'Yes' camp gains ground month before Scottish independence vote

18th August 2014, Comments 0 comments

A month to the day until Scotland votes on whether to split from Britain, opinion polls Monday showed the pro-independence camp gaining ground as First Minister Alex Salmond insisted his side had a "spring in their step".

But the polls still showed a strong lead for the 'No' camp ahead of the vote on September 18, suggesting voters are on course to reject independence.

Debate in the campaign has so far focused on Scotland's economy, particularly on the currency post-independence.

"One of the things that the polls today indicate is it is moving in our direction," Salmond told the BBC.

"I think it's actually becoming more clearly understood that we can't actually be stopped from using the pound."

A YouGov poll for The Times newspaper put support for independence at 43 percent compared to 57 percent for those who wanted Scotland to stay part of the United Kingdom. Undecided voters were not included.

Earlier this month, the same poll gave the 'No' camp 61 percent and the 'Yes' camp 39 percent.

On Sunday, an ICM poll for the Scotland on Sunday newspaper put 'No' on 55 percent and 'Yes' on 45 percent, again excluding undecided voters.

That represented a two percentage point increase for the 'Yes' side and a decrease of the same margin for 'No' in the past month.

Currency has dominated the independence debate since August 5, when Salmond was seen as having come off worse in his first televised debate with Alistair Darling, leader of the 'No' campaign and Britain's finance minister during the 2008 financial crisis.

Salmond wants a formal, euro-style currency union between the remainder of the UK and a separate state of Scotland.

However, the Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition government in London has ruled this out -- a position backed by the Labour opposition.

Salmond insists an independent Scotland could continue to use the pound regardless, much as Panama uses the US dollar.

Blair McDougall, campaign director for the Better Together campaign which opposes independence, said the polls showed most voters wanted Scotland to stay in Britain.

"Scots still don't know what currency we would use in a separate Scotland," he said. "It all means independence isn't a risk worth taking."

© 2014 AFP

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