Scottish question: pendulum swings toward the ‘No’ camp

Updated - December 04, 2021 11:25 pm IST

Published - September 12, 2014 11:00 pm IST - LONDON/EDINBURGH:

A 'No' campaign poster is displayed in Soctland on Friday.

A 'No' campaign poster is displayed in Soctland on Friday.

The latest opinion poll on the September 18 Scottish referendum shows a swing in support for the Union — prompting huge relief in the pro-Union camp, and fury amongst ‘Yes’ campaigners who accuse Westminster of “scaremongering” and playing dirty.

A YouGov poll commissioned by The Times on Thursday showed 52 per cent backing the pro-Union side and 48 per cent supporting independence.

This marks a distinct mood-reversal from the YouGov poll that was conducted over the last weekend, which showed 51 per cent in favour of independence and 49 per cent against.

The swing of the pendulum back to a pro-Union mood in Scotland is seen as the result of a concerted effort by an alarmed establishment faced with the very real possibility that Scotland would vote to be independent.

News leak? A furious Alex Salmond, First Minister of Scotland and leader of the Yes campaign, accused the Treasury of leaking news to the BBC of plans by the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) to relocate its head offices to London in the event of a ‘Yes’ vote next week. Both the Treasury and the BBC have denied Mr. Salmond’s allegations.

Other than the RBS, several banks — Lloyds Banking Group, TSB, Tesco Bank and Clysedale bank and Standard Life have said they will transfer part of their business to London, although they have denied job cuts.

A flood of studies and analyses from the ‘No’ camp presenting scenarios of economic disaster for an independent Scotland is seen as having turned the tide, if only marginally, in favour of the union.

And the unthinkable happened when leaders of the three political parties — David Cameron of the Conservative Party; Nick Clegg of the Liberal Democrats and Ed Miliband of Labour — actually joined forces for a day of campaigning in Scotland on September 10.

Nevertheless, if energy, dynamism, visibility and optimism on the ground are any markers of popular mood, then Scotland would appear to be in a solidly ‘Yes’ frame of mind.

In Edinburgh and Glasgow, the ‘Yes’ word is out there and everywhere — boldly displayed on lapels, windows, banners and posters; and heard in conversations, arguments and speeches. The fervour and infectious enthusiasm for independence pervades the public space.

“There is definitely a groundswell,” says George MacDougall, a former journalist and long-time member of the Scottish National Party. “We won’t win by much but we will win.”

The turnout is expected to be unprecedented in Scottish electoral history. According to the election office nearly 4.3 million people have registered to vote — 97 per cent of all those eligible.

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