Unionists rally as Scottish independence mood gains ground
The landmark ICM survey revealed Sunday a decline of the No vote from 46 per cent to 42 percent over the past month. At the same time the Yes vote remained steady at 39 percent. With the “don’t knows” excluded from the count, the No vote stands at 52 percent, just four percent ahead of the Yes vote.
It’s the highest level of support for Scotland’s independence since last August, and with only five months remaining till the September 18 referendum, the poll opened to criticism the campaigning of those wishing to keep the union in place.
"These are very encouraging polls and show the yes campaign has the momentum because it is more positive and more trusted than the no campaign,” said Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond.
"In contrast, the No campaign is in a panic because they are seen as negative and unbelievable,” he added, saying the campaign was stuck in a "rut of negativity."
As the poll results were published, in emerged that Labour is planning to step up campaigning for keeping Scotland part of the United Kingdom.
The shadow Scottish secretary, Margaret Curran, said “This week we will be saying loud and clear that the best prospects for a stronger Scotland lie with Scotland remaining part of the United Kingdom.”
The effort is to start Tuesday with a speech by former Prime Minister Gordon Brown in Glasgow that will focus on pensions and benefits, which Scotland would lose if it broke off the UK. He is also to mention some 600,000 jobs, which are either provided by UK-owned companies or depend on access to UK market.
Brown’s Tuesday address would be his first in support of the cross-party union campaign Better Together, which is headed by Alistair Darling, his former chancellor. British media speculated, that Brown’s personal bad relations with Darling was a major reason why he previously distanced himself from Better Together and only spoke through his party’s United with Labour campaign.
Other big figures in the Labour team will also be campaigning for the union, with Ed Miliband’s shadow cabinet holding a meeting in Glasgow on Friday.
Meanwhile the dispute about the referendum is causing a split between the Confederation of British Industry, a leading UK business federation, and some of its members. Three weeks ago it announced its pro-union position, while on Friday it registered as a No campaigner.
The latest move caused a rush of resignations from CBI members, which maintained a neutral stance on the referendum. Over the weekend Scottish Enterprise and broadcaster STV quit while on Monday three of Scotland's leading universities – Edinburgh, Glasgow and Aberdeen universities – joined the exodus.
"While the University of Edinburgh hosts debate from all sides in the discussion around Scottish independence, we have a strictly neutral position on the issue as an institution. We have therefore withdrawn from membership of CBI Scotland while they are officially backing one side in that debate," the university said in a statement.
Many pro-independence members of CBI resigned right after it announced its official pro-union position.