29 August 2014

Scottish Independence and a Narrow Win

Today’s poll puts Yes at 47% and No at 53% after you strip out the undecided. Six months ago, polls like this, with less than 3 weeks to go until polling day were thought to be unlikely. It will be a very close finish. Whether the poll methodology is accurate will have to wait for polling day to come and go, but my feeling is that the groups of voters being targeted by the Radical Independence Campaign generally don’t vote and generally don’t register on polls.

The ground operation of the Yes campaign (and Better Together’s efforts) will now be crucial, but what happens if Yes succeeds by a very narrow margin (say a few thousand votes) on an 80% turnout. Will we have “hanging chads” and legal challenges to contend with from an establishment intent on preserving the union? If that is the case, then onlookers from south of the border need to be very aware of some key findings so far in this campaign.

A study by Dr John Robertson, from the University of West Scotland, pointed to media bias during Phase 1 of the campaign (up to 18th September 2013). He has experienced hostility since then from the BBC

BBC Scotland was found to have broken editorial guidelines on accuracy over one of the key issues of the independence debate - membership of the European Union

A narrower follow up study on a specific programme, again pointed to BBC staff making more negative statements about independence than positives

We shall have to see exactly how editorial comments are delivered the day before the election, but again it is likely that the mainstream media will be urging a “No” vote. Should Scotland then go on to vote Yes to Independence, no matter how narrow the margin, it will be a positive vote when the odds were stacked against them. Any vote for Yes needs to be accepted, and while the betting is still against it, the momentum is there for Yes and this really looks from an outside perspective that it will be going down to the wire.

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