Scotland split down middle on independence - polls

Prof Curtice says there has been a 'small but perceptible' swing. Picture: Jane Barlow
Prof Curtice says there has been a 'small but perceptible' swing. Picture: Jane Barlow
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SCOTLAND is “split down the middle” on the prospect of independence, according to the latest polling.

New analysis of the most recent five polls shows Yes and No are now locked on 50 per cent each on the anniversary of the historic vote last year.

It means that the Yes campaign has closed the 10-point gap favouring the No side in the year since the vote.

But It is unclear how a rerun of the vote go if it was staged now, according to Professor John Curtice, of Strathclyde University.

“Scotland appears to be divided straight down the middle on the constitutional question which it voted on exactly a year ago today,” he said

“Based on five polls conducted over the last month Yes and No are tied on 50 per cent each, making the two sides closer in the polls than at any time during the referendum campaign.

“This small but perceptible swing to Yes during the course of the last year means we cannot be sure who would win if a second referendum were held today.”

In the aftermath of the referendum, voting for or against the SNP has become synonymous with support for or opposition to independence, the academic added.

The nationalists have a resounding lead in the polls ahead of next year’s Holyrood vote, with Nicola Sturgeon seeming poised to be returned as First Minister.

“The prospect of a second majority SNP government, together with the slight narrowing of the gap between Yes and No on independence, has inevitably fuelled speculation that the nationalists would like a second referendum,” Prof Curtice said.

“However the narrowness of the polls means the party is reluctant to make an unequivocal commitment to holding a second referendum for fear that it could lose again.”

But the nationalists are facing calls to get on with the job at Holyrood of running Scotland rather than agitating for a fresh vote on constitutional change.

Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie said: “This day last year I was so relieved Scotland opted to continue our partnership with the United Kingdom.

“Together we’ve created some of the best things in the world: the NHS, the BBC and the pound, and together we can do so much more.

“It is unbelievable that with problems in the police, NHS and schools, the SNP want yet another referendum. The SNP government need to get on with the day job rather than plotting another referendum.”

But the Scottish Greens, which played a key role in the Yes Scotland campaign, said they wanted to see the staging of a second referendum.

Co-leader Patrick Harvie said: “Scottish Greens are proud of the role we played in the independence debate. We engaged constructively as we saw huge opportunities to create a more equal and democratic society, and a sustainable economy.

“Our membership surge has strengthened our position and will help us build our arguments ahead of the next referendum, whenever that may be. The key issue of currency must be fully explored.

“Given the economic, social and environmental challenges that Scotland faces, the need for a strong Green voice at Holyrood has never been greater.”