If an opinion poll in Northern Ireland threw up figures which showed a 43-41% pro-Union/pro-United Ireland split, Sinn Fein would be cock-a-hoop:they’d be promising "Brits Out" by Christmas, followed shortly, no doubt, by all remaining statues of New Zealand prime-Ministers and Princess Di mugs.
In contrast, an opinion poll showing exactly the same split in Scotland has been greeted in a very low-key way even by the SNP Hierarchy; the poll is mainly a reaction to "Westminster’s bullying stance" apparently. Yes, it might well be, but if I were a Scot Nat, faced with those kind of figures I would be more likely to be claiming that the end to the Union is nigh and that soon, very soon the country would be free of the Saxon yoke etc etc. But they’re not.
These figures show the volatility of the support for Scottish independence and this volatility would seem to indicate that such supportis dependent very much on external factors as opposed to an increase or decrease in sentiment for actual separation.
So, those external factors, at the minute how about:
1.The Brown’s promotion of the Union and Britishness has been breathtaking in its incompetence.
2. Scottish Labour’s rock-bottom reputation due to perceived cronyism, corruption and again, general incompetence.
3. Salmond’s (admittedly very polished) PR performance since May. The fact that he and his party have actually achieved nothing of any real substance is less important than the fact that they’ve looked good doing it.
4. The Tories’ (both in Scotland and in the wider UK)limp-wristed attempts at “saving the Union” from the nationalist threat.
Those are just off the top of my head, but like me I think the SNP are canny enough to know at this point in time the difference pro v anti-union is nothing like 2%; in their heart of hearts they know it’s much too early for the *real* independence poll, which correspondingly means now is the time for Unionism to at last develop a bit of self-confidence and press for it asap.