'Truth spoken without moderation reverses itself'
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Sunday, September 7, 2014
Scottish referendum: Shock new poll says Scots set to vote for independence
The people of Scotland are to be offered a historic opportunity to devise a federal future for their country before next year's general election, it emerged on Saturday night, as a shock new poll gave the campaign for independence a narrow lead for the first time.
Amid signs of panic and recrimination among unionist ranks about the prospects of a yes vote on 18 September, the Observer has learned that a devolution announcement designed to halt the nationalist bandwagon is due to be made within days by the anti-independence camp.
The plan, in the event of a no vote, is that people from all parts of Scottish society – rather than just politicians – would be invited to take part in a Scottish conference or convention that would decide on further large-scale transfers of power from London to Holyrood.
A poll by YouGov for the Sunday Times sent shockwaves through the political establishment north and south of the border as it showed the yes camp had 51% to 49% for no, excluding the don't knows. Better Together leader Alistair Darling said: "These polls can and must now serve as a wake-up call to anyone who thought the referendum was a foregone conclusion."
David Cameron was at Balmoral on Saturday night on his annual visit, where growing support for a yes vote was likely to have been raised with the Queen.
With momentum now strongly behind Alex Salmond's push for full-blown independence, the no campaign is desperately searching for ways to seize back the initiative in the last 11 days of campaigning. A win for the yes campaign would represent a stunning turnaround, and unleash the biggest constitutional crisis in the union's 300-year history: it was 14 points behind in polls taken less than a month ago.
However, another poll carried out by Panelbase for Yes Scotland found that no is leading 52% to 48% when undecided voters are excluded.
A senior government minister close to the Better Together campaign said a pledge to set up a new Scottish conference or convention, after a no vote, was imminent. The intention is to demonstrate to the Scottish people that they themselves would be able to "finish the job" of devolution if they reject independence. "Watch this space. You can expect something in the next few days," said the minister.
It is understood that there have been intensive cross-party talks in recent days to finalise the plans. The minister said the conference should be able to complete its work before the May 2015 general election, and in time for the three main Westminster parties to commit to implementing its recommendations in full in the first Queen's speech of a new parliament. Alex Salmond's SNP would be invited to take part.
The move is designed to reassure voters that by rejecting independence they will not be left with the status quo – but that more far-reaching constitutional change and devolution will definitely follow a no vote.
Before the latest poll results were revealed, Rupert Murdoch, the boss of News Corp, said they would be seen as a "black eye" for the British establishment. He said the poll would "shock Britain" and reveal that "everything [is] up for grabs".
"Scottish independence means huge black eye for whole political establishment, especially Cameron and Milliband [sic]," he tweeted.
With the yes campaign in buoyant mood, the no team aims to focus on a message that Scots can have the best of both worlds if they remain in the UK, with more powers, including over tax and their budget, but with the financial security of staying in the UK and EU... read more: