Scots are poised to reject independence, according to a series of polls published to mark the one-year countdown to the referendum.
The Yes campaign is struggling to gain the support of a third of voters, the surveys by several leading pollsters have found. They indicate a clear majority will endorse Scotland remaining in the UK on 18 September next year.
The latest poll released by Ipsos Mori for STV last night found just 31 per cent would vote Yes if the referendum was held now, compared with 59 per cent who would vote No, with 10 per cent who are undecided. The figures are unchanged since May.
Among those who are certain to vote and have definitely decided how, the No vote continues to lead the Yes vote by two to one (67 per cent v 33 per cent). Among undecided voters, around a third are inclined to vote Yes (35 per cent), while a similar proportion are inclined to vote No (31 per cent).
Men are considerably more likely than women to vote Yes (40 per cent compared to 24 per cent), while women are more likely to vote No (64 per cent compared to 54 per cent). Women are also more likely than men to be undecided (12 per cent to 7 per cent).
Christopher McLean, senior researcher at Ipsos Mori Scotland, said: “As the referendum campaign reaches the year-to-go stage, our latest poll suggests that neither side is currently able to shift public opinion. It is clear that the Scots who remain undecided will become increasingly important as we enter the final year.
“On the one hand, although the No vote retains a healthy lead, the Better Together campaign will need to do more to win over undecided voters if it is to win convincingly.
“On the other hand, with the Yes vote sticking around its historical average, Yes Scotland will need to do more to win over undecided voters if it is to gain the momentum needed to secure independence.”
A YouGov poll finds that half of people want to remain in the Union (52 per cent), a third are opting for independence (32 per cent), around one in seven do not know (13 per cent) and 2 per cent will not vote.
Another poll by Progressive Scottish Opinion finds that support for independence is at around one in four (27 per cent), while three-fifths will vote No (59 per cent) and one in seven do not know (14 per cent).
And a separate TNS BMRB poll suggested that 45 per cent think the economy would be worse if the country was independent, 23 per cent
think it would be better, 17 per cent do not know and 15 per cent think it would be the same.
Three to one victory for No camp in schools poll
A mock referendum of more than 11,000 school pupils has seen independence rejected by three to one.
A total of 8,718 secondary youngsters in Aberdeenshire voted to stay in the UK in yesterday’s poll, with 2,847 voting for independence.
Pupils were asked the same question voters will be faced with next year: Should Scotland be an independent country?
About 24.5 per cent voted Yes, with 88 spoiled ballots.
The mock referendum included many who will be able to take part in the referendum which will be open to 16 and 17-year-olds for the first time.
The pro-Union Better Together and pro-independence Yes Scotland campaigns gave pupils materials and information about the campaign to help them debate over the last week.
The vote took place yesterday and the results were being announced to pupils today in Meldrum Academy, Inverurie.
The council said 14,584 pupils were eligible to take part and there was “an incredible” turnout of 79.9 per cent.
Only one of the schools recorded a majority for independence, the council said.
Aberdeenshire Council elections co-ordinator Allan Bell said: “This project has mirrored what is happening at a national level and gave young people the chance to find out about what is happening, as well as an insight into how the referendum will be conducted.
“We are very keen to encourage electoral participation generally and get young people involved and interested in the democratic process.”
Only one school, with an electorate of 17 pupils and 13 votes cast, voted Yes to independence. Two others had tied results.
The SNP won every seat in Aberdeenshire in the last Scottish Parliament elections and First Minister Alex Salmond represents the Aberdeenshire East constituency where some of the schools that took part are based.
Scottish Labour’s Lewis Macdonald said: “This shows that young people in Aberdeenshire, as in the rest of Scotland, are listening to the arguments and have come to the right conclusion. This is an overwhelming rejection of the independence argument and will no doubt be reflected across the whole country in 12 months’ time.”
Aberdeenshire Council and Grampian Electoral Registration Office helped young people set up, contest, and hold their own polls.
Economy will make up minds, insists Darling
The economy will be the key factor in the deciding the outcome of the referendum, according to former chancellor Alistair Darling.
The Labour MP, who chairs the Better Together campaign, said financially it made more sense for Scotland to remain in the United Kingdom.
He insisted that voters’ minds were becoming “concentrated” with a year to go and polls showing the No campaign with a comfortable lead.
“When people make their mind up on independence, they will look at the arguments both sides come up with and central to it will be the economic argument. As in most elections and referendums, it’s the economy that will actually decide peoples’ minds.”
Mr Darling also played down criticism that the pro-Union side is running a negative campaign, including claims it has been dubbed “Project Fear” by insiders at Better Together.
“I never understand this argument from the nationalists that somehow if you ask them a question, usually that they don’t have the answer to, that somehow you’re being scary.”
Mr Darling has called for a TV debate with Mr Salmond – but the First Minister has said his appropriate opponent for such a debate is David Cameron.
The Better Together chairman said the Prime Minister should be discounted because he will not have a vote on 18 September next year.