Well, we've seen polls published by broadcasters, newspapers, political parties, charities and trade unions before. But this must be the first poll in history to be "published by Alistair Darling". I suppose needs must when you're desperately trying to dream up a wheeze to sabotage the Yes campaign launch. Just a pity the former Chancellor couldn't find a question biased enough that it didn't produce a one-point increase in support for independence since the last YouGov poll -
Yes 33% (+1)
No 57% (+4)
These figures of course aren't remotely comparable, because the last YouGov poll had a question with relatively neutral wording (albeit even then they couldn't quite bring themselves not to tinker with the proposed referendum wording slightly). But the more important point is that YouGov are well-known for producing figures more favourable for the No side than many other pollsters do, regardless of the question asked. The reason for this isn't quite clear - it may be an artifact of the internet panel system, or there may be some other factor at play. Either way, it's no surprise that Darling and chums made a beeline for the company that would produce the most palatable figures, but it doesn't tell us anything new (other than the fact that Alistair Darling is now a publisher).
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Scottish football fans have long enjoyed pitting their wits against each other to see who can most accurately guess how many seconds into a routine Switzerland v Cyprus game it will be before Clive Tyldesley finds an excuse to mention that England won the World Cup in 1966. I'd suggest we can have similar fun with the Daily Telegraph's reporting of the independence referendum over the next couple of years - 3 points if you can correctly guess how many times an article will refer to the pro-independence side as "separatists", 5 points if you can guess the number of times the anti-independence side will be referred to as "pro-UK", and 7 points if you can guess the number of crushing "blows" for Alex Salmond that the article identifies.
Along with these comfortingly familiar gems, the article on the Darling poll also informs us that the SNP's allies in the Yes campaign are "minor left-wing parties". Hmmm. Given that the Liberal Democrats only have three more Holyrood seats than the Greens, does that mean the Tories and Labour will be joined in the No campaign by "a minor right-wing party"?
Oh, and apparently the lead for the No side in the poll means that "the United Kingdom is under no threat of breaking up". I presume by the same token that Labour's handsome poll lead in the summer of 2007 means there is absolutely no danger that we're now living under a Tory-led government. Phew, what a relief.