A pro-Union rally in London may have unwittingly given the Yes campaign a boostby Ralph Jones / September 17, 2014 / Leave a comment
The crowd came together slowly in Trafalgar Square, ahead of Monday’s pro-Union rally on Scottish independence. Called only three days previously, it was organised by the unofficial Let’s Stay Together campaign co-founded by the TV historian Dan Snow, and was rumoured to involve the likes of Eddie Izzard (it did) and Mick Jagger (it didn’t). We will know on Friday whether the rally was the dying gasp of a No campaign that for months had looked to be coasting to victory, with approximately 60 per cent of the vote. Polling estimates fluctuate but in the last month the Yes campaign seems to have seized the momentum, leaving the No camp clinging to only a slim advantage.
Though there is an overflow of enthusiasm and bonhomie under Nelson’s Column, about the result itself there is little of the self-assurance one might expect. Almost everybody I meet believes that the outcome is too close to call and will say only that they “hope” for a favourable result. Fraser Nelson, editor of boldly pro-union magazine The Spectator, was born in the Highland town of Nairn—as his accent belies—but cannot himself vote. He tells me that if forced at gunpoint to make a prediction, he would say his side is facing defeat. This would have seemed an unlikely prediction prior to YouGov’s surprise poll in early September returning a lead for the Yes campaign, but 48 hours before the big day, it is now a perfectly sane one.
The latest YouGov polls now indicate a swing back towards a No vote, but the efforts of the Better Together campaign show real signs of wavering (hence the impromptu rally in its aid). Among its supporters there is a mood of mild frustration about how the argument was conducted, a disappointment that swords weren’t sharpened for battle earlier. Liz Carmichael, a 60-something don at Oxford University, echoes the views of others and much of the press when she says, “I think it [the campaign] got off to a slow start; there was a lot of complacency at the beginning.”