Isabel Hardman Isabel Hardman

How the ‘No’ camp should react to its regained poll lead

Anyone who thinks that the latest YouGov poll on Scottish independence, which shows the ‘No’ camp with a six-point lead over ‘Yes’ at 52 per cent to 48 per cent (once don’t-knows are excluded) is getting a little ahead of themselves.

It is significant that this is the same pollster who sent Westminster into panic on Sunday with its poll putting ‘Yes’ in the lead. But the only effect this poll should have on the ‘No’ campaign in the final days is to stop a blind, useless sort of panic where bad decisions are made and colleagues brief against one another before the final result.

The last-minute panic that the three pro-union party leaders have found themselves in this week has largely been a good thing as it has warded off complacency and galvanised not just politicians but ordinary voters in the rest of the UK to set out in stronger, more emotional, terms just why they don’t want Scotland to leave.

But it has also led to increasing sniping about those in charge of the campaign when the campaign has yet to win or lose. And it has meant that the party leaders have thrown out a promise of devo-more to the Scots without any proper parliamentary scrutiny. That could come back to bite them, as English MPs seem rather agitated already.

If there is just a little more confidence and momentum to be found in this latest poll for the final few days, then that could mean any further panicked promises or briefings are avoided. And this is important, because if ‘No’ does win, the party leaders will still return to Westminster to find that not everyone is in a celebratory mood – and they need to be ready for that life after the referendum.

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