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By G.A.Ponsonby
 
But you’re behind in the polls, what can you do about this?
 
It’s the refrain that greets anyone from the Yes campaign, and the question is as meaningless as the polls themselves.

Few will recall, but in the week prior to the 2007 Scottish elections, the Herald newspaper published two polls that gave Labour a ten point lead.  The SNP won the election by one seat.

In 2008, just before the Glasgow East By-election, an ICM survey for the Sunday Times gave Labour a lead of fourteen per cent over the SNP.  John Mason won the seat for the SNP.

In the lead-up to the 2011 Scottish election everybody in the Scottish media had Labour well ahead in the polls up until the final month.  The SNP [and voters] humiliated the pundits and Labour alike.

Polls, like the opinions of the Scottish media’s best political pundits, are worthless in Scotland.  The Scottish media treat the Labour party like a loving mother would treat an ugly spoilt child – constantly telling them how beautiful and well liked they are.

The self-delusion has been evident ever since Jack McConnell departed the Holyrood front line to be replaced by the intellectual giant that was supposed to be Wendy Alexander.

Salmond was apparently on the back foot regularly until she departed under a cloud and was replaced by First Minister in waiting Iain Gray.  He also regularly had Salmond on the ropes before handing over to the ‘excellent’ Johann Lamont who continues to better Salmond in the same way as her predecessors did.

The referendum polls, if there is any accuracy at all, will reflect the success of the news agenda presented by an overwhelmingly pro-Union media.

Under Blair Jenkins, Yes Scotland has appeared to drift along with the No campaign apparently making the running.  UK Government publications, and attacks by Westminster’s Scottish Affairs Committee regularly pepper the headlines as question after question is posed of the Yes camp and scare after scare follows.

Seemingly unable to do anything about this crescendo of negativity, Yes supporters sweat and agitate.  Frustrated they plead - Why aren’t we hitting back?  Where are our shock troops?

This is simply a reaction to a media machine that has an in built opposition to independence, it will continue to favour the No campaign.  The Yes campaign are correct to get into the communities and spread their message of hope, they cannot rely on a pro-Union media.

There is also evidence from the anti-independence campaign that they themselves do not believe their own narrative.  The evidence that reality is different from what is being presented can be seen in the shrill attacks, not on the arguments for independence, but on supporters of independence.

The latest to accuse 'cybernats' of bullying and intimidating 'Unionists', is Alistair Darling himself.  The Labour MP has claimed that Scottish businesses have been bullied into silence by supporters of independence.

The Financial Times yesterday wrote:

Mr Darling claims that Scottish business leaders have told him that people “who they believe to be – in one way or another – representing the Scottish government” have told them to stay out of the referendum campaign.

“I say to them, what are they going to do to you?” he said. “Because in my experience politicians are frightened of businesses, it’s not the other way round.”

Mr Darling gave no specific examples of companies...

This, and the Susan Calman 'death threat' nonsense, is what is being presented as significant contributions to the debate on Scottish independence.  Is it lies? Probably, as was the ridiculous claim by Labour MP Willie Bain to have spoken to businesses who were actively considering not investing in Scotland because of the independence referendum.

Ask people to give their views on independence after a non-stop barrage of Unionist inspired tripe and you’ll get the results that these polls seem to indicate.

Even then, there’s not even agreement amongst pollsters on the size of the gap between Yes and No, with twelve points of a difference depending on what pollster you choose.

Last weekend a poll showed the gap between Yes and No sitting at eight per cent – Yes on 36% and No on 44%.  The Panelbase poll for the Sunday Times suggested the Tory EU stance would persuade eight per cent of the undecided to opt for Yes, putting both campaigns on the same 44%.

This weekend Blair Jenkins team revealed that no less than 372,103 people have signed a pledge to vote Yes in 2014.

The No campaign coordinator Blair McDougall responded with the usual self-delusional comment:

"Every poll shows support for staying in the UK up, and support for independence going backwards.  We can take confidence from this but cannot be complacent.  There are four million voters in Scotland.  Yes Scotland’s target of winning a million supporters is an acknowledgment that they remain a minority campaign.  A year after launching they have failed to win new converts."

Things really aren’t as bad as the Scottish media or Mr McDougall make out ... they never are.  The Yes campaign know it, the No campaign know it and the Scottish media know it.

Remember that polls are a snapshot and indicative of only those people who regularly take part in UK and Scottish elections.  The people who will decide the referendum rarely if ever vote … but they will in 2014, and pollsters haven’t factored in these voters.

They are the people who currently have no hope.  The No campaign will deny them hope, whilst the Yes campaign will offer hope.

Yes Scotland is playing this exactly as they should.  Hold fire, be patient and let the No campaign hammer away with their negativity.  People haven’t yet switched on to this referendum but they will eventually and they’ll tire of being told what they apparently cannot do.

As Blair Jenkins eloquently spelled out in an STV interview on Scotland Tonight this week, Yes Scotland are selling a positive vision.  It's a product that will have ever stronger appeal the closer we get to September 18th 2014. 

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