Alex Massie Alex Massie

Alex Salmond is within sight of his promised land: Scottish independence is more than just a dream.

I don’t want to appear too immodest but, you know, I told you so. Back in February I wrote an article for this paper warning that Scotland’s independence referendum would be a damn close run thing. That was true then and it remains true now.

Today’s YouGov poll reports that, once undecided voters have been removed from consideration, 47 percent of Scots intend to vote for independence while 53 percent will back the Unionist cause. If the odds remain against Alex Salmond it’s also the case that the price on independence is shortening. Paddy Power’s over/under calculation of a Yes vote now stands at 46.5 percent. A few weeks ago it was at 42.5 percent. It’s a kind of quickening.

Today’s poll is significant, as James says, because YouGov had hitherto been the pollster least likely to produce results that offered the Yes campaign much encouragement. You know it’s bad when Better Together insiders give up trying to deny the reality that the nationalists have enjoyed a polling bounce. Indeed, last night there was a palpable, dread-filled sense in Unionist circles that expressed itself in variations of a very simple verdict: Oh fuck.

True, the poll of polls offers Unionists some encouragement but, like so much in the No campaign, that’s something that’s more comfortable clinging to the past than looking to the future.

The irony, perhaps, is that as the referendum date approaches the campaigns are converging, not diverging. The latest No campaign posters (pictured above) have been widely mocked by Yessers. That was to be expected. Nor have they much impressed people who might, however inelegantly, be deemed high-information voters. But they are a means  by which the No campaign wishes to play the nationalists at their own game.

That is, they seek to use patriotism against the nationalists. It’s hardly subtle but logic and reason and policy be damned, this is a bloody fight about emotions.

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