‘It has given us a good, old-fashioned kick up the backside,’ said one member of the ‘No’ camp yesterday.
He was being charitable. It could end up being an awful lot worse than that. The ‘it’ in question was the new ICM poll which, suddenly and unexpectedly, has put the Yes campaign right back in the hunt for Scottish independence.
At a stroke, all those complacent certainties about the No camp wiping the floor with the Nationalists have been discarded and, this morning at Holyrood, the talk is of little else.
‘It is game on,’ said one Nationalist with a smile. Just to emphasise how important this new poll for The Scotsman newspapers is, here are the figures: Yes 37 per cent (up from 32 per cent in September) No 44 per cent, down from 49 per cent in September.
But – and here is where it gets really interesting – if the 19 per cent who said ‘don’t know’ are excluded, the Yes vote goes up to 46 per cent with the No vote on 54 per cent.
And there is more: when the ‘don’t knows’ were pressed further and revealed how they were ‘most likely’ to vote, the Yes vote creeps up again, to 47 per cent, with No coming down to 53 per cent.
So here we have a proper, authoritative opinion poll, just eight months from the referendum, showing not just a marked improvement in the Yes vote but the gap between the two campaigns down to a slim six or seven per cent.
The fight now looks very different from the 60-40 or even 70-30 predictions that some people in the No camp have been making privately for the last few months.