One could almost feel sorry for the ‘No’ campaign. They must have thought they’d played a blinder – part deliberate, part accidental.
The deliberate part came with the now infamous speech the Chancellor, George Osborne, gave in Edinburgh a few days ago. He stated quite categorically that, if Scotland walked away from the Union, it would also walk away from the Pound. That was supposed to scare the ‘don’t knows’ (and even perhaps some of those leaning towards a ‘yes’ vote). It was supposed to have been the ‘game changer’ in the campaign – the one that would stop the independence movement in its tracks.
The first polls since the speech suggest it’s achieved exactly the opposite. A poll for the Daily Mail might be assumed to lean towards the Unionist cause. Instead, the first indications are that the strategy has singularly failed. It show a five point fall in support for the ‘No’ campaign – and a seven point rise in the ‘yes’ vote. The poll surveyed 1,005 people. The headline result shows that 38 percent supported the aim of ending the 307-year union with England, up from 32 percent in January; 47 percent would vote to stay in the UK, down from 52 percent.
In a statement, the Deputy First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, said it was “clear that there has been a severe backlash to George Osborne’s bluster and threats on the pound. Far more people,” she argued, “(are) more likely to vote Yes on the back of the Westminster establishment’s attempted bullying rather than No.”
However, the poll did suggest that the SNP would do well to come up with a ‘Plan B’ over the currency issue. A poll in ‘What Scotland [email protected] suggests that 65% of Scots think they should!
The ‘accident’ part of the blinder can when European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso suggested that it would be “extremely difficult, if not impossible” for Scotland to join the EU. Now, a former senior European official has claimed that his words were “unwise and inaccurate”. Giving evidence to the Scottish Parliament Europe committee, Jim Currie, a former European Commission director general, insisted that Scotland had a right to membership.
He explained that the issue would concern “a territory which is currently part of a full member state. We’re dealing with people who would have certain rights as EU citizens and which would be very difficult to take away, and nobody would want to. The bottom line for me is that it would be dealt with in a pragmatic way, and it would involve inevitable negotiations which would be rather tough.”
It is worth bearing in mind that a survey for the BBC of the issues that most concern voters show that neither the currency nor Europe were high in the list of priorities. Keeping the Pound came 5th while the EU came 9th. It’s also worth remembering that one poll doesn’t make a trend!