A new poll out today from the respected YouGov shows that support in Scotland for Scottish independence has fallen to 29% and that the percentage of Don’t Knows’ has also fallen – to 10%.
The fall in the ‘Yes’ vote and the rise in the ‘No’ vote to 59% – now a 2:1 majority – indicates both that the ‘Don’t Knows’ are converting to ‘Nos’ – and that former ‘Yes’ votes are also converting to ‘No’ votes.
2% say they will not vote.
John Curtice, Professor of Politics at Strathclyde University and frequent television commentator on political matters is unable to offer comfort to the Yes Scotland campaign. He told a national newspaper this morning that he does not see how either the ‘Yes’ or the No’ campaign can now effect much change in their share of the coming vote.
He is also scathing – and with good reason, on the evidence of performance, of Blair Jenkins, ‘Yes Scotland’ campaign CEO. Curtice points out that Jenkins ‘…keeps saying people are coming round to them but they don’t seem to be talking to very many people given what the polls are saying’.
In the ‘Battle of the Blairs’, Blair McDougall, the uninspiring but less gaffe-prone CEO of the Better Together campaign [and what a limp brand that has been - 'United We Stand' would have told a different story] has made a telling point.
McDougall points out that ‘Yes Scotland’ is today farther behind in the polls than they were when their campaign was launched.
In February 2012, not long before the ‘Yes’ campaign launched, 42% would have voted ‘No’; 37% would have voted ‘Yes’; and 21% did not know how they would vote.
The drop in the ‘Don’t knows’ percentage to 10% today, even with the addition of the 2% who now say they will not vote, does not account for the 17% rise [from 425 TO 59% in those who nOw say they will vote 'No'.
This shows that 7% of those who would have voted 'Yes' in February 2012 have now changed their minds.
In the same period, the 'Yes' vote has fallen from 37% to 29%, a position 21.6% less than it was in February 2012.
There have been two major SNP-inflicted scupperings of the 'Yes' campaign; and one of medium scale.
The wrong proposition
The prospectus for Scottish Independence put forward has had no philosophical integrity, no internal coherence.
It has been a mixumgatherum of what was thought to be a pacifier of the nervous - like keeping the Queen, joining NATO and going for immediate EU membership; and of whatever passig notion could be grabed in the breeze - as with 'Scotland can be like - Ireland... Iceland... Norway... Sweden... the Isle of Man... Gibraltar... the Falkland Islands... and we've still got a year to go.
Work not done
The first major hole in the fabric has been the work not done in time - although there has been plenty of time - to provide sound answers to key questions and to support the case for independence.
This indicates either complacency in not bothering or covering up in having done the work but finding that the answers were unpalatable and were to be suppressed.
The reality is a bit of both.
There is hard evidence in the public domain that some core answers [as with the affordability of pensions] are known – and unpalatable – and have been provided to cabinet colleagues by Finance Secretary, John Swinney.
There is also evidence that a substantial number of issues had not actually been considered – and, damagingly, these have tended to be the operational matters that would immediately impact on people’s lives.
Running away from power
A particularly damaging feature has been the SNP’s running away form power lest the necessity to make unpopular decisions impacts negatively on the independence vote.
There have been two varieties of running from power-in-the-hand.
The first has been the parking of all difficult and contentious issues until after the September 2014 referendum.
Amongst many others, two big biters are in the long grass:
- the Clyde and Hebridean ferries tender
- education and the role of rural schools.
With the range of issues parked-up for afterwards, Scotland is gping to be an immediate mess following the referendum vote.
If it’s a “Yes’ – it will be all hands to the pumps to get the operation of an independent country agreed, established and financed by independence day in May 2016. Where will there be the time, the effort and the money to resolve the issues in the parking lot?
If it’s a ‘No’, those issues will have to be confronted immediately by a demoralised government whose senior – and decision taking – ministers will primarily be concerned with jostling for position in the post-Salmond hiatus.
This failure to offer strong government and take the right – and not the most politically convenient – decision will return to trouble the pragmatists.
The second bolt from power-in-the-hand ha been evidenced in two local authorities – Highland and Argyll and Bute.
In these cases, the SNP role and presence in their administrations – or their political management – has been deliberately reduced or removed.
We all know the extraordinary convolutions that are still taking place here in Argyll and Bute as the SNP group – elected to lead as the largest group] strive to leave power or at least become junior partners. [Junior partners are less 'responsible' and have some deniability of the 'it wus a big boy done it...' variety.]
In Highland the SNP departed on account of ‘undisciplined’ independents in their coalition.
With the Argyll and Bute example in the national headlines, the pot is not in a position to call the Highland independents black – aka ‘undisciplined ‘. There is also the definition of ‘undisciplined’ to be considered.
Did the Independents in coalition in Highland simply refuse to agree to what the SNP councilors wanted to do – or not to do – for party political ends?
The SNP’s political judgment in thee instances could not have been more failing or more damaging.
How can the SNP present itself as a credible, trustworthy, attractive party who can ‘sell’ honestly the chances of success of an independent Scotland, when they have been unable to handle the responsibility of the present power they have been given?
The White Paper
Scotland’s First Minister, Alex Salmond, is a famous gambler – in politics and on the gee=gees.
He will know, as no other, just how crucial is the White Paper on independence which the SNP government will publish, sometime before the end of this year.
People can change their minds if the evidence is there and if the evidence proves to be well founded and resistant to counter-analysis.
If the White Paper is the indestructible, reasoned blueprint for an independent Scotland that the party has promised it will be – and West Scotland MSP, the merited rising star Stuart McMillan’s recent unequivocal assurances on this could not have been more welcome or more timely – there may still be everything to play for. This can yet be the game-changer.
If it’s not, the game’s up.