Back in the spring it was obvious that the loosely connected, political insurgent groups who were coming together to campaign for a yes vote were making major inroads, with the result that the Unionists were becoming frightened that they might lose the war. They set up stooge grassroots bodies of their own which were widely ridiculed. Today the campaign for Scottish independence seems to have stalled with only about forty percent of the population being committed to a yes vote in September. What on earth is going wrong?
The problem with insurgencies is that if they don't maintain their momentum, the better organised government forces will invariably recover the upper hand. This insurgency seems to have run out of steam, with the result that the activists are now talking to each other rather than to the wider society. Had they created a machine, then by now their army would be knocking on doors, finding out who the committed were and giving them posters to stick in their windows. That is not happening, which is why I sent an e-mail to the local yes team and asked them to deliver me a stack of posters, with the promise that I would speak to people on my street and try to turn at least one Leith block into a yes district. Those posters were promised for the weekend that has just ended, and needless to say they never arrived.
I can understand what is going on. Most yes activists consist of the graduate without a future, that new sociological group that I discussed in April. The problem is that such people learned their tactics at university, and may be very well clued in to the modern methods of communication, but those methods don't count for much when a sizeable chunk of your target voters do not actually use the internet.
What is needed is a machine that is run by campaigning veterans who can organise a district into bite sized chunks and then send their foot soldiers out every single night with canvass cards in their hands to knock on doors.
The failure to create such a machine may be the one reason why this campaign is going so badly, but there is still time, just, to turn things around if the will is there.