By Martin Kelly
The latest survey on Scottish independence shows the gap between Yes and No sitting at just five points.
The Panelbase survey, carried out on behalf of online site Wings Over Scotland, has revealed support for Yes is 41%, No 46% and Don’t Knows on 14%.
The result confirms a recent Newsnet Scotland poll which found exactly the same five point gap between both sides. Stripping out the Don’t Knows leaves Yes on 47% and No on 53%, again confirming the result of the Newsnet Scotland poll.
The Newsnet Scotland survey had been conducted prior to the three Unionist party conferences. However the result of this latest study, conducted between March 28th and April 4th, is a blow to the No campaign given that it follows Scottish party conferences from Labour, the Lib Dems and the Conservatives.
There may be some consolation for opponents of independence that the gap between Yes and No appears not to have decreased further despite last week’s comments from a senior coalition minister that a currency union will be agreed after a Yes vote.
Commenting on the latest survey results, Blair Jenkins, chief executive of Yes Scotland, said: "What this poll clearly indicates is that 'Project Fear' is failing and that increasing numbers of people are realising that Yes promises a better future for themselves, their loved ones and for Scotland.
"With just over five months still to go to the referendum, this poll shows support for Yes has increased to 41%, the highest yet in the campaign - despite all the recent scaremongering and bluffing from the No campaign. The fact is the No camp has played what it believed to be its ace card on currency - which was comprehensively debunked by a Westminster minister last weekend."
Welcoming the poll, Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said:
"I am delighted to see support for a Yes vote continuing to rise - this very encouraging poll shows that it is now virtually neck and neck between Yes and No, with Yes now reaching 47 per cent. We take absolutely nothing for granted, but Yes now needs a swing of only three per cent to win, and we are confident of achieving a Yes vote in September.
"Alistair Darling and the No campaign have serious questions to answer about their bluff over the pound, but he seems to be burying his head in the sand and incapable of shifting from what is a deeply negative campaign.
"As more and more people across the country hear the case for Yes, they are realising that Scotland can, should and must be independent. With the full powers that only independence can bring, we can build a fairer, more prosperous Scotland that is no longer held back by a Westminster system that isn't working."
However, polling expert Professor John Curtice cautioned against suggestions that recent polls were evidence of a Yes bandwagon.
Writing on his blog, What Scotland Thinks, he said: "Once the Don’t Knows (14%, down one point) are excluded the Yes vote stands at 47%, the same as in Panelbase’s previous poll for Newsnet. The poll thus cannot be cited as evidence that there is now a nationalist bandwagon moving continuously and relentlessly towards the 50% mark.
"We should remember that all of the polls Panelbase conducted last year already put the Yes tally at 44% or 45%.The two to three point increase in Yes support since then is simply in line with the trend that has already been evident in more or less all the polls for some two or three months.
"On the other hand, the No side's continuing efforts at persuading Scots of the risk of independence - together with three weekends of unionist Scottish party conferences - are still evidently failing to bear any fruit. The argument that the No campaign is too relentlessly negative will doubtless continue to be heard.
"Better Together will certainly be hoping the persistently relatively high Yes vote in Panelbase's polls is an overestimate of the level of support for independence, though of that there is far from being any guarantee."