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Iain Anderson: Can No campaign win back momentum on Scottish independence?


Hang on to your hats (or your bonnets) – this is going down to the wire.

This weekend’s YouGov poll confirmed a trend – that Scots voters have been steadily moving towards a Yes to independence for the past two months.

The Yes campaign’s tactics come from the playbook the Scottish National Party used in 2011 to win a majority in the Scottish Parliament’s election, something the proportional system was supposed to prevent any one party from achieving.

I am told the Yes campaign has booked major street advertising in the final week before the poll. The idea, of course, is to project that everyone is moving towards a Yes vote.

Last week I was in Scotland observing the campaign for myself. It is clear Alex Salmond has been taking his lead from Irish politicians who are used to many EU referenda. The key thing he was told is to create “momentum”. When you have that, it can become unstoppable.

And that is what Yes is hoping for.

It is clear it is Labour voters who are up for grabs. The Yes campaign has got this right and their pledges on the NHS and childcare are getting through. Labour voters are also still the largest block of Scots. But in 2011 many of them flirted with the SNP and they still do not find much to attract them in Ed Miliband’s Labour prospectus. As a result, the YouGov poll found up to 35 per cent of Labour voters are veering towards Yes.

But momentum can work both ways. Do also look for that other poll from Panelbase  – which usually favours the chances of the Yrd campaign and has been little reported – it still shows a clear No lead.

Headlines are already shouting about a sinking pound and prospects for inward investment.

So what can the No campaign under Better Together now do?

Firstly, it is worth remembering that in most polls, the No campaisn are still ahead. Momentum can be seized back. But they now need to project a positive vision of the UK and Scotland’s place within in. That has got to be about new jobs and the kind of society Scotland can become as part of the UK.

Any devo max or “devo more” pledges this week promising to grant more powers to Scotland need to be realistic and achievable. 

So where do we look in the early hours of 19 September?

The key battlegrounds lie in and around Glasgow and the West of Scotland. If Glasgow votes decisively for Yes, then it is likely to overwhelm the rest of the Scottish vote. There are huge numbers of votes up for grabs in the West.

But if the vote is tight or tied in Glasgow, then it all remains too close to call.

If there is a Yes vote there will be nothing else in politics for the next two years.  For both sides in this debate, there are nervous times ahead.

Iain Anderson is director and chief corporate counsel at Cicero Group



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There are 2 comments at the moment, we would love to hear your opinion too.

  1. After Monday evening’s TNT poll backed up Sunday’s YouGov I was beginning to think that the momentum on the “yes” side was becoming unstoppable. However, having spend much of the first two days of this week looking at the various implications on the property and mortgage fronts I now think that although it remains too close to call the “no” side will claw enough back to win.

    This is because of the articles that are now appearing in the press, including some which will be in tomorrow’s “heavies” are doing the “no” campaign’s job for it and highlighting the very damaging impact a “yes” vote will have on property prices, the cost and availability of mortgages and the massive risk that at some stage most existing mortgages will become a foreign currency mortgage, with the huge added risk that entails, to both borrower and lender.

    If I am right it will be a damning indictment of the “no” campaign that it failed miserably to highlight the damage independence would do over several months but the media was able to do so in a week and a half!

  2. The ‘No’ campaign have very badly misjudged what the Scottish public want to see and hear. They have allowed Alex Salmond’s ‘Yes’ campaign to over whelm their arguments simply through passion and little else.

    I’ll be sad to see Scotland go but if they do i hope the remaining UK drives a hard divorce settlement.

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