The End Of Britain?

It’s looking more and more likely:

Scotland

Daniel Berman takes a close look at polling on the referendum. Why there is reason to question it:

British polling is problematic at the best of times, as anyone who observed Fivethirtyeight.com’s efforts to extend their successful model to the 2010 General Election, an effort I played a role in can testify. The Cleggmentum that dominated polling and media coverage of the campaign failed to materialize in practice. Was the media wrong? Only to the extent they focused on the polling.

Why then was the polling off? There are several reasons why UK polling is generally less reliable than its American equivalent. For one thing, “partisan weighting” the effort to ensure that your sample is politically and not just demographically representative of the electorate is an obsession for British pollsters, and has been ever since John Major’s surprise victory in the 1992 elections prompted a search for the “shy Tory” voter.

On the issue at hand:

YouGov’s Yes lead is the result of changes in sample composition rather than a clear shift, though a substantial shift in the preferences of Labour supporters was detected.

Angus Roxburgh, a Scot, is in favor of independence:

Independence is not about erecting barriers. The Scots and English would still be the closest allies. Yet independence would give us a chance to build a country that better reflects the identity and prioritiesthe political culture, if you willof the majority of those who live here (both “ethnic” Scots and those who have come here and taken the land to heart).

James Forsyth, on the other hand, wants to keep the union intact:

Given the closeness of the polls in Scotland, I suspect that the result might be determined by how clearly the Scots hear the rest of the UK saying ‘please, stay’. So, if you believe in this country and want to save it, pick up the phone and call your Scottish friends and family and urge them not to leave us.

The announcement that William and Kate are having a second child could be an additional factor. Hayes Brown explains:

[T]he as-of-yet-unnamed pending addition to the Royal Family could be just the boon needed to help turn back the tide against a surge of support for Scottish independence. Last year, William and Kate welcomed their first child — George — into the world amid a media blitz that even the media itself would later say was somewhat excessive. But George’s birth had some tangible benefits for the Windsor dynasty. A poll taken last year by British firm ComRes showed that since the wedding of the two young royals, and especially after the first appearance of Prince George, the popularity of the British Crown has skyrocketed. Beating out even the Diamond Jubilee and London Olympics in terms of support, last year’s Royal Birth led to two-thirds of Britons supporting the monarchy.

Krugman tells Scotland to think twice about independence:

In short, everything that has happened in Europe since 2009 or so has demonstrated that sharing a currency without sharing a government is very dangerous. In economics jargon, fiscal and banking integration are essential elements of an optimum currency area. And an independent Scotland using Britain’s pound would be in even worse shape than euro countries, which at least have some say in how the European Central Bank is run.

Daniel Clinkman, an American living in Scotland, shares his perspective on the forthcoming vote:

I am not Scottish, but the country became my home for many years and I am passionately in favor of what is best for Scotland’s people, whatever they decide. I think that the activism and thought given to this by Scots of both nationalist and unionist persuasions is very different from the stereotype of the emotional, skiving Scot put out by the Better Together campaign and its sympathizers in the press.

Last but not least, Alex Massie feels that “that Yes had an easier job  – and perhaps a better story to tell – in this campaign”:

Perhaps Scots will peer over the edge and think, jings, that’s a long way down. Perhaps we’ll conclude that, despite everything, all things still aren’t busy being equal but right now, this morning, that seems about the best the Union can hope for. Still time for things to change, right enough – only one poll and all that –  but, you know, there are peer and herd effects here: the more thinkable an idea becomes the more popular it is likely to prove. People say: Bloody hell, if you’re going to jump I’ll jump too. Even if it is a long way down.

I have to say that Krugman’s column, while pertinent, had a bit of the “What’s The Matter With Kansas?” about it. This decision is not only about economics; it’s about history, identity and the nation-state. At this point, I wouldn’t be shocked if the Yes’s win the day. These pressures have been building for some time.