There are now two polling companies that put the pro-Indy Yes Scotland within a 3% swing of victory. Before the television debates between Salmond & Darling, Yes were in a bit of trouble. So what has happened?
It’s not as if there are issues surrounding the independence argument. Currency and their stance on the European Union are the biggies. Except that Labour are still largely pro-European Union so therefore have restricted their attacks on Salmond taking Scotland out of the EU. Given that Cameron has pledged an in/out referendum on the EU should he win the next Westminster election, this argument has been sidelined. Not that this was the correct question anyway as we should be questioning the wisdom of joining a bigger union where we would have less influence than the one we (if the votes stack up) would just have left. Ah, the Winton Paradox once again.
All of which leaves the issue over currency. It is a valid argument, and it is an argument that the SNP certainly have got themselves into a hole into. Their way out of this cul-de-sac is to stick their fingers in their ears and proclaim that the pound is ours. Now repeat after me...
IT’S OOR POUND AND WE’RE USING IT!!!!
Except that firstly, we’re voting to leave the UK, Sterling and all, so therefore our use of sterling would be subject to the same sort of negociations that normaly result in the splitting of the CD collection. And really, the SNP should really know better than to deliberately mix up Sterlingzone (their preferred option, which WM and the Whitehall mandarins have ruled out) and Sterlingization (which would be my preferred short/medium term option). What the smoke and mirrors of Sterling do show is that this has obscured the question about what exactly is the SNP’s preference if Sterlingzone does not appear. Salmond claims there is plan B, Plan C and plan D – all like busses. The truth is that Salmond has adapted John Major’s old policy on entry to the Euro – wait and see.
Yet “Wait and See” seems to have staived off the electorate. Darling’s success with currency in the first debate saw him return to the issue again, thus he overplayed his hand in the second debate and thus failed in his role defending the union, that of someone who plants reasonable doubt in the minds of the electorate. Salmond was incorrect when he stated that Darling was a one trick pony. He has at least two, but he only knows how one of them work. There are other issues with regard to currency as well – unforeseen ones.
With the rise on people registering to vote, we look as if we will be seeing a high turnout. I think an awful lot of those people are people who were put off voting by the New Labour years. Remember the turnout for the 2001 Westminster Election fell by 13.1% from those voting in 1997, while the fall between the first two Holyrood elections was 10%. That’s not a rise in voter satisfaction as some wag’s tried to spin it, more like the scunner factor. It’s also people who are more immune to the currency arguments because if you’ve not got very much currency, then the currency you use takes a back seat to other factors. Factors that Yes Scotland’s ground troops are adept at putting across.
With Yes Scotland pressing the social & democracy arguments, they have left the economic field clear for Better Together… to flunk the arguments. Indeed this is a theme all over with Better Together. EU flunked, NHS flunked thanks to TIPP and austerity (but again not the EU), too wee too poor flunked by the figures & austerity leaving only Sterlingzone… Project Fear would have worked as part of a balanced campaign, not as front and centre of a 2 year long campaign. Their only spearhead. Is it any wonder that since the second debate, the referendum campaign has felt like the chickens coming home to roost for Better Togethers deeply flawed and badly undermined campaign.