SCOTLAND is on the road to independence, according to a new ICM poll, which places the Yes campaign a full eight points ahead.

The survey showed the Yes campaign was leading with 54% of the vote compared to the No campaign's 46%, once the 9% of undecideds were removed.

The result is the highest-ever Yes vote recorded by ICM and shows the support for independence has now far surpassed those in favour of the Union.

Loading article content

Meanwhile, a poll conducted by Opinium showed that nearly one-third of voters (29%) said they have been positively influenced during the campaign to vote Yes, while only 7% say they have become more likely to say No.

Blair Jenkins, chief executive of Yes Scotland, said: "The new ICM poll gives Yes a record eight-point lead, which is hugely encouraging. Meanwhile, Opinium puts Yes behind, but just by six points.

"Taken in the round, the polls show that the referendum is on a knife edge. There is everything to play for, and this will spur on everybody who wants and is working hard for a Yes to redouble their efforts.

"As we say in response to all the polls, we are working flat out to ensure that we achieve a Yes vote, because it's the biggest opportunity the people of Scotland will ever have to build a fairer society and more prosperous economy."

The result falls in line with the comments made by Jenkins earlier in the day, who said Yes Scotland's private polling and canvassing showed around half of voters were potentially moveable and the more information voters received about independence, the more they moved towards a Yes vote.

Last night, the Better Together campaign was found to be too negative and lacklustre by more than half of Scots asked in the online poll by Opinium. Of the 1055 adults asked between September 9 and 11, 53% said the pro-Union campaign was too negative, 54% said it was too lacklustre, 50% found it patronising and 49% said it was disorganised.

The survey found that First Minister Alex Salmond and his deputy Nicola Sturgeon come out with the highest support on who the Scottish public think has done well during the campaign (51% Salmond and 48% Sturgeon), compared to 25% for Alistair Darling, 24% for Gordon Brown, 13% for David Cameron and 10% for Ed Miliband.

Unlike the ICM poll, the Opinium poll found that among those certain to vote, 49% said they plan to back No, 45% Yes, while 6% were undecided.

Adam Drummond of Opinium Research said there was still "everything to play for" in the last week before the vote, and added: "The effect of the campaign appears to have largely been in favour of Yes with more voters saying they have moved in that direction than the other way."

Another poll conducted for Better Together by Survation gave the No campaign a lead. When undecided voters were factored out, 54% planned to vote No while 46% intended to say Yes, according to the survey. It also pointed to a high turnout, with 93% of voters saying they were certain to vote.

Blair McDougall, campaign director of Better Together, welcomed the latest findings.

He said: "This poll suggests that No are in the lead but that the race is far from over."

Among those questioned, 40% said they plan to vote Yes, 47% intend to vote No, while 9% were undecided and 3% refused to say which side they would choose.

In the fourth poll of the night, Panelbase revealed both campaigns were almost neck-and-neck with No leading by two points (51%) compared to the Yes vote of 49%

Salmond said: "What matters is what's happening in the streets and communities around Scotland, the Yes side has the momentum and that's going to carry us through next Thursday and that's because we've got a positive message, we want to build a more prosperous economy and a fairer society, and there's no scare story that the No campaign can mobilise which competes with that positive vision for the future of Scotland."

Sturgeon urged people to "believe in themselves" rather than scare stories, and not let the opportunity of a lifetime pass them by. Campaigning in Glasgow amid a nationwide push by Yes Scotland, the Deputy First Minister said there had been "a flourishing of self-confidence among people in Scotland" in the referendum.

"This means we can say with certainty to people still making up their mind: 'Let's do this'. The great opportunity of independence is that we'll be able to design an economic policy tailored to our needs so that Scotland's wealth works for the many and not just the few."

Meanwhile, media tycoon Rupert Murdoch arrived in Scotland yesterday, fuelling speculation that The Sun newspaper may be about to endorse a Yes vote.

The 83-year-old head of News Corp last week said he believed Scottish independence was "sure to happen" and meant "a huge black eye" for the whole of the UK political establishment. In recent weeks, the Sun had been increasingly sympathetic in its coverage of the Yes campaign.

Murdoch was in Glasgow, where he visited a Yes Scotland stall, and also in Fife and Aberdeen.

He had lunch in Aberdeen's Prince of Wales pub and was met outside by Yes and No campaigners.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, Tony Blair was on the other side of the debate and urged voters to say No.

The former Labour prime minister said it would not be sensible "politically, economically or even emotionally" to "rip up the alliance".

Interviewed in Kiev, he said he supported "all the reasons given by all the main party leaders in the UK" for the Union to continue.

Campaigning in Kirkcaldy, Gordon Brown, Blair's successor, said No supporters were no less patriotic or proud of Scotland than Yes voters. Most UK Labour Party organisers are in Scotland this weekend to help the No campaign.

The big phone companies also weighed in on the No side, claiming independence "could lead to increased industry costs", prompting warnings of higher call and broadband charges for customers.

In a joint letter, the chief executives of BT, TalkTalk, O2, Vodafone, EE and Three, warned that in the event of a Yes there were "a number of strategic and operational factors which would need to be resolved for our businesses". Services such as the roll-out of faster broadband across Scotland could be affected, the businesses said. They added said the firms would need to know how the telecoms industry would be regulated, if they could use cross-border infrastructure, and how the UK-wide radio spectrum used for mobile phone networks would be licensed in future.
"Any of these factors could lead to increased industry costs," they said.

However, Highlands and Islands SNP MSP Mike MacKenzie said: "There is no need for mobile-phone costs to rise - a Yes vote will not change Scotland's topography or geography. In fact, independence is an opportunity for Scotland to address Westminster's dreadful record of developing mobile phone coverage in Scotland."

The SNP also seized on comments by a Conservative MP that rebel Tories may block plans for greater devolution in the event of a No vote.

Christchurch MP Christopher Chope told BBC Radio 4's Week In Westminster: "If there is a No vote then it will be the status quo."

He said the fact that the constitution could not be changed without the approval of Westminster "seems to have been lost in this debate".

He said there could be enough MPs to block the new powers outlined last week by Brown.

However, that would require a majority of MPs to revolt against their party's position.

SNP Westminster leader Angus Robertson said: "The Westminster revolt against any more powers for Scotland is up and running, and exposes the utter deceit at the heart of the No campaign that additional powers would follow a No."

Scottish Labour leader Johann Lamont's local party, meanwhile, has been accused of complacency after it came near the bottom of a league table for canvassing voters.

Internal Labour figures show Glasgow Pollok, a vital referendum battleground, was not in the top half of constituency parties doing door-knocks and engaging with voters.

The Sunday Herald has learned Labour has produced a "name and shame" table to show which local parties have been working the hardest. Of the 70-plus Constituency Labour Parties, the latest list reveals the top 48 performers, which a party source said was intended to spare the blushes of those local parties at the bottom.

Top of the list is Edinburgh Eastern, the patch of shadow cabinet member Kezia Dugdale MSP, which made 3209 contacts with voters over the last week. Seven Glasgow CLPs were in the top 48, but Lamont's Pollok party was not one of them. Party sources have said the failure of Pollok to make the list was symbolic of Lamont's low visibility during the campaign.

SNP MSP Humza Yousaf said: "This confirms that the No campaign doesn't exist on the ground, which is why they have no idea of what's going on. If Johann Lamont spent more time on the doorsteps and less time working with the Tories against independence, Labour might be in better shape."