Flagged up in advance by the ubiquitous Rupert Murdoch, friend of the powerful and vendor of newspapers, the result of the latest YouGov poll on the Scottish independence referendum reads
Yes – 51%
No – 49%.
YouGov provides its own analysis. Away from their headline about a Yes ‘blitzkrieg’ (unfortunate choice of words) you’ll find this sentence
A two-point gap is too small for us to call the outcome.
Notwithstanding the increase in the proportion of people saying they’ll vote Yes, wasn’t it ever thus? Wasn’t it always going to be a close contest?
But here’s the rub.
The referendum campaign could on one count be said to have begun on 5 May 2011, the date the SNP won its first ever majority (the first ever majority) in the Scottish parliament. Three years and four months ago. In all that time, and less than two weeks from the referendum itself, just one poll has shown a majority for independence.
At the same time, and less commented on, another poll was published from the Panelbase organisation. It was commissioned by Yes Scotland. Panelbase is said to be more ‘sympathetic’ to Yes, although only for reasons of methodology, not bias. The Panelbase poll showed
Yes – 48%
No – 52%.
So there’s still all to play for, on both sides.
My view is clear and I don’t waver from it. I want Scotland to remain with the other countries of the United Kingdom and I hope more than ever that it’s the outcome of this prolonged process.
And a 2% lead or a 4% lag is scarcely a ringing endorsement of nationalism after three years of campaigning, is it?
Assuming a narrow final margin, for either side, any air of triumphalism would be entirely inappropriate. However unlikely, we need a period of quiet reflection to ponder the fact that three years of campaigning will have left a nation split almost 50:50 on one of the most fundamental questions it could ask itself.
A spirit of magnanimity from the winning side and reconciliation from all sides will be sorely needed. I hope it happens but I’m not sure I’m optimistic.