| EDINBURGH, June 18
EDINBURGH, June 18 Campaigners opposing Scottish
independence strengthened their lead in a poll released on
Wednesday as voters backed Harry Potter author JK Rowling after
she received online abuse for supporting the pro-union campaign.
The YouGov poll bucked a recent trend of surveys showing
nationalists gaining support by finding that backing for
Scotland to stay in the United Kindgom rose in the past two
months, giving the "No" camp its biggest lead since March.
The poll found 53 percent of 1,039 respondents opposed
independence, up 2 points from April, widening the gap over
those who favour secession to 17 points.
Support for independence slipped by 1 point to 36 percent
while 10 percent were uncertain and two percent would not vote.
YouGov researchers said the poll found evidence of an
increasingly heated campaign, with one in 10 people saying they
had fallen out with family members or friends over the Sept. 18
More than half of the arguments were sparked by people
discussing plans to vote against independence with family or
friends who want Scotland to end its 307-year tie with England.
Unhappiness about aggressive attacks on people voicing their
opinions prompted Scotland's devolved parliament last week to
submit a motion calling for "an end to personal attacks against
all people in Scotland who choose to express a view in the
Singer David Bowie was subjected to a tirade of online abuse
in February after calling for Scotland to stick with the United
Kingdom as was U.S. President Barack Obama when he expressed a
The latest big name to be targeted was Rowling, a Scottish
resident for 21 years, who was subjected to online abuse for
publicly opposing independence and giving the pro-union campaign
a 1 million pound ($1.68 million) donation.
The survey found 12 percent said they were more likely to
reject independence after the attacks on Rowling.
The pro-union campaign has maintained a lead in polls since
the referendum was first called in 2012 but nationalists have
gained ground this year with two-thirds of the major pollsters
saying the gap has never been closer.
YouGov's Anthony Wells said that the latest polls did little
to support the notion that the pro-independence campaign had
momentum, even if some of the recent shifts could be caused by
some natural variation.
"When there's not big changes in support, it favours
whoever's in the lead at the moment. It's helping 'no,'
definitely," Wells said.
(Editing by Stephen Addison)