Hamish Macdonell

If a men-only referendum was held, Salmond would win comfortably

If a men-only referendum was held, Salmond would win comfortably
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Another day another poll or, rather, another day and we have another two polls on independence.

Scotland on Sunday today published an ICM poll which found support for Yes on 45 per cent and support for No on 55 per cent, a gap of ten points (once don’t knows had been excluded).

But, most importantly what this means is that the gap between the two sides has narrowed by six points in the last month.

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According to ICM, the Yes side has gone up by three points since mid May while the No camp has gone down by three points.

ICM has always maintained a good reputation for the accuracy and sagacity of its polling so this one cannot be underestimated.

It definitely suggests that Alex Salmond and Co. have rediscovered their mojo and regained the momentum they lost over the Spring.

But the Scotland on Sunday poll should also be taken alongside another poll published today by the Sunday Herald.

This one was a Panelbase poll commissioned by Yes Scotland. Because it was commissioned by one of the sides in the campaign, it probably should be approached with a little more caution than the ICM poll.

But, nevertheless, it is a proper poll on the question of independence and it too shows a narrowing of the gap.

According to Panelbase, the gap between the two sides is now a mere four points, with Yes on 48 per cent and No on 52 per cent (once undecided had been excluded).

The Yes-supporting Sunday Herald championed the poll as a 'breakthrough' event and, if the poll is accurate, then that is almost the case (although it is hard to avoid the feeling that a real 'breakthrough' event would come when – or if – the Yes camp actually managed to record a lead in a  major poll).

However, the Panelbase poll also highlighted the increasingly significant gender gap in the referendum debate.

If a men-only referendum was held, Mr Salmond would win comfortably. A total of 56 per cent of men in Scotland now support independence, as opposed to just 41 per cent of women.

Nicola Sturgeon, the Deputy First Minister, is leading the charge to convert women to the cause of independence but, so far, with only limited success.

If the unionists do win in September, then David Cameron will have the women of Scotland to thank because, at the moment, they are the only ones standing behind Mr Salmond and his independence dream.

There was one other interesting, and sobering, finding from today’s polls.

The ICM poll for Scotland on Sunday found that most Scots are starting to fear the divisive effect the referendum debate is having on the country.

Almost two fifths of Scots (38 per cent) thought the country would emerge 'badly divided' by the referendum contest, whatever the outcome.

Pollsters also found that 42 per cent of families were split over the issue of independence while 21 per cent admitted that discussions over the referendum with family or friends had degenerated into rows.

And we still have almost 100 days to go.