Scottish Referendum 'No' Campaign's Lead Halved After Debate

Darling and Brown
Former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown and Alistair Darling, the leader of the campaign to keep Scotland part of the United Kingdom, wait to speak at a "Better Together" rally in Dundee, Scotland August 27, 2014. Russell Cheyne/Reuters

Support for Scottish independence has risen by 4 percent after the final TV debate before a breakaway referendum in less than three weeks' time, one opinion poll showed on Friday, halving the anti-independence campaign's lead.

Alex Salmond, the leader of the pro-independence Scottish National Party, was widely judged to have got the better of Alistair Darling, the head of the anti-independence "Better Together" campaign, in the TV debate on Aug. 5.

A poll for the Scottish Daily Mail newspaper published on Friday, the first survey since the debate, showed support for the pro-independence side had risen to 47 percent from 43 percent since a similar Survation poll was released on Aug. 9 after the first such TV duel.

Support for the anti-independence camp had fallen to 53 from 57 percent, it showed at the same time, meaning that the "No" campaign's lead had been cut to 6 from 14 percentage points. Some other pollsters estimate its average lead to be higher.

Friday's poll was based on a sample of 1,001 adults and the headline numbers were calculated excluding undecided voters.

If accurate, the result would mean that the two TV debates have had no effect on voting intentions since the anti-independence campaign's six-point lead is the same gap recorded in a similar poll four weeks ago before the first TV debate.

The most recent "poll of polls," on Aug. 15, which is based on an average of the last six polls and excludes undecided respondents, found support for a breakaway stands at 43 percent against 57 percent for staying in the UK.