Wednesday 2 July 2014

Noes seem to have unbeatable lead in the Scottish referendum

The unionists look fair set to win the Indy-Ref on the 18th September, which is something that all the polls agree on. What they disagree about is the relative tally of the yes and no votes, with figures fluctuating between an average for YouGov of 41 percent for the yes campaign and Panelbase who put the nationalists on an average of 46 percent. The variation is due to the different political weighting  that the five main polling companies use to exclude the don't knows. It all comes down to past voting, with YouGov weighting heavily against yes because they believe that many former Labour voters switched to the SNP because they wanted Alex Salmond to be first minister.We will not know which company got it right until after the referendum, which rather defeats the object of the exercise, so why do I think that the noes will have it?

Aside from the obvious answer which is that all the polls agree on the result, even if they disagree on the amounts, the outcome seems obvious to me because of the total lack of enthusiasm for either team. In fact, if you did not know that there was a referendum heading your way the month after next, you would not know that Scotland is facing her biggest choice in the lifetimes of the people who live here.

I can count on one hand the number of yes posters that I have seen in people's windows, and I don't need any fingers at all to count the no posters because I haven't seen any at all. As any old political hand will tell you, window posters are one way to judge people's  involvement, and the fact that there are hardly any to be seen suggests to me that the average punter is very disengaged indeed.

The nationalist grassroots campaign is magnificent, and a few weeks ago I thought that it would begin to sweep all before it. However, it seems to have reached a plateau, which leads me to suspect that they are now talking to each other rather than to the wider society. 

That wider society seems to be indifferent to the referendum. I use it as an conversation topic when I meet someone, and am invariably met with a response that consists of little more than a shrug, or a vague comment that it might be a good/bad idea. For instance, yesterday I played host to a Virgin Media bod who came to fix my broadband, and in between pulling cables out of his bag, he told me that he was indifferent to the whole event. 

Aside from the committed nationalists, the only people that I have met who were keen to vote yes are the unemployed, underemployed and the claimants. Independence is a gamble, and it seems to me that only the people at the bottom of the heap are willing to take the risk in the hope that their lives will improve with independence. The rest may very well want to keep Southern English Toryism away from them, but thanks to the Scottish Parliament they feel that they can do that, anyway, so why risk a leap in the dark?

The position could change, of course, as well still have eleven weeks to go. As a yes voter I hope that things do move our way. It's just that I see no signs of that happening.


  1. The late surge for the SNP in the last election also surprised many pundits. If interest is low, then the turnout will be low, so my hunch is that the votes of the million people who really care very passionately about Yes will clinch it against the apathy of the disinterested.

  2. I'm dubious about the legitimacy of a poll where a sizeable chunk of the electorate stay at home, but aside from that I suppose a final push might do the job for the nats. It's just that they have a mountain to climb.


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