THE seismic shift among Scottish voters which gave the SNP a Holyrood landslide in 2011 is happening again and will sweep the country to independence, Nicola Sturgeon said yesterday.
A growing conversion of Labour voters to independence has been at the heart of the Yes camp’s rise in support in recent weeks, the Deputy First Minister claimed during a campaign event in Bathgate.
Her remarks came on the eve of a speech by Ed Miliband who is in Scotland today to attempt to shore up his party’s traditional vote to prevent any further shift to the Yes camp.
Mr Miliband is expected to make the case for the Union by drawing a line between Labour and their Tory partners in Better Together who he will describe as “divided and downhearted”.
The SNP came from ten points behind Labour just weeks before the Scottish Parliament vote three years ago to secure a shock majority, paving the way for the referendum. Ms Sturgeon warned a similar shift is happening with the independence poll now just a fortnight away.
“This shift is on – the momentum is with Yes,” Ms Sturgeon said. “I remember very well how that felt in 2011 when you just got the sense that something was moving in terms of opinion and I feel that now. We’re still two weeks out and lots can happen. We will just concentrate on getting the positive message for independence across to as many people as possible.
“There’s no doubt there’s a spring in the step of the Yes campaign. We’re feeling very up, very optimistic.”
A YouGov poll published on Tuesday indicated Labour voters are moving to support independence in substantial numbers, which has contributed to the gap between the Yes and No camps falling to just six points.
Earlier this week, First Minister Alex Salmond said anger among Labour’s traditional support over their leaders’ alliance with the Tories in Better Together was the “fault line” at the heart of the No campaign
“Labour supporters believe in social justice,” Ms Sturgeon said yesterday. “They want to ensure we’ve got a social security system that protects the most vulnerable and the best way to get these things is to put Scotland in control of our own resources.
“The NHS is a particular issue. Labour created the NHS but cuts from Westminster pose a threat to it. If we get control of our own resources and manage to stop so much of our money being wasted on nuclear weapons, I find that’s a message that really resonates with Labour voters.
“Voting Yes is the best way to create the kind of country we want and to ensure we don’t get Tory governments that we don’t vote for again.”
But Labour is fighting back and has launched its biggest ever ground campaign in Scotland to help secure a No vote. Mr Miliband will use his trip north to insist Labour can win next year’s UK election and oust the Tories
“The choice for social justice is No, not Yes,” he will say on a campaign visit to a miners’ club in Motherwell.
He will pledge a contract with the people of Scotland including a freeze in energy bills, a higher minimum wage, a higher 50p tax rate for big earners and abolition of the bedroom tax.
“Change is coming in the UK,” Mr Miliband will say. “The Tories are on their way out. They are losing their MPs. They are defecting, divided and downhearted.
“Even Ruth Davidson says David Cameron isn’t on course to be in Downing Street in a matter of months. A Labour government is within our grasp. With that election in just eight months time, the change Scotland needs is on its way.
“Electing a Labour government is the way to change Scotland. It is the way to build a just Scotland.”