Gordon Brown delivers a speech at Scottish Labour campaign headquarters on September 9, 2014 in Glasgow. Photograph: Getty Images.
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Scottish No side ahead by six points in new poll

Yes campaign momentum halted as new survey puts No ahead by 53%-47%. 

After a torturous week, the Scottish No side finally has something to cheer. A new poll by Survation for the Daily Record, the first since last weekend's stunning YouGov poll putting Yes ahead for the first time, has the Unionists in the lead by 53 per cent to 47 per cent (excluding the 10 per cent who are undecided). Those figures are unchanged since the company's last survey on 28 August. 

Significantly, Gordon Brown's dramatic intervention appears to have helped, with just 21 per cent of Labour voters now backing independence, compared to 30 per cent previously. Blair McDougall, the Better Together campaign director, has responded by saying:  "This fight for Scotland's future will go right down to the wire, but it's one we will win.

"Alex Salmond wants us to take so many huge risks - over our pound, pensions and NHS. The last few days have shown that these risks are real. Separation would cost jobs and push up costs for families in Scotland. This is too important for a protest vote. There would be no going back.

"We don't need to take on all these risks. There is a better way for Scotland. We can have more powers for Scotland over tax and welfare, and keep the strength, security and stability of being part of the larger UK. For the sake of future generations we should say No Thanks to separation next week."

As his cautious reaction suggests, it's important to remember this is just one poll and the race remains perilously close. But crucially, and to the Unionists' huge relief, the momentum that the Yes side enjoyed has been halted tonight. 

The nationalists, meanwhile, are highlighting the fact that their support, if the don't knows are included, is at the highest level yet in a Survation poll (42 per cent). Here's the statement issued by Yes Scotland chief executive Blair Jenkins: 

"This puts Yes support at its highest yet in a Survation poll when those still undecided are included, and at 47 per cent excluding don’t knows - which confirms we are in touching distance of success next Thursday, and will galvanise all those who are wanting and working for a Yes to redouble their efforts.

"As we say in response to all the polls, we are working flat out to ensure that we achieve a Yes vote, because it’s the biggest opportunity the people of Scotland will ever have to build a fairer society and more prosperous economy.

"It is now abundantly clear that the No campaign parties are offering nothing new in terms of more powers, which fall far short of what Scotland needs. A Yes vote is Scotland’s one opportunity to achieve job-creating powers and protect our NHS from the damaging effects of Westminster privatisation and cuts."

Expect the No side's message to remain the same until 18 September: there is no room for complacency. But tonight, perhaps, there may be no need to panic either. 

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.

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Leaving the cleaning to someone else makes you happier? Men have known that for centuries

Research says avoiding housework is good for wellbeing, but women have rarely had the option.

If you want to be happy, there is apparently a trick: offload the shitwork onto somebody else. Hire cleaner. Get your groceries delivered. Have someone else launder your sheets. These are the findings published by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, but it’s also been the foundation of our economy since before we had economics. Who does the offloading? Men. Who does the shitwork? Women.

Over the last 40 years, female employment has risen to almost match the male rate, but inside the home, labour sticks stubbornly to old patterns: men self-report doing eight hours of housework a week, while women slog away for 13. When it comes to caring for family members, the difference is even more stark: men do ten hours, and women 23.

For your average heterosexual couple with kids, that means women spend 18 extra hours every week going to the shops, doing the laundry, laying out uniform, doing the school run, loading dishwashers, organising doctors' appointments, going to baby groups, picking things up, cooking meals, applying for tax credits, checking in on elderly parents, scrubbing pots, washing floors, combing out nits, dusting, folding laundry, etcetera etcetera et-tedious-cetera.

Split down the middle, that’s nine hours of unpaid work that men just sit back and let women take on. It’s not that men don’t need to eat, or that they don’t feel the cold cringe of horror when bare foot meets dropped food on a sticky kitchen floor. As Katrine Marçal pointed out in Who Cooked Adam Smiths Dinner?, men’s participation in the labour market has always relied on a woman in the background to service his needs. As far as the majority of men are concerned, domestic work is Someone Else’s Problem.

And though one of the study authors expressed surprise at how few people spend their money on time-saving services given the substantial effect on happiness, it surely isn’t that mysterious. The male half of the population has the option to recruit a wife or girlfriend who’ll do all this for free, while the female half faces harsh judgement for bringing cover in. Got a cleaner? Shouldn’t you be doing it yourself rather than outsourcing it to another woman? The fact that men have even more definitively shrugged off the housework gets little notice. Dirt apparently belongs to girls.

From infancy up, chores are coded pink. Looking on the Toys “R” Us website, I see you can buy a Disney Princess My First Kitchen (fuchsia, of course), which is one in the eye for royal privilege. Suck it up, Snow White: you don’t get out of the housekeeping just because your prince has come. Shop the blue aisle and you’ll find the Just Like Home Workshop Deluxe Carry Case Workbench – and this, precisely, is the difference between masculine and feminine work. Masculine work is productive: it makes something, and that something is valuable. Feminine work is reproductive: a cleaned toilet doesn’t stay clean, the used plates stack up in the sink.

The worst part of this con is that women are presumed to take on the shitwork because we want to. Because our natures dictate that there is a satisfaction in wiping an arse with a woman’s hand that men could never feel and money could never match. That fiction is used to justify not only women picking up the slack at home, but also employers paying less for what is seen as traditional “women’s work” – the caring, cleaning roles.

It took a six-year legal battle to secure compensation for the women Birmingham council underpaid for care work over decades. “Don’t get me wrong, the men do work hard, but we did work hard,” said one of the women who brought the action. “And I couldn’t see a lot of them doing what we do. Would they empty a commode, wash somebody down covered in mess, go into a house full of maggots and clean it up? But I’ll tell you what, I would have gone and done a dustman’s job for the day.”

If women are paid less, they’re more financially dependent on the men they live with. If you’re financially dependent, you can’t walk out over your unfair housework burden. No wonder the settlement of shitwork has been so hard to budge. The dream, of course, is that one day men will sack up and start to look after themselves and their own children. Till then, of course women should buy happiness if they can. There’s no guilt in hiring a cleaner – housework is work, so why shouldn’t someone get paid for it? One proviso: every week, spend just a little of the time you’ve purchased plotting how you’ll overthrow patriarchy for good.

Sarah Ditum is a journalist who writes regularly for the Guardian, New Statesman and others. Her website is here.