At the start of September, I did a post about the pro-Independence camp and the questions that they need to answer to win the Independence referendum. Since that post, two things have happened that makes a yes vote possible.
The first is that there has now been two surveys published that show that more people support Independence that support the status quo. The first survey was published the week that my original post appeared, on September 5. This survey showed a lead for the pro-independence group of 1%. Various psepologists would point to this survey as being a rogue survey, with further polling evidence required to see if this would be part of a trend.
A second poll arrived last weekend published in the Independence on Sunday, and showed that over the whole of the UK support for Independence for Scotland retained that 1% lead. Looking at the Scottish result of this poll – where the sample size was 176 – support for Independence sees a 12 point lead. Maybe there is a new trend, maybe these polls are two rogues. Until we see any more polling evidence, the current position should be seen as an undetermined lead for the status quo camp – with a sizable minority in the “don’t know” camp.
The other thing that has happened is that we have seen the party conference season come and go – with delegates for all parties trying to grapple with the huge economic crisis that is unfolding. To try and shore up “New Labour” voters, Ed Balls had announced the acceptance of Osborne’s deficit reduction agenda. Whatever the hoops that the two Eds feel they need to jump through to make them look like a viable alternative to the Cambot, I feel that this is a serious miscalculation.
Osborne’s Scorched Earth policy is not popular here in Scotland, or elsewhere in the country. The only serious backer’s to Osborne are the bean counters and those who believe that the state has become bloated and is ripe for trimming. While there are cuts that can be made – the wages of council heads of service & the… ah… downsizing of the layer of management in the NHS. None of this is happening, and worse none of this is being advocated by HM Opposition. This would be criminal of Balls to ignore this in any case. Given that there is an unfolding scandal involving HMRC and their fondness of doing “sweetheart deals” with companies – deals which let them off paying their full tax liability in return for the dropping of charges and the payment of part of that tax liability – Balls lack of a prescience on this issue will certainly put off many left wing voters from considering voting for Milliband the younger come the next Westminster Election. However there is a calculation that the two Ed’s (and come to think of it, the terminaly usless & infantile Labour Hame blog) have failed to take into account. That appearing to be more conservative than the Tories might win key marginal’s in Surrey, Middlesex and other parts of the home counties, but this may well drive left wing voters in Scotland towards Independence.
The most repeated phrase in the aftermath of the Holyrood election was something about the intelligence of Scottish voters in recognising that this election was different to the General Election & voting for a party on their record, and not as a protest against the London government. Yet there has been no discussion about whether those self same voters may make the calculation that to see the policies they want enacted, that the three London parties are too similar to enact those policies. Even more worryingly for those voters, Milliband has not seen the need to put enough clear red water between his party and the coalition parties. On the other hand Balls has not been as vociferous about Osborne’s plans to relax tax avoidance as he should be. There have also been reports that Balls has been making speeches to the City that have floated the idea of the return of the policy of “Light touch regulation” – a direct contradiction of his conference speech. Never mind being out of step with Scottish opinion, Balls is out of step with his own “supporters” – as we have seen with the growth of the 99% movement.
During the inaugural Holyrood Election in 1999, Tommy Sheridan had a phrase he used to describe the other parties – “The red Tories, the blue Tories, the yellow Tories and the tartan Tories” – it was so good he used it again in 2003 (when the SNP – under Swinney - believed in Regan-omics and “trickle-down” economics). It was a phrase that encapsulated what many lapsed Labour voters thought of the political scene. Yet the perception behind that phrase could be the Achilles heel of the pro union parties. The calculation made by many Scots might not be “can we go it alone?” but “If you are all alike and there is no alternative, then what is your alternative to Independence then?” If that is the case, then the Union has been sunk by Tina & Margaret.