SUPPORT for the United Kingdom is weaker in Scotland than elsewhere in the union but minority support for Scottish independence is just as strong on both sides of the border, a series of polls suggest.
Over three-fifths (62%) of Britons want Scotland to remain part of the UK while 38% support Scottish independence, a Vision Critical poll of British adults found.
But less than half of Scots say they will vote to stay in the UK against 37% who will vote for Scottish independence in the forthcoming referendum, according to two Scottish polls by ICM and Panelbase.
The latest Scottish polls support the results of previous surveys which indicate that the fate of the UK lies with those who are currently undecided.
Around one in seven Scots have yet to make up their mind on how they will vote on September 18.
The ICM poll, for the Scotland on Sunday, suggests undecided voters have shifted to No since the last ICM poll in January, with a five-point swing from “don’t know” (down from 19% to 14%) to No (up from 44% to 49%) while independence has stalled at 37%.
The Panelbase poll, for the Scottish National Party (SNP), suggests voters have moved away from No to undecided, with a two-point swing from No (down 49% to 47%) to “don’t know” (up from 14% to 16%) while independence has also stalled at 37%.
There was some good news for the Yes campaign in the Vision Critical poll, for the Sunday Express, with a narrow lead for independence among the small sample of Scottish voters polled.
Of the 188 UK adults who considered Scotland as their home nation, 52% indicated they supported “the SNP’s plans to make Scotland an independent country” - 34% “strongly” and 18% “somewhat” against 48% who disagreed.
The polling began in the week Chancellor George Osborne warned “if Scotland walks away from the UK, it walks away from the UK pound”, and European Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso said it would be “extremely difficult, if not impossible” for Scotland to join the EU.
But the ICM poll found most Scots believe they would keep the pound and stay in Europe if Scotland becomes independent.
Some 47% said Scotland would use the pound much as it does just now, against 35% who said it will not, while a substantial 57% said Scotland would get into the EU against 23% who said it would not.
The Panelbase poll found 70% who think “that the pound sterling belongs to Scotland as much as it belongs to the rest of the UK” against 18% who disagree.
More people thought the Chancellor’s warning, and the Scottish Government’s subsequent insistence that a currency union “will happen”, has made them more likely to vote for independence (26%) than less likely (19%), although 55% said it made no impact on their vote.
With the Scottish and UK Cabinets both visiting north east Scotland tomorrow, two-thirds of people think Alex Salmond and David Cameron should use the opportunity to hold a public debate against a fifth who say they should not.
Commenting on the Panelbase poll, SNP deputy leader Nicola Sturgeon said: “These are very encouraging figures, indicating a two-point tightening of the gap since the last Panelbase poll two weeks ago.
“Yes is now at 44% once ‘don’t knows’ are excluded. The poll also demonstrates that Westminster politicians trying to lay down the law to Scotland is backfiring, with nearly two-to-one believing that these attacks on the idea of independence benefit the Yes campaign most, rather than No. Far more people are more likely to vote Yes rather than No as a result of the currency debate.”
She added: “As David Cameron prepares to bring his Cabinet to Scotland, people overwhelmingly think he should find some courage and debate face-to-face with Alex Salmond.
“Even more Tory voters agree than disagree.”
Commenting on the ICM poll, Better Together campaign director Blair McDougall told the Scotland on Sunday: “It is encouraging that undecideds, the group of Scots who are key to this referendum, are overwhelmingly moving in favour of Scotland remaining a strong and proud part of the UK.
“What this poll confirms is that despite the threats to default and personal attacks on those who disagree with him, people in Scotland are increasingly seeing through Alex Salmond’s false promises.
“People in Scotland now know that a vote to leave the UK is a vote to lose the strength, security and stability of the pound.”
Addressing both polls, Yes Scotland chief executive Blair Jenkins said: “The No campaign’s negativity is backfiring.
“Despite George Osborne’s ill-advised threat to rule out a currency union, it is clear from these polls most Scots not only see it as bluff but are emphatic that the pound belongs as much to Scotland as it does to any other part of the UK.
“Even Scottish Secretary Alistair Carmichael has acknowledged that Mr Osborne’s threat was a tactical blunder that has backfired on the No campaign.
“One of the key findings of the ICM poll is that a very clear majority of Scots want the Scottish Parliament to be given full powers over taxation and welfare.
“A cross-party deal on more powers between the anti-independence parties has already been ruled out and it is becoming clear to increasing numbers of people that only a Yes vote will deliver the kind of powers they want and Scotland needs.”
On the Vision Critical poll, a Yes Scotland spokesman added: “Another recent poll showed that 71% of people in the rest of the UK want to share the pound with an independent Scotland, and 75% want to have an open border with Scotland.
“Both these things are in the overwhelming interests of the rest of the UK, as well as Scotland.
‘No-one has threatened to default on debt, which is literally impossible for Scotland to do because legally it belongs to the UK Government, so this question is bogus.”