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: email@example.com.
Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty