X

Create an account to continue reading.

Registered readers have access to our blogs and a limited number of magazine articles
For unlimited access to The Spectator, subscribe below

Registered readers have access to our blogs and a limited number of magazine articles

Sign in to continue

Already have an account?

What's my subscriber number?

Subscribe now from £1 a week

Online

Unlimited access to The Spectator including the full archive from 1828

Print

Weekly delivery of the magazine

App

Phone & tablet edition of the magazine

Spectator Club

Subscriber-only offers, events and discounts
 
View subscription offers

Already a subscriber?

or

Subscribe now for unlimited access

ALL FROM JUST £1 A WEEK

View subscription offers

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

Thank you for creating an account – Your subscriber number was not recognised though. To link your subscription visit the My Account page

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

X

Login

Don't have an account? Sign up
X

Subscription expired

Your subscription has expired. Please go to My Account to renew it or view subscription offers.

X

Forgot Password

Please check your email

If the email address you entered is associated with a web account on our system, you will receive an email from us with instructions for resetting your password.

If you don't receive this email, please check your junk mail folder.

X

It's time to subscribe.

You've read all your free Spectator magazine articles for this month.

Subscribe now for unlimited access – from just £1 a week

You've read all your free Spectator magazine articles for this month.

Subscribe now for unlimited access

Online

Unlimited access to The Spectator including the full archive from 1828

Print

Weekly delivery of the magazine

App

Phone & tablet edition of the magazine

Spectator Club

Subscriber-only offers, events and discounts
X

Sign up

What's my subscriber number? Already have an account?

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

Thank you for creating an account – Your subscriber number was not recognised though. To link your subscription visit the My Account page

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

X

Your subscriber number is the 8 digit number printed above your name on the address sheet sent with your magazine each week.

Entering your subscriber number will enable full access to all magazine articles on the site.

If you cannot find your subscriber number then please contact us on customerhelp@subscriptions.spectator.co.uk or call 0330 333 0050.

You can create an account in the meantime and link your subscription at a later time. Simply visit the My Account page, enter your subscriber number in the relevant field and click 'submit changes'.

Blogs

It is not surprising that the polls on Scottish independence are tightening…

26 March 2014

11:53 AM

26 March 2014

11:53 AM

There are some pollsters who believe nothing has changed since 2011. All the storm and blast, bluff and bluster about Scottish independence has had no impact at all. The settled will of the Scottish people remains settles: more power for Edinburgh but no to independence. Oddly YouGov’s Peter Kellner is one of these pollsters.

Oddly because, as the chart above shows, his own polling organisation’s reports show that the race is, as long expected, tightening. There is a small but definite drift to Yes. True, at its present rate it will not be enough to prevail come September. But it is quite possible that the drift towards a Yes vote will become stronger, not weaker, as the referendum day approaches.

You would expect it to say so. The Yes campaign enjoys many advantages, after all. It is united. It knows what it wishes to achieve. It can sell a vision for the future. It asks Scots to believe in themselves and most people would, all things being equal, quite like to believe in themselves.

Of course you can take another view: the Yes campaign can and will say anything to win your vote. Facts are for other people and unwelcome reality must not be allowed to penetrate the Yes cocoon. There is a Tartan Money Tree and a Magic Porridge Bowl.

Be that as it may, you can see why some folk in Downing Street are worried. Whatever its faults – and they are legion – the Yes campaign has an easier task projecting an idea of Scotland in 15 years time than does the No side. Unionist hymns to Britannia and identity are all very well and good but they do tend, perhaps unavoidably, to focus on the past rather more than the future. What have you done for me lately, pal?

[Alt-Text]


The SNP’s long, slow rise – remember the party didn’t win an election until 2007 – has changed the nature of the Union. This is so even if Scotland – as still seems probable – votes No in September. It is no longer something to be taken for granted, no longer a constitutional reality beyond question. It is a transactional Union whose legitimacy will rest upon what it does not, as was long the case, upon its simple existence.  Again, what have you done for me lately?

This will, understandably, depress some people. But there you go. Too bad.

Again, a No vote remains the more probable outcome but the value bet may now lie with lumping on Yes.

And why not? Our old friend, the Overton Window is in play. This is a long, long, long campaign and the longer it lasts so the more ordinary and acceptable a Yes vote becomes. It ceases to be something of which to be terrified even if it might actually produce something terrifying. Call it the normalisation of independence. Do not ask why Scotland should be an independent country; ask why it should not. Once framed in that fashion the road to Yes is open.

From a practical, hard-nosed perspective you might think the No campaign has the easier task. What could be simpler than raising all the practical and procedural problems arising from independence? True enough.

But if you were one of the international set of freelance political consultants – guns for hire, if you like – which campaign would you rather work for? Which has the more persuasive sales pitch? I think Yes is the probable answer to that.

Politics is, in the end, about three things: tribalism, money and stories. The Yes side have a clear advantage in stories, a possible slight advantage in tribalism (that is, identity) and only trail on the money issue. If they can scrap a draw on the money front they may yet prevail in September.

Natural caution – Scotland being a conservative country, remember – may still be the Unionists’ not-so secret weapon and a No vote, as I say, remains the more probable outcome but as we have been saying for many months now the tide, albeit a gentle one, is with Yes Scotland.

 

Give something clever this Christmas – a year’s subscription to The Spectator for just £75. And we’ll give you a free bottle of champagne. Click here.


Show comments
Close