Whatever you think about Alex Salmond - be it proprietor of independence or destroyer of the glorious union - he is right about one thing: the Scottish Independence referendum is a 'once in a generation' opportunity. It is the battle of disparity, the war of disillusionment, the fist-fight of hope vs. cold hard political reality.
While the 'No' camp wandered blindly around, confident (almost arrogant) in its positioning, the 'Yes' camp was gathering pace. Yet at its core - the arguments had little to do with proper politics. Sure, the debates centred around currency, healthcare and the economy. But the crux of everything Salmond says and does is based in the politics of hope. That tempting, unquantifiable, unstable beast.
Now, not everyone will agree with this - but political polls (in my humble opinion) are pretty useless. Open to dodgy methodologies and skewered public opinion - I pay little attention to them. It hardly helps that they are spread across newspapers as if they are Gospel - one day reporting the victor, the next the unfortunate victim. It's a tedious, unpredictable, mix of maths and potential bias. However, as the gap tightens between Yes and No, it has become clear that this will be a tight race.
The polls are currently sitting at 47% No, 46% Yes and 7% Don't Know FYI.
This must have come as a shock to those sitting comfortably in Westminster. David Cameron surely will be given the boot if he loses Scotland. Once the panic set in however, the plan was a 'graduated response' sort of affair - straight out of political satire Thick of It - with both the government and the opposition racing to Scotland. Together, but not quite. United, but with little real unity.
The No campaign's desperation was clear to see. They dragged out public figures, held rallies and promised Scotland more devolved powers. The fear mongering was everywhere - banks, big business and government. There is little doubt that threatening Scotland was not the best option. Bully tactics only incentivised the bullied to stick two fingers up to 'the establishment' and become even more motivated to go it alone.
Another interesting little snippet of news is that 97% of the adult population have registered to vote in the referendum. A crazy percentage. As the Guardian reports:
"A total of 4,285,323 makes this the largest electorate the country has ever known for any election or referendum.The figure includes 118,640 voters who have registered in the last month alone, as well as 789,024 postal voters. It marks an increase of over 300,000 since the last Westminster election in 2012 and includes 16- and 17-year-olds who have had the vote extended to them for the first time."
I initially read it in the Daily Mail, but had to find a second source as I thought the percentage was completely fabricated.
Giving the vote to the youngsters is an interesting experiment and one I think will work in favour of the Yes campaign. Why? Young people generally don't give a damn about inflation or the exchange rate. However, wave vague and possibly unverifiable terms like 'better society' or 'happy country of brilliant mates' around and you can easily motivate a non-voter. I'm not saying young people are stupid, far from it, just that they are probably more susceptible to political rhetoric.
Will the Yes campaign's circle-jerk mean a victory for Salmond and the SNP? Who knows, perhaps we should do a poll or something. In any instance, I'm convinced that the Yes campaign could actually pass this referendum and I would be lying if I said I wasn't caught up completely in its optimism and promise. Yet I am also convinced that, ultimately, success will rely little on facts, economic analysis or the banks. It's far simpler than that. Wave the flag of hope and pray the hopeful follow.