Scottish Yes vote more likely, say consuls

The pro-independence campaign has gained the upper hand in the Scottish referendum, according to a poll of Edinburgh-based consuls conducted by The Guardian newspaper.

Sources in the diplomatic corps in Edinburgh, which is home to nearly 50 consulates, said the tide of opinion had shifted significantly in recent months, after a noticeable swing against David Cameron’s government and the No campaign.

One senior diplomat, who asked not to be named, said he had believed last year that a Yes vote was unlikely, but had since changed his mind. In his view “it is now likely, but not certain” that Scotland would vote yes in September.

A Panelbase survey released in early April put support for Yes at 41 per cent and No at 46 per cent, with 14 per cent undecided. A barn-storming performance by Alec Salmond at the SNP’s Spring Conference added further momentum to the Yes campaign.

Envoys also felt London’s bullying tactics on key issues such as the veto of a currency union by the three main Westminster parties, as well as the Tory party’s hostility towards immigration and the European Union, would create a “backlash” among Scottish voters.

“The UK government’s policies are pushing Scotland away,” said one European consul. “My hunch is that unless the UK government radically rethinks, it’s on a hiding to nothing. It is losing the argument.”

Milestone events such as the XX Commonwealth Games in Glasgow and the 700th Anniversary of Bannockburn – commemorating one of the most decisive battles of the First War of Scottish Independence – are also likely to fuel Scottish patriotism, which may have an impact on undecided voters.