convince those who have yet to make up their mind that we are stronger and better together. This poll is a message that there can be no complacency from those who support Scotland remaining in the UK."
The latest survey echoes results from the recent Scottish Attitudes survey which also showed a significant swing from No to Yes, with support for independence up 6% and support for the Union down 6%.