Scotland decides: final polls show late swing to No camp

Six-point lead for No as polls prepare to open - perhaps it's not 'too close to call' after all

Don Brind

Two final opinion polls, conducted in the last hours before the Scots began voting this morning in the independence referendum, show a late swing towards the No campaign.

Both Ipsos-MORI for the London Evening Standard and Survation for the Daily Record produced the same figures: Yes on 47 per cent, and No on 53 per cent.

The six-point lead compares with a two-point lead produced by Ipsos-MORI earlier in the week for STV.

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The jump will have given huge encouragement to Alistair Darling's Better Together campaign, and particularly to Gordon Brown whose fiery stump speeches look like they might have made a real difference.

It also suggests that the "shy" No vote, a phenonenon I pointed up on Monday, may have felt encouraged to "come out".

Professional poll-watchers will be taking the latest Ipsos-MORI result seriously because the company has a strong tradition of picking up on late swings and producing very accurate last-minute polling.

What's also interesting is that once again, in the long run-up to this referendum, two polls have come out with such similar results.

As Anthony Wells comments for UK Polling Report, "This isn’t going to be a case of individual pollsters getting it right or wrong, they’ll either all be around about right or all be horribly out."

Wells also makes the point that the media have been saying the result is "too close to call" when actually the polling doesn't say that.

If the referendum was truly "too close to call", with opinion evenly balanced at 50/50, there would be a scatter of random results some putting Yes ahead, others giving a No lead.

“We’re not seeing that,” says Wells. "We’re seeing polls randomly scattered around the 48/52 mark [he was commenting before the release of the two latest polls] suggesting that’s most likely where public opinion is – a very small lead for the NO campaign."

Or perhaps not such a small lead?

Although Scotland's chief counting officer, Mary Pitcaithly, is not expected to announce the overall result until about 6.30am – 7.0 am tomorrow, we should learn earlier whether the pollsters have got it anywhere near right.

Results to look out for are:

North Lanarkshire, between 2.0am and 2.30am: one of the first council areas to declare could tell us a lot. A No win would prove the pollsters right, a solid Yes lead would suggest a shock result across the country;

Clackmannanshire, between 2.30am and 3.0am: the Yes campaign have high hopes of winning here. If they don't, it could be all over for the separatists;

Dundee, between 3.0am and 3.30am: ditto - the Yes camp are banking on victory in their number one target city;

South Lanarkshire, between 3.0am and 3.30am: the No campaign need to win here to be on target for victory;

Edinburgh, between 5.0am and 5.30am: if the No campaign can't win here, then Scotland is about to go independent and the pollsters will have questions to answer;

Glasgow, between 5.0am and 5.30am: the Yes campaign will be hoping for a close-fought victory in the city where 11 per cent of voters live. If they don't win here, we can go back to bed confident of Scotland staying in the Union;

Aberdeen, between 6.0am and 6.30am: this could be the clincher – the last of Scotland's big cities to declare.

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