Battle over Scottish independence slightly tightens in new poll

LONDON Wed Apr 16, 2014 12:03am BST

A marker stone is seen at Carter Bar in the Scottish Borders August 22, 2013. REUTERS/Toby Melville

A marker stone is seen at Carter Bar in the Scottish Borders August 22, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Toby Melville

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LONDON (Reuters) - The battle over Scottish independence is tightening, with a new poll on Wednesday showing independence supporters gaining ground slightly as more Scots get involved in the debate.

The latest poll by TNS showed 29 percent of Scots intended to vote "Yes" to independence in the September 18 referendum, up from 28 percent a month ago, while 41 percent planned to vote "No," down from 42 percent. The remaining 30 percent were undecided.

The head of TNS Scotland, Tom Costley, said the poll of 988 people showed a continuing gradual narrowing in the polls, with a gap now of 12 percentage points between the two sides compared to 19 points in September when the polling series began.

But he said more significantly, the poll found that the proportion of Scots who intend to vote in the referendum had hit a new high of 74 percent, up from 65 percent in September.

About four million of Scotland's 5.3 million population are eligible to vote in the referendum which is open to all Scottish residents aged 16 and above.

"The increase in the proportion who claim they are certain to vote is an indication that more and more people are realising the importance of this referendum and are becoming increasingly engaged in the process," Costley said in a statement.

"Many undecided voters are telling us that they will definitely cast their vote, and how the campaigns address their interests is likely to have a big influence on the final outcome."

The Scottish National Party (SNP), which runs Scotland's devolved parliament, says that ending the 307-year tie to England to become independent will give Scotland the power to make its own decisions rather than be run by politicians in London.

The main British parties oppose Scottish independence, arguing that the United Kingdom is stronger together, financially and politically on the world stage.

(Reporting by Belinda Goldsmith, Editing by Angus MacSwan)

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