Monday, 8 September 2014

The flood continues

Something incredible seems to be happening. Over the last couple of weeks, two of the most No-friendly pollsters, YouGov and TNS-BMRB, have recorded support for a Yes vote on the 18th increasingly exponentially. The YouGov poll that hit the interweb on Saturday night put it two points ahead of No, while the results of the TNS poll that emerged tonight add weight to the trend observed by YouGov, showing the two sides level-pegging.

I really didn't think anything like this would happen. I was more or less resigned to the notion of Yes remaining the underdog as we went to the polls and banking on a large number of non-voters beyond the reach of such surveys turning out to swing things in our favour. And if you'd told me a week ago that YouGov and TNS would be the first two pollsters to show Yes level pegging, let alone in the lead, I'd have laughed at you and called you delusional.

I mentioned recently, either on Facebook or on this very blog, that because this referendum has no precedent, the various pollsters are more or less casting around in the dark in their attempts to get their weighting criteria right, hence why the numbers from the different firms have been all over the shop. I still stand by that assertion, which is why I'm not going to assume these two polls are accurate simply because they show my side in a favourable position. What the polls do do, however, is allow us to observe broad trends over time, and YouGov and TNS both appear to be telling us that there has been a massive swing to Yes in an incredibly short space of time. If you believe YouGov, No has gone from enjoying a 22-point lead to a 2-point deficit in the space of a month. That is literally extraordinary, but shows an echo of the 2011 Scottish Parliament election, which saw the SNP turn a 20-point deficit into a 15-point lead in the final weeks.

I'm not going to break out the champagne and declare premature victory. These polls are the living proof that a week is a long time in the world of politics, and for all we know both firms could be drastically overestimating the support for Yes. And there is no doubt in my mind that the UK government, aided by a supine media, will throw everything they've got at us in an attempt to defeat what, to them, is the single greatest constitutional crisis in the union's history. But this is certainly the most confident I've ever felt that we're on our way to victory.

On a side note, I'm absolutely loving the fact that the Westminster Village and adoring media hangers-on have finally woken up to the fact that yes, there is a referendum taking place in Scotland, and yes, it could mean the end of the United Kingdom. Things have certainly got a whole lot more entertaining since these gormless twits started pontificating about it in the newspapers and on TV. The other night, for instance, I came across a couple of ladies on the BBC News channel doing a "review" of the papers and struggling to comprehend the headlines they were seeing about Yes pulling ahead in the polls. One made tired jokes about rebuilding Hadrian's Wall (which is some 68 miles south of the border between Scotland and England) and lamented the fact that she had Scottish blood in her family tree somewhere and that it was most unfair that she didn't get to vote, while the other wailed "I just don't think they've thought this through!" Yes, because you, who've only belatedly realised that this debate is actually taking place, naturally understand it far better than those of us who've been engaging with it for the last three years.


And, to end on a somewhat tongue-in-cheek note...

I'm not going to lie -- it was my first thought this morning when I read the "news" that unemployed mum-on-benefits Kate Middleton is up the duff again. While I wouldn't go so far as to suggest that she was impregnated by royal decree in a bid to save the union (because nothing unites the four nations like a royal brat, or some such nonsense), the cynic in me does wonder at the timing of the announcement.

There's no doubt in my mind, incidentally, that if we win our independence on the 18th, the next major constitutional cause I'll be throwing my backing behind will be the abolition of the monarchy. An independent, social democratic Scottish republic has kind of a nice ring to it.

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