Success for a #IndyRef Yes needs a large push for conversions (or a low turnout)…

I must admit that I struggle to see the dynamic middle ground in the debate over Scotland’s independence. There’s little doubt which campaign is the more dynamic. Just go to Pinterest and put in Scottish Referendum as a search term and you are dedazzled with a sea of Blue Saltired Yes graphics (try searching getty images too?), some of it highly creative.

Nicola Sturgeon has been preaching to large audience from Dumfries and Galloway up to Orkney this week, every post on Facebook liked over and over again. HOwever, most realists amongst the Yes camp understand just what a challenge getting a yes is going to be.

In one of the more optimistic of the recent polls, No only leads the Yes camp by just six points.

Even the more Indy-pessimistic polls show a substantial improvement in the Yes vote. Ipsos Mori’s poll shows a huge rally in the rating for the Yes vote from last February. Their greatest success appears to be in converting Don’t Know to firm Yes bring them up from 29% to 37% amongst the wider population, and from 32% to 40% amongst those most likely to vote.

The problem is that whilst the No lead is slipping, the bulk of No support is still holding. Something the Yes camp are clearly working on. Scottish historian Tom Devine, highly respected on all sides of the debate, is one of a number of high profile figures who have held back until these last few crucial weeks to share their ‘conversion stories’ with the public.

The only realistic way to close the gap further is to get people to cross the floor. Even if you plump for Survation over Ipsos Mori getting another three per cent to jump is tough in such a polarised and polarising campaign.

Salmond’s recovery in this week’s IndyRef appears to have restored the status quo ante. For now, that’s all leading Yes activists wanted. Honour (and Wee Eck’s Ego) is restored and their big battalions have a credible start line to work from.

Their problem may be that this is not really about winning arguments any more (though I note few of the graphics on Pinterest note the large dependence of the Scottish economy on business and financial services, which is no doubt rattling business nerves).

It comes down to belief as much as credibility. And positions based upon articles of belief are notoriously hard to shift. As Mike Smithson notes of the Survation bounce

The YES campaign will be delighted to be making up the ground lost – the big question is whether they can go forward from here.

PS, we are still looking for Scottish No blogger to match Phil Mac Giolla Bhain’s Yes live blogs. If you are in Scotland and you can blog for us from a pro Union POV, please get in touch:

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  • Scots Anorak

    “Scottish historian Tom Devine, highly respected on all sides of the debate, is one of a number of high profile figures who have held back until these last few crucial weeks to share their ‘conversion stories’ with the public.”

    Actually he says in the Guardian article that he has come to support independence only “over the last fortnight”, and there will be many other people in the same position. It may still be more likely that No wins, but it would be a brave person who bet on it, in my view (a Scottish Tory group quietly dropped the champagne breakfast it had been planning for 19 September the other day). There has been a remarkable conversion of the No-friendly (telephone) polls with those (Internet polls) more favourable towards Yes in the past few weeks. Yes has not peaked yet, and the No advantage is now getting close to the margin of error (the mean Yes average is now 44.4% excluding the undecided). We also don’t know how electors will react on the day, which side will be able to motivate people to come out and vote, what the emotional effect of a saltire outside the polling station will be, etc. So everything to play for.

  • GEF

    If the vote is yes I wonder how many Ulster Scots living in Scotland ( including members of the Scots branch of the Orange Order) resettle in Northern Ireland?

  • Roy Walsh

    Get, surely if your country is independent you would want to be part of it’s, rather than another nations, future.
    It is some six years from I first made the point of the difficulty for, so called, Ulster Scots, were their homeland to leave the United Kingdom. If things go SNP way next month, I cannot see any of the Scots whose locality lies with UK opting for emigration to Ireland, rather the opportunities are better for them in the now proposed business competent Northern England.

  • gunterprien


  • mark7694

    Northern Irish Scots from the unionist tradition are possibly considering it. As they are most likely unionists, I can’t see them taking kindly to the Scottish separatist cause.
    Those who have got involved in the Orange Lodge of Scotland will probably be contemplating leaving even more so as their members as you would expect are probably amongst the most ardent of Scottish unionists.
    However, this potential exodus in the event of an independent Scotland goes beyond the few Northern Irish unionists and Orange Order members living in Scotland, as a Panelbase survey carried out in July of this year suggests some 17% of Scots may leave the country if there is a Yes referendum victory.

  • Croiteir

    I think you will find the movement to Scotland amongst the farming fraternity will continue and be the only migration of note

  • Mister_Joe

    I somehow doubt that 17% would actually leave, given the enormous challenges of relocating, finding a new job, new place to live, existing social attachments etc. I’ve done it and it isn’t easy. I imagine that most of those 17% would more likely adopt a “wait and see” stance.

  • mark7694

    I suppose there’s truth in that, but one thing that is for sure is that having 17% in an opinion poll giving such an answer at all is an example of how polarising this referendum question is for some in Scottish society.