Hamish Macdonell

Today’s poll shows Alex Salmond running out of time

There really isn’t much time left. From today, there are just nine and a half weeks until we go to the polls in the independence referendum.

Also today, we have the latest ICM poll for Scotland on Sunday. The main figures are: Yes 34 per cent (down two points), No 45 per cent (up two) and don’t know 21 per cent (unchanged).

If the don’t knows are excluded, the figures are Yes 43 per cent (down two), No 57 per cent (up two).

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Suddenly, that nine-and-a-half week window looks pretty small for the Yes camp.

It means that Alex Salmond and his colleagues have just 66 days to overturn what has become a stubbornly immoveable lead for Better Together.

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And there are two important points that stem from today’s poll that will make them a little more anxious than ever.

First, the ICM poll marks yet another week when Yes Scotland has failed to make any significant headway.

But secondly, and most importantly, this poll represents the continuation of the most salient fact of all in this referendum campaign – the Yes side has never, ever held a poll lead of any sort in this contest.

It is one of those immutable pieces of political logic that if the nationalists are going to win, at some point they are going to have to establish a lead over their unionist rivals.

And the longer we go on without that happening, the less likely it is that the Yes camp will ever edge into the lead.

Yes Scotland strategists talk a very good game about their plans to build up to 18 September. They insist they don’t want to peak too early, they are desperate to maximise the Yes vote exactly at the right point – on polling day.

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