By Martin Kelly
The gap between those in favour of independence and those against has narrowed to just ten points according to a new survey.
Published in the Sunday Times, the new poll by Panelbase shows support for Yes at 36%, No at 46%, and 'don't knows' at 18% - the narrowest gap in the campaign so far.
The survey result would mean a swing of just 5% would see Scotland voting Yes in the referendum to be held in 2014. Excluding the 'don't knows' the poll shows that 44% would back a Yes vote while 56% would vote No.
The results show the Yes campaign up 2% since a previous Panelbase poll in January, the No support dropping 1% and don’t knows also down 1%. The survey is in keeping with other polls which suggest a slow erosion of the No vote.
The poll comes just days after it was announced that the referendum on an independent Scotland would take place on 18 September 2014.
The poll shows an interesting gender break up with 47% of men backing Yes against 40% saying No. Amongst women, support for independence is 25% with 52% saying No. The don’t knows amongst women now stands at 23%, while only 13% of men are unsure.
Last July, the poll found that 44% of men backed independence and 42% opposed it, while 29% of women supported it and 47% were against.
The poll has also demonstrated the huge levels of trust people across Scotland continue to place in the SNP, with the party enjoying a 20-point lead on Labour in the regional vote for the Scottish Parliament.
The poll shows 47% of people would back the SNP in the constituency vote for Holyrood - up two points from the May 20011 landslide election result - compared to 30% for Labour, who have fallen two points since the same election. 12% of respondents would back the Tories and just 5% said they would vote for the Lib Dems.
Commenting, SNP MSP Annabelle Ewing who sits on the Referendum Bill Committee said:
“This poll shows that it is game-on for the independence referendum - this is the narrowest gap in the campaign so far. Yes can win, and I believe Yes will win.
"It shows that there is everything to play for, and that the momentum is now firmly with the Yes campaign - with more and more people preparing to vote for an independent Scotland in September 2014.
"With the date of the referendum having now been set, this poll shows that people in Scotland increasingly believe that decisions about Scotland should be made by people in Scotland, and that only a Yes vote will secure that opportunity.
"The poll shows that more work needs to be done, and the First Minister setting out the 'why of independence' at our conference - including the social and economic transformation we can achieve in childcare provision in an independent Scotland - will help to further boost the Yes vote.
"And almost two years on from the huge landslide support that the people of Scotland gave us, this poll also shows backing for the SNP has actually increased even further on those extraordinary levels.
"With the Scottish Government standing up for people in Scotland in the face of Westminster’s cuts agenda, people are continuing to place their trust in the SNP in overwhelming numbers - while Labour have slipped even further back under Johann Lamont's leadership.
"This poll is a fantastic vote of confidence, and gives us a rock solid platform on which to build support for a Yes vote in next September’s vote."
"The gender gap appears to be greater than ever, particularly among younger voters," said Ivor Knox, MD of Panelbase, to the Sunday Times.
"While an absolute majority (51%) of males under 55 favour independence, men over 55 and women of all ages remain opposed."
The Panelbase poll for the Sunday Times/Real Radio surveyed 885 adults in Scotland between 18-22 March, and found:
Should Scotland be an independent country?
When undecided voters are removed, the findings are:
Scottish Parliament Constituency vote (change on 2011 result in brackets):
SNP: 47% (+2%)
Labour: 30% (-2%)
Conservatives: 12% (-2%)
LibDems: 5% (-3%)
Scottish Parliament Regional vote (change on 2011 result in brackets):
SNP: 45% (+1%)
Labour: 25% (-1%)
Conservatives: 12% (n/c)
LibDems: 5% (n/c)
Greens: 8% (+4%)