Scottish independence: the view from Port Glasgow
Better Together is going to try to frame its central message with a bit more positive language in the future, sources say. It’s part of a re-think that will also see the top of the organisation souped up and tightened up. It’s a reflection of worry that the campaign hasn’t performed well and has lost some ground in the debate on Scottish independence recent weeks.
A YouGov poll for Channel 4 News shows a “no” lead of 58 per cent to 42 cent once “don’t knows” are stripped out. It confirms a narrowing of the “no” lead from the start of the campaign but isn’t as tight as the famous ICM 52/48 poll.
The really worrying news for the “no” camp comes further down the poll. British identity in Scotland is a withering fruit. About half of Scots either think of themselves as not British at all or more Scottish than British (49 per cent). Only 14 per cent think of themsleves primarily as British and that’s heavily weighted towards the over 60s. You don’t have to be a qualified actuary to see a worrying trend for unionism there.
We visited Greenock and Port Glasgow to get a sense of how voters at the western tip of the central belt see things. They lost thousands of jobs here in the last two decades of the twentieth century as the ship-building died. Cab drivers waiting to pick up Tesco shoppers point at the ground saying: “This is where thousands built ships and now it’s a car park.”
Press the “don’t knows” round here and you find a mixture of bafflement and exasperation. They complain about not enough information but you also sense they’re slightly drowning in information. They just don’t know what to think. Time and again I’ve found undecideds whose views change mid-answer, bouncing around in a way you never normally hear. It’s a measure of the perceived importance of the decision and, unlike the political party choices, the binary nature of the choice.
The same undecideds who talk crossly about scare-mongering and have bought the “yes” campaign rhetoric on that, nonetheless often say their worries might win out. When I asked what they’d do if they had to decide this minute I heard quite a few voters say “no” quietly, or statements like “no …with a heavy heart” or “no but I’m not happy about it.” But there are 139 days to go.
You can see our report from Greenock and Port Glasgow and more on the poll on Channel 4 News tonight at 7pm.
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